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anyone else underwhelmed with modern poly synths? Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 20th December 2016
  #151
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robot gigante's Avatar
Agree with many of the opinions expressed here.

It makes me think of the reception given to the ill-fated OB-MX. I had one for some time a few years back. Willing to entertain the possibility that there were good ones and bad ones, and I chanced on a good one, but that synth, while perhaps deserving of the vicious anger directed at its sound quality when it was released, still sounds bigger and more interesting than most of the modern polysynths under discussion.

Either the bar has been lowered or tastes change, however you want to think about it.

I don't think that watering the discussion down with comparisons to software is that great of a thing to do, best to start yet another emulation comparison thread for that stuff. I also think Diva is overhyped, and while I love softsynths, I have to think that perhaps the meeting of VA's and modern analog polys halfway both in sound and design is pointless and sad.

I don't think there is anything magical about vintage polys. Most of the modern ones on the market have design aesthetics that not everyone gels with- maybe to cut costs, maybe because that is what the designers were going for. I think there is definitely room for more competition. No reason why a simple modern polysynth can't be designed to nail a good raw tone to 'vintage' standards. But if the tone is so-so, as has been mentioned there had better be modulation... up to the Xpander's capabilities, say. That's an OK compromise.
Old 20th December 2016
  #152
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OB8 is a great instrument. finicky but SPECIAL. It sounds amazing because there's an entire 8x10 board of design for each set of 2 voices. the OBX, JP6, JP8 etc etc are all similar. Modern circuit design is different. so much smaller and pre packaged. and the age of the components is different. The Discrete jupiter 8 is a fantastic synth that dares you to write a song. Its a character that is different avery time you turn it on and make a patch. I never feel that way when i play modern poly synths. i demoed a P8 and felt like it needed FX to sound good ( thats a bad sign ). ( PS the Tx816 sounds so very alive too lol ).

nick z
Old 20th December 2016
  #153
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Muser's Avatar
I had a spate of emulating those combo divide down string machines / clunky piano synths recently. I kind of inferred the limited component and design concepts they would have used, to make decisions about how to go about recreating the types of naive implementations they must have been making as they strive to exceed their grasp.

it all took quite a bit of time because I had to study ways in which players interact with the machines and ascribe effects to causes. luckily my synths oscillators have pretty deep control, but only two can sound so there were technical limitations there. eventually after a back and forth I was able to hone in on enough of the important properties and get them in the right shape.

one of the interesting effects turned out to be related to the lack of velocity. combined with all the other components the lack of velocity has a strong impact on dictating what a player plays, because the expressive scope of what can be played gets constricted. it produces its own kind of language when the sound components jibe with the lack of articulation. in this case a naive interpretation of the properties of acoustic instruments.

probably one of the more interesting programming escapades so far, because as I then start ascribing velocity depth control to certain other parameters, the sound starts bending towards sounds which remind me of things which oberheim's were good at. but as I can have two distinct oscillators each with deep control I can push two distinct components at the same time. it goes from sounding like a clunky old piano string emulation, to where the effect of synthesis reveals itself and becomes dominant. it starts to sound like a good synth but diverges dependent on an underlying architecture on which the original was never based.

if the velocity modulation targets are simpler and less radical, such as a small bit of level difference, each of the two sound components gets a new relationship between a crappy ole string + crappy ole piano dynamic balances. which very often isn't as inspiring as the one closer to original response, or lack thereof. though every now and then is almost as good, but inspiring in new and seemingly as yet undiscovered ways.

it usually leads me to the opinion that why someone might find a synth fun and inspiring is probably dependent on so many creative factors which are part and parcel of the given tool, and which if ignored, can often only be properly ascribed to neglect. but on the other side of the coin, it's a good reason to go with something that really floats your boat. unless you're a die hard masochist.
Old 20th December 2016
  #154
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flowthrough's Avatar
I had a favorite patch I made on my OB-8 that I tried to recreate on an Xpander, Jupiter-6, and a Virtual Analog polysynth or two.
None of them had the sonic signature of the OB-8, though they sounded good (making the patch)- but not quite like the edge and animation of the OB-8 timbre.

