Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 vs. Oberheim OB-Xa Synthesizer Battle

This video, via RetroSound, takes a look at a variety of patches, on both a vintage Oberheim OX-Xa and a Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 synthesizer.

The Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 does not specifically try to recreate the OB-Xa, but instead has a sound engine ‘inspired by’ Oberheim’s original SEM (the core of his acclaimed 4-voice and 8-voice synthesizers).  new instrument is designed to provide true, vintage SEM tone with the stability and flexibility of modern technology.

You can find out more information on the OB-6 at the DSI site.

14 thoughts on “Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 vs. Oberheim OB-Xa Synthesizer Battle

  1. the OB-6 is massive. but it does not quite reach the richness and grandeur of the OB-Xa. anyway, both are fantastic synths (i only owned the OB-Xa so far, though).

  2. I’d say about 75% of the sounds were spot on. In the other instances, I’d say that the Xa had a slightly gutsier sound that I like, though the 6 was still great and very close. I bet it could be punched up further with a very small touch of distortion in the FX section a la Marc Doty to make it even tougher. I have an OB-8 and have been able to absolutely nail some of the preset sounds on my Prophet-6.

    I actually have to roll some bass response off of the P6 with the high pass filter to more accurately nail the bottom end response of the OB-8. I think the new synths are great.

  3. It sounded to me as if the filter on the OB-XA was more open then on the OB-6, as if the cutoff on the OB-6 was just a tad in the lower frequencies then on the OB-XA.

  4. I thought the OB-XA had a more overall distinct character. Both sounded great, but given the chance I’d want to use the OB-XA.

  5. Seems to me, DSI only uses the phrase “inspired by” to save their ass. Simply because they cant make the OB6 sound identical to the OB-Xa, OB-8 etc. If it were possible, I bet they wouldve done it. Theyd sell twice as many.

    1. Confirmation bias? the OBXa & OB8 were Curtis filter based. The OB6 is SEM based, like the 4/8 voice and obx. If anything, the OB6 is a more TRUE vintage sounding Oberheim than the OBXA & OB8 ever were.

  6. How many of those sounds on the Oberheim OB-Xa (12dB or 24dB / octave Curtis LPF) are using the 4-pole filter, which is not present on the Dave Smith OB-6 (12dB / octave SEM-style multimode LPF / HPF / BPF / notch)?

    As the OB-Xa uses Curtis filter ICs, perhaps the Prophet ’08 is a better comparison? (Both have different vintage filters, but similar slopes and sound.)

    Or – perhaps to compare the Four-Voice or Eight-Voice against the OB-6?

  7. It still bugs me that Page 2 is gone! Did the OBX-a have those features? or just the OB8 (which i have!)

    OBX definitely rules in this demo…
    or maybe I’m just saying that to dampen my GAS for the OB6

  8. Comparing the OB6 to the OBXA or OB8 is silly, as those were CEM based. The OB6 has more in common with the 4 or 8 voice, and even the OBX, than any of those later Oberheims. To me, the OB6 sounds very close to an OBX in most cases. A WINNER!

  9. I had an OB-Xa for years. When working properly, sounded awesome. But with the constant re-tuning (thank the Lord for that button), failing voices, using pencil erasers to clean contacts, and leaving off the screws that hold on the top panel so I could dig around inside when it freaked out on a gig, I eventually got WAY over it. I loved the sound, but given onboard FX, a sequencer, and reliability, I’ll take the OB-6 any day in 2022. Heck I’ll take the virtual versions over the original versions, with the ability to use, say, 20 synths like an Oberheim or a Juno-106 on a modern Mac (not to mention all the plug-in FX). But being an old guy (politically correct term being Old-School guy), I don’t want ANY of the difficulties that old synths invariably present. I want decent tuning, on-board FX, arpeggiator, sequencer, a footprint more manageable than the aircraft-carrier size of my old Oberheims. I think there’s a “neo-nostalgia” that encourages less experienced musicians to crave the old technology, but as someone who lived and gigged through all of it back in the day, PLEASE give me something that: I can work, and that works.

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