Oberheim OB-1

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Oberheim OB-1.jpg
Oberheim OB-1
Manufacturer Oberheim
Dates 1978
Technical specifications
Polyphony 1 voice
Timbrality Monotimbral
Oscillator 2 VCOs
Synthesis type Analog Subtractive
Filter 2 or 4 pole switchable VCF
Attenuator 2 x ADSR; one for VCF, one for VCA
Aftertouch expression No
Velocity expression No
Storage memory 8 patches
Effects None
Keyboard 37-key

The Oberheim OB-1 was a monophonic, programmable, analog synthesizer introduced by Oberheim Electronics in 1978. It originally sold for $1,895 and was the first analog synthesizer capable of storing patches. The design was a replacement for the previous generation of Oberheim SEM (Synthesizer Expansion Module) based instruments and intended to be used for live performance.[1][2]


The OB-1 is monophonic version of the Oberheim OB-X, with two VCOs and a Low Pass filter. It also contained an envelope control for both the filter and amplitude.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

Notable users of the OB-1 were the composer and musician Vince Clarke and the bands Tangerine Dream, Rush, and The Grid.[1] A 2014 feature on the French radio station France Inter claimed that the OB-1 had been used by the Star Wars sound engineer Ben Burtt to create the voice of R2-D2 and that the name of another Star Wars character, Obi-Wan Kenobi, derives from a transliteration of "OB-1".[3] However, Star Wars was first released in 1977, a year before the OB-1, and most sources credit the ARP 2600 synthesizer as being used to record R2-D2's voice.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "Oberheim OB-1". Vintage Synth. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  2. ^ Moog, Bob (2009). "Oberheim SEM Module". Keyboard Magazine Presents Vintage Synthesizers, p. 172. Backbeat Books
  3. ^ France Inter (18 February 2014. "Star wars Identities: visite virtuelle". Retrieved 25 April 2015 (in French). See also Russ, Martin (2012) Sound Synthesis and Sampling, 3rd edition, p. 333. Taylor & Francis
  4. ^ See for example, Kunkes, Michael (May-June 2009). "Sound Trek: The Audio Explorations of Ben Burtt". Editors Guild Magazine and Pinch, T. J. and Trocco, Frank (2004). Analog Days, p. 273. Harvard University Press