I used that patch as a benchmark - and judged other synths with expectations of my OB-8 patch.
" Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya OB-8 patch, you failed my test, prepare to die. " - in that fashion, yes.

Beyond that one patch, I was (and am now) more than happy with Virtual Analog synths (Digital Polysynths *gasp*) ....... paired with some Analog monosynth.

I *still* make that patch today- but I never expect it to sound like an OB-8 (instead, I expect it to tell me how different the synth in question is from an OB-8.. and then the real exploration begins..... )

I'm not some Buddhist espousing 'letting go' to empower or free anyone from an OB-8 appreciation- ....just a very common synth nerd who took away a widened sense of wonder and respect for what different synths had on offer (Inspiration in different flavors).
Old 20th December 2016
  #155
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bach666 View Post
Personally, my favorite topics on GS are of the "analog vs digital" or "vintage vs modern" variety. They always end up turning into answerless meditations that induce a state of transcendent nirvana.
I like them because they ignite people's passion and you see them really defend their choices. In the end it does not matter what those choices are. OB-8, Diva or a scrap of wax paper and an old plastic comb. As long as you're passionate about an instrument, you're good. I see a lot of passionless people wading through life and it's nice to see people get excited. The only thing I know for sure is that if you disagree with my opinion, it means that you're wrong.
Old 20th December 2016
  #156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
There are too many problems with the Diva test. First off, the end result of the test was a commercial product. Whether done consciously or not, I can't believe the test was unbiased.
Yes, i know, i said exactly the same thing on KVR at that time and got some heavy flak for it from some users.
That doesn't change the fact that people couldn't tell which is which.
If the sound is the most important thing to you, i makes Diva a good alternative and much more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
Diva is great, but there are many instances where it fails compared to an actual analog.
Yes, for example audio rate modulation at extreme settings.
Good for me that i find these kinds of sounds ugly even on pure analog synths.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
That said, in many cases Diva can be 100% convincing. Just not all.
Right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
The second reason that example fails as a true indicator, is that it doesn't speak to the fact that nearly everyone could tell there was a difference. They just couldn't tell which difference indicated the hardware and which the software. My gut was that people picked the one they preferred and the patches were probably made to lean toward Diva's advantage a bit.
It also says something else - that with enough motivation (money in this case) it is possible to make a digital synth sound more attractive than an analog synth to listeners ears - and with very similar, nice sounds.
That was unthinkable up until about 10 yeas ago.
Old 20th December 2016
  #157
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To get back on topic:
I really believe that you can make not only modern analog but all synths sound more "vintage" just by some clever use of external effects, hardware or software.

And not only external.
For example if the synth responds to NRPN, you can program the curves in your DAW to make it misbehave just like some old half broken machine.

So yes, there are ways, you just need to go deeper and be unconventionally creative to discover them.
Old 20th December 2016
  #158
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Just read the whole thread now.

It comes accross as this:

"You can't have something worthwhile and magical unless you spend £4000."

This is quite irksome having spent £2000. I'm going to stope reading as it's bothering me, and return to making music with my sh1t synths.
Old 20th December 2016
  #159
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
Yes, i know, i said exactly the same thing on KVR at that time and got some heavy flak for it from some users.
That doesn't change the fact that people couldn't tell which is which.
If the sound is the most important thing to you, i makes Diva a good alternative and much more.


Yes, for example audio rate modulation at extreme settings.
Good for me that i find these kinds of sounds ugly even on pure analog synths.


Right.


It also says something else - that with enough motivation (money in this case) it is possible to make a digital synth sound more attractive than an analog synth to listeners ears - and with very similar, nice sounds.
That was unthinkable up until about 10 yeas ago.
Oh yeah. Don't criticize Diva on KVR if you don't want Urs's minions on your ass. I said recently that it had some UX issues and I was attacked. Urs himself led the charge. It was pretty ugly. Pathetic really.

