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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Are you looking to buy or sell a Oxford Synthesiser Company OSCar? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

51 Visitor comments
May 4, 2012 @ 10:09 am
Does anyone know if this machine can send TRIGGER OUTs synched to the internal TEMPO or to the MIDI IN received sync ? I would like to trigger another machine with it... anyone can confirm this or explain how it works ? Many thanks everyone (i have the manual but is not clear on this point..or so it seems to me..)
lee worrell
May 1, 2012 @ 6:39 pm
Hey guys, O.S.C ars are very hard to find for sale. Two reasons ! Firstly, they were never "mass" produced, second, If you have one " you wont want to sell it!. So dont ask me why im offering my 1983 ,pre midi, O.S.Car for sale. It is almost mint, however been stored for few years and internal battery needs replacing now. i even have the users manual too !. Any sensible offers ?, dont miss this rare oppertunity.
February 10, 2012 @ 9:19 am
I bought one way back for essentially nothing compared to today's prices. I held if for ~3-4 years and the OSCar just never suited me. It does its thing uniquely, but I just never loved the sound of the filter nor the thickness of the oscillators. It's as if every feature was well thought out and implemented - this thing is amazing on paper for its time - but the final product just leaves you feeling like the boundaries are too close. I'd rather happen upon a Syrinx or Kobol.
November 1, 2011 @ 4:14 pm
Let's get something straight here, to all the people claiming that the OSCar uses DCOs. It doesn't. It used PURELY DIGITAL Oscillators. M'kay? Play a really low note and you'll even hear the high additive harmonics to generate the basic waveforms. That being said, the OSCar KICKS ASS. The leads will cut you up, Manson-style and the Basses will blow your [beep] right out. This synth is a must for the serious Synthesist/Mono lover.
Resting Cell
October 30, 2011 @ 9:24 am
and used by Ceephax Acid Crew!
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Rated 3.88 (330 Votes)

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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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