NAMM 2016 VIDEO: Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim collaborate on OB-6 synth

NAMM 2016: For many, the idea of legendary synth designers Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim collaborating on a new instrument would be something of a dream come true. But this isn't just something that might happen - it turns out that it already has.

The OB-6 is the latest Dave Smith Instruments release and is a 6-voice synth with an all-analogue signal path and discrete VCOs and filters. It was developed in collaboration with Tom Oberheim, and boasts a sound engine that's inspired by his original SEM. In fact, the OB-6 promises "true, vintage SEM tone with the stability and flexibility of modern technology".

The architecture features two oscillators per voice, with continuously variable waveshapes (sawtooth and variable-width pulse, with triangle on oscillator 2). Each voice also has access to a SEM-inspired state-variable filter (low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, and notch). Completing the signal path are voltage-controlled amplifiers.

Then there's the X-Mod modulation system. Filter envelope and oscillator 2 are modulation sources (with bi-polar control), while destinations include oscillator 1 frequency, oscillator 1 shape, oscillator 1 pulse width, filter cutoff, and filter mode.

The digital dual effects section, meanwhile, offers reverbs, delays (including standard and BBD), chorus, and recreations of Tom Oberheim's acclaimed phase shifter and ring modulator. You'll also find a multimode arpeggiator and a polyphonic step sequencer with up to 64 steps (and up to 6 notes per step) plus rests.

Your workflow should be eased by the knob-per-function front panel, while toggling on the Manual switch enables live panel mode, in which the OB-6 switches to the current settings of its knobs and switches.

The full-size velocity-sensitive keyboard spans four octaves and is semi-weighted, also supporting aftertouch.

Commenting on the launch of the OB-6, Dave Smith said: "Tom and I have been friends and friendly competitors since the late 1970s. Back in the day, people were typically in either the Prophet or the Oberheim camp. Now, with the Prophet-6 out and doing so well, we thought it would be fun to combine our strengths and bring back Tom's classic polyphonic sound, too - in a modern format."

Tom Oberheim added: "A lot of people, myself included, have always felt that the SEMs had a certain uniquely big, organic sound unlike anything else. Working with Dave to make that sound widely available again with some modern touches and full programmability has been real a pleasure."

The OB-6 will be available in March, with a US MAP of $2,999. You can find out more on the Dave Smith Instruments website.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

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.