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!

Check Oxford Synthesiser Company OSCar Prices on eBay

The link above will take you to a 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
aiden
October 9, 2009 @ 10:15 pm
meaty synth. well overepriced these days.not as good as the yamaha cs 10 or korg ms 20 on bass.lots of controll and good sound apart from those digital oscillators. cool
Peter
August 25, 2009 @ 8:43 am
Hello,
I'm lucky to just achieved one with midi for only 1500€ with sturdy flightcase in good condition. The Oscar is simply wonderfull. Never heard such noises from the analogue synths I had my hands on before. It's easy to handle but a manual would be handy. If anyone has a manual please let me know. You can find death links on the web or manuals for sale but to expensive (up to 28€), So please can someone share his manual.

Thanks,
EL
this poison
August 14, 2009 @ 9:06 pm
Lionel, I don't want to be rude, but if you find a Oscar difficult to program, give up.

It's a dream to play, and a dream to program, regardless of whether there is midi (which has NOTHING to do with programming it).
Shawn
July 28, 2009 @ 3:13 pm
The OSCar has also been used by Delerium (Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber AKA Frontline Assembly) and The Crystal Method.
Andrew
July 20, 2009 @ 8:54 am
OSCar's are still working perfectly decades after production ceased, even the memory battery. They are very easy to program (you turn knobs and then 'save' when you find a sound you like. The sounds can be incredibly 'fat' especially the pulse-width mod basses. Lead sounds using the mod wheels are like no other. It's definitely a minimoog-beater, oscillators stay in perfect tune, and the quirky look is a crowd-pleaser.
They are hard to find, especially in perfect condition, but there's an 'as-new' OSCar currently available at http://tinyurl.com/l6dey2 for those that are interested.
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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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