Oberheim OB-X8 Review, +15 Sound Design & Performance Tips

Host Ziv Eliraz , in his latest loopop video, takes an in-depth look at the Oberheim OB-X8 synthesizer, the latest instrument design from synth pioneer Tom Oberheim.

In addition to providing an overview of the new synth, Eliraz shares shares his thoughts on the OB-X8, including: a comparison to the keyboard version; the pros and cons of the OB-X8; a comparison with the OB-6; patch ideas and more.

Topics covered:

0:00 Intro

1:35 Overview

4:10 Page 2

6:30 vs Keyboard

7:50 Connectivity

9:30 Stereo

10:45 Vintage

12:35 Osc

13:35 Saw+Pulse

16:40 XMOD

19:05 Sync

20:20 Mixer

20:50 Filter

23:15 Envelopes

25:15 LFO envs

26:50 SPD env

27:30 Bearing

28:20 Bend env

29:10 LFO extras

31:50 Mod/Vib LFO

33:30 Expression

35:45 Hold

37:10 Chord

39:15 Unison

40:20 Arpeggiator

42:00 Arp holds

44:30 Arp transpose

45:15 Sequencer

47:00 Arp repeats

48:50 Split, double

50:30 Editor, plugin

52:20 Misc

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53:45 Pros & cons

58:30 Outro

15 Tips for the Oberheim OB-X8:

  1. Many synths have “hidden” parameters you get can access using MIDI controllers – for example, oscillator levels in the case of OB-X8. Check out the MIDI CC appendix of your synth!
  2. If your synth happens to have inverted polarity square and saw waves, matched at the right levels you can create interesting octave trill (with a square LFO) and morph (with smooth LFO/envelope) effects.
  3. Analog FM is hard to control in a way that makes it playable chromatically. Harmonic frequency ratios work better, but if that doesn’t work, consider reducing the level of the carrier (the “metallic/noisy” LFO) and pairing it with a higher level “regular” oscillator.
  4. Since you can point the Vibrato LFO to just one of the oscillators, you can use it with oscillator sync (routed to OSC 2), leaving the main LFO or filter envelope to do something else.
  5. Filter tracking is important if you want to make sure notes levels don’t get attenuated by the filter the higher up you play, or if you want to emphasize specific harmonics as you play up and down the keyboard, for example, to create organ like sounds.
  6. Use high pass filter with resonance aimed at the fundamental as a bass emphasis
  7. Use key triggering of the LFO alongside an arp or sequencer to help overcome the lack of LFO tempo sync
  8. If your synth has a “bend in” portamento option, it actually has a dedicated pitch envelope! In the OB-X8 you can point this bend portamento to just one of the oscillators. You can use this as an osc sync envelope for OSC 2, or as a pitch envelope for OSC 1, which, along with XMOD, can make fantastic percussive sounds
  9. Audio rate vibrato LFO + aftertouch pointed to LFO mod depth = expressive magic!
  10. In some synths (like this one) LFO mod depth is quantized in semitones – that makes for easy to program/tune trill square LFO effects when pointing the LFO to pitch.
  11. Point velocity to the filter frequency but not VCA level for expressive control over the filter cutoff without hurting sound levels.
  12. OB-X8’s hold is really a sostenuto not a regular latch.
  13. Since the OB-X8 lets you play over latched drone notes/chords, be mindful of the velocity with which you play the held notes because they’re going to be around for a while.
  14. Not happy with your synth’s arp or lack thereof? Turn LOCAL OFF and use an external arp.
  15. OB-X8 has a funky relative knob mode – follow Van Halen and switch to Jump mode

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