Oberheim Two Voice

Oberheim Two Voice Image

Oberheim's first synthesizer was a single-voice mini-module called a SEM (Synthesizer Expander Module). However, in 1975, Oberheim created their first compact, programmable and polyphonic synthesizer by coupling two SEM modules to a 37-note keyboard and a simple analog sequencer. This was what became the Two Voice. Oberheim achieved a polyphonic sound not yet seen in ARP and Moog gear at the time by hard-wiring the two monophonic SEMs into the compact keyboard design.

In 1976 Oberheim came out with another module, the Polyphonic Synthesizer Programmer (see SEM). This could memorize the control voltages of many parameters for up to eight SEM modules. When these were added to the Two Voice, Oberheim finally had one of the earliest programmable and polyphonic instruments! Released alongside the Two Voice also came the Four Voice which had four SEMs installed, and a larger 49-note keyboard. And later, in 1977, a second tier was added above the four SEMs on the Four Voice to add yet another four SEMS, making the Eight Voice.

Two voices was great in 1975, and eight voices was pretty monstrous in the later seventies. But, a major drawback to these first Oberheim synths was that polyphony was achieved by having multiple modules. This meant that each voice had to be independently programmed. This also means that each voice has its own filter, making real-time filter sweeps of all your voices more than a handful! Fortunately the sequencer comes in handy for controlling each voice/module independently.

Despite its innovative features, the Two Voice was soon blown out of the water by the popular monophonic and truly polyphonic synths like the OSCar, ARP Odyssey and SH-101. The Two Voice has been used by Vince Clarke and Vangelis.

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17 Visitor comments
Micke
July 10, 2012 @ 10:25 am
Also used by Jean Michel Jarre, Jimmy Destri/Blondie, Daniel Fiebiger, Richard Termini, Casey Young, The Moog Cookbook, Masterworks, Mark Isham, Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury (Drokk) et al.
Beth Gibbons
June 19, 2012 @ 7:51 pm
@schulman
No, it's not the EMS AKS making the sequenced bass line in the studio video. The bass line is running from tape, and the EMS is used for effect sounds. So it could be the Two Voice, like when they performe live...
yellow roast
June 1, 2012 @ 3:30 am
To hear the Oberheim 2 voice check out the album Drokk by Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury - I dont know of a better showcase for this synth they used 3 of these on the album including using the internal sequencers proper. I like.
Arawn
March 25, 2012 @ 5:38 pm
Tom Oberheim formally announced the Two-Voice reissue a few days ago.
Schulman
November 17, 2011 @ 8:03 am
@scott
On the first video of this song (in their studio) they used the EMS AKS for the bass line sequence.
Anyway - outstanding performence!
Love this band and everything they do! (and the gear they use, obviously)
 
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  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 2 voices
  • Oscillators - 4 VCO's (2 per voice) with sawtooth or variable-pulse waveforms
  • LFO - LFO is triangle wave only
  • Filter - (x2) Lowpass filter with cutoff and resonance. Can be modulated by the LFO, envelope or external sync
  • VCA - (x2) Attack, Decay and Sustain
  • Keyboard - 37 keys
  • Arpeg/Seq - Mini Sequencer (with 8 steps and 2 voices)
  • Control - CV / Gate
  • Date Produced - 1975-1979

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