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Shear Electronics Relic-6 - New Six Voice Discrete OB-X Based Analog synth Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 23rd January 2017
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Shear Electronics Relic-6 - New Six Voice Discrete OB-X Based Analog synth


MATRIXSYNTH: NAMM 2017: Shear Electronics Relic-6 - New Six Voice Discrete OB-X Based Analog Desktop Synthesizer

Another sleeper surprise from NAMM. Note this is the first Shear Electronics post on the site. Jacob Brashears started working on the synth at the age of 15. The Relic-6 is based on the circuitry of the 1979 Oberheim OB-X. It has touch sensitive knobs with interactive display queues. Note the active light strip that runs through the middle of it as well as the lit colored labels. It has an all analog signal path with digital control voltage modulation (digital emulation of the Curtis 3310 envelop). You can actually adjust the spread between envelopes. Two VCOs feature a Saw and Pulse wave with various width, with sync. It has the original Oberheim 12db 2-pole lowpass filter with the ability to layer two sounds. It consists of 3000 transistors, an all glass front panel, hand crafted wood sides, and aluminum metal case. Retro future Star Trek look. They are targeting $3499 and hoping to ship this Summer. Currently they are planning to make five prototypes to get out there for testing and use.

Some additional info via Voice Card

"Discrete analog extravagance.

Our voice card isn’t really dipped in solid gold. Aside from that, no expense was spared.

In our search for unparalleled sonic character, we looked to one of the most revered synthesizers ever made: The Oberheim OB-X.

We dusted off archived schematics of this 1979 behemoth and painstakingly recreated the entire signal path. Every single component of it.

Voltage-Controlled Oscillators.

Forget about DCOs, NCOs & PCM. There’s only one type of circuit that resonates with the freedom of a guitar string and the power of a live brass section.

Still, some VCOs are better than others. We’re using:
36 Resistors
12 Transistors
4 Capacitors
1 Diode
In each oscillator.

Excessive? Absolutely. But this old-school complexity creates a sonic depth that’s impossible to describe. Once you hear it, you'll never want to give it up.

Legendary State-Variable Filter.

First appearing in Oberheim’s groundbreaking SEM synth module, this voltage-controlled lowpass filter is arguably the greatest polysynth filter of all time.

The gentler 12dB/octave curve kept all the biting resonance of the 24dB Minimoog filter, but added more air and sizzle.

We built it the old-fashioned way, right down to a faithful Texas Instruments clone of the notoriously gritty RCA 3080 chip.

Back in 1974, the famous SEM filter required ultra-precise silver-mica capacitors to produce its signature resonance. Today, silver-mica capacitors have become ultra-rare. Of course, we used them anyway.

Scorching in Stereo. Old-school VCAs weren't always perfect, but they were never boring.

In the days before crystal-clear amplifier chips, subtle distortion used to color your sound whether you liked it or not.

On top of that, the earliest polysynths had knobs to manually pan individual voices for a striking three-dimensional effect.

After all the scorching texture of the oscillators and filter, our voice card’s output stage delivers the finishing blow.

And with two discrete VCAs for each voice, the stereo field is flexible, powerful, and programmable.

Envelopes with Curtis Curves.

The Curtis Electromusic CEM3310 Envelope Generator shaped control voltages for the Prophet-5, Memorymoog, and the entire Oberheim OB-series.

The original chip was discontinued in 1985, but we’ve examined authentic datasheets and recreated its distinctive curves with a 40 kHz output rate at 14-bit resolution.

The unique attack stage rose to 6.5 volts, but was truncated at 5 volts — not quite exponential, not quite linear.

Our emulation matches it perfectly.

Often, rise & fall times were glaringly inconsistent from one voice to the next.

Our ‘fatness’ parameter lets you dial up the vintage looseness when you want it, or stick with timing accuracy when you need it."

Last edited by golden beers; 23rd January 2017 at 05:21 PM..
Old 23rd January 2017
Lives for gear
Holy ****!

This thing looks ****ing epic!

It's also about 1/20 the size of my old OBie. He wasn't even born when that was built either
Old 23rd January 2017
Lives for gear
beautiful work. All the best to this kid.
Old 23rd January 2017
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Certainly sounds the business.
Old 23rd January 2017
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asynchro_nous's Avatar

Old 23rd January 2017
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Smack Dammit's Avatar

Old 23rd January 2017

what did i just witness

$3499 is a lot but i can't say that i doesn't deserve that price tag compared
to the standardised stuff of today
Old 23rd January 2017
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I'm not sure who this kid is and I don't say this lightly. I'm thoroughly impressed- well done. I could see myself with one. Amazing interface.
Old 23rd January 2017
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Don't, don't, don't do that gloss acrylic fingerprint-magnet panel... I hope that's on account of being a prototype.

