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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33 Visitor comments
January 12, 2011 @ 6:26 pm
one of the best analogue synths ever produced - modular style mayhem in extreme - I love this synth!
Axel Katz
January 6, 2011 @ 6:15 pm
I have owned 3 Xpanders over the last 6 years. The first two were later "Japanese" ones which had the power supply PCB made out of something resembling rice crackers - and the transformer mounted on the board instead of to the case (as in US built Xpander/M12s) so if it was moved it would break the PSU board. I found these to be terribly unreliable unless the power supply & main board was re-capped and most of the IC sockets holding the filter chips were replaced with new ones.
Xpanders are amazing instruments but make sure you buy a good one from a reliable source - preferably local!
August 4, 2010 @ 7:03 pm
There is a way to kind of "sync" the lfo to midi clock. I would use my midi-to-cv converter and send an 8th or 16th note gate signal into the trigger input. I would set the lfo to receive the trigger and adjust the lfo speed to taste. Since the lfo was re-triggered with every gate you could sync it up to your tempo. Not exact but it worked really cool in a lot of situations.
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.
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).
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Rated 4.13 (334 Votes)

  • 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 - 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
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from
    and Tone Tweakers.

    Thanks to Jimmy and DAC Crowell for providing this information.

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