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Oberheim OB-8
Old 30th October 2018
  #1
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Firechild's Avatar
Oberheim OB-8

I think it is too little love for the OB-8 recently.
I had the opportunity to have all the OB classics side by side. OB-8, OB-Xa, and the OB-X.
The rumors are kind of correct.

The OB-X (1979) is closest to the sound of the SEM family. Most creamy and most "vintage" sounding by far. However the lack of DUAL mode, lack of master vibrato LFO and pretty slow envelopes it is still not the ultimate vintage poly. However for the most wonderful and creamy PWM pads, yes you are in heaven with the OB-X.

OB-Xa (1981) has surprisingly a pretty different sound, more edge in the lower mids where the OB-X is warmer over the full range but in the lower mids is where the OB-Xa really shines, almost an ARPish (2600, Odyssey, Solus) lower mid which I love a lot. The DUAL mode and master vibrato LFO makes it very difficult for me to pick only one of the OB-X or OB-xa for a desert island trip even though the OB-X may have the edge when it comes to creamy pads.

OB-8 (1983) was made with fewer parts inside compared to the OB-Xa but the Page2 gives you a lot of added features! Mr Tom Oberheim said, at least according to the Vintage Synthesizer Book by Mark Vail that the auto tuning algorithm was too perfect in the OB-8 and therefore it lacks some of the vintage warmth. Sure it may be true and also the software based LFO´s made something to the sound, making it sound a tiny notch "worse" than the OB-Xa. However you can in page 2 detune voices to each other ( not to confuse with detuning OSC2 to OSC1, that is a basic feature) AND you can also detune the lower patch in split and DUAL mode so I had no trouble at all to give it a vintage vibe!
I would say it would be very hard for me to tell which is which in a blindtest between OB-Xa and OB-8. When playing, yes, I could feel/hear that the OB-Xa has somewhat better "edge" but the added features would again...make it VERY hard which one to pick for a desert island trip...so...summary...all three are equally great

By the way, I made a track using the OB-8 exclusively.


Old 31st October 2018
  #2
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shreddoggie's Avatar
Excellent vid mate - and total agreement.

I am a full on Oberheim freak and have been through quite a few and I am always annoyed at the ridiculous extreme comparisons between the 3 classics. Yes - they each have a character but No - They are hardly apples vs trombone vs chai latte - not even close. The 'hard to tell the difference between the Xa and 8' is truth. I am sure a connoisseur with enough time on their hands and running through numerous patches could eventually pick the one from the other, until then - sorry - good luck.

The straight up OG X is a bit more different, closer to that gooey 4vs vibe. The other thing to recognize is the differences in features and reliability. Let me put it this way: I can have any one of the 3 (or even a 4 voice) and I choose to have the OB-8 with factory midi, page 2 modulation, voice panning on the outside, etc. The whole disinformation fairy tale is yet another victim of the GS factor of way too much time on ones hands to split hairs over differences in yt vids rather than the practical needs of getting down to it.

I love this wonderful vid of the magnificent OB-8:

Old 31st October 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
 

When I think of "vintage synth" I remember the OBXa and OB8 sounds. I am really hoping the OBXA clone will deliver the goods
Old 31st October 2018
  #4
I do miss my OB8 (had to be sacrificed for acquisition of Prophet 5, which I don't regret). There is a signature Oberheim polyphonic sound (sometimes called "sad"), and it's just gorgeous.

For me, an underrated feature of the 8 is the availability of a triangle wave -- allows for a range of softer sounds not possible (as far as I know) on the Xa...
Old 31st October 2018
  #5
Gear Addict
Sir if a gun was put to your head and you had to choose one of the three which would it be?
Old 31st October 2018
  #6
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cramseur's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firechild View Post
I think it is too little love for the OB-8 recently.
I had the opportunity to have all the OB classics side by side. OB-8, OB-Xa, and the OB-X.

[deleted great detailed explanation of differences between OB-X, OB-8 and OB-Xa]

By the way, I made a track using the OB-8 exclusively.


