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Goodbye Tempest, Hello Freedom.

Well the Tempest turned-out to be a damp squib for me. Or rather DSI’s inability to implement features that were hotly discussed over a year ago. Maybe they will eventually pull the rabbit out.

Even so, there seem to be a lot of Tempesters who are perfectly happy with the current OS, and that has to be respected. As with everything else in life, people will have a different approach to, and expectations from, such an instrument. Everyone should come to their own conclusions.


For me, the hardware interface, the sound and the overall concept were incredibly appealing. The forum was abuzz with excited discussions about the untapped potential, and we looked to be in line for a classic that would finally put the Roland box voodoo to bed. A powerhouse on paper, a legend in the making.

Now don’t get me wrong – in some respects it’s nearly there. I had fun designing sounds on this machine and I learned a lot along the way. The glass is definitely more than half-full, and I certainly do not regret the purchase.

But the sequencer is still too rudimentary for my needs. I didn’t see anything in the recent betas that give me confidence in user-requested improvements beyond the necessary bug fixes. DSI’s prolonged silences do not help. To me, most of the requests seem reasonable, and there appears to be broad agreement on the most important. The persistent bugs, though not serious, reveal a lack of attention.

Nobody is asking for a Cirklon-killer – only that the machine is given a sequencer worthy of it’s potential. And it seems so tantalisingly close.

At current pace, by the time the OS is ready, the second-hand market will already be mature, new competing products will have been released, and DSI will have lost sales. Brand damage has already occurred. I am amazed that the can’t see this! I would have said ‘bemused’, but it’s actually quite sad. I really want DSI and their products to succeed – the innovation is wonderful – but there seems to be no ambition to finish the job.

I can only speculate that the feasibility of new features is dependent on internal hardware limitations such as the the 4mb limit (honestly, what were they thinking!!), rather than the coder’s inability. He seems talented, if disorganized and overworked and, it would appear, fighting some serious battles to squeeze better performance out of this box.

Nevertheless, my biggest disappointed has been their habit of raising expectations and not following through. I honestly didn’t expect that, and I fell for it wholeheartedly.

They are also not giving the game away regarding what’s possible or likely to reach implementation. Engaging in further feature discussions seems pointless, as none have materialised. Beta testing has been the simple repetitive process of pointing-out the same few bugs in every release.

Admittedly my passion boiled-over after seeing the latest delay (of several months) was due to focus again shifted to the Prophet 12. OK guys, but at least tell us! It would be ridiculous to expect new product development to stop, but it is also reasonable to expect that existing products should receive the necessary attention.

In short, I am extremely disappointed with DSI’s behaviour. I would not have accepted this from another company, but I was rooting for DSI to succeed, and I trusted them. More fool me.

As a sweetener it was revealed that Tempest and P12 share a common codebase, and DSI have said that features will be rolled-back into Tempest. This sounds great, but makes me wonder, since the Oscillators are completely different, and P12 has no sequencer – the element that needs most attention. Time will tell.

I do earnestly wish DSI success with P12. It looks like it will be a winner and they have clearly worked very hard on it. They must be congratulated for the risks they are taking to innovate exciting new products. In the grand scheme of things, complaining about a few missing features seems churlish.

But when it comes to Tempest, I’ve simply lost faith. It had to go.

With the proceeds I have fostered a beautifully-built MIDIbox Seq4. Now THIS is a sequencer. It completely obliterates DSI’s effort. Open-Source with frequent updates still after 5 years of development. All that user input has been eagerly gathered and distilled into a great interface and a smooth, almost effortless workflow. And zero fuss from the unpaid developer.


There is more than enough cash remaining to start a nice modular and have a big party. I’ve already sourced the PCBs to make my own drum modules, which will be triggered by Seq4’s 8 analog outs. I can simultaneously sequence FM percussion provided by FS1r. What I lose in compactness I more than compensate for in flexibility and power.

