Goodbye Tempest, Hello Freedom.

April 13, 2013

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)


12 Responses to “Goodbye Tempest, Hello Freedom.”

  1. tomm Says:

    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 🙂

    • stimresp Says:


      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.


      • GuiPei Says:


        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

      • stimresp Says:

        The files are sysex files saved via MIDIox. You will need this or a similar program to transfer sysex files to the Tempest.

  2. countcowden Says:

    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.

    • stimresp Says:

      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. smak Says:

    I am completly with you! The SEQ4 and midibox at all is great.

    Greets, smak

  4. Coen Says:

    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?

    • stimresp Says:

      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.

  5. neil harvey Says:

    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

  6. Anonymous Says:

    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

    • stimresp Says:

      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….


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