Oberheim OB-X8 Polyphonic Synthesizer Review 2023
In this review of the Oberheim OB-X8 polyphonic synthesizer, we analyze its design, sound quality, niche features, and pros and cons for musicians.
Exploring the Oberheim OB-X8 Polyphonic Synthesizer
A Brief History of Oberheim Synthesizers
Oberheim is a name that has become synonymous with polyphonic synthesizers, and they have been a major player in the industry since their beginnings in the 1970s. Founded by Tom Oberheim, the company quickly gained popularity with musicians for their innovative synthesizer designs.
The Oberheim SEM (Synthesizer Expander Module) was one of their earliest releases and was followed by a series of successful models such as the OB-8, OB-XA, and DMX drum machine. One of the most notable achievements of Oberheim was their development of polyphonic synthesizers.
Prior to this, synthesizers were mostly monophonic, meaning they could only play one note at a time. However, with the introduction of polyphony via multiple voices and oscillators, Oberheim revolutionized electronic music production.
An Overview of the OB-X8 Polyphonic Synthesizer
The OB-X8 polyphonic synthesizer is one of the most revered models from Oberheim's lineup. Released in 1983, it boasted some impressive features for its time.
The OB-X8 offered eight voices of polyphony along with two oscillators per voice. It also came equipped with various modulation sources such as LFOs (low-frequency oscillators) and envelope generators.
One unique feature that set this model apart was its ability to split its keyboard into two separate parts for easier playing agility. Additionally, it had an arpeggiator function which allowed players to create complex patterns easily.
The build quality was impeccable too; each unit was constructed by hand using high-quality components that ensured longevity and reliability over time. The result is a synth that has stood up to decades of use and abuse while retaining its unique character.
Purpose of the Review
The purpose of this review is to provide an in-depth exploration of the OB-X8 polyphonic synthesizer. We will delve into its features, performance, and sound quality, comparing it to other synthesizers in its class. We will also touch on some lesser-known aspects that make the OB-X8 unique.
If you are a musician looking for a reliable and flexible synthesizer with a rich tonal palette, then this review is for you. Along with providing useful information about the Oberheim OB-X8 synth, we hope to inspire you with ideas on how to integrate it into your music production setup.
This review is also ideal for those who are fascinated by the history and development of electronic music instruments. With Oberheim being such a pivotal player in this field, we will touch on some key moments in their timeline and how they contributed to shaping modern music production techniques.
Design and Features
The OB-X8 polyphonic synthesizer is an impressive piece of musical equipment, both in terms of its sound generation capabilities and physical design. The synth has a sleek and modern appearance, with a black finish on the exterior that gives it a timeless look. Its size is relatively large, making it noticeable in any room but not so big as to be unwieldy or difficult to move around.
Physical Design and Layout
At first glance, the Oberheim OB-X8 polyphonic synthesizer looks like something from another world. It features a unique design that sets it apart from other synthesizers in its class.
The layout is intuitive, with all controls and buttons easily accessible from the front panel. The front panel is divided into two main sections: the oscillator section on the left-hand side and the filter section on the right-hand side.
The top of the panel features modulation sources such as envelopes, LFOs, and keyboard control sources. The OB-X8's keyboard is another standout feature of its physical design.
The full-sized keyboard has 61 keys with velocity sensitivity, giving you complete control over your sound output. Additionally, there are pitch bend and modulation wheels located to the left of the keys for even more expressive capabilities.
Control Panel and Interface
The control panel of this synthesizer is designed in such a way that all necessary functions are easily accessible without being too cluttered or confusing to navigate. All knobs are labeled clearly with their function printed above or below them for quick reference when creating sounds.
The interface itself consists primarily of rotary knobs for parameter adjustments along with switches for selecting different waveforms or modes on various oscillators or filters. There are also dedicated buttons for accessing different banks of presets so you can quickly access and browse through all your saved sounds and patches.
Another notable feature of the OB-X8's interface is the use of LEDs to provide visual feedback on parameter changes. This allows you to see at a glance how each parameter is affecting your sound output, even in low-light environments.
Sound Generation Capabilities
The OB-X8's sound generation capabilities are nothing short of remarkable. It features eight voices of polyphony, meaning you can play up to eight notes at once, which is perfect for creating complex, layered sounds.
There are two oscillators per voice with a variety of waveforms to choose from, including sawtooth, square wave, and pulse wave. The filter section includes two independent filters that can be used in series or parallel configurations depending on your needs.