Later in that thread he did admit to technical reasons that Diva could not keep up with analogs doing audio rate modulation and osc sync. I'm not sure why he didn't just admit it straight away because it's quite obviously not a fault of his programming. That's the thing. I don't think any amount of money would motivate someone to write more authentic sounding VA. I think they're butting up against the limits of modern processors. I bet if Intel figured out a way to make a 8 ghz processor at normal retail prices, we'd see the gap, however small or large your perceive it to be, between virtual and actual disappear. In some ways I think for monophonic analogs it already has.
Old 20th December 2016
  #160
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
(Continued) The £2000 synth is just naff. Even though it has, apparently VCO's.'well VCO's aren't enough anymore, you gotsta have aged motherf**ing VCO'/"s, and smelly power supplies!

If you don't spend that £4000, and only spend the £2000, you won't get the super magical 80's sound and no one will take your music seriously.

All these tw*** coming in here with their £2000 new synth, well we'll tell them where to go!

We'll say "you're too poor to have the magical thing! You should have been born to parents twice as rich! Because the only worthwhile thing is the £4000 thing, that's the one, nothing else!"
Old 20th December 2016
  #161
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NEXUS-6's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
(Continued) The £2000 synth is just naff. Even though it has, apparently VCO's.'well VCO's aren't enough anymore, you gotsta have aged motherf**ing VCO'/"s, and smelly power supplies!

If you don't spend that £4000, and only spend the £2000, you won't get the super magical 80's sound and no one will take your music seriously.

All these tw*** coming in here with their £2000 new synth, well we'll tell them where to go!

We'll say "you're too poor to have the magical thing! You should have been born to parents twice as rich! Because the only worthwhile thing is the £4000 thing, that's the one, nothing else!"
But what there not telling you is old synths are a pain to maintain many with no midi & can take up too much of the audio spectrum they have to be dialed back to fit in the mix.

Your OB-6 is just fine.
Old 20th December 2016
  #162
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Gringo Starr's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
(Continued) The £2000 synth is just naff. Even though it has, apparently VCO's.'well VCO's aren't enough anymore, you gotsta have aged motherf**ing VCO'/"s, and smelly power supplies!

If you don't spend that £4000, and only spend the £2000, you won't get the super magical 80's sound and no one will take your music seriously.

All these tw*** coming in here with their £2000 new synth, well we'll tell them where to go!

We'll say "you're too poor to have the magical thing! You should have been born to parents twice as rich! Because the only worthwhile thing is the £4000 thing, that's the one, nothing else!"
Wtf???
Old 20th December 2016
  #163
Gear Addict
 

vermona can make the perfourmer, which sounds genuinely good in an old school way

shame it's only 1 VCO per voice and an absolute nightmare to setup as a poly synth.

but that means it can be done.

DSI, on the other hand, is completely eschewing its roots and releasing unashamedly modern sounding synth. not saying it's bad, but it's definitely not the same sounding synths. the slop is completely useless.
Old 20th December 2016
  #164
Gear Nut
 
Her Zesty Sin's Avatar
 

OP has a strong point, though. We saw a lot a innovations with digital imaging in the last 20 years, but in my humble opinion, it doesn't seem the same leaps happened with the sounds of synths, with regular boards (with a few notable exceptions, of course), since the mid to late 90s. Which is a bit... sad? And yes some contemporary gear seems to be headed in an interesting direction. Maybe in the next years a new synthesis will emerge?

I could be wrong. I am no expert. It is also connected to today's approach. A lot of the new music with synths (M83, for example) just doesn't fully agree with me because I don't like their kind of harsh, sort of unsubstantial, and in my eyes a bit pretentious sound.

Fortunately, not having benefited with a true revolution with the sounds doesn't mean that recording didn't improve drastically, and that composing didn't bring major players. Tr/st and Austra are so great, they managed bringing so much of great soundscapes to the table, by paying homage to the past but also being solidly, grounded in the present and investing music very pertinently and organically.
Old 20th December 2016
  #165
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
(Continued) The £2000 synth is just naff. Even though it has, apparently VCO's.'well VCO's aren't enough anymore, you gotsta have aged motherf**ing VCO'/"s, and smelly power supplies!

If you don't spend that £4000, and only spend the £2000, you won't get the super magical 80's sound and no one will take your music seriously.

