Oxford Synthesiser Company OSCar

OSC OSCar Image

The OSCar is a classic mono-synth from British manufacturer Oxford Synthesiser Company (OSC). It came in 1983 and though it was in the same class as the Arp Odyssey and Minimoog mono-synths, its late arrival makes it one of the more advanced programmable mono-synths of its time! It's got a really cool sound, digitally controlled dual oscillators with analog filters, and plenty of programmability all packed into a quirky little plastic case with 37 keys. MIDI also appeared on later revisions as well.

Its sound starts out from its two DCO's. The synth is monophonic but can also achieve duophonic capability when using just one oscillator per voice. Waveforms offered include sawtooth, triangle, and square-, variable-, or modulated-pulse waveforms. In addition to these analog waveforms, there's an additive-synthesis function allowing you to create your own custom waveforms by simply mixing the amplitudes of any of its 24 harmonics using the keyboard. Up to 24 of these custom waves can be stored and used with either oscillator.

Once you've got some sounds it's time to hit the filter section - the real analog heart of this synth! It has two 12dB/oct filters which can be linked for a steeper 24dB/oct slope. It features switchable lowpass, highpass and bandpass filtering and your basic frequency cutoff and resonance type controls. The filter has its own ADSR envelope as well (a second ADSR envelope controls the amplifier section). The filter can also be modulated by the LFO. The OSCar's LFO offers triangle, sawtooth, square, and other wave shapes and can also be used to modulate the amp, pitch, or pulse-width. There's even a sample-and-hold function.

OSCar Image

A simple built-in sequencer gave the OSCar duophonic capabilities! It could play a sequence on one of the oscillators while the keyboard can be used to simultaneously play along with the sequence. It stores up to 24 sequences. When MIDI came on later models after 1984, you could easily synchronize your OSCar and other MIDI gear together and patches stored in memory could be dumped via MIDI to more permanent offline storage mediums. MIDI models also offered 36 programmable memory patches which are assigned to the actual keyboard keys (pre-MIDI models had 12 preset and 24 user patches). The OSCar is usually hard to find and they usually need some work (they're almost 20 years old), but it's a favorite and classic little beast which has been used by Hardfloor, Orbital, Ozric Tentacles, BT, Jean-Michel Jarre, Asia, Ultravox, Stevie Wonder, Sneaker Pimps, Keith Emerson, Sneaker Pimps, and Underworld.


Check out GMEDIA Music's impOSCar - an amazing, authentic, and realistic software synth modeled after the OSCar, with major enhancements including more polyphony, effects, patch memory, total recall, controller automation, and much more - all for less than $200!

Lookup Oxford Synthesiser Company OSCar Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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51 Visitor comments
matt
March 13, 2009 @ 12:34 pm
i should add that the imposcar is very good , its definately oscarish but i am not 100% sure its going to replace one - its not meant to maybe and actaully i find the imposcar takes yoiu ina totally different ball park alot but cna replicate socrish tones quite well - the osc really remains a brash and overdriven lead monster in a way software can , you cant replicate hardware with software any more than you can make icecream out of water , software dos alot of stuff the hardware cant though.I would call the real oscar a luxury synth .
matt
March 13, 2009 @ 12:26 pm
the oscars is a cool machine but a pain in the arse to mix intoa track well with alot of eq and also it is unreliable or can be , a few deign faults like cheap ic sockets and also the psu caps make this a yulnerable machine.Its superb for many sounds though and unique , a freaky machine but some days its debatable of its worth the cash , i woned one and loved it but just found it became a bit boring for me and also doesnt seit well with other synths easy , it use to just scream everything else out of the way , still superb though !...
Fabrizio
February 9, 2009 @ 9:49 am
Brilliant synth but every review i read about this synth goes on about how you can play along to the sequence in duo mode.... I've had 2-Late MIDI version OSCar's over the years and this function just does not seem to exist!!!!, I think it was a feature of the earlier version OSCars (the ones with presets maybe)... Can anyone confirm this or please explain where I am going wrong... even the original instruction manual i have omits to mention this feature though i have a copy of a very early manual which does include it... any info to post@candyhead.com :-)
mike
January 7, 2009 @ 7:53 pm
You need to put up a diff youtube vid. I can not stand vids of vintage gear that uses efx boxes! ;-(

nice synth however
the goat
October 16, 2008 @ 9:38 am
I bought one of these when they were being sold off in the mid-80s.
OK, so the packaging is weird, and the moulding made some of the controls a little fiddly to operate, but what a monster!
Twin DCOs gave you a sound nearly as rich as a MiniMoog, and with the right settings, you could go duophonic, either two fingers or sequencer and one finger, and with widely set waveforms, you got really amazing sounds.
This replaced my Moog Source - MIDI and stable oscillators - and I loved it. The one thing OSC should have done was create a polysynth with the OSCar's abilities. Ah, we can dream.
 
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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic (Duophonic via built-in Sequencer)
  • Oscillators - 2 DCO's with sawtooth, triangle, and square-, variable- or modulated-pulse waveforms and 5 preset digital wavefroms
  • LFO - 1 LFO with square, triangle, sawtooth waveforms, sample-and-hold
  • Filter - Two 12dB/oct analog filters which can be linked in series for 24dB/oct configuration. Lowpass, bandpass, highpass modes. Dedicated ADSR envelope, Frequency Cutoff and Resonance controls.
  • VCA - Two ADSR Envelopes
  • Keyboard - 37 keys
  • Memory - Pre-MIDI Model: 12 user, 24 preset patches. MIDI-equipped models: 36 programmable patches. Custom Waveforms: 24 waves. Sequencer: 24 sequences.
  • Control - Trigger In, MIDI available on some later models
  • Date Produced - 1983 - 1986

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