Studio: Oberheim OB-X

While the Jupiter 4 looks a bit retro, the OB-X is a classic of industrial design. It was the successor to Oberheim's previous polyphonic synthesisers, which had been constructed from multiple single voice synthesisers know as SEMs. While they are justly famous for their great sound, the SEM based synths can be time consuming to program and are unable to store all the parameters that make up a patch. The OB-X attempted to rectify this by reducing a SEM to a voice card, and using what was state of the art microprocessor technology to implement the controls and patch memories. The result was a synth that sounded as warm and impressive as its predecessors, but more convenient to use. Unlike alternative polyphonic synths from the likes of Sequential Circuits, the OB-X voice architecture was almost entirely constructed from discrete components rather than integrated circuits. This was both the strength and weakness of the OB-X, since it imparted a subtly fluctuating tone that sounded more "organic" than its competitors, but meant it was quite unstable and prone to breaking down. Mine is a very early four voice model, with different graphics on the front panel than later models, and it has been retrofitted with a Kenton MIDI upgrade. The OB-X was famously used by Japan and Killing Joke (it's responsible for the "Love Like Blood" keyboard sound).