THAT'S IT! The sound that haunts me. THE missing sound I've been yearning for. Friggin' OB-8 !

edited to add: (But I also just said that about the Baloran River) - <sigh>

Last edited by cramseur; 31st October 2018 at 03:31 PM..
Old 31st October 2018
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
kijix84's Avatar
 

It's not to little love. It's just a gazillion dollars and people know it so they try to avoid it like something that makes you fat. Like cheesecake
Old 31st October 2018
  #8
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The OB-8 is the bridge from the Xa to the Xpander/M-12 in my mind. The 4-pole filters on both sound very similar, whereas the 2-poles sound very different--the 8 still has "that" classic OB sound while the Xpander/M-12 have a different flavor (though it still sounds great and is still very much "Oberheim").

One other interesting point is that the Xpander/M-12 oscillators are actually brighter than the OB-8. I think the slightly more lo-fi/duller oscillator on the latter helps accentuate the mid-range a bit more, which again gives more of the classic girthy OB tone. This is similar to how classic Akai samplers cut the high-end, which I think creates the perception of a mid-range boost.
Old 31st October 2018
  #9
Gear Addict
 
FabGear's Avatar
One more feature added to the OB8 is the Arpeggiator.

The keyboard on the OB8, except possibly on some early models, is a Panasonic rather than the industry standard Pratt-Read found on the OBX and OBXa as well as ARP, Moog, and Sequential. The action of the Panasonic becomes noisy with age and it is not as easy to fix by replacing key bushings as with the Pratt-Read.
Old 31st October 2018
  #10
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autoy's Avatar
My only gripe against the OB-8 is the sloppy envelopes but it happens they have a cause and a fix. Apparently there's a difference between calibration and normal modes, so if you stick to the service manual there's a software bug that will store an incorrect value. Counter this error in the calibration measurements and you get perfectly tight timings:

http://machines.hyperreal.org/manufa....envelopes.txt
Old 31st October 2018
  #11
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apessino's Avatar
Lovely sound, beautiful track!
Old 31st October 2018
  #12
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maisonvague's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shreddoggie View Post
I am a full on Oberheim freak and have been through quite a few and I am always annoyed at the ridiculous extreme comparisons between the 3 classics.
I agree and would add that if you could only have one, you really can't go wrong with any of the three.

Simply make a choice and go for it.
Old 1st November 2018
  #13
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FlyingMusician's Avatar
 

Great video Fairchild, your passion comes through loud and clear.

I also sold my OB-Xa for a Prophet 5, and don't regret it but I do miss the Oberheim. The OB-Xa's 12 db filter with the resonance up high is still to die for. Part of the reason I sold it was the OB-Xa is just so big and the Prophet 5 is one of those synths that you can have so much fun experimenting with. Plus, the Prophet 5 just sounds so raw and fat, even when using just oscillator 1.

One thing to note is the OB-8 also has 8 envelopes while the OB-Xa has 16 (one for each oscillator). Doing long filter sweeps can make the OB-Xa sound deeper and more lush with twice as many envelopes doing their "own thing."

For what they do, these old vintage synths still reign supreme over anything that has been made in recent decades.

Scott.
Old 1st November 2018
  #14
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingMusician View Post
...One thing to note is the OB-8 also has 8 envelopes while the OB-Xa has 16 (one for each oscillator). Doing long filter sweeps can make the OB-Xa sound deeper and more lush with twice as many envelopes doing their "own thing." ….

For what they do, these old vintage synths still reign supreme over anything that has been made in recent decades.

Scott.
You're might be confusing number of envelope chips (16 in both) with number of filter chips (16 in OBXa vs. 8 in OB8).

The OBXa uses one chip for 24db and a separate one for 12db, however only
one set of eight are active on any given patch. The OB8 manages to switch the topology around one chip (between 24db and 12db) to achieve the same result.


Agree with your last statement...
Old 1st November 2018
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firechild View Post

By the way, I made a track using the OB-8 exclusively.

This perfectly captures my memory of the OB-8.