There are three types of filters available: low-pass, high-pass, and band-pass with resonance control for added tonal shaping possibilities. The OB-X8 also features an onboard effects section with chorus and delay effects that can be applied to any sound.
These effects can add depth and dimension to your sound output or create completely new textures altogether. The Oberheim OB-X8 polyphonic synthesizer is a unique musical instrument designed for those who want unparalleled control over their sound output.
Its physical design is both visually stunning and functional while its interface makes it easy to navigate through all the various parameters available for changing your sound output. Its powerful sound generation capabilities make it perfect for musicians who demand nothing but the best from their equipment.
The Sound Quality and Performance of the Oberheim OB-X8 Polyphonic Synthesizer
Tone and Timbre of the OB-X8's Sound Output
The OB-X8 has an exceptionally warm and rich sound that is instantly recognizable as classic analog. This synth produces thick, layered sounds that are perfect for creating lush pads, deep basses, and soaring leads.
The sawtooth waveforms in particular have a rawness to them that is hard to find in modern digital synthesizers. One of the key features of the OB series is its filter section, which gives you a lot of control over the sound's character.
The OB-X8 has a 4-pole Low Pass filter with resonance control that can create a wide range of tones from mellow to aggressive. Additionally, there's also an optional high pass filter.
Another notable feature is the Xmodulation section, which allows you to cross-modulate various oscillators for even more sonic possibilities. This unique feature allows for some truly wild sounds that can't be produced by other synthesizers.
Polyphony and Voice Allocation
The OB-X8 has eight voices of polyphony which provides enough notes to play chords with ease. However, due to the complexity of its voice architecture it can be challenging to get all eight voices working together without note-stealing or dropouts occurring. That said, when programmed well it produces very dense sounds with multiple layers per voice.
The OB-X8 uses SSM2044 filters like previous Oberheim models but unlike those models this one has two filter chips per voice instead of one which contributes to its powerful sound. In terms of voice allocation you can use "unison mode" where all eight voices are combined into one super-fat oscillator or "poly mode" where each note played triggers its own independent voice.
The OB-X8 features two LFOs that can be used to modulate various parameters, including the oscillator pitch and filter cutoff. Additionally, there are two ADSR envelopes for further shaping of the sound. One unique feature of the OB-X8 is its "Sync" function.
This allows you to synchronize the oscillators to an external clock or trigger signal. By using this feature creatively you can generate complex rhythms and patterns that would be difficult or impossible to create manually.
Another useful modulation option is the "Glide" function, which allows you to add portamento or glide between notes for a more expressive performance style. This can be especially effective when playing long sustained chords or melodies.
Overall, the combination of polyphony, Xmodulation, and LFO options make it possible to create an incredibly wide variety of sounds with the OB-X8. Its rich tonal character and unique modulation abilities make it a highly sought-after instrument among musicians and synth enthusiasts alike.
Comparison to Other Synthesizers
Previous Oberheim Models
The OB-X8 is the latest iteration in a long line of polyphonic synthesizers produced by Oberheim. Its predecessor, the OB-Xa, was a hugely popular synthesizer in the 80s and early 90s. However, with advancements in technology and changes in musical tastes, it became increasingly difficult to find parts for repair and maintenance.
The OB-X8 addresses many of these issues by incorporating modern components and improved circuitry while still retaining the classic Oberheim sound that made its predecessors so popular. Compared to previous models, the OB-X8 has increased polyphony, a wider range of modulation options, and improved reliability.
Other Polyphonic Synthesizers on the Market
In today's market, there are many options for polyphonic synthesizers. The OB-X8 competes with other high-end synths such as the Prophet-6 and Moog One. While these other synths have their own unique sound qualities and features, the OB-X8 stands out with its classic Oberheim sound.
One advantage of the OB-X8 over these other synths is its ability to achieve fat analog sounds while maintaining stability in tuning and modulation. The Prophet-6 has a similar sound but can be prone to drifting out of tune during performances or recording sessions.
Additionally, compared to some other modern polyphonic synthesizers on the market that rely heavily on digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms for their sound generation capabilities, the OB-X8's analog design gives it an unparalleled warmth and depth that digital synths often cannot match. Overall, while there are many excellent polyphonic synthesizers available today, few can match both the classic analog sound quality and modern reliability found in the Oberheim OB-X8.
