If you are fine with spending 5K USD on a synth now is the time, and if not then feel free to scroll down to the second part where we highlight the Behringer clone. Oberheim has officially announced the OB-X8, a new synth that they say brings back a legendary analog synth sound after over 40 years, but with state-of-the-art features that expand on the capabilities of the originals.
The Oberheim OB-X8 combines the three different voice architectures of the classic OB-X, OB-Xa, and OB-8 synths into a single instrument. The individual filter types and other unique characteristics of each model have been faithfully reproduced, along with an uncompromising 100% analog signal path.
As a result, the Oberheim OB-X8 is much more than a reissue, it’s a new Oberheim design that offers better synthesis options and expressive capabilities than its predecessors, including:
- Additional SEM filter modes add high-pass, band-pass, and notch functions to the classic OB-X filter
- Vintage knob allows variable amounts of voice-to-voice variability to emulate the behavior of vintage instruments
- Velocity sensitivity adds expressiveness to volume and filter
- Channel Aftertouch adds real-time performance-based modulation
- Enhanced unison allows variable voice stacking from 1-8 voices
- Variable triangle wave cross-modulation
- Over 600 user-programmable preset locations
- Programmable per-program pan allows wider stereo presence
- Variable oscillator and noise levels
OB insiders know that the myriad of “Page 2? functions unlocked the hidden power of the original OB-X, OB-Xa, and OB-8. The OB-X8 features all of the classic page 2 parameters and new ones for 2022, giving you direct access to 40+ nuanced controls, such as additional SEM filter modes, per-voice panning, LFO keyboard tracking, Mod delay time and envelope inversion, independent pulse width control, and much more.
For even greater expressiveness than the originals, the OB-X8 features a premium-quality Fatar keyboard, with velocity and aftertouch sensitivity.
- 8-voice, pure-analog polyphony with saw, square/pulse, triangle, and noise
- Two discrete SEM/OB-X-lineage VCOs per voice deliver classic Oberheim tone
- Discrete SEM-lineage VCFs deliver authentic OB-X-style tone and presence
- Genuine Curtis filters add bold OB-Xa/OB-8 character
- Meticulously modeled envelope responses match each OB model: OB-X, OB-Xa, and OB-8
- The 61-key FATAR velocity- and touch-sensitive keyboard offers expanded expression and responsiveness
- Bi-timbral capability allows two presets simultaneously for splits and doubles
- 400-plus factory programs, including the full set of factory sounds for the OB-X, OB-SX, OB-Xa, and OB-8
- Integral, fanless, heatsink-free power supply
- Real walnut end cheeks
- High-resolution OLED display enables patch management and easy access to advanced features
- Classic Oberheim Pitch and Mod levers allow expressive note bending, vibrato, and access to arpeggiator functions
Pricing and Availability
The Oberheim OB-X8 is available to pre-order now, priced at $4,999
Originally founded by Tom Oberheim in 1969, Oberheim Electronics created ground-breaking products that fueled the electronic music revolution throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s. After ceasing operations in 1985, these instruments attained near-mythical status, with highly prized vintage models selling for many times their original price on the secondhand market.
Since that time, Tom Oberheim had created a handful of limited-production instruments and co-designs with various partners under other names. But in a recent significant development, he regained control of the Oberheim trademarks and IP, and now, in partnership with Focusrite PLC, has decided to once again introduce new products under the Oberheim brand name for first time in more than 35 years.
“I’ve always had a very optimistic outlook on our industry and the future in general. I felt that one day, when the time was right, Oberheim would return. A big part of this was the fact that so many musicians have contacted me over the years to ask how to get hold of an original Oberheim. So when I finally reacquired the Oberheim name, it was clear that the time was finally here,” said Oberheim.
The catalog of artists associated with the original products is long, and includes innovators like Prince, Van Halen, and Herbie Hancock. For many, it was much more than just an instrument. A handful of A-list artists such as Trent Reznor, creative force behind Nine Inch Nails, and Golden Globe, Academy Award, and Primetime Emmy-winning composer got pre-release previews. “When I was shown the new OB-X8, I was immediately impressed with the forensic level of detail that went into its design and the respect for its lineage,” remarked Trent, “I will be making room in my studio for one and I’m excited more people will be able to experience this classic instrument.”
Creating a new company out of thin air was no small feat. “I’m excited to work with my old friend and audio industry innovator Marcus Ryle, along with some other members of the original Oberheim team again,” said Tom. “And thanks to an exclusive partnership with Focusrite group company Sequential LLC, we have the ability to design, manufacture, distribute, and support new instruments on a global scale.”
For Marcus Ryle, one of the inventors behind the ADAT, the QuadraSynth, and Line 6 guitar amps and effects, this represents closure of sorts: “Synths were my first love and the reason I entered this industry. Tom hired me when I was 19, and I feel lucky to have been a part of the Oberheim design team during its glory days. Now, a whole new chapter in the story of analog synthesizer-based music is about to get written.”
Dave Smith, founder of Sequential and himself a legendary figure in synth history, also collaborated with Marcus (an Oberheim team member from the 1980s) and Tom to create the new product. “We’ve already developed other interesting design ideas with Tom for follow-up products that will allow us to take Oberheim into the future as a synth brand,” commented Smith. “It’s a very exciting time to be a musician.”
Behringer has announced that the long-awaited UB-Xa polysynth is fully working and ready for manufacturing.
In a statement to Facebook, Behringer said that “the UB-Xa Desktop version is alive and fully working. Wow what a day.”
UB-Xa is Behringer’s take on the classic Oberheim OB-Xa analogue polyphonic synthesizer. However, not much is known about the specifications of the synth, but we do know that it features two VCOs per voice, with square and sawtooth waves; a four-pole filter with 12dB or 24dB octave slope; an ADSR envelope and a VCA envelope. There will also be a double mode, where two patches can be played independently across the keyboard.
The company has been working on the synthesizer since 2019, with only a few hints and teasers about the progress along the way. And, in a statement made last year, the company credited the long wait due to “global component shortages”.
In June 2021, Behringer announced that the design of the synth had finally been completed, and released a video stating that “after more than three years of “blood, sweat, and tears” and a full year of intense beta testing, the hard work has paid off”.
In the description of the video, Behringer says: “What started as a mere recreation of the original OB-Xa, has grown into a monster synthesizer with many more features and sound palettes”.
The news comes after Behringer revealed that the chip shortages it’s been facing have worsened due to factory shutdowns in Ukraine but could be relieved in 2023, thanks to new chip plants being supported by giants in tech. Following the brand’s latest updates regarding the chip shortages, it’s entirely possible these latest products won’t hit store shelves until late 2022 or even 2023.
The price and release date of the UB-Xa are still unknown but could be released in the coming months.