These cost $4000 USD new! Imagine how much they would cost in today’s dollars.
Old 1st November 2018
  #16
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FlyingMusician's Avatar
 

Rangoon, thanks for the correction, that only 8 are active at any one time. That's good to know.
Old 1st November 2018
  #17
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maisonvague's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingMusician View Post
Plus, the Prophet 5 just sounds so raw and fat, even when using just oscillator 1.
Indeed it does. I love using just OSC A, freeing up OSC B for LFO mode: That's five (!) free running analog LFOs available for some tasty PolyMod action!
Old 5th November 2018
  #18
Here for the gear
I owned an OB-8 for many years. It was a great synth, but I think the OB-X would be the synth I would have enjoyed more and probably held onto. Strangely enough, I'm actually getting better sounds from my OB-6, possibly because of the built-in effects.
Old 13th November 2018
  #19
Gear Head
 

As someone mentioned earlier, the OB8 (the majority of them) used a Panasonic keybed that gets really noisy ‘clacky’ with age. This is hard to fix (was never able to get mine restored) and , if you are a keyboard player, makes for extremely unpleasant action and quite a racket too. Of course you can play back over midi, but with something so huge the appeal really lies in sitting n front of it and playing the controls - or it’s the world’s largest midi sound module :/
The other two have keyboards that (while it’s a tedious job) can be restored fairly simply.
Worth keeping in mind if you are a playing musician
Old 6th March 2020
  #20
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Quantum7's Avatar
I just bought an Oberheim OB8 - would love to hear from OB8 owners

Questions for OB8 owners, but first- A Korg Trident and an Oberheim OB8 in just 1 week- have I gone mad???? I wonder if I should tell me wife? It was that photo that Mr. @ flat posted on my Trident thread. Those 2 synths just looked so beautiful together, so I thought to myself, why not, you only live once, right? I learned a lot from the Trident thread I started, So am hoping to get some good information on the OB8.

Anyway, the OB8 is in cosmetically pristine condition with MID....and the Panasonic keyboard was swapped out in the 90's with a Pratt-Read keyboard with recently replaced bushing. The keyboard came from a broken down OBX. The synth was bought by the seller new in 1983.

I think I'll be replacing the side wood panels with Zebra wood, as I did on my The River. I'll definitely have to part with 1 or 2 of my modern synths though, as i really don't have enough room for all these synths....at least enough room to be comfortable anyway. Also, offsetting some of the cost of these 2 purchases might be smart. I may get rid of my Prophet 12le (the new limited last-run white edition....which I just bought and really like. Maybe my OB6....we'll have to see. I bought the OB6 specifically for an Oberheim tone. I know the OB6 can do things the OB8 cannot, but the tone is more important to me.

OB8 owners- any editors out there for backing up presets, or is the old-fashioned cassette tape still needed? Anything to watch out for in order to keep it in good shape? Any other OB8 knowledge or advice would be most welcome.

Last edited by Quantum7; 6th March 2020 at 09:09 AM..
Old 6th March 2020
  #21
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
I know that you must enjoy the congratulations messages...but have a think about if we really need a new thread every time you buy something?

Seems like a bit of a never ending tasteless display of wealth to me. It might be my, and other “mid level” synth owners who are at fault of course, it’s our fault for feeling jealous right?

Well yes and no, and now you are aware of it, you can choose to take some responsibility for inciting that jealous reaction.

We have a monthly new gear thread, you could do what we all do, and put your purchases in there.

The produce of your purchase is different, a cool video can have its own thread. But please, stop with the LOOKWHATIGOTLOOKWHATIGOTLOOKWHATIGOT
Old 6th March 2020
  #22
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Quantum7's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
I know that you must enjoy the congratulations messages...but have a think about if we really need a new thread every time you buy something?

Seems like a bit of a never ending tasteless display of wealth to me. It might be my, and other “mid level” synth owners who are at fault of course, it’s our fault for feeling jealous right?

Well yes and no, and now you are aware of it, you can choose to take some responsibility for inciting that jealous reaction.

We have a monthly new gear thread, you could do what we all do, and put your purchases in there.

