Dave Smith Tempest Drum Machine (Discontinued)
It's been a few years since the Dave Smith Tempest was released in 2011.
This premium drum machine is a full featured analog synthesizer / sequencer that's especially built to make beats. It combines quality analog synthesis with modern digital sound processing and sampling for a broad spectrum of sound possibilities.
This melding of analog and digital is the result of Dave Smith's collaboration with Roger Linn, who is credited with making the first drum machine that utilized digital samples.
With its 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads, 6 analog voices, multiple analog/digital oscillators, various filters, built-in effects and its massive bank of samples - there are so many sounds, beats and music that can be made.
- Built-in Analog and Digital Oscillators
- Classic Curtis low-pass filter
- Analog high-pass filter
- Analog VCA
- Five envelope generators per voice
- 2 LFOs per voice
- 8x8 Modulation matrix
- 16 pressure and velocity sensitive lit pads
- Pressure and position sensitive touch sliders
- OLED 256 x 64 display
- Analog compressor and distortion effects
- 650 Sound Program locations
- Built-in Sequencer
Even after several new drum machines have entered the market over the years, the Dave Smith Tempest is still regarded by many experienced users and professionals as one of the most unique sounding beat making machines. It has withstood the test of time and although development for the firmware halted in 2017 due to hardware limitations, it remained in production for a couple of years after that. Consumer and professional reviews kept pouring in for almost a decade after its release stating it to be a new modern classic. Paul Nagle in his Sound on Sound review said, "As a live, organic sequencer for electronic percussion and synthesis, there's nothing else quite like it."
On our original analysis of the Tempest, we stated that there were no notable concerns. That still holds true as of this writing. Some users noted that the kick sounds felt weak, but it appears that it is more of a preferential caveat rather than a universal flaw. Given its status and pedigree, the price of admission is still high; which may be a concern for people who are more budget-conscious. The aforementioned lack of any future updates to the firmware may be something to consider before investing.
It's not the most affordable piece of hardware but over the years it has proven its staying power and has aged gracefully. The Dave Smith Tempest is slowly being regarded as the "808 of our generation" and rightfully so. With its unique sound augmenting capabilities, it has earned its place in professional recording studios, performers and the hearts of musicians and beatmakers as a modern classic. We speculate that it will become a collector's item in the future so if you're looking for a timeless drum machine, consider the Tempest.