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The DSI Tempest was designed by synthesizer masterminds Dave Smith and Roger Linn. The unit generates sounds created by any of its six analog voices. Each voice contains two analog and two digital oscillators, a Curtis low-pass filter, a 2-pole high-pass filter, analog VCA, five-stage envelope generator, 2 LFOs, feedback, and extensive modulation capabilities. Additionally, the unit features individual outs per voice, analog distortion, and a stereo analog compressor to make your beats thump that much harder.
The Tempest boasts an innovative, performance-oriented OS that affords greater control over creating, editing, manipulating, and arranging beats in real time. Its front panel is home to 90 controls that allow users to meaningfully edit crucial parameters and a 256 x 64 dot OLED display. These two inclusions work in tandem to encourage continuous workflow.
Speaking of workflow, the Tempest gives users a tactile edge with the inclusion of 16 pressure- and velocity-sensitive pads that are easily accessible in a 2 x 8 arrangement for intuitive real-time and step programming. The pads can be configured to grant users access to 2 banks of sounds, a mute/unmute function, or extensive real-time playback and arrangement capabilities. The included Roll button makes it possible to create fills, variations, and quick percussive bursts quite literally at the tip of your fingers.
Further tactile control is offered by two pressure- and position-sensitive slide controllers, which enable both on-the-fly recording and live improvisation of note value and beat change parameters. Users can configure the Tempest so that these sliders manipulate multiple destinations. Like all of Dave Smith’s instruments, the Tempest’s front panel is a monument to its manufacturer’s knob-per-function philosophy, where each knob corresponds to a distinct parameter without any menu diving headaches.
Far from your basic drum machine, each of the Tempest's voices can be heavily modulated, tuned, and used more like those of a normal analog synthesizer—users can even assign individually tuned notes across the Tempest’s 16 pads and play the device much like a synthesizer. This flexibility combined with the intuitive operating system and logically-designed front panel make the Tempest more akin to a drum/analog synth hybrid than a drum machine.