All these tw*** coming in here with their £2000 new synth, well we'll tell them where to go!

We'll say "you're too poor to have the magical thing! You should have been born to parents twice as rich! Because the only worthwhile thing is the £4000 thing, that's the one, nothing else!"
Old 20th December 2016
  #166
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glotus's Avatar
 

I reckon the sound on the OB6 is pretty close in the A/B vid with an Ob-8 below.

Mum liked the OB-8 sound more though

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dgyUpDDZnY
Old 20th December 2016
  #167
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Jamie munro's Avatar
 

So I see we have people arguing over why others prefer old poly to new and calling it dumb and yet those same people in other threads will argue the same minute differences in something they own

Old 20th December 2016
  #168
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Jamie munro's Avatar
 

Why is it that people have to try to force their **** onto others?

A: You like new school? great !

B: You like old school better ? great !

B can never convince A their way is better and vice Versa is what matters so try to grow up and accept others likes and dislikes
Old 20th December 2016
  #169
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manalishi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Her Zesty Sin View Post
OP has a strong point, though. We saw a lot a innovations with digital imaging in the last 20 years, but in my humble opinion, it doesn't seem the same leaps happened with the sounds of synths
But it has definitely happened in digital audio: hard disk recording, digital mixing, super low-cost and high quality home studios, etc.

In synthesis, sound innovation is mostly definitely easy to spot in plug-in software (any guy in his bedroom can create any VST he can dream of). But hardware innovations have also given us high polyphony, very low prices and a much greater variety of synths/beatboxs/sequencers/etc.
Old 20th December 2016
  #170
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We are at the stage of vanishing returns both in digital imaging and audio processing. The results are "good enough," particularly at a mass market scale (and that means listening/watching as much as it does producing) that further incremental advances really are not going to make any actual difference.

I'm not even sure that dreams of "increased immersion" and "virtual reality" are going to lead anywhere; the conveniences of sufficient immersion and textual/musical/visual fantasy far outpace having to re-live actuality in technologically reproduced form, which, as Saturday Night Live's parodies of Saturday Night Live have amply demonstrated, isn't actually all that interesting. We turn to fantasy in art as an ESCAPE from reality, not a reproduction of it. The closer we get to the real thing, the more we're likely to think, well, reality, it's better than alt-reality, why spend all this money when I can breathe air for free? (so far, except maybe in China today) Uncanny Valley applied to all things, especially the internet of things.

The debates over old analogue vs. new analogue vs. digital vs. software vs. hardware will continue, whether we will it to be so or not; it's just fun, why not?

My constant theme is that if you stop worrying about simulation (virtual reality) in terms of its accuracy in reflecting reality (reality), and take it on its own aesthetic terms, within its own intrinsic form, in other words if you concentrate on the thing in itself (the ding an sich) -- illusory as that phenomenon might be, whether in reality or in a virtualized reflection of same constructed by the imagination and circuits realized in software or hardware -- even if that thing in itself is an artificial construct which is apparently easily distinguishable from the reality it would seem to be attempting to emulate...... you'll be happy. Look! Formula for happiness! Zen Peace Restored to Your Consciousness, for free (well, you're paying how much for internet this month? so? but still... all is illusion, so why worry?).

Let's break this down to something more explicit: no fake OB8 will ever be an OB8. It will be a fake. A farce. A criminal masquerading as the real thing (the ding an sich). A doll in makeup trying to look like a human. It will lack features, macrocosmic or microcosmic, that will reveal the imitation almost instantly, though we have conducted experiments here to ascertain that under certain very limited conditions, the simulacrum can almost fool everyone (but put that everyone in front of an OB8 or one of its simulacrums and there will be no question said everyone will recognize the difference between simulacrum and original).

So. Established. You cannot fool mother nature (that being, your consciousness; whether it is a part, or apart from, mother nature, to be saved for a separate conversation).

