Behringer Oberheim OB-Xa Keyboard Clone In The Works

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Behringer shared these renderings of a planned UB-Xa – a modern clone of the classic Oberheim OB-Xa synthesizer.

Here’s what Behringer head Uli Behringer has to say about it:

Aside from the earlier desktop version, many of you requested for a keyboard version of the UB-Xa synth and hence we thought we’d share some designs with you.

We have asked our engineers to render a 5-octave keyboard version and use this opportunity to show you some of the insights how such a product is developed.

It all starts with the industrial design as well as definition and placement of all functional controls. Once this is completed, the next step is to transfer the “dxf” file which contain the component coordinates plus the artwork for the silk screen printing to the mechanical engineers.

Their job is now to translate the artwork into a fully functional design. In general this works quite smoothly but there are instances where mechanical conflicts arise and artwork changes are required. This collaboration between industrial designers as well as mechanical and system engineers gets more complicated whenever electrical or mechanical constraints come into play.

Over many decades our engineering teams have created a massive component library of close to 100,000 components which have been designed in a photo- and dimension-realistic manner.
This means that any product that is designed based on components from the library will automatically look and feel real, which helps us not only to shorten the design and review process but also skip all photography. As a result any changes can be done almost in real-time and there is no need for traditional photography anymore which is a huge time and cost saver. All our product images on our websites are renderings.

Today I am asking for your feedback in relation to the current design. Do you prefer a keyboard over a desktop version and if yes would you vote for a 4 or 5 octave version. Please remember that the actual features have not yet been decided as we’re still gathering valuable input.

The Behringer UB-Xa is currently in the planning stages, so pricing and availability are to be announced.

78 thoughts on “Behringer Oberheim OB-Xa Keyboard Clone In The Works

  1. This could be interesting. I’d love to A/B this with the DaveSmith/Oberheim OB-6. Likely a wide price differential.
    But can Behringer nail the classic Oberheim sound?

    1. They probably could if they don’t pay Tom any licensing fees and just outright take the design that someone else put in a lifetime of research into.

      1. Rubbish. If Oberheim had any interest in making money from the synth, they’d still be making it. When your buying your kids they’re first guitar for Christmas, you won’t be thinking this nonsense. You’ll get them a strat knockoff because you can’t afford the original. And when he’s grown up and is an accomplished player and has a job of his own, he’ll save up and buy an original.

        And when did they mention that they are not licensing the design?

        1. A+ Cocker…. I’m also completely sick of this holier-than-thou attitude … there’s no way I can afford a genuine OB-Xa but this is a real possibility … Behringer fills a niche market for us mere mortals … if your sensitive ears and sensitive ego can’t bring yourself to touch a Behringer instrument, by all means save up and buy the real deal but just don’t expect a pat on the back for doing it.

      2. Rumour has it that Uli’s already been in contact with Tom and that there’s a deal on the table that will see some sort of financial renumeration for him. Pretty sure Nick Batt recently mentioned it on a Sonic State podcast.

  2. Interesting concept. I do love the Oberheim sound. If you make a keyboard version, please do a 5 octaves one. I have no idea why synth manufacturers have designed 4 octaves poly-synths. 5 octaves gives you more of an option to combine some nice bottom and highs for rich harmonies when playing new melodies. 5 octaves including aftertouch is also ideal as a master controller.

    1. if we’re talking real expression i have a hard time giving up the 76 key range so i use a controller mostly heh. Combining huge synth lows with piano lows and the twinkly highs of both as well, 76 is amazing. But everyone has preferences for range and weight too, so i’d say DESKTOP/MODULE version for sure, and it keeps the price down (and ‘perception’ of the price as well) for everyone too.

      1. Not trying to shitty, but I still don’t get why some people don’t just buy a 88 key master controller? One time purchase and you don’t have to pay the key premium every time you buy a new synth. Plus, it allows you to become accustomed to a single type of action/resistance/weight, etc. I’ve always hated going from weighted to semi-weighted to synth action. My playing suffers when having to make that jump so often.

        I have a 25-key controller I use for “on-the-go” production, and an 88-key Korg SP-250 (which doesn’t have the midi routing options I really need, but nowadays I make up for it by routing it into the Squarp Pyramid with Multitrack on, so it only sends incoming midi to the currently selected track, regardless of the channel the Korg is sending on)

        Just my 2 cents. To each their own.

