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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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
john
November 20, 2012 @ 10:55 am
Looking for a midi oscar if anyone has one for sale

please mail me at

soundprism

at

btinternet


dot com
Mark C
September 25, 2012 @ 8:33 am
This is a great little synth that neatly bridges the era of classic knob-laden analogue designs and the modern midi-connected computer controlled era. It's really easy to get great sounds and I've always found it totally reliable. It's not nearly as well known as it should be (probably because so few were made). Because of that, and because no one else had done it at the time, I set up a website dedicated to the OSCar where I've tried to pull together information and resources. It's at www.airburst.co.uk/oscar
Kritikon
July 18, 2012 @ 1:03 pm
Had one in my studio for 2 yrs. Best production-line synth I ever had and probably will ever have. It cuts through any mix, huge power, characterful filters yet also does the bread'n'butter stuff. Capable of some very delicate sounds when in additive osc mode. PITA to program additive osc though. It's the type of synth you make Dr Who themes with. Need say no more. I still lust over OSCars. I so miss it. Always will. We bought it for 700 quid, hate to think what they go for nowadays. But worth every penny. They make Moogs sound weedy IMO. Just shows it's the filters that make a synth.
ronnyG
July 5, 2012 @ 8:40 pm
There is a myth that OSCar's are hard to service. In the right hands they are quite easy to service compared to similar old vintage synths. I know from personal experience that replacing the ribbon cable on the main board and internal battery are probably top of the list to sort out when servicing an OSCar. The OSCar was contructed with budget/ low cost components but luckily can be replaced easily enough. If you find a "dead" one, chances are it'll be up and running in the right hands. (Just watch out for leaky battery damage though, not good!)
Euan
June 20, 2012 @ 9:01 am
For anyone intersted in this synthisizer, I seriously recommend picking up the G-Media VST version. It is one of the only VST's I use in every track, the emulation is very, very good. Get a decent controller mapped out (there's not so many functions that you need a 500 button/knob controller like a lot of modern VST Instruments). You can also get the official controller for ImpOSCar 2, but it's £1000. Yep, just for the controller. Which frankly is way overpriced just for a controller.

Ok, not a substitute, but most of us will never touch one, that's the next best thing
 
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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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