Dave Smith Instruments Tempest

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Dave Smith Instruments

The first true analog drum machine for 2011 and beyond!

The Tempest by Dave Smith Instruments combines authentic analog and digital synthesis with an intuitive interface, 16 velocity/pressure-sensitive pads, and a powerful sequencer. It's an instrument clearly meant to extend the capabilities and expand the imaginative reach of beat-oriented musicians everywhere. Now it comes with a new operating system for as well as entirely new internal sounds, beats, and projects. The new version, OS 1.4, ships with newly purchased instruments and is also available for download from the company's website for users wishing to upgrade instruments with older versions of the OS.

Each of the 6 analog voices has 2 analog oscillators plus 2 digital oscillators (with a large bank of included samples), Dave's classic analog low-pass filter with audio-rate modulation, an additional high-pass filter, analog VCA with feedback, 5 envelopes, 2 LFOs, an extraordinary variety of analog modulation routings, and stunning sonic quality, warmth and punch. Although optimized for drum sounds, it excels at tuned sounds as well, and even doubles as a 6-voice analog synth. In addition to the 6 direct voice outputs, there are stereo mix outputs and phones outputs, plus 2 inputs for foot switches or expression pedals, MIDI in/out and USB.

The performance-oriented operating system, 90 panel controls, and bright 256 x 64 OLED display work together to provide a tightly integrated, non-stop workflow: record a drumbeat in real-time, switch to another drumbeat and use the lit pads to record it using step programming, switch to another drumbeat and record tuned keyboard parts, use the 2 touch controllers to to record real-time note or beat-wide parameter animations, use the generous sound controls to edit any of the drum sounds, tweak the analog effects or drum mix, arrange beats in real time and record the live arrangement into a song, enter/exit Song mode and much more, all without ever stopping play.

16 pressure- and velocity-sensitive lit pads are arranged in a 2x8 configuration, providing intuitive access to all your fingers and providing the ideal compromise between the popular 4x4 pad arrangement (popular for real time programming ) and 1x16 arrangement (popular for step programming) because Tempest does both. The pads can be used to play 32 drum sounds (2 banks), mute/unmute the 32 sounds on playback, play and arrange 16 beats in real time, play one sound at 16 tunings (in a variety of scales) or 16 velocities, or as 16 time steps for step programming. The ROLL button permits creating drum rolls or repeated groove patterns by varying pad pressure as the beat records, and doubles as a momemtary "stutter" effect when the pads are assigned to play beats. Use the Sustain button on tuned parts like a keyboard's Sustain pedal, or to choke drum sounds or drumbeats when the pad is released.

Two pressure- and position-sensitive Note FX slide controllers permit real-time recording of note or beat-wide sound parameter changes into the drumbeat as you play. For example, record simultaneous filter frequency, tuning, envelope decay and pan changes for each note, or control similar parameters affecting the entire beat.

A variety of unique effects are provided while maintaining a pure analog signal path: 1) Stereo analog compressor and distortion circuits affect the stereo output mix, 2) beat-synced delay is achieved by generating additional delayed note events within the sequencer, and 3) a beat-synced "stutter" effect is created entirely within the sequencer by looping short portions of the drumbeat on demand.

The degree of swing timing can be adjusted in real time during playback. Roger used his entire bag of tricks to make the swing sound very human and natural.

Co-developed by Dave Smith and noted instrument designer Roger Linn, Tempest has been embraced by musicians from a wide range of genres for both live performance and studio recording. "The new OS adds several powerful new features to an already powerful instrument," said Smith. "And we've enlisted the talents of some heavy-hitting sound and beat designers to come up with a extensive amount of new content that's not only fresh and inspiring, but also versatile." The new content takes advantage of the new OS features and was over a year in the making.

  • Increased sequence length (up to 128 sixteenth notes, or 8 measures of 4/4)Arpeggiation
  • New modal scales
  • Free-running LFOs
  • Compressor envelope controls
  • Quantize disable
  • 928 new factory sounds, 64 new beats, and 16 new projects

The fat sounds of the past meet the digital future.


Tempest Specifications:

  • 15.4"L x 9"W x 2.5"H
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by PowerReviews
Dave Smith InstrumentsTempest

(based on 2 reviews)

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Reviewed by 2 customers

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Unbelievably Powerful


from Michigan

About Me Professional Musician

Comments about Dave Smith Instruments Tempest:

This is my first drum machine. I am a professional musician, very tech savvy, and I researched all the available models before purchasing this one. By far, it is the most complex piece of equipment I've used for music. It allows for the adjustment of every possible parameter within a drum beat including the addition of arpeggiated notes into the piece. The only problem I had initially was the BPM knob was not registering on the screen to set the tempo, but once I went into the main menu and did a system reset, it then worked fine. It must have been something from the factory software installation that caused the issue. But now, I'm able to create long and unique drum recordings. It's probably more than most people would ever need, but you really can't go wrong with it and you can certainly never run out of ideas to record. It does take repeated watching of the instructional videos on their website to really start to get proficient, but it's worth it. You get what you pay for, and at this price, I don't see any competition for the Tempest. I highly recommed it. I would like to see it be able to attach to a laptop so that the files and sounds could be managed through a software interface instead of using the on-board screen.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


Unbelievable machine


from Toronto, Ontario

About Me Experienced

Verified Buyer


  • Easy To Use
  • Functional
  • Good Quality
  • Versatile Instrument
  • Versatle Instrument


  • A Bit Of Menu Diving

Best Uses

  • Drum Machine
  • Jam sessions
  • Poly Synth
  • Recording

Comments about Dave Smith Instruments Tempest:

A disclaimer that I am new to the synthesis game, and this is actually my first foray into a hardware Synthesizer/Drum Machine. However, what a machine it is! The controls are simple enough that you can dig into it immediately. Just load up a preset, and start tweaking it to your fancy.

I've only had the tempest for a short while, but I have just not been able to put it down. I've used it as an out and out Polysynth, and as a drum machine, and it has rich sound on both accounts.

I've read a lot of people complaining that it cannot do a proper "Kick", but I have to say, even though I am a synth newbie, I wholeheartedly disagree. Just spend time with it, and you will get the sound you want. Guaranteed.

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