After weeks of rumours, leaks, and speculation, Tom Oberheim has unveiled the Oberheim OB-X8 synthesizer. The OB-X8 builds on the legacy of the OB-X, OB-Xa and OB-8, combining their voice architecture into one retrofuture machine.
The all-analogue synth boasts faithful recreations of all the OB-series’ filter types and allows you to blend different characteristics from previous models to create completely new sounds. Oberheim’s design team has painstakingly analysed and reproduced the components of each OB-series synth to revive their nuances and warmth.
Plus, you’ll have access to all of the classic OB-series factory sounds that can be heard on countless records, including music by Prince, Van Halen, Rush, Depeche Mode and more.
But that’s not to say that the OB-X8 isn’t built with the modern producer in mind.
Oberheim’s “world-class sound designers” have created “jaw-dropping new sounds” for the OB-X8, the brand says. It’s also a breeze to create your own new sounds, thanks to a clear layout and accessible controls.
The eight-voice polyphonic synth features saw, square/pulse, triangle and noise waveforms with two VCOs per voice – each based on the iconic SEM/OB-X oscillators. These feed into two discrete SEM VCFs and Curtis chip-based filters to deliver the rich, authentic tone of the OB-series, with low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and notch functionality. The Curtis filter is also usable in 2-pole and 4-pole modes
The ADSR envelopes for filter and amplitude allow you to get hands-on with your sound-shaping and make the OB-X8 “whisper, growl or scream,” Oberheim says. In addition, both envelopes on the OB-X8 can be switched between OB-X/Xa or OB-8 modes to inject the flavour of previous OB-series synths.
On the Control panel, OB-X8’s Vintage mode allows you to instantly add depth and old-school character. The feature affects the “voice-to-voice variability of OB-X8 envelopes, oscillators, and filters to replicate the behaviour of vintage instruments with all of their organic instabilities,” according to Oberheim. You can also fatten up the sound by adjusting oscillator 2’s detune and route aftertouch, velocity sensitivity, portamento amount and unison voice stacking.
You can play these huge sounds with a 61-key FATAR velocity- and touch-sensitive keyboard with aftertouch. OB-X8 sports bi-timbral capabilities, too, bringing two separate patches to your fingertips simultaneously. For expressive performances, you can use the mod levers on the left of the keyboard to bend notes, apply vibrato and real-time modulation, and trigger an LFO with six waveforms.
A handful of high-calibre artists and synth lovers have been lucky enough to get their hands on Tom Oberheim’s latest contraption.
Nine Inch Nails‘ Trent Reznor says he was “immediately impressed with the forensic level of detail that went into the OB-X8 design and the respect for its lineage. I will be making room in my studio for one and I’m excited more people will be able to experience this classic instrument.”
Meanwhile, Stranger Things composer Michael Stein said: “After playing the OB-X8, I’m convinced I need it. It’s a true Oberheim, a great instrument, and a part of synth history.”
Interestingly, the synth will be released in partnership with Focusrite, the parent company of legendary synth maker Dave Smith’s Sequential brand. That could be why we saw them in a teaser video together in April 2022. We can also expect more Oberheim products to come to light from this collaboration.
Want your own OB-X8? You’ll have to wait until June 2022 and pay the asking price of $4,999. But, if you’re heading to Superbooth 2022, you can catch it in action at Booth 0301. In the meantime, check out Oberheim’s launch video below.
Learn more at oberheim.com