Expansive Modulation Matrix
One of the standout features of the OB-X8 is its modulation matrix, which allows for extensive customization and manipulation of sound. The matrix includes a wide range of modulation sources, such as LFOs, envelopes, and aftertouch, that can be assigned to a variety of destinations including filter cutoff frequency and oscillator pitch. This feature gives the user an unparalleled level of control over sound design and allows for unique sonic textures to be created.
The OB-X8 was one of the first synthesizers to include MIDI implementation. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a protocol that enables electronic musical instruments to communicate with each other and with computers.
The OB-X8's MIDI implementation includes capabilities such as velocity sensitivity, pitch bend, and mod wheel support. This feature has become standard in modern synthesizers but was revolutionary at the time the OB-X8 was released.
The unison mode on the OB-X8 is another feature that sets it apart from other synthesizers. This mode allows all voices to play simultaneously on a single oscillator, creating a much thicker sound than would otherwise be possible with a polyphonic synth. The unison mode can be used in conjunction with other features such as detune and spread to create rich pads or lead sounds.
Unique Sound Effects
Cross-modulation is a technique where one oscillator's output is used to modulate another oscillator's frequency or amplitude. The OB-X8 includes cross-modulation capabilities between its two oscillators, allowing for complex timbral changes when applied subtly or extreme transformations when pushed further.
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)
Pulse width modulation (PWM) is a technique where the width of a pulse waveform is modulated over time. The OB-X8 includes PWM capabilities for both its square and sawtooth waveforms, allowing for unique timbral changes that can be used to add movement and interest to a sound.
The OB-X8's filter resonance capabilities are also worth mentioning. When the resonance is turned up, the filter creates a self-oscillating effect that can be used to create unique percussive sounds or other tonal effects. The filter's cutoff frequency can also be modulated using any of the sources available in the modulation matrix, allowing for even greater customization and experimentation with sound design.
The Oberheim OB-X8 polyphonic synthesizer has a number of features that set it apart from other synthesizers. Its expansive modulation matrix allows for fine control over sound design, while its unison mode and extensive MIDI implementation give users additional creative options.
The unique sound effects that can be achieved with this synth include cross-modulation, pulse width modulation (PWM), and filter resonance. Overall, these niche features make the OB-X8 an excellent choice for musicians looking to explore new sonic possibilities in their music.
Pros and Cons
Oberheim OB-X8 is a synthesizer that has been highly coveted by performers, producers, and composers since its introduction in 1979. This synth has many advantages over other synths including great sound generation capabilities, a wide range of modulation options, and rare features that make it stand out from the crowd.
However, like any instrument or tool, it also has some limitations. In this section of the article, we will explore the pros and cons of using the OB-X8 in a musical setting.
Advantages of using the OB-X8 in a musical setting
One of the main advantages of using the OB-X8 is its sound quality. The synth's tone and timbre are rich and warm, making it extremely versatile for use in various music genres.
Additionally, its polyphony feature allows for up to eight voices to be played simultaneously which opens up endless possibilities for chord progressions and harmonies. Another advantage is that it has a wide range of modulation options that allow users to create complex sounds with ease.
The OB-X8 offers four LFOs (low-frequency oscillators), two ADSR (attack-decay-sustain-release) envelopes per voice, and an additional global envelope for filter control. These options can be used to create dynamic movements in soundscapes or add subtle nuances to individual notes.
The OB-X8 also boasts unique features such as its voice allocation mode which allows users to choose how voices are distributed across keys on the keyboard. This feature enhances flexibility when creating complex sounds through layering multiple voices or playing different patches simultaneously.
Another advantage is its compatibility with MIDI technology which enables integration with modern digital audio workstations (DAWs) seamlessly allowing for real-time manipulation of parameters via automation or mapping controllers. Oberheim synthesizers are known for their build quality so investing in an OB-X8 assures reliability and durability.
Disadvantages or limitations of this model
One of the main disadvantages of the OB-X8 is its cost as it is a premium synth with a high price tag. Additionally, the OM-X8's complex architecture may be overwhelming for beginners or those unfamiliar with synthesis.
Another limitation is that it has only eight voices which may not be sufficient when compared to other modern synths that offer more polyphony. This can be limiting when trying to create complex sounds that require layering or playing chords with many notes.
The OB-X8's design also poses issues regarding portability due to its size and weight, making it difficult to transport between gigs or studios without extra help. Although the OB-X8 offers unique features such as voice allocation mode, some users may find it complicated to utilize these functions effectively which can limit their creative potential.
