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“Party like it’s 2099”: Oberheim channels Prince as it looks set to return with a new synth

Less than a year after Behringer returned the worldwide rights to use his company name, Tom Oberheim has released a teaser video that suggests that a new Oberheim synth could be in the works.

Shot - rather nicely, we have to say - at a bar, this features Oberheim and Marcus Ryle (founder of Line 6, co-creator of the ADAT and former Oberheim Electronics engineer) sketching out ideas for what we assume to be a synth on the back of beer mats/coasters. 

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, we then discover that the bartender is none other than Dave Smith, who worked with Oberheim on the OB-6 synth back in 2016. Does this mean that another collaboration could be on the cards (coasters)?

Towards the end of the video, we also get a look at Tony Karavidas, another Oberheim alumnus who now works at Dave Smith’s company Sequential. He informs us that we’re going to party like it’s 2099 - a clear reference to a lyric in Prince’s 1982 hit 1999.

There’s some confusion about which Oberheim synth (synths?) Prince used to create 1999’s big and ballsy sounds - was it a Four Voice, an OB-X or an OB-Xa? - but our takeaway from all this is that Oberheim may be working on an updated version of one of those instruments.

Although Oberheim Electronics ceased operations 35 years ago, demand for its iconic synths has never really gone away, with software developers stepping in to meet it. In the past couple of years alone we’ve seen plugin emulations of the OB-Xa from Arturia and Synapse Audio, and GForce software was keen to publicise Tom Oberheim’s endorsement of OB-E v2, its second-gen 8-Voice emulation.

Inevitably, Behringer is also working on its own hardware OB-Xa reboot (and a mini version, too).

You can sign up for updates on what Oberheim (opens in new tab) has coming on its website.

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. 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, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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