Sure looks and sounds nice but $3500 for a large desktop module is pricey, plus, and this is purely subjective, I'm looking towards new frontiers in digitally-controlled analog. An 008 module is similarly priced and has that forward thinking. Plus, nifty recreations with the digital visuals and feedback are well covered by VSTs at a fraction of the price.
Old 23rd January 2017
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ImNotDedyet's Avatar
Damn! That thing looks and sounds the business! Kid's a badass too!
Old 23rd January 2017
I can't find the the website... anyone?
Old 23rd January 2017
That's incredible. Sounds amazing. Hope he can get these in production. I was guessing at least $4000, but if they can do $3500 I think they will be able sell. I would certainly take one of those over a new Model D at that price.
Old 23rd January 2017
well i have the original OBX, and from little i heard here, my mind has officially been blown. i hope they succeed bringing this to the market.

wish they went for 8 voices and the state variable filter, not just lowpass, as nod to obx predecessors four voice and 8 voice, but still - this is freakin' tremendous effort and a fantastic result. i am lost for words. even moreso bcs its all first started by a 15yr old kid.
Old 23rd January 2017
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rids's Avatar

Um...... Ho Li Sh!t.

Love the big chunky knobs and buttons! The interface is beautiful and it's a fraction of the size of a real OB-X. It sounds great. This guy has a bright future for sure.
Old 23rd January 2017
Gear Guru
fiddlestickz's Avatar
Ugly as but sounds the business..
Old 23rd January 2017
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Looks and sounds pretty cool. Good ideas and I wish them the best. I do have a personal aversion to large, shiny black glass/plexi synth interfaces though. That lighted control value strip is cool.
Old 23rd January 2017
Gear Addict
REwire's Avatar

He goes right for the classics. Knows what the fans want!
Old 23rd January 2017
Gear Head
Fragile Gods's Avatar

Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
I can't find the the website... anyone?
Old 23rd January 2017
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Very impressed with the synth and it's creator.
Old 23rd January 2017
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Quantum7's Avatar
VERY impressed!!!! Beautiful instrument! I'd be a very proud father to have that kid as my son. I will be praying that he has success with this thing.....especially in this day and age where a lot of people are now going to be expecting DM12 prices, and not necessarily care about high quality craftsmanship in an instrument. If he pulls it off, I would definitely be interested in purchasing it.
Old 23rd January 2017
Here for the gear

Just when I figured there was nothing interesting at NAMM this year...Boy, was I wrong.
Old 23rd January 2017
This kid just won NAMM.
Old 23rd January 2017
Gear Addict

Shame Sonic State didn't go find Tom Oberheim , bring him over & film the encounter with synth & young designer .
I was impressed with synth & the new young man on the block .

edit . suddenly Tats is looking old
Old 23rd January 2017
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intuitionnyc's Avatar
I think this looks and sounds amazing. I wish him all the best success in the world. Very great to see another young person with such passion for stuff like this and taking risks.

I have a question though. Would this module of his put him in direct competition with the DSI OB-6 desktop module at close to half the price? I mean, I recognize that this is a bit different, but just curious.

I would love to see Nick Batt get this bad boy in on the demo table.
Old 23rd January 2017
Gear Head
icelander's Avatar

This machine is incredible. What a brilliant kid. Really hope he can get these into production.

I've been hoping for a modern OB-Xa but always thought it would come from Tom Oberheim/DSI. Maybe it will come from somewhere else. Sounds so nice.
Old 23rd January 2017
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The Hamburglar's Avatar

Sounds outrageously good.
Old 23rd January 2017
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WozNYC's Avatar
Brilliant. Loved the bit where he slightly altered the envelopes to make it sound 3D. Reminded me of the dual ladder filters on the Voyager. We're looking at the future of synthesizers with this kid. Awesome.

Next week we'll find out we were being trolled and we were really listening to SonicProjects OP-X PRO-II
Old 23rd January 2017
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login's Avatar
Wow, really impressive. Hope it comes out, it really sounds great.
Old 23rd January 2017
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This is really cool. Best part for me is the interface because it's doing things I wish more synths did
Old 23rd January 2017
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It says "state variable filter" but i only see (and hear) the Lowpass.
Don't see anything on the front panel that suggests anything other than the 12db lowpass.
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