Not only that, but there is still change to cover the entire expense of my 4×4 build AND to a fund a new build using a new third-party ladder filter in a 2-octave keyboard enclosure.

My first Eurorack module is ready to be assembled. Little Dieter is due to be born any day now…..


I’m sticking with open-source hardware from now on. No more ‘black boxes’. It’s AD 2013.

There will be no pining for Tempest.

Here are some Kits and sounds – the ones I managed to backup before the new owner ripped the Tempest from my arms. FWIW, he’s absolutely delighted with it.

Have fun!

I dedicate this one to DSI 😛
(One of my favourite basslines and easily possible on Tempest)


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  1. sorry to hear that…. but please keep posting your cookbook, because they are very informative and deep. i mean the recipes of your new gears, the midibox and the future modules you will lay hand on.
    well, you wrote your first tempest post over a year ago and i just bought a tempest on tuesday and then found your site, so, i got about a year to master it and hopefully the v1.3 update will get released in 2014 🙂

    • Hi,

      Please don’t let me put you off the Tempest. I know you will have a lot of enjoyment from it! I’m also sure that DSI will come through for the vast majority of users. I’m really a fusspot 😛

      I will be continuing with the notes. Thanks for your kind words.

      P.S. I just added some download links to my sysex files.


      • Hi,

        Thanks for your incredible work, just discover it. But I can’t download your sysex file… It’s like a text file ! Can you help me ? thx

  2. thanks for all the advice on making decent sounds out of my expensive sound module – its all new for me so I’m not quite at your point but totally understand why – the used Electribe i also have seems to sequence better in my limited experience and midi works well also unlike the tempest.

    I’m sure by the time I figure out everything out in my new set up 1.3 will be out or at least for my kids to learn on.

    best of luck with your home builds and modular set up. I look forward to your next efforts on whatever you choose.

    • Hey,
      I have no doubt that DSI will come through for users. They deserve to succeed because of the risks they take in innovating new products.
      For the patient, the rewards will be huge.

      So don’t be glum – savour the time spent honing your synthesis skills. When the sequencer is ready and you can truely rock this baby, your kids will think you are the coolest dad around.


  3. How did you like the Tempests new OS 1.3 update..?
    Would it compensate the reasons why you have said goodbye to your Tempest after all?

    • I sold my Tempest when I wrote the post.

      It’s nice to see that DSI have come through with much-needed improvements to the sequencer. Credit where it’s due, but it did take 2 years.

      I moved-on: The MIDIBox Sequencer is keeping me very happy.

  4. shame your sound design skills have been a revelation, the clap with the use of delay on the amp where a genius touch.

    don’t be afraid to come back, the carrots are still dangling on the forum : )

    all the best neil

  5. i just got the tempest and my goal is to try to overcome the restrictions with creative innovation. Your stuff is awesome trove of info, super great full is the seq 4 midi box something you could have used with the tempest to overcome the sequencer restrictions. thanks

    • Thanks for your comment. Things have moved-on since I wrote this. I’m sure you will receive a lot of creative satisfaction from Tempest alone.
      MIDbox is wonderful btw. I just don’t have time (or gear) to use it to it’s potential.

      Some day, some day….

  6. Just addressing Carson’s comments about the Tempest petition since he ‘locked’ the other topic:

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    The description in the campaign is interesting, though somewhat misleading. The vast majority of Tempest owners are happily making music with it…

    Um, evidently there are more than a trivial number of Tempest owners out there to whom this matters, Carson.

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    Most importantly, if anybody had contacted us directly at DSI support to ask whether we have quit development on the Tempest, we would have told them no. We do intend to continue, and finish, development of the Tempest.

    Oh, but we have contacted DSI, repeatedly in fact, only to be patronized. Besides which, this campaign isn’t about what you say you’re going to do; it’s about what you’ve actually done. Many of these bugs have allegedly been “on your list” for years now. And make no mistake about it, that’s what this is about.

