Dave Smith & Tom Oberheim Intro OB-6 Synthesizer


At the 2016 NAMM Show, Dave Smith Instruments has announced the OB-6, a new 6-voice synthesizer, with all-analog signal path and discrete VCOs and filters, developed in collaboration with Tom Oberheim.

Boasting a sound engine inspired by Oberheim’s original SEM (the core of his acclaimed 4-voice and 8-voice synthesizers), the new instrument is designed to provide true, vintage SEM tone with the stability and flexibility of modern technology.

Here’s the official intro video:

tom-oberheim-dave-smith“Tom and I have been friends and friendly competitors since the late 1970’s. Back in the day, people were typically in either the Prophet or the Oberheim camp,” says Smith. “Now, with the Prophet-6 out and doing so well, we thought it would be fun to combine our strengths and bring back Tom’s classic polyphonic sound, too — in a modern format.”

Adds Tom Oberheim: “A lot of people, myself included, have always felt that the SEMs had a certain uniquely big, organic sound unlike anything else. Working with Dave to make that sound widely available again with some modern touches and full programmability has been real a pleasure.”


The OB-6 features two discrete voltage-controlled oscillators (plus sub-oscillator) per voice, with continuously variable waveshapes (sawtooth and variable-width pulse, with triangle on oscillator 2). There is a classic SEM-inspired state-variable filter (low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, and notch) per voice. Voltage-controlled amplifiers complete the all-analog signal path. “The classic, bold SEM sound is all there,” said Oberheim.

Present also is X-Mod, with filter envelope and oscillator 2 as modulation sources (with bi-polar control). Destinations include oscillator 1 frequency, oscillator 1 shape, oscillator 1 pulse width, filter cutoff, and filter mode. The knob-per-function front panel puts virtually all parameters at a user’s fingertips. Toggling on the Manual switch enables live panel mode, in which the OB-6 switches to the current settings of its knobs and switches.

A dual effects section provides studio-quality reverbs, delays (including standard and BBD), chorus, and faithful recreations of Tom Oberheim’s acclaimed phase shifter and ring modulator. The effects are digital, with 24-bit, 48 kHz resolution, but a true bypass maintains a full analog signal path. Additionally, the OB-6 features a multimode arpeggiator and a polyphonic step sequencer with up to 64 steps (and up to 6 notes per step) plus rests. It allows polyphonic keyboard input and can sync to external MIDI clock.

The full-size, four-octave, semi-weighted keyboard is velocity and aftertouch sensitive. Said Dave Smith, “As with the Prophet-6, we made size a primary concern on the OB-6. It’s the right mix of power and portability and it fits right in on-stage or in the studio.” Added Oberheim, “And of course, it’s got that unmistakable SEM sound that’s going to turn a lot of heads. ”

Here’s an official audio demo:


Pricing and Availability

The OB-6 is manufactured and sold by Dave Smith Instruments. It will be available in March, with a US MAP of $2,999. See DSI’s site for details.

31 thoughts on “Dave Smith & Tom Oberheim Intro OB-6 Synthesizer

  1. OK, now the Korg’s move with Minilogue is now totally clear. … Arturia is coming with MatrixBrute, which looks insane. Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim are introducing also something actually quite interesting and it is not even the first day of NAMM … in both cases the pricing is unknown and the teasers are bljah, especially Dave Smith’s … but yeah, this year will bring definitely some very gamechanging instruments and will have huge influence on the market with the vintage synths, I expect.

    1. Sadly, the Minilogue wins. MatrixBrute will fall apart as soon as you get it home and the OB-6 doesn’t sound like an OB and costs $3k. Oh well, try again next year, guys!

      Oh, and Roland is just completely asleep at the wheel, lol. 500 series is cool, but been around for a while now. And idk who the f is buying a Montage…

      1. Hahaha!! Try using the phrase “…in my opinion”, grasshopper. The only shred of accuracy in your post is your user name. Now back under the bridge, and leave conversations about music and instruments to people who actually care to have them. Again, the phrase you’re searching for is “…in my opinion.” Thanks!

  2. “…and will have huge influence on the market with the vintage synths, I expect.”
    yes, the prices of the classics will rise even more 😉

  3. I am old enough to remember hungering for the OB System of the early 80’s. The OB-6 even has the blue facing that matches the old OB-8 synth, DSX sequencer and DX drum machine. Be still my beating heart…

  4. the ad of the OB-6 is gorgeous…i really had to laugh. such a different world than most of the other ads that are released those days for all that synth stuff….i like that!

    1. The ad cheeseball! I mean how many times have we heard the design on a cocktail napkin shtick? Just last week Elon Musk said he designed the concept of the hyperloop on a cocktail napkin.

      And this is highly overpriced. If they had used some more interesting controls or an LCD screen to provide more information, perhaps.

  5. To my ears, this sounds better than an OB8. I have an OBX and it seems to have captured that sound. Tom talked about re-releasing the OBX as its his favourite synth. If this really is SEM x 6 then THIS is in fact the 21st Century reincarnation of the Four Voice and the OBX.

    Very impressive. Hope Nick Blatt reviews it!

  6. the bar video is just crap. can’t we leave this kind of ‘funny’ ads to TV and stick to more informational stuff in a forum like synthtopia? i personally would appreciate very much.

    the ob-6 sounds good. but imho it lacks the oberheim feel i remember from my long gone obx-a. the ob-6 sounds more aggressive and less lush. still good, tho.

    1. i am sure the informational stuff will follow.
      At least the ad is more about “real” persons and not some casted people that seem to play some live-music or sitting in the studio or at a cafe and trying to associate some feeling of making music…
      The Arturia MatrixBrute Ad gives you more information…but is it the better ad? Nope…

    1. there will probably be a module again too, bit of consolation for you hehe 😉

      sadly i may just minilogue this season, but hey that’s not half bad. I just really like the classic blue lines on this one as someone else also mentioned.

  7. Wow. I’m not a huge fan of the OB sound – but damn these guys are doing it right. Good on them. I’m sure this will do great. Sure the Minilogue is $500 US (or $899 AUD, bleph) but this is a whole other beast. I’m still saving for a Prophet 6 even if I just ordered a Minilogue….

  8. I like how they start the video with the Muni going by. Yes, most of us will have to take the bus for a year to be able to afford this. So worth it though!

  9. I hope this also comes as a module (like the fantastic Prophet 6). A keyboard analog with 4 octaves might not fit all players.

    The Prophet 6 module combined with an 76/88 weighted keyboard has the feel of the legendary Prophet T8 and combined with an X-Key 37 it’s a compact monster!

    So I hope that Tom and Dave already started to order the hardware elements for the module version ????

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