So it looks like the rumours were true: Tom Oberheim really is about to launch a new and expanded version of the OB-X, one of the most beloved synths in history. Known as the OB-X8, this appears to be an 8-voice analogue polysynth that’s inspired by the classic OB series but also goes way beyond it.
The news isn’t yet official, but a spec leak on sequencer.de looks too detailed not to be authentic. Plus, there are photos - and rather lovely photos at that.
It looks like we’re going to get two discrete EM/OB-X-lineage VCOs per voice (sine, saw, square, triangle and noise) for that classic Oberheim tone, along with genuine Curtis filters. The envelope responses are also said to have been modelled to match each OB model: OB-X, OB-Xa and OB-8.
The leak indicates that the OB-X8 will have a 61-note Fatar keyboard that’s velocity- and touch-sensitive for maximum expression, and bi-timbrality will enable you to use two presets for splitting or doubling.
Speaking of presets, it seems that 400 factory programs are set to be onboard (along with 600 user-programmable preset locations) including all the classic OB patches from the X, SX, Xa and 8 models. Real walnut end cheeks add to the vintage look, while the high-res OLED display is a practical nod to modernity.
We’re so grateful for everyone’s reaction to the Welcome Back video. Here’s a little glimpse of what's next — we promise the wait will be over soon!soundtrack by @iamj3po https://t.co/065SUS7kiu#Oberheim pic.twitter.com/uQXRk6MMWAApril 26, 2022
Further enhancements include additional SEM filter modes that add high-pass, band-pass and notch functions to the classic OB-X filter, while a vintage knob is reported to enable you to dial in adjustable amounts of voice-to-voice variability, emulating the behaviour of vintage instruments. Channel aftertouch is on the cards, too.
Want more? How about an enhanced unison option that enables up to eight voices of variable voice stacking, variable triangle wave cross-modulation, programmable per-voice panning and variable oscillator and noise levels.
All of which sounds great, as is the rumour that the OB-X8 will be available from next month - quite a feat when you consider the widely-reported chip shortage that is currently delaying hardware synth production across the industry. Your excitement might be tempered somewhat by the news that the OB-X8 looks set to cost $5,000, but we imagine that, even at that price, there won’t be any shortage of takers.
Keep an eye on the Oberheim website for more.