Native Instruments’ Pro-53 synth returns for free as Pro-54, but only in your web browser

Pro-54 free synth
(Image credit: Cmajor)

Much to fans' disappointment, Pro-53 was one of a long list of products that Native Instruments discontinued in 2020, but those who’ve been hoping that this Prophet-5 synth emulation plugin might return have new hope thanks to the release of Pro-54.

The good news is that this is free and open-source; the bad news is that, at the moment, you can only use it in your web browser.

This new port is programmed in Cmajor, a language that’s designed “for writing fast, portable audio software”. The Cmajor project was started in 2021 by Julian Storer and Cesare Ferrari in collaboration with - you guessed it - Native Instruments, which has been using it in its “production code” since 2023. 

Storer has serious pedigree in the music software industry, having previously created both the Tracktion DAW and JUCE, a cross-platform audio app development framework. Ferrari, meanwhile, previously worked at ROLI.

Together, the two men founded Sound Stacks, a company that fell under the Soundwide umbrella brand that has since been replaced with the Native Instruments name. Their brief here was to “drive development of new audio platform technologies for improving productivity and performance for developers” but it seems that the two are now focusing on their Cmajor endeavours.

It appears that Pro-54 has been created with NI’s blessing, though; it’s a direct port of a “never-released” internal C++ port of the original synth, and has a GUI that was recreated in HTML/javascript using “mostly salvaged low-res bitmaps for that authentically vintage feel”.

For fans of the 2002 original - and indeed anyone who loves the juicy sound of the Prophet-5 - it’s fun to be able to play it again in your browser, and programming types can check out the source code, too.

Will we ever see a Pro-54 plugin, though? The Cmajor homepage says that any Cmajor ‘patch’ (of which the Pro-54 is an example) can be converted to a native C++ JUCE project and then compiled into any audio plugin format you like, so a VST/AU/AAX version is technically possible. 

That said, we’re also told that native support for Cmajor patches themselves could soon be coming to a DAW near you. Tracktion Waveform is confirmed to be getting this soon, and Storer and Ferrari hope that others will follow in due course.

For now, though, you can play the Pro-54 for free on the Cmajor website. Other patch examples on there include an electric piano, an 808 and the CompuFart (yep, they made a fart synth).

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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