Synth Site: Oberheim: OB-12: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
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amenram writes:
I've been thinking and rethinking about purchasing this synth for over a year and finally decidet to buy it. And I'm glad I did it! OBI is very well built, heavy (14 kilos!), looks beautyfull and sounds unique. The interface is the best I've ever encountered, so making my own patches is a breeze. Lots of fun, too! OK, let's see the reasons for its unique sound. First it has two oscilators and each of them can play 3 different waveforms simultaneously, which results in strange new waveform shapes. OSC1 has waveshaping for all 3 waveforma: SAW with saw spread (adds another detuned saw waveform for fat detuned sounds), TRIANGLE with triangle wrap (digital stuff, that I use quite often) and PULSE with classic pulse width (modulated with LFO or EG). OSC2 has waveshaping only for PULSE. FM is also there, athough it can be a bit too harsh on lower notes, so you must set keyboard tracking on filter to get it just right. FM can be done also with LFO, which is just great! There is also a very good ring modulator which I found to be essential for making more punchy and dirty sounds, since OBI is pretty mid-rangey. It really lacks bottom end, so you have to fix it with EQ. But nevermind. I didn't buy it for basses. I think ring mod really gives OBI its own sound. I like it. Envelopes are cool because they're not simple old ADSRs, but are capable of more complex stuff. The only thing that I don't like about them is that they always retrigger from zero, so you must develope special playing skills. Filters are nice, but I won't say they sound analog, because they just don't. But they're great anyway. You have LP, BP, HP and three routing configurations - serial, parralel, split. Split is very cool. You can direct one oscilator through filter 1 and second oscilator through filter 2 or maybe osc mix through filter 1 and ring mod through filter 2. Cool, a? And you can also set the balance between filters. I only wish they could be controled independently. That would be a synth heaven!!!! :) OK, and there's all the classic stuff...FX are good, but not top notch. Eh, for synth they're good enough. I use them all the time. BUT, the routing configuration is a pain in the a**! Not intuitive at all. The only bad point. I don't use the phrase recorder, because it's stupid, and I also don't use it with midi a lot. I used it few times and it worked great, but I haven't tested it how it works when recording some controlers into sequencer. I will in the future. The motion recorder is great and makes up for lack of mod matrix. It's a shame there are only 2 memory locations for motion sequences. :( Soundwise it excells at synth strings (I replicated strings from Roland JX 8P with ease), pads, sci-fi noises, synth brass, harsh stuff and leads. Those deep bass sounds have no home here, pianos are also strangers (it's possible to get some kind of electric piano, but it's nothing special), organs show up from time to time (but in OBI way - which I like). Today I have made a suprisingly good electric sitar sound. Kind of reminds me on DX7, but has more attitude and movement in it. The best sound so far. Lots of ring mod and fm. Nice. I've also made some unique bass sound, that are very digital in character (again reminds me a bit of DX7). They have that solid bass, but lack that deep bottom. Nice for funkadelic bass lines but forget any serious subbas. Well, if you want a classic synth bass, mid 80's style it can deliver a lot of those! And they sound awesome! Yeah, I forgot to mention, that OBI sounds very mid 80's DCO. It reminds me a lot of my ex Roland JX 8P. But it can produce some good 70's sounds, too. Chorus is almost essential for pads, but basses and some digital sounds can do it dry. I would recomend this synth to someone who's looking for different sound and has some other synths or at least a sampler, because it can't do it all and it's only 4 part multitimbral. Make that rather 2 or 3 parts. If you want classic popular sounds, I suggest you look elsewhere (Virus perhaps?). This synth has lots of character and will stay my music partner until it will work. I hope at least 20 years :) If not necessary, I'll never sell it!

