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Oxford Synthesizer Company OSCar Programmable Music Synthesizer

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    The OSCar was a synthesizer manufactured by the Oxford Synthesizer Company from 1983 to 1985. It was ahead of its time in several ways and was one of the few mono-synths of its time to have MIDI.

    Although the basic structure of the OSCar is the common subtractive synthesis model, it has many unusual features and design quirks. The main difference from other synthesizers of the time was its digital oscillators and control system. The oscillators have an array of standard wave shapes including triangle, sawtooth, square and a variable pulse-width modulation, but the digital system also provides additive synthesis. New waveforms can be created by changing the amplitudes of up to 24 harmonics, widening the available sound palette in comparison with purely analogue synths. The two oscillators can either be played together mono phonically, or the OSCar can be set in a duophonic mode where they keyboard controls one oscillator and the sequencer the other.

    The filter was actually two 12dB/Oct analog filters that can be combined into either a 24dB low pass, a 24dB high pass or a 12dB bandpass filter. Although this design appeared in other analog synths of the era, such as the Roland Jupiter-6, the OSCar has its own unique twist on it, by having a "Separation" control that allowed you to separate the filters' cutoff frequencies. This created two resonance peaks in the filter, giving a unique "vocal" character.

    The OSCar has an elementary sequencer. In duophonic mode it allows the user to play a monophonic lead whilst a sequence plays simultaneously. Many sequencers at the time only allowed notes of a fixed length to be used in their sequencers but on the OSCar it was possible to lengthen individual notes or insert spaces.
    Type: Analog, Digital
    Synthesis: Additive, Subtractive
    Oscillators: 2
    Waveforms: Additive, Pulse Variable, Saw Up, Square, Triangle
    Osc Modulation: Keyboard, Knob, LFO, Sequencer
    Envelopes: 2
    Evelope Paramerters: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
    Filters: 2
    Types: 12dB Slope (2-pole), Band Pass, High Pass, Low Pass
    Filter Modulation: Envelope, Keyboard, Knob, LFO, Sequencer
    LFO: 1
    LFO Parameters: Sample & Hold, Saw Up, Square, Triangle
    Polyphony & Tuning
    Polyphony: 1
    Timbrality: 1
    Modes: Duophonic, Mono
    Patches RAM: 32
    Storage: Internal, Tape
    Editing: MIDI
    Real-time recording
    1500 events
    12 sequences
    10 chains
    Chips and Operating System
    Z80a microprocessor
    Case: Keyboard
    Keyboard: 37 keys, Non-weighted, Plastic
    Controls: Buttons, Knobs, Mod - Wheel, Pitch -Wheel, Sequencer
    Display Type: LED
    Dimensions (WxDxH): 24 1/4 x 14 1/4 x 5 inches / 725 x 368 x 119 mm
    Weight: 21 lbs / 8 kg
    Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack
    MIDI Ports: IN, OUT
    Year Released: 1983
    Year Discontinued: 1985
    Units Made: 2000
    Used By
    Billy Currie Chris Cross Geoff Downes Jean-Michel Jarre John Foxx Keith Emerson Midge Ure Sneaker Pimps Stevie Wonder Tim Simenon
    Design Notes:

    Chris Huggett designed the electronics while independent product designer Anthony Harrison-Griffin was responsible for the unique look and build of the OSCar.

    Harrison-Griffin's use of distinctive black rubberized components to protect the controls and main casing became one of the instrument's most distinctive visual features. He even built into the ends a dummy 3-pin main socket to safely store the plug.
    Manuals & Documents
    Repairs and Support
    [+] www.airburst.co.uk

    Virtual Software
    MSRP List Price: $1,000 - convert
    Retail Street Price: 499 GBP - convert
    Used Price: $3,500 - $4,000 - convert
    YouTube Videos
    References & Sources
    Related Synthesizers
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