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    Separately, the campaign appears to be an inaccurate representation of Tempest users since there’s no way to qualify who is an owner and who is not.

    That’s right, Carson, we’re making all of this up. The petition signees, the entire conversation at Synthtopia, the 32 thousand posts on the other DSI forum… All persons and opinions fabricated by an insignificant group of malcontents with a hate-on for DSI. Whatever helps you sleep at night, man.

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    As the Tempest currently stands (OS 1.4), there are some valid and somewhat annoying bugs that are present. Most everything listed on the campaign is on our bug list of items to consider for fixing/implementation.

    How much longer are these “annoying bugs” to be under consideration exactly? I can tell you how long they’ve been annoying me!

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    The Tempest is a mature product (Shoot! 5 years is long enough for humans), and there have been many improvements made and features added which were not explicitly called out for implementation when the product was released. Because we are a small company and constantly produce new instruments, we have to rotate between updates for all instruments. I will reiterate, we DO intend to release another update for it.

    Okay… When? And can I have my money back to hold in trust until that happens?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    If users are actually unable to back up their work, please contact us directly at DSI support. This would be a serious problem, but I am unaware of any users contacting us in this regard.

    What good is a successful back-up if there are still issues with loading older projects and sound files?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    1. Tempest not being able to discern between note ‘velocity’ and pad ‘pressure’…

    Velocity and pressure are derived from the same sensor, a force sensing resistor. That means that when a pad is played, velocity is the near instantaneous change in resistance from off to on. The question is, when should the continuous change in resistance start acting as pressure? How long do we wait before interpreting the sensor data as pressure? Adding a small fixed delay to onset of pressure might help, though I can imagine situations where you would also want pressure to react immediately.

    Quote from: Chris Hector (May, 2014)

    Velocity and pad pressure should be separate and will get looked into. There is already a timeout because the pads don’t rise to the correct velocity immediately, I just need to tune the timeout for the aftertouch response.

    You see, Carson, we are listening, so I suggest you get your stories straight.

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    2. Note sustain without a duration limit…

    This is a feature request, not a bug. The duration of a step must be held in memory so it can be saved/reloaded etc. Memory is not infinite.

    Quote from: Chris Hector (May, 2014)

    Note sustain without a duration limit causes a problem with the automatic voice allocation behavior. I do consider it a bug, but due to the way everything is integrated it’s not simple to change. I tried it a while back and it led to some more annoying bugs so it’s on the back burner right now.

    So now it’s a memory thing is it?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    3. “MIDI sequencer sound” prevents the corresponding internal sound from triggering, yet the ‘OFF’ setting remains broken…

    This is on our bug list.

    Quote from: Chris Hector (May, 2014)

    This is a bug and is fixed in my latest beta.

    That was two official operating systems ago, so what happened to this fix?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    4. Adding swing to the ‘ROLL/ARP’ function…

    Not really a bug, more of a worklfow/feature request. It’s on our request list for consideration.

    Quote from: Chris Hector (May, 2014)

    I’ll be adding a flag so the sound roll will swing, that’s about done.

    That’s funny, according your chief programmer, it’s been done for two years already. So where is it, Carson, since you think we’re all just wining?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    5. The missing “Env Shape” parameter as seen on page 16. of Operation Manual 1.0…

    When the 1.0 manual and 1.0 Tempest was released, it was explicitly stated that the unit was not complete and that it and the manual was subject to change. Most of these changes (all the way to 1.4) were welcome additions and fixes. I was not with the company officially when the Tempest was released, though I would imagine that “env shape” was removed as a design/navigation consideration.

    The envelope shape can be modulated via the mod matrix or using the pitch and aux envelops to change its shape.

    Yes, but why should we have to waste a mod slot for every envelope we want to shape, when the parameter we need is right there in the original manual? You know, the manual you kept encouraging us to read; the one we used to educate our purchase back when all these promises were still on the table.

