|Dates||1979 - 1981|
|Price||US$4,595 - US$5,995|
|Polyphony||4, 6 or 8 voices|
|Synthesis type||Analog Subtractive|
The Oberheim OB-X is an analog polyphonic sound synthesizer. First commercially available in June 1979, it was introduced to compete with the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, which had been successfully introduced the year before. About 800 units were produced with moderate success before the OB-X was discontinued in 1981, replaced by the updated and streamlined OB-Xa. The OB line developed and evolved after that with the OB-8 before being replaced by the Matrix series.
The OB-X would be used in popular music by Rush (on Moving Pictures and Signals), Nena, Queen (their first synthesizer on an album), Prince, a keen user, and Jean Michel Jarre who used it for its massive "brass" sounds.
The OB-X was the first Oberheim synthesizer based on a single printed circuit board called a "voice card" (still using mostly discrete components but programmed using the Z-80 microprocessor) rather than the earlier S.E.M. (Synthesizer Expander Module) used in Oberheim modular systems, which had required multiple modules to achieve polyphony. The OB-X's memory held 32 user-programmable presets. Because of this the OB-X was less laborious to program than its ancestors, more functional for live performance and more portable.
The "X" in OB-X originally stood for the number of voice-cards (notes of polyphony) installed. It came in four, six, and eight-voice models with polyphonic portamento, and sample and hold. Even the 4-voice model was expensive at US$4,595. The range used "paddle" levers for pitch and modulation, Oberheim's answer to the "wheel" controls of the Prophet-5.
Albums featuring OB-X
- Ambrosia – Road Island (1982)
- Laurie Anderson – United States Live (1984)
- Paul Davis – 1980 self-titled LP on the song "All The Way"
- John Foxx – The Garden (1981)
- Jerry Goldsmith – Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1978)
- Dave Grusin – Out of the Shadows (1982)
- Bruce Hornsby & The Range – The Way It Is (1986)
- Bruce Hornsby & The Range – Scenes From The Southside (1988)
- Japan – Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980)
- Japan – Tin Drum (1981)
- Jean Michel Jarre – Magnetic Fields (1981)
- Billy Joel – Glass Houses (1980)
- Killing Joke – Night Time (1985)
- Killing Joke – Brighter than a Thousand Suns (1986)
- Kool and the Gang – Something Special (1981)
- Liaisons Dangereuses – Live in Hacienda (1982)
- Madonna – Madonna (1983) (song: Holiday)
- Missing Persons – Spring Session M (1982)
- Nena – 99 Luftballons (1984)
- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Dazzle Ships (1983)
- Prince – Dirty Mind (1980)
- Prince – Controversy (1981)
- The Producers – "She Sheila" / "Chinatown" (1982)
- Queen – Flash Gordon (1980)
- Queen – The Game (1980)
- Queen – Hot Space (1982)
- Rush – Moving Pictures (1981)
- Rush – Signals (1982)
- Styx – Paradise Theater (1981)
- Supertramp – ...Famous Last Words... (1982)
- Tangerine Dream – Exit (1981)
- Ultravox – Quartet (1982)
- Ultravox – Rage in Eden (1981)
- Van Halen – 1984 (1984)
SonicProjects have created a VSTi emulation of the OB-X, for Windows and Mac platforms called the OP-X, with near-identical sounds to the hardware version. Widely praised as the most accurate emulation of an Analog Polysynth, SonicProjects include multiple versions of the OP-X including two "Pro" versions.