Here, again, is my secret of happiness: vive la differance! There is the OB8, and there is the fake OB8. They are two different things, or in fact, many different things. It is possible to enjoy all of them. There is a certain Platonic nostalgia in yearning for the original rather than the simulacrum, but as Derrida resoundingly proved almost fifty years ago always already, that yearning is in itself an illusion. So, let go of it! And enjoy everything as you see fit; no-one is forcing you to do otherwise. The Platonic superiority of the original over the simulacrum is merely illusion -- don't forget that; because otherwise, you will always be feeling that you are living in fake/virtual/simulated reality, unless you have an actual OB8. And if having that actual OB8 is your only true pathway to happiness, at the cost it takes to obtain, maintain and break your back moving around same..... get an OB8!

All problems solved.
Old 20th December 2016
  #171
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I'm pretty underwhelmed with most poly synths period. I have a few and its all I need. Have way more modular and monos.
Old 20th December 2016
  #172
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eXode's Avatar
 

I find all this talk about the OB8 in particular quite funny. Tom Oberheim himself (supposedly) said that the OB-8 was too perfect and lacked the earlier models grit, which is kind of ironic when you think about it in the context of this discussion.
Old 20th December 2016
  #173
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Muser's Avatar
It's already proving tricky to get replacement parts for gear which is only 10 to 15 years old. if you have any synth that you love and or have done lots of work with, unless you take measures to obtain parts at the right point, whether or not you learn to fix the gear yourself or decide to give those parts to someone else so they can, you will all soon be in almost the same boat as the people with the vintage gear. in fact because of the nature of many of the current components, I'd say the cycle will actually be more frequent.
Old 20th December 2016
  #174
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autoy's Avatar
Anyone else underwhelmed with modern GS threads? I used to prefer vintage threads tbh.
Old 20th December 2016
  #175
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synthguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie munro View Post
Why is it that people have to try to force their **** onto others?

A: You like new school? great !

B: You like old school better ? great !

B can never convince A their way is better and vice Versa is what matters so try to grow up and accept others likes and dislikes
(First of all, dittos to what realtrance said above)

I understand the bold part. But at the same time I don't, that "the vintage way" is better. People will rejoice that their synths sound different every time you turn them on, and see this as a good thing. Or use synths that are jarringly out of tune, because to them, nothing screams "vintage" like being jarringly out of tune. I guess. To me and most keyboardists, this is when they have to visit the repair shop. But I'll come across YouTube demos of some synth they will intentionally overslop to the point it just sounds out of whack, and wonder why they think it's so awesome.

zerocrossing mentioned how diehard Diva fans, including The Urs himself, will vehemently defend their softie on KVR. Well, substitute Diva with "vintage synths" and what place does that sound like? To some here, any little difference is some sort of hate crime against music.

I've done the Muser thing for years, programming whatever is on hand to sound like some vintage piece, and me and my clients have been very happy with the result. One guy swore I nailed the Minimoog on a Kronos to the point he didn't need to think about renting a Model D. And yes, emulating the mixer/filter saturation isn't the same, no feedback loop trick. But you have to face the fact that most people don't use that element, or do audio rate modulation of whatever.

I will still go out of my way to beg borrow or grovel for an old synth. Mostly just because, as it's a lot easier and cheaper to fashion an imitation patch on something, even a rompler sometimes. But listing some old dinosaur on your album notes is eye catching and makes you all serious about your art.

Still, I insist you don't need them. Focus on the word "need." If you absolutely MUST HAVE an ARP 2600 or Memorymoog on your track, I'll support that, no question. I'm totally behind the gestalt that being in front of an OB8, CS-80, real Hammond and Leslie and the dreaded Modular Moog will inspire you in ways mousing on a computer with a little 3 or 4 octave keyboard controller just won't. You may likely play or program differently. You guys lucky enough to track in million dollar studios with Neve, SSL or whatever console, surrounded by rack compressors that cost thousands, I'm super jealous. You who record to multitrack tape, much respect and admiration.

But you don't need all that. I still insist that you can do music just as valid and pleasing and even vintage sounding with a VA or softie. Use vintage plugins and channel strip and tube and tape emulation. Or don't. It's not a crime.

