Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

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Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

Postby SWAN » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:25 pm

Ok....

Im seriously considering selling a load of gear and making myself broke for an Oberheim OB 8 or Xa.

I understand that the Xa is slightly more 'raw or organic' and potentially more fixable in the future due to discrete components.

Conversely the OB8 is more reliable and stable due to CEM chips - however they will become scarce.

If peeps in the know can confirm that would be helpful.

My main question is tho:

What are the FUNCTIONAL DIFFERENCES? What does the OB8 have that the Xa does not? And vice versa?

Thanks in advance...
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Re: Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

Postby Synthaholic » Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:23 pm

The Xa has CEM chips too. The only OB series with discretes in it is the OB-X.

Newer OB-8s have MIDI built-in, no Xa had it unless it was modified. The 8 also has the "page 2" additional modulation features, making it a more powerful programmable synth. The OB8 has an arpeggiator that the Xa lacks as well.

The Xa may be a 2, 4, or 8 voice model, with 32 or 120 patch locations. The 8 is always 8 voices with 120 patch locations.

(based on VSE comments) Xa's 12db filter is better sounding than 12db on the 8, but the 8 has a better 24db filter than the Xa.

Apparently the Xa is more organic/fuller sounding than the 8.
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Re: Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

Postby otto » Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:49 pm

I have an OB-8 but have not owned an OB-Xa. It is the OB-X that is mostly discrete and hypothetically easier to source parts in the long run, as CEMs become rarer... That said, the OB-X is a very different synth from the OB-Xa and OB-8, which are very similar.

There have been some discussion about the differences between the sound of OB-8 and OB-Xa. The OB-8 has more features and is generally considered to be more reliable. The OB-Xa is said to sound fatter but all the comments I’ve read from people who have owned both, the differences are relatively minor. I have compared it directly to a Prophet 5 and while there are obvious sonic differences they both cover a lot of similar ground and the OB-8 contains mostly the same chips as a prophet 5 (rev 3). I wouldn’t say either sounds particular fatter.

Much of the talk in the sonic differences between the OB-Xa and OB-8 seem to have stemmed from a comment Mr. Oberheim made about the OB-8 sounding too perfect. However, I really don’t know the context of the statement and considering he put his name on thinner sounding synths than the OB-8 (like pretty much everything that came after…). I mean I don’t know how you could say the OB-8 sounded overly “perfect” and then go on to release the Xpander, Matrix 6/6r/1000, etc. which are each more refined and “perfect” sounding than their predecessors. I’ve never actually seen the original quote and like many other online synth myths I’m left wondering exact what was said and meant. The OB-8 is every bit as rich and thick and imperfect as any other big American poly I’ve owned or played.
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Re: Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

Postby Sir Ruff » Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:47 am

I think at least some of the difference lies in the resonance... There's a recent video out there that shows both-you really can hear the difference even over not very good quality video: The ob8 does sound more controlled/compressed.. the xpander also sounds that way too, but the sheer variety of filters more than makes up for it.

anyways, this has been discussed on here more than a few times recently :roll:
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Re: Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

Postby SWAN » Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:13 pm

cool - thanks for the responses. I guess Im not too concerned about the small-ish differences in sound now - as the both appear to sound pretty gorgeous. I'd really like to know what the other functions the OB8 has other than extra memory and arpegiator. I think TBH Im gonna go with the ob8 if I can find one...
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Re: Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

Postby Solderman » Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:57 pm

Dunno how reliable this would be, but when I used to own an OBXa, I was unable to find a proper Midi kit for it. OB8 Midi retrofits seem to be rather common. One of the voice cards on it kept coming loose, and you would WHACK the top of it to get it to make contact again. Tolerances between voices was pretty tight, but very long portamento sweeps were very different rates, so you'd get something more like an orchestral slide.(Think the ending of 'A Day in the Life') My OBXa was six voices, which seems to be the more common voice count for these.

As far as the sound goes, I really liked its Sync sweeps and strings(where only Osc.2 had vibrato) but it didn't sound very bright or punchy to me. I'd love to have an OBX one day, though. The filter on that one doesn't lose lower frequencies at higher resonance quite as badly as most other filter designs.

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Re: Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

Postby otto » Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:33 pm

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Re: Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

Postby WhinyLittleRunt » Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:46 pm

Sir Ruff wrote:There's a recent video out there that shows both-you really can hear the difference even over not very good quality video: The ob8 does sound more controlled/compressed..


Heh - Sorry about the quality of that video; It was shot in perfect quality and for some reason no matter what we did YouTube kept encoding it down to the lowest possible setting or whatever it is they do to make your good videos look like shit...

But anyway, having obviously played both and personally owning the OB-8, I think they are both awesome and it really should come down to preference. The Xa is slightly driftier and has a better bottom end than the 8 which I suppose will make it "fatter" sounding but they really are not that different other than that. Same chips for everything too, I think the OB-8 has more software control which can make it finer-tuned and more stable but also perfects the sound so it's not as dirty as the OB-Xa. But as far as it being a preference, I personally like owning the 8 because it does have 8 voices and does tune a little nicer for the kind of music I usually play. However, the Xa in the video also has 8 voices so in that regard it's pretty much an even match. The 8 also usually does have a MIDI kit installed or factory MIDI on the back, so it's flexible and reliable out of the box. And it's still an OB!
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Re: Oberheim OBXa vs OB8

Postby princefan3 » Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:43 pm

dont worry tallow...im over it ob8 or obxa wont ask anymore..thanks ive saved a lot of money.

if i was asked go ob8.
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