A lot of people talk about the "Oberheim Sound" - but what exactly does that mean? Since these synths have had such a massive influence on modern music, the term can mean something different to everybody. The OB will certainly conjure up visions of prog rock bands experimenting with synths for the first time - Rush and Van Halen come to mind immediately. But Oberheims have also been used by synth masters like Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream and funkmasters like Prince, Roger Troutman. and a slew of Italo Disco artists.
Genre aside, the Oberheims are quite simply some of the most organic, punchy, and "pro" sounding synths out there. They excel at everything from pads, strings, trumpets and organs, to bass, leads and crazy FX. And even with just a singular mono output, the SX can easily dominate a mix with a wide variety of sounds that are just...well...Oberheim:
The OB has some of the best sounding brass, rhodes, clav, and bell sounds I've ever heard from an analog synth, and this is due in no small part to the filter and its envelope. The resonance, when coupled with a lightning fast modulation envelope, adds a plasticky punch you won't find in many other synths - making it the perfect choice for warm, metallic keys:
The midrange on this synth is inherently punchy, and even brash at times. This is what allows it to cut through a mix. Fortunately, as soon as you turn the cutoff down, the entire synth instantly warms up, making it the perfect choice for lush soundscapes, silky strings, warm basses and vintage leads:
The OB-SX comes stocked with 56 factory presets that Vintage Synth describes as "a bit dated (e.g. early funk & late prog rock)" - which means we absolutely love them!
For the most part, these are excellent presets that give the OB an instantly nostalgic and familiar vibe. Some of them are blatantly reminiscent of our favorite records of the past, and we're ok with that:
After sampling our favorite factory sounds, we dove head first into weeks of synthesis until we felt we had rinsed this synth of all possible patches (well, as much is realistic while sampling a synth). We sampled 19 custom presets, with the hopes of bringing the synth into less-explored sonic territory.
But how - this synth only has a couple knobs, right? Yes. Except that our OB-SX has a midi modification which allows for full access of the synthesis parameters that make this synth such a dynamic beast. This is what makes it capable of custom sounds similar to the OB-X and OBXa sounds.
With the mod, we were able to access both ADSRs, VCOs, detuning, cross modulation, and even a midi voice parameter that allowed us to either re-trigger the same voice while sampling (which allows for extremely clean and consistent sound) or, as the OB naturally plays, cycle through the slightly detuned and extremely characterful six voices.
Although they all share a major commonality in tone, each synth in the Oberheim line is different sounding than the next. We love the rawness of the OBX - it's a fully discreet, wild beast, especially with its cross modulation possibilities. But we also admire the softer sounding OBXa. The SX is kind of a combination of both, while not sounding exactly like either. For this reason, it seemed the perfect choice to demonstrate the vast range of the Oberheim Sound.
The OB From Mars gives you 42 multi-sampled OB-SX patches, 23 of which are factory presets and the remaining are custom, Samples From Mars presets. They've all been organized into categories.
For each patch, every note has been hand sampled, trimmed, and looped (where applicable). Some patches have been multi-sampled with different parameter settings on the OB ( and mapped via velocity or as a stereo patch).
You can use pre-built presets in Ableton, Kontakt, Logic, Reason, or SFZ so you don't have to map the WAV yourself (SFZ player is a free, cross-platform sampler for both Mac & PC, so you can essentially use these presets in any DAW). The Ableton, Kontakt and Logic presets feature extensive software synthesis implementation (Modwheels, LFOs, FX, and more).
However you use it, the OB From Mars will give you that classic Oberheim sound while allowing you to venture into more unique and stranger side of this amazing synth.