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Oberheim OB-X Polyphonic Synthesizer

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    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.

    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 entire range used "paddle" levers for pitch and modulation, Oberheim's answer to the "wheel" controls of the Prophet-5. Though these controls were never as popular as the standard pitch and modulation wheels, the philosophy was to mimic the motion of a guitar player bending the strings on their guitar. On most other synthesizers the pitch bend wheel was on the left, and the modulation wheel to the right of it; on the OB-X Oberheim placed them in the opposite relative positions. In addition to this unique configuration the polarity of the paddles was distinctive; the player would pull back on the pitch lever to bend the pitch sharp, and push forward to bend flat.
    Type: Analog
    Synthesis: Subtractive
    Oscillators: 2
    Waveforms: Pulse, Saw Down, Square
    Osc Modulation: Glide / Portamento, Knob, LFO, Oscillator, Pitch Wheel, Sync Hard
    Envelopes: 2
    Evelope Paramerters: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
    Filters: 1
    Types: 12dB Slope (2-pole), Low Pass, Resonance
    Filter Modulation: Keyboard, Knob, LFO
    LFO: 1
    LFO Parameters: Sample & Hold, Sine, Square
    Polyphony & Tuning
    Polyphony: 8
    Timbrality: 1
    Tuning: Standard
    Patches RAM: 32
    Storage: Internal
    Editing: CV
    Case: Keyboard
    Keyboard: 61 keys, Non-weighted, Plastic
    Controls: Buttons, Knobs, Switches, Mod - Wheel, Pitch - Lever, Modulation 1/8" Jacks, Pedal - Filter, Pedal - Sustain, Pedal - Volume
    Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack, Mono Out
    Audio Output Notes: 1
    CV Ports: CV IN, CV OUT, Gate In, Gate Out
    Year Released: 1979
    Year Discontinued: 1981
    Units Made: 800
    Used By
    Ambrosia, Laurie Anderson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Eurythmics, John Foxx, Jerry Goldsmith, Dave Grusin, Bruce Hornsby & The Range, Rick James, Japan, Jean Michel Jarre, Billy Joel, Killing Joke, Kool and the Gang , Madonna, Missing Persons, Nena, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Princ, Queen, Roxy Music , Rush, David Sanborn, Shakatak, Styx, Supertramp, Tangerine Dream, Ultravox, Van Halen
    Manuals & Documents
    MSRP List Price: $5995 - convert
    Retail Street Price: $5000 - convert
    Used Price: $3000 - $4000 - convert
    YouTube Videos
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