The Oberheim OB-X8 synthesizer has many advantages for musicians who strive for quality sound output and extensive modulation options. Its unique features set it apart from other synths on the market. Despite its high cost and complex architecture which may pose a challenge for beginners, investing in this synth guarantees reliability and durability.
However, its limited polyphony and weight may hinder live performances. Ultimately, deciding whether this synth suits one’s musical needs depends on personal preferences as well as budget constraints.
Summary of Key Points Discussed in Review
The Oberheim OB-X8 is a vintage polyphonic synthesizer that has stood the test of time for over four decades. Its physical design and layout, control panel, interface, and sound generation capabilities make it an excellent choice for musicians looking to add analog warmth and depth to their soundscapes.
The OB-X8's tone and timbre are rich and complex, with a wide range of modulation options available. Additionally, its polyphony and voice allocation make it a popular choice among synth enthusiasts who are looking to create complex layered sounds.
Despite some limitations in terms of the number of voices and presets available, the OB-X8 offers unique features that set it apart from other synthesizers on the market today. Understanding these rare features is crucial in achieving the most out of this synth.
Final Thoughts on Who Would Benefit from Using This Synthesizer
The Oberheim OB-X8 is ideal for musicians seeking vintage analog tones that are warm and complex. If you're seeking unique sound effects or want to create layered sounds using multiple voices, this synth might be perfect for you.
However, if you're looking for an instrument with hundreds or thousands of presets readily available at your fingertips or more advanced digital features such as sample playback or built-in effects processing - look elsewhere. Overall, if you're searching for an instrument with classic sounds that have passed the test of time without sacrificing versatility or creative potential - then look no further than the Oberheim OB-X8 polyphonic synthesizer!
Other Product Reviews
Roland AIRA Compact S-1 Review: Unleashing the Sonic Powerhouse
Lewitt PURE TUBE Studio Condenser Microphone Review
Arturia KeyLab Essential MK3: Comprehensive Review & Power for Music Production
Adam Audio A7V Studio Monitors Review 2023: Unleashing Precision
Nopia MIDI Review 2023: A Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Controller
Top 5 Synthesizers 2023: Unlock Your Creativity With These Powerful Synths
Top 5 Studio Headphones for Mixing and Mastering 2023
Native Instruments MASCHINE+ Production Workstation Review 2023
Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO Heritage Edition Review 2023
The Top 5 Microphones for Recording Rap Vocals: A Comprehensive Review 2023
YAMAHA HS8 8-Inch Powered Studio Monitors: An In-Depth Product Review 2023
Arcade by Output Review 2023: Revolutionizing Music Production
Spotify Growth Tips
Music Product Reviews
Hello, I'm Grizzly Beatz and I am an American LoFi Music Producer from Los Angeles Ca. When I am not producing music, or writing music related articles, I can usually be found exploring outdoors and national parks and spending time with my family.
30 Free LoFi Beats For YouTube Videos
30 Free LoFi Beats
These beats are available for you to use as background/intro/outro music on YouTube for up to 100,000 views but MUST give credit for the composition where possible "Prod. Grizzly Beatz - https://www.grizzlybeatz.com". If your video is flagged by Content ID simply dispute and make sure credit is given in the video description. After we validate proper credit given the claim will be lifted.
Purchase a lease to distribute your music on platforms like Spotify or Apple Music.
Use Coupon Code "GRIZZLY10" at checkout for 10% off all license!
License can be purchased at https://www.grizzlybeatz.com
LoFi/Chillhop Music Blog Post
Are you a LoFi music producer with high quality music looking for some music promotion and exposure? Submit your Spotify song or album to be promoted on our LoFi Hip Hop Blog. This is only for instrumentals, no vocals, and in the following genres: LoFi Hip Hop, Jazzhop, Chillhop.
NO TRAP, NO R&B, NO POP, NO ROCK, NO COUNTRY
Delivery: 3-5 days (sometimes sooner)
Promoting your music via blogs is a great way to increase streams, followers and overall exposure to your Spotify. Having embeds on music blogs also sends positive signals to the Spotify Algorithms.
What is lofi Music
Selling Beats Online 2023
Akai MPC One Plus Review
SP-404 MK2 Review
How To Make Money From LoFi Music
Best Studio Monitors Under $500
How The Spotify Algorithm Works
10 Ways To Increase Spotify Streams
Why Distrokid Is The Best