MTS Support in Dave Smith Instruments | Prophet-6, 12 and OB-6
Way back in what now seems like the paleo-synthesis and microtuning period of the 1980s, among the first instruments I had access to that supported full-keyboard microtuning using MTS SYSEX (MIDI Tuning Standard) where manufactured by Yamaha (DX, SY, TX series), and as we know, somewhere along the way, Yamaha tragically lost the plot for MTS and full-keyboard microtuning support altogether, which seemed to trigger an industry-wide cascade of abandonment of the standard, and for quite a number of decades, the outlook for full-keyboard microtuning support for hardware MIDI instruments has remained a bleak, 12-locked and intonationally desertized place for musicians and composers. It was, up until recent times, that about the only option available in hardware was the MOTM-650 module, or otherwise buying and maintaining antique used gear from past decades.
Now, thankfully, that picture has changed dramatically with the momentous and visionary introduction of MTS full-keyboard microtuning support in the Dave Smith Instruments Prophet-6, Prophet-12 and the new OB-6.
Documentation about MTS in these Dave Smith Instruments is not as visible on their site as one might wish for, but here is an overview of the MTS functionality in this PDF (starting on page 8) regarding a firmware update to the Prophet-12 (MTS functionality which I understand also applies to the Prophet-6 and OB-6):
It will be instantly obvious to those alternative intonation enthusiasts who understand the power and versatility of the MTS microtuning format, that this is truly an epic and historical moment to see this available again in MIDI hardware musical instruments. Hopefully this will be a catalyst towards reversing the trend that happened when Yamaha abandoned MTS and full-keyboard microtuning, causing it to practically disappear from hardware instruments for the past few decades, because it is the opinion of Xen-Arts and colleagues, that what we really need in this field is a much more broad implementation of MTS in both hardware and software.
Perhaps the leadership that Dave Smith Instruments have shown in this regard will inspire other developers to add MTS full-keyboard microtuning support, as the reality of the situation is that it is beyond conception – to the point of absurdity – that at this late of a date, most of the available electronic and computer based music tools are either totally 12-locked (with no microtuning functionality at all), or use tuning-table formats that require musicians and composers to manually load files into all of their instruments one-at-a-time when they want to switch intonation systems, where with the MTS paradigm, SYSEX transmissions can globally microtune entire ensembles of instruments all at once.
In the 21st century, musicians and composers need and require something better for serious microtonal and xenharmonic music composition: meaning specifically, real-time and global microtuning systems, and it is MTS SYSEX that remains the best way forward for microtuning electronic and computer music instruments, which is clearly something that Dave Smith Instruments has a singular vision about.