There's nothing quite like having a real piano on a track, real drums, real guitar amps. They're a hassle, seriously inconvenient, especially miking up a piano. But when it's right, it's sublime. But can you do pretty much the same track with a digital piano, or a virtual drumkit? Of course. These days, it can be hard to tell the difference, especially with good chops and proper production.

The hardest synth to emulate is probably the CS-80. Google up a pick of the guts. It might have half a kilometer of wire or more, hundreds of caps and resistors, dozens of circuit boards, a unique summing architecture. But I tell you what, I've heard people recreating Vangelis pieces spot on with a Roland Jupiter-50. If you have a Dave Smith OB-6 and are crying inside because you can't afford the house payments necessary to acquire a real Obie 8 Voice in good shape, you let this place get to you and mess up what should be a match made in music heaven. You're so close to having an OB-X, the differences are stupid to fret over. Plus you have a state variable filter the X doesn't have.

Music is an adventure. Don't let the hardcore on the intranets tell you what that adventure should be. Just read my tagline and follow its advice, and don't look back.
Old 20th December 2016
  #176
Jose Ramón Alvarado Villa
 
Don Solaris's Avatar
What i wanted to say was, go make f-kin music!

If you're just ranting over the forum all the time, then i doubt there is a device that could make you happy anyway.
Old 20th December 2016
  #177
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enossified's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
I think everyone here knows the "wow effect" playing a vintage synth has
Especially when it's "wow, is that all this thing can do?"
Old 20th December 2016
  #178
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by robot gigante View Post
Agree with many of the opinions expressed here.

It makes me think of the reception given to the ill-fated OB-MX. I had one for some time a few years back. Willing to entertain the possibility that there were good ones and bad ones, and I chanced on a good one, but that synth, while perhaps deserving of the vicious anger directed at its sound quality when it was released, still sounds bigger and more interesting than most of the modern polysynths under discussion.

Either the bar has been lowered or tastes change, however you want to think about it.

I don't think that watering the discussion down with comparisons to software is that great of a thing to do, best to start yet another emulation comparison thread for that stuff. I also think Diva is overhyped, and while I love softsynths, I have to think that perhaps the meeting of VA's and modern analog polys halfway both in sound and design is pointless and sad.

I don't think there is anything magical about vintage polys. Most of the modern ones on the market have design aesthetics that not everyone gels with- maybe to cut costs, maybe because that is what the designers were going for. I think there is definitely room for more competition. No reason why a simple modern polysynth can't be designed to nail a good raw tone to 'vintage' standards. But if the tone is so-so, as has been mentioned there had better be modulation... up to the Xpander's capabilities, say. That's an OK compromise.
Well, I think software is relevant in this discussion because there are many that are specifically trying to sound vintage, where synths like the new Sequentials are more modern takes on a theme. So, Dave is trying to move past vintage, where XILS is trying to recreate vintage. Whether or not you think the software succeeds is a matter for debate, but the different trajectories are worth talking about.
Old 20th December 2016
  #179
Gear Nut
 

I was recently in the market for my first Analog synth, and I was also somewhat underwhelmed by some of the current analog offerings

But, frankly, I was even more underwhelmed at the prospect of paying collector prices for beat up, worn out electronics with 30 years of accumulated finger grease and sweat. Buying an old synth is more like buying and old VCR then buying a vintage Strat. I was willing settle for a 10% sound difference to avoid those issues. For me, close enough was close enough.......
Old 20th December 2016
  #180
Quote:
Originally Posted by eXode View Post
I find all this talk about the OB8 in particular quite funny. Tom Oberheim himself (supposedly) said that the OB-8 was too perfect and lacked the earlier models grit, which is kind of ironic when you think about it in the context of this discussion.
Yeah, he said that about the OB-8 relative to the OB-Xa and OB-X. You have to wonder what he would have to say about the later Oberheims, and practically every other synth that came after the OB-8.

I know what he means though. Tuning on the OB-8 is more stable than its predecessors. But that doesn't take away its warm huge sound and compared to modern VCO's, it has grit. I have the OB-6 and OB-8 and they certainly have different character. I like the OB-6 though. It has great sound and very fun to play. To me, it just sounds more similar to vintage DCO however, in comparison to the OB-8.
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