Oberheim OB-X

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OB-X
Oberheim OB-X
Oberheim OB-X
Manufactured by Oberheim
Dates 1979 - 1981
Price US$4,595 - US$5,995
Technical specifications
Polyphony 4, 6 or 8 voices
Timbrality Monotimbral
Oscillator 2
LFO 1
Synthesis type Analog Subtractive
Filter 1
Attenuator 1
Memory 32 patches
Effects None
Input/output
Keyboard 61-key
External control CV/Gate

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, Styx member Dennis DeYoung (used frequently from late 1979 to 1984), Queen (their first synthesizer on an album), Prince, a keen user, and Jean Michel Jarre who used it for its massive "brass" sounds.

Specification[edit]

The OB-X was the first Oberheim synthesizer based on a single printed circuit board called a "voice card" (still using mostly discrete components) rather than the earlier SEM (Synthesizer Expander Module) used in Oberheim semi-modular systems, which had required multiple modules to achieve polyphony. The OB-X's memory held 32 user-programmable presets. The synthesizer's built-in Z-80 microprocessor also automated the tuning process. This made the OB-X less laborious to program, more functional for live performance, and more portable than its ancestors.

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 and Songs featuring OB-X[edit]

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