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    6. Basic file management…

    You already have basic file management. You can save/copy/rename files into a series of directories. It sounds like you want more “organization” functionality which is quite different than stating the Tempest lacks “Basic file management”…

    Oh, right, I guess we should have stated more specifically that: when we save one of our 500 sounds ‘WE’D LIKE TO KNOW WHERE IT WENT!’

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    7. The envelope/LFO bug that causes the digital oscillators to quit or otherwise not trigger when modulated to, from, or through a relative ‘level’ of zero…

    Just set the envelope amount value to 1.

    This doesn’t work if you want to use negative envelope amounts or when using an LFO for that matter. And… It’s a BUG!

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    8. Tempest not remembering the folder-of-origin when saving…

    I cannot speak to the reason for this as I have not spoken with Chris about it.

    Well, I have, and allegedly it’s one of those “easy” fixes that Dave Smith just can’t be bothered to allot him the time to fix.

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    9. ‘Key Follow OFF’ not working for the digital osc’s…

    on our list. Not sure if possible due to the SAM chip itself.

    10. Glide not working for the digital osc’s…

    See #9 .

    11. Pitch Bend not working for the digital oscillators…

    See #9 .

    Okay, so, all of the above are both in the manual and have been present in every incarnation of the operating system to date. Of course, they have never worked. And now we’re supposed to believe that you embarked on this without actually knowing whether or not the chip could be programmed to do these tasks… Seriously?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    12. The ever-present but still not functional Glide/Legato modes…

    It’s on our list. I’m not personally aware of the reasons for this.

    Okay, but Chris does, and it still needs to be implemented. Again, there it is in the manual and in the operating system, doing nothing. This one was a real selling point too!

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    13. The ‘Playlist’ crash bug…

    I’m not sure I’m familiar with this one specifically. If it has been reported to support and reproduced, then it should be on our list. If nobody has reported it, please open a support ticket.

    Okay. Could someone please report this… Again (sigh)?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    14. Using the ‘ROLL’ function to record a part causes other pads to randomly trigger…

    I’ve seen this before and believe it’s related to a strange issue where the sound initialization procedure and/or file corruption issue. If I had to guess, it could be related to files saved on specific (non official) operating system releases or by users changing the initialize settings in the debug menu. Does this happen on the official 1.4 OS with a newly created file?

    Yes, it happens with newly created files in OS 1.4. It’s related to the ARP, and Chris allegedly has it isolated, but again… When will it be fixed?
    Quote from: Chris Hector (Nov, 2015)

    I fixed the bug where roll is causing problems when the erase was on. It was specifically tied to the arp. The behavior didn’t occur when it was doing retrigger normally. I figure this will help me narrow it down and find out what’s causing the inconsistency, I’ll let you know when I find it.

    See, we listen!

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    15. Using the ‘ROLL’ function to record in ’16 Levels’ mode fails to record the correct velocities: i.e. it only repeats the velocity of the lowest pad pressed…

    It’s on our list.

    16. Recording a ‘ROLL’ with a sound assigned to a voice results in the pad lighting up as if it is being triggered, yet there is no sound…

    It’s on our list.

    Yes, yes, they’re all “on your list”… Precisely our point really. And so they’re going to be fixed when exactly?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    17. There is an advanced bug that causes the pad names to randomly change when auditioning sounds; it happens most predictably when you have auditioned a sound from one pad and then try to audition a sound from another pad. When this happens the available sound folder also changes, not just the pad name: i.e. the ‘Kick’ pad, for instance, will suddenly become a ‘Snare’ pad – *which instantly loads a snare sound by the way (devastating!) – after which you can no longer access the kick folder from that pad at all, unless you “revert” the sound…

    Not an advanced bug at all and certainly does not block access to any sound. The description is a bit overblown, however, it’s on our list.