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Sunday-Jun-29-2003 at 09:46
seedpoint a part-time user from killer cali writes:
i bought my ob-12 from a person on for $650 SHIPPED back in november of 2002. i am also in possession of an ms2000 (purchased in 2000) as well as a proteus 2500 for general live sequencing purposes, orbit3, and triton rack fully expanded. before purchasing the ob i was looking into other alternatives such as a wald q(which at the time i really could not afford even at a used price). for the money the ob-12 is a spectacular choice. the synth is extremely well built in all categories(knobs, sliders, buttons, body, keys).the four layer architecture for each preset (there are 256) allows tremendously rich and unique voicings to occur in large part to the exceptional yet simple oscillator technology(with simulat. noise and ring mod) on-board as well as the dual flters and advanced asdr functions not to mention all those keyboard-assigned buttons. one of the true wonders of this finely crafted machine is the motion recorder with two 33 bar capacity locations per preset(that's roughly 3 minutes of rec. capacity per loc. at the lowest recording tempo setting) these motion locations can be overrecorded to completely replace old data with new or can be overdubbed again and again; thereby (as far as I know) lending no limit to the amount of manual modulations made by the user. if one were to fully utilize this feature over the entire board interface one would get incredibly variable textures(perhaps even a little too chaotic). one of the decisive features that i look for in an analog modeling engine is the size of the mod matrix.; yet this machine takes on a very fresh and pioneering aspect with the enormous capabilites of the motion recorder. one other of the beauties of this synth is the morph function(either automatically engaged over an amount of time or manually controlled with the mod wheel); this too is way cool. combine these features with a key-assignable 32,000 note phrase recorder, an assignable touch strip with up to 8 simulataneous paramter functions per preset( two for each layer), 12 note polyphony, a really awesome and Large lcd display , and all the knobs, sliders, and buttons; for under $700 this really cant be beat. another good buy these days is the ms2000 which is selling on ebay for roughly $500.i have to say that the ms2000 has created a vast majority of the most impressively beatific sequential patterns that i have ever heard in electronic music. if you can find a waldorf q at a reasonable price that is also a very excellent modern synth and the only other one i might be interested in owning along with a virus c and a v synth. sonicstate is a wonderful forum for the likes of us to help one another along in our quest for cost-effective and exponentially unlimited synthetic sound tools. with that said I would personally advise anyone to look on for potential instruments at a much reduced cost in comparison to larcenist chain stores like guitar center. there are a great deal of synths(old and new) being sold on that site at usually undreamed of prices and almost always in tip top form. stores like guitar center are, however, useful for test-tweaking the latest models.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Apr-09-2003 at 17:07
Jörg a hobbyist user from Germany writes:
I compared the OB-12 to the Nordlead 2, which were both quite cheap. The choice was not very hard... The filters of the OB sound much better than the filters of the Clavia. All in all, the Nordlead sounded too aggressive and "sterile" to my ears, not to speak of the display and the rest of the user interface. Of course, the envelopes of the Swede are faster. The main strengths of the OB are soft pads and weird effect-type sounds, but it is capable of nice leads and basses also. Don´t judge this by listening to the boring presets, there you will find only very very weak bass sounds. Funny to read this thing should sound "thin" - no way! Be careful not to blow your speakers! I think the main reason why so many people scorn the OB is because Visount was so impudent to "steal" the good old Oberheim name.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Apr-09-2003 at 11:28
dr. whammo a professional user writes:
I dont know about versatile, especially in terms of the engine's complexity... but in terms of pure sound quality - this thing is very sweet. It is the smoothest VA filter I have ever heard, and at times it does sound quite analog, which I really cant say for most VAs. In some respects I think the simplicity of the design actually lends itself to a more accurate representation of actual analog synths of yore.

But sorry, the internal fx are shit. Turn them off and the SNR actually improves - a bad sign in my book.

All in all, the thing is very capable of all synth type sounds - pads, bass, leads, riffs, chords, etc. Some people complain about the bass - yeh I'll admit you have to use the onboard EQ almost like another (reverse peak) filter, but I can crank out some serious bass with the OB. And in fact its a monster with the sub-bass stuff. Leads are harder, but thats where the coolest function comes in. What I do is set up a fairly straightforward mono lead, then make some kind of fucked up mono sound - then you set the morph wheel to go between them, and you find a sweet spot where the sound is most pleasing. I have discovered THE MOST bizzare sounds I have ever heard through this method. Granted - it often sounds like you are listening to the inability of the DSP to calculate these changes, but for some reason it sounds so damn cool its unbelievable. Often it is the actual motion of the morph which creates it, but many times it will hit a static plateu of ultimate funk - and that is why the OB-12 is like a secret weapon. You can take its limitations and USE them to make something even cooler than before. Its like the weakness is reversible.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Mar-27-2003 at 18:59
Kev Atherton a part-time user from England, UK writes:
Well what can I say, I've read quite a few of these reviews and to the people who think it's cheap and shitty, WHAT THE F**K ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!

I bought mine brand new in the UK for £499 in Sept 2002, and it is the best synth I have ever used, it IS made incredibly solid and a heavy motherf****r!

yes, it is 'virtual' analogue, but don't be fooled, this synth is awesome and CAN sound pretty damn close to analogues but is FAR more versatile (unless you own a Moog modular or ARP 2500!)! and for anybody who doesn't believe me, I own (and have owned) an SH101, Pro-One, Juno6, Yamaha CS30L, Moog Rogue, Transcendant 2000, Elka Ek22 (ahem!), and many, many a digital synth! I even sold my Yamaha AN1X due to it being blown out of the water by the OB12 (and check out the reviews on the Yamaha!).

Sure I will admit that a Supernova, Virus and a VERY select few are better for VA, but only very slightly in my experience of 'demo-ing' them, and certainly not worth over TWICE the price that this baby can be bought new! Plus I certainly disagree with a few of you out there re: build quality, this synth is built like a tank!

downsides: hmmm, yeah occasional 'clicks' when extreme output via the amp section (turn it down then!!), had to upgrade CPU firmware (stable as fook now!), and the Official Viscount/Oberheim site is NEVER updated!

these are all pretty minor things though, and overall i'm extremely happy with the synth, you cannot get this much 'hands-on' programmability for this amount of money!!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Feb-06-2003 at 21:26
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