The produce of your purchase is different, a cool video can have its own thread. But please, stop with the LOOKWHATIGOTLOOKWHATIGOTLOOKWHATIGOT
I do respect and understand where you are coming from, seriously I do, but the is GEARSLUTZ and I personally love to hear about others purchases. Jealousy is the problem of others, and should not dissuade others from sharing their gear acquisition happinesses. My Trident thread has been a fantastic help with giving my much desired information about an instrument I’ve never owned before, so naturally I was hoping for the same. There are Slutz on this forum who own more instruments right now than I’ve ever owned....and I‘m happy for them and love hearing about their equipment. Again, this is GEARSLUTZ....which I thought was one of the few places on Ye Olde Internet that one could flaunt their gear acquisitions. BTW I have never in my life even made anywhere close to a six figure income and my wife is a stay-at-home mother raising our disabled son, so if I can do it! then I have to also believe that most other people can, with a little strategy, also buy nice instruments. I’ve written a lot of music over the years that I receive royalties from and have served my country in the military, getting injured in the process, to earn the middle-class income that I earn, thus am not going to feel bad that some others here may earn less, thus cannot currently otherwise afford what I can. This is GEARSLUTZ!

I’m sorry if my wanting to share my happiness at acquiring something that I’v coveted for a long time now bothers you, but that is indeed your problem. Peace be with you though, and I sincerely hope that people are happy for you when you acquire something you’ve been wanting....and would love to share that news with your peers.

This thread has to be more interesting I would hope the dozens of “what will Behringer clone next?” threads....I hope.

Last edited by Quantum7; 6th March 2020 at 08:38 AM..
Old 6th March 2020
  #23
Gear Nut
 
Serotoninja's Avatar
you both
Old 6th March 2020
  #24
Gear Head
 

My biggest synth-related regret was letting go of my pristine OB-8 w/ factory Page 2 a few years ago- that and a JoMoX SunSyn Mk2. I got the Obie for the fantastic price of only $2800 CAD and sold it for $4k only a couple years later, never anticipating that they'd climb so much in price in the few years since (maybe sold it just four years ago). Always thought I'd get another, and I quite easily could, but genuinely don't feel good paying the current prices. It was an incredible synth, and so much more stable than the X and Xa, both of which my friend down the street had (in addition to dozens of other legacy synths) and always complained about them being in the shop a good 80% of the time- I actually never even got to hear them, but he claimed my OB-8 was every bit as good (I'm sure the other two are slightly bitter due to the chipset and other factors). Anyways, congrats on the new synth(s)- Trident is another I'd someday like to own, but truly, vintage synth prices have just gotten silly... J-60's for $2k+? Ha.
Old 6th March 2020
  #25
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Quantum7's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serotoninja View Post
you both
In hindsight I should’ve resurrected my old thread from 1 or 2 years ago in which I asked advice on which Oberheim might be a better buy foe me- the OBx, Xa, or 8. I just remembered that one.

MODERATORS- Please feel free to merge this thread into that one if you would like.
Old 6th March 2020
  #26
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Quantum7's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by brokesnob View Post
My biggest synth-related regret was letting go of my pristine OB-8 w/ factory Page 2 a few years ago- that and a JoMoX SunSyn Mk2. I got the Obie for the fantastic price of only $2800 CAD and sold it for $4k only a couple years later, never anticipating that they'd climb so much in price in the few years since (maybe sold it just four years ago). Always thought I'd get another, and I quite easily could, but genuinely don't feel good paying the current prices. It was an incredible synth, and so much more stable than the X and Xa, both of which my friend down the street had (in addition to dozens of other legacy synths) and always complained about them being in the shop a good 80% of the time- I actually never even got to hear them, but he claimed my OB-8 was every bit as good (I'm sure the other two are slightly bitter due to the chipset and other factors). Anyways, congrats on the new synth(s)- Trident is another I'd someday like to own, but truly, vintage synth prices have just gotten silly... J-60's for $2k+? Ha.
Thanks! I ultimately would love an OBX, but the prices are just to expensive currently for my checking account, thus would of had to have gotten rid of nearly every synth I currently own for the $16k I am now seeing for an OBX. The OB8 was still pricey, but it was at least reasonable or my current finances. I wish the one I just bought had the page 2 controls, but it at least has the sticker on it so I don’t have to look in the manual to learn those functions. Anyway, I feel very blessed.
Old 6th March 2020
  #27
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Quantum7's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pppch View Post
<deleted by monderator>
A big reason for the post, besides sharing happiness of my purchase, is to get comments on the OB8, as well as to have my questions answered. Like my Trident thread, it’s a great way for people interested in those particular instruments to learn more. I’ve already learned a lot by reading what people have said about the Trident, thus was hoping for the same about the OB8. I understand what you’re saying, but I also hope that you understand my reasoning.

