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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.

Technical Specifications
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
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.
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
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References & Sources

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