Oberheim OB-Xa

Oberheim OB-Xa Image

The OB-Xa is a massive analog synthesizer with a very familiar and classic Oberheim sound. Its sound, size and power are very similar to the Prophet 5 from Sequential. However this one has up to 8 voices which can be split, layered and stored!

The OB-Xa was available in four, six or eight voice polyphonic models. They all featured patch memories, also in varying degrees. A minimum of 32 patches were available on early models (4 banks of 8). The maximum amount of patch memory storage found on many OB-Xa's is 120 patch memories. All models of OB-Xa, however, featured the new Curtis chips which offered great stability for an analog synth and they are attributed to its great filters and sounds.

The OB-X was very similar to the OB-Xa except that its voices could not be split or layered and, more significantly, the OB-X had a lowpass-only discrete SEM 12dB/oct state variable filter, which had a great and classic Oberheim sound. The OB-Xa changed that in an attempt to economize manufacturing and increase stability by switching to CEM3320 Curtis chips for its filters. The Xa offered two switchable filter modes: 12 dB/oct (2-pole) or 24 dB/oct (4-pole). This hardware change resulted in a more agressive sound, not quite as creamy as the OBX original, but what still became a "bread and butter" sound of the Oberheim line.

Splitting the keyboard mode separates the OB-Xa into two 4-voice synths with two available patches. The Layer mode plays the two patches simultaneously. There are also some added effect sources, perfect for any analog polysynth, including portamento, unison, sample & hold, chord memory and three LFO's!

Oberheim OB-Xa Image

However none of the original OB-Xa's have MIDI, unless otherwise having been modified. The OB-Xa is a classic and fat analog machine. It will give you thick analog pads and drones, punchy bass and cyclic analog effects. It's been used in the past by Depeche Mode, Van Halen (Jump!), Gary Numan, Jean Michel Jarre, New Order, Paul Sheafer, Prince, Queen, Jethro Tull, Stevie Nicks, Sneaker Pimps, Rush, Mike Oldfield, Richard Barbieri, the Thompson Twins and Bon Jovi.

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40 Visitor comments
Pat E
November 29, 2011 @ 12:38 am
I know that in the Top of the Pops video for Gary Numan's "Berserker" there are two Xa's at the same time. While the music on TOTP was just a mime to the album version, I'm curious if that was the setup Gary used in the studio. If so, I'd love to know the exact patch settings to get that really nice sound. Amazing synth and song.
Don
September 22, 2011 @ 9:03 pm
Mick MacNeil used the OB-Xa on New Gold Dream
Solstice
September 10, 2011 @ 11:27 am
Also used by TALK TALK.
mark weisz
June 19, 2011 @ 5:10 pm
One of the boards I used in my rack in the 80's was an OBXA, I absolutely loved it. I since have honed down back to the B3 only but I wish I had it now just cuz. The only problem I had live was occasionally auto tune wouldn't do it all and I would have to open it up between sets and reseat all the IC chips with my finger, it always worked. A pain, but it was so fat!!
johannes
June 8, 2011 @ 11:49 pm
Lets not forget that this montster was all over Cyndi Laupers Mega Hit Record "She's So Unusual"
And Laurie Andersons intricate "Big Science" OB-Xa = Classic, Beautifully Sounding Polysynth this is to be sure...~ Hopefully I will be playing one before too long as I believe its right up there with the Prophet 5s and Jupiter 8s...
 
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  • Check Price
  • 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 - 4,6, or 8 voices
  • Oscillators - 2 VCO's per voice - pulse or sawtooth
  • Effects - Portamento, sample & hold, chord memory
  • Filter - 4-pole filter with ADSR envelope and switchable 12dB/oct or 24dB/oct slope
  • VCA - ADSR envelope gen
  • Keyboard - 61 keys
  • Memory - 32 patches (4 banks of 8) to 120 memories
  • Control - Oberheim's 'system'
  • Date Produced - 1981
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Additional info provided by Tomislav Babic.

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