Last edited by Reptil; 6th March 2020 at 02:11 PM.. Reason: -
Old 6th March 2020
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
I know that you must enjoy the congratulations messages...but have a think about if we really need a new thread every time you buy something?
Look on the bright side: Quantum7 is a great source of virtually new synths at reduced prices and he's just announced that there'll be a Prophet 12 LE and OB-6 up for grabs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quantum7 View Post
Maybe my OB6....we'll have to see. I bought the OB6 specifically for an Oberheim tone. I know the OB6 can do things the OB8 cannot, but the tone is more important to me.
OK, you got me baffled there. The order of desirability for the old Oberheims seems to go (from most to least) SEM, OB-X, OB-Xa, OB-8. The ones built using discrete components (SEM, OB-X) supposedly sound better than those using Curtis chips (OB-Xa, OB-8). The OB-6 voice cards are based on the SEM and are built using discrete components and, while it isn't a clone of the older models, it's a fantastic sounding instrument in its own right and has the Oberheim character in spades.

Personal preference, but the OB-6 completely killed my desire for the vintage models.
Old 6th March 2020
  #29
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Quantum7's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanC3 View Post
OK, you got me baffled there. The order of desirability for the old Oberheims seems to go (from most to least) SEM, OB-X, OB-Xa, OB-8. The ones built using discrete components (SEM, OB-X) supposedly sound better than those using Curtis chips (OB-Xa, OB-8). The OB-6 voice cards are based on the SEM and are built using discrete components and, while it isn't a clone of the older models, it's a fantastic sounding instrument in its own right and has the Oberheim character in spades.

Personal preference, but the OB-6 completely killed my desire for the vintage models.
I really love my OB6....love it! I am taking a chance on seeing if a vintage OB8 will give me those 80’s Oberheim tones I desire. I have listened to nearly every OB8 demo on YT and I am hearing tones that I crave having that I cannot get from my OB6. The OBX is ultimately my favorite, but it’s unfortunately out of my price range right now. I realize that the OB6 is a much more powerful instrument than the OB8, but it’s just not quite giving me that sound I’m looking for. I certainly don’t want to get rid of my OB6 if I can help it, but I may have to if I decide to keep the OB8, just to offset some of the cost. Luckily though, and I’ll be six is very easy to require if I wanted to re-buy one. In a way I am taking a chance by buying the OB8 in the first place, but in the coming weeks I will know once and for all if the OB8 gives me what I’m looking for....and if finally realize that it’s not quite what I expected, well then I’ll just resell it. I figure that I really don’t have too much to lose by doing this. If I didn’t do it, I would be wondering for many years if I should have tried a vintage Oberheim...and I hate regrets.
Old 6th March 2020
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
solitud's Avatar
My OB-8 is slightly beat up from gigging the 80ies and it is a bit unreliable. I already have a replacement power supply but every power up offers a new surprise. When it works it is the best synth I ever owned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quantum7 View Post
OB8 owners- any editors out there for backing up presets, or is the old-fashioned cassette tape still needed?
Dependent if your OB-8 has the stock MIDI interface you can try my Online Sysex Librarian which runs directly in the Chrome browser to sort and import new presets. Works also for OB-6 and other synth.

https://f0f7.net/
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