    Did I say “advanced”? Sorry, I was just trying to distinguish it from the other two pad name bugs that Chris and I have been going back and forth on for months. But since it’s so pedestrian, Carson, it shouldn’t take much in the way of time and resources to fix it, right?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    18. If the Tempest receives a RAM sound dump via USB, while also receiving note-on/off data on the MIDI DIN input, then USB MIDI sys-ex is not received correctly half of the time: i.e. it just stands there waiting for MIDI data in those cases.

    It is not advised to use USB and MIDI at the same time for MIDI input. This is true for all of our instruments.

    Chris publicly acknowledged this as a bug in this very forum, and repeatedly promised ‘Razmo’ (who brought this to our attention) that it could be and indeed would be fixed. Hell, if I remember correctly, he even said it was fixed and would be in the release of OS 1.4. So who are we to believe if not the guy writing the code? And by the way, it works in the Evolver!

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    20. When switching beats on-the-fly, the first step of the sequencer-out is consistently late; so if you’re triggering a sample loop on the one, every time you switch beats on the Tempest, it will be out of sync for the first pass…

    I would guess that this initial latency is due to higher priority tasks being performed when changing beats. There’s a whole lot of data to load very quickly on a beat change and keeping the internal sound engine in time and performing as expected is certainly It’s also worth noting that the “sequencer out” parameter was added by Chris on his own accord. Sequencing external instruments from the Tempest was never stated as a feature when the Tempest was released.

    Internal latency indeed! But you’re right, Carson, this feature was never supposed to be in the operating system; yet we still can’t shut it ‘OFF’ so we can use that pad for our internal sounds, as was intended by design when we purchased the Tempest. See #3

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    21. Pad names need to be added for all the sound folders, and vice versa. And many of the existing pad names need to be properly linked to their respective parent folders, so “Tamb” doesn’t default to “Shaker”, etc. when auditioning sounds (not to be confused with point 17. which is a completely different bug)…

    This is half feature request and half bug, and fairly low priority in the scheme of things. It falls into the “nice to have” category.

    So half-fix it then! At any rate, I happen to know that it’s already fixed; but then, Chris would have to be given the time to compile a proper update now wouldn’t he?
    Quote from: Chris Hector (Nov, 2015)

    Right, that’s the sound type bug I just fixed. It was setting the pad kit sound to the default for the directory you were auditioning sounds in.

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    22. When triggered via MIDI, sustained ADSR sounds hang whenever the bank those sounds are from is not the currently selected bank…

    It’s on our list.

    So fix it!

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    23. The Tempest’s timing drifts in ‘Slave’ mode when using the MIDI DIN input, gradually losing sync with the ‘Master’ clock source; and this behavior is further exacerbated with use of the ‘ROLL’ function…

    I cannot speak to the accuracy of this statement. I have no information regarding the performed tests, loaded OS versions, settings, and overall method. We have an Innerclock System in the office that we can use to verify this is true. Whoever is experiencing this drift, please open a support ticket with us and provide detailed step-by-step instructions for reproducing this and we will look into it.

    Sometime this decade then?

    Quote from: Carson from DSI

    For all current and prospective Tempest owners out there, please understand that we are aware of your concerns and appreciate your perspective. We have not abandoned the Tempest OS. Between pushing forward with new designs and refining existing products, there is never a point in time at which we are idle here at DSI. It’s a complex balancing act with many variables. We will be revisiting the Tempest OS, and hopefully soon, but the petition has no bearing on our timeframe, and we can’t specifically guarantee when will dive back in.

    This will remain our definitive statement on this matter. Thank you for your continued patronage and support.

    So there you have it, straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth: DSI is happy to take your money; but if you want them to fix the instrument that you paid for, they are simply not concerned with whatever you may think is a reasonable timeframe… Period. And that, folks, is why this petition exist in the first place!

    So let’s just keep the pressure on and see how this weathers in the real world, where the good people part with their hard-earned to keep the employees at DSI in a job (doing whatever the hell they want apparently).

    « Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 05:01:39 AM by John the Savage »