Oberheim Xpander

Oberheim Xpander Image

The Xpander is a six-voice desktop version of the Matrix 12 with which it shares an identical voice architecture. In many ways they are the most flexible non-modular analog synths ever built. Each voice has five LFOs, each with about five different wave shapes, plus the ability to sample most other modulators; five envelopes that can repeat themselves, sync to an LFO, and so on; a lag processor (like portamento, but more general); three tracking generators (that apply a series of linear functions to a value over its range); some ramp generators (the attack portion of an envelope); a 15-mode filter and a user interface to make all of this accessible.

Oberheim Xpander Image

Another very useful feature is its CV/gate to MIDI conversion capabilities for communication with older synths. There are six CV and Gate inputs which use standard 1V/8va CV and positive gating. So you can connect up to 6 external sources delivering CV/Gate and convert that into MIDI. Ample output options offer stereo and mono outputs as well as six additional individual audio outputs (1 for each voice) allowing you to use the Xpander as a stereo polyphonic 6-voice synth, as six individual monosynths or any combination in between. There's even a 3rd party Mod (Oddernmart mod) that allows for an external audio input that can be routed through the filter. And like The Matrix synths, the Xpander sounds wonderful, capable of thick analog basses, pads and textures. It is used by Cirrus, Josh Wink, Astral Projection, Vince Clarke, DJ Sasha, Chemical Brothers, Meat Beat Manifesto and Nine Inch Nails.

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30 Visitor comments
Mellotron
January 5, 2010 @ 3:33 am
MIDIGuru - a 4-pole filter certainly must be difficult to understand, because you're way off beam! It has nothing to do with the ADSR settings of the envelope. '4-pole' essentially refers to the filter's cut-off slope characteristic - 4-pole = 24dB per octave.

Reducing any unused envelope time stages to their minimum settings will obviously get you a quicker envelope overall, but the Xpanders envelopes are, unfortunately, a bit sluggish, as reported - not as bad as something like Roland's JX series though.

Shaun - you will not be able to sync the LFOs, because there's no input to the Xpander's internal clocks. It would be simple to rattle up an LFO from Silent Way, but its use will be fairly limited.
analog
October 12, 2009 @ 2:18 pm
I've had an Xpander for 6 months now and have finally gotten into some serious programming, and it's SICK..! The envelopes are actuallly quite fast if you ask me, drum sounds are no problem. Sure, my Cwejman is snappier (0,5 ms env attack) but the difference isn't monumental if you ask me. And the TONE, the rich, creamy analog tone is right there. It's quite easy to get around once you get a hang of the basics (and remember which lfo you're tweaking) and most sounds that occur between two desired sounds are keepers. It's like one big sweet spot, everything sounds great..! I traded an Andromeda for it, and I don't miss the Andy at all. This is probbably the 'best' sounding synth in my arsenal, and it faces some stiff comptetition (Code8, S1mkII and more).
The MIDIGuru
September 27, 2009 @ 11:53 pm
Yhe Oberheim 4 pole filter can be difficult to understand. If one is only familiar with common ADSR filters, the 4 pole may seem slow. To solve this "problem", zero the extra parameters. ADSR's with delay time and secondary decay would also seem slow unless zeroe'd. The first parameter is attack. The OB filters attack as hard as any.
cheater
August 8, 2009 @ 3:42 pm
One thing you might want to know is that all the modulation on this synth (and the matrix 12) is digital. This means all the envelopes and LFOs are generated by the onboard CPU and put out through a DAC. This doesn't mean the synth itself is digital. However: because of the available technology at the time the synth was built, the digital modulation is very slow. This means the LFO's wont reach audio rate, it also means that the envelopes won't be very snappy. This makes the Xpander good for slow sounds, ambiences, pads etc, but not for stabs, basses, transients, or any of those trippy sounds that use high-freq LFOs.
Micke
July 13, 2009 @ 3:30 pm
Also used by Depeche Mode, Tangerine dream, Jerry Goldsmith (OST's), Lyle Mays (incl. Falcon and the Snowman OST), Propaganda, Mark Shreeve, Human League, You, Hans Zimmer (OST's), The Moog cookbook, Mark Isham (OST''s), Nitzer Ebb, Steve Porcaro, Kristian Schultze, Klaus Netzle, Steve Roach, Frontline Assembly, Steve Roach, Elegant Machinery, Greg Giuffria, K-H Stockhausen & others.
 
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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 - 6 voices
  • Oscillators - 12 VCOs (2 per voice), Linear FM
  • LFO - 5 LFO's
  • Filter - 1, 2, 3, 4 pole low pass; 1, 2, 3 pole hi pass, bandpass, notch, phase shift
  • VCA - 15 per voice, 5 ADSR envelope gens per voice
  • Keyboard - None
  • Memory - 100 single / 100 multi
  • Control - MIDI In/Out/Thru, 6 CV/Gate Inputs, Trigger, 2 pedal inputs
  • Date Produced - 1984-88

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