        1. I dont get it either.
          Sure some people like differnt actions and key feels for different type of sounds…. but a keyboard synth always comes with just one action, and one key feel, so having a collection of controllers is better than collecting keyboard synths.

          What I would love to see is a standardization to modules that fits 19″ racks, and comes with the rack-ears. And for devices with a lot of parameter controls, they could be split in to two modules, where one is just a controller, and if designed right, the controller part could be left behind for live scenarios.
          And then master keyboards with attached 19″ racks (detachable perhaps for transport, but they should come with a secure fit and variable tilt).
          That way those that want a single unit to carry that is both keyboard and synth, they could have that. Venus could invest in such keyboards, so that keyboard players could save their backs, by just having to bring the module.
          And it would make it easy to have the synth parameters within reach when playing, without having to make up solutions, or rely on master keyboards with controllers and do the midi-mapping.

          And another reason to skip the keyboard, is that today it is starting to become apparent that traditional keyboards, are not the universally best controllers for synths.

        2. Answering to your first question with all the respect, I don’t feel using an 88 controler with a synth like this mainly because of its topology. IMHO a XA is a synth designed to be played in real time and apart of its spilt capability -like two synths in one- with all the controls on the left sitting next to you. In my personal experience this set would be a bit more akward to setup live or in the studio than a compact synth.

        3. Answering to your first question with all the respect, I don’t feel using an 88 controler with a synth like this mainly because of its topology. IMHO a XA is a synth designed to be played in real time and apart of its spilt capability -like two synths in one- with all the controls on the left sitting next to you. In my personal experience this set would be a bit more akward to setup live or in the studio than a compact synth.

    2. Agree about 5 octaves – way more useful than four.

      To me a 4-octave synth might as well be a sound module, I’ll use a proper controller keyboard instead, if I buy it at all.

      So the ideal combo is: 5-octave keyboard and/or a stand-alone module (which will sell better anyway).

  3. Yes keyboard version please with 5 octaves. But please don’t use those levers. I hated them on oberheim and chroma. They’re absolutely not intuitive to use. I’d rather buy a module than a keyboard with those.

    1. To each his own, I guess. I loved the levers on my Chroma, could grab them both with my left hand for really expressive playing. Also enjoy it on the CS-15 and CS-30.
      FWIW, I vote 5 octave keyboard and levers

  4. Behringer .. if you make it exactally like this render with 5 octaves and the pitch/mod levers on the left I’ll buy it (just please run tighter QC on the keybed, my DM12 keybed .. a newer one .. though very playable, has some worse gaps between several keys than my teeth .. not very pretty lol.

  5. I would say “keyboard” if I had any confidence the keybed would not be horrible, but I’ve played a few Behringer keyboards and they all are horrible. If it is a keyboard, it also needs adequate master MIDI controller capabilities.

  6. I’d want this one to have smooth sounds and work with my daw. Is analog all good? Some say no. A tale as old as time but I’d like to stay out of that fight. Sampling is the future and you can find anything on YouTube.

      1. Sampling is the future? Wow, so when I got my E-Mu Esynth at the end of the 90’s (which I still have), it must have seemed like I was from outer space or something, I was so advanced. 🙂 To be serious though, sampling will come back in a big way because they never really explored all the possibilities. My Esynth is better at VA than most VA’s are, and it has massive layering and other possibilities. If only Dave Rossum would make another that connected seamlessly to a DAW/Desktop environment ….. ….

        1. Just recently got my old ESI-2000 and zip 250 (lol) back in use. Got an efx board fitted for 40 quid…what a laff. Why did I ever put it away?
          Don’t worry kids, when the market is totally saturated with analogs…old skool samplers will be worth a mint, yay!

  7. This would be pretty nice: aside from the gorgeous retro look, if they do the same work they did with the mini moog clone, they’ll make out another clone. But I’m still a VA guy, because I need patches and quick menus and editing.

  8. Behringer, just put some more effort in producing a better quality unit, I’m more than happy to pay the extra dosh for better quality. Don’t go the cheap arse route on this one, out of respect for Tom Oberheim. If it’s DM12 type quality, keep your rubbish, it’s just atrociously bad.

  9. Well, for once, interesting info on some parts of the design process. Jealous to some extent, on the library they use. In my projects I’m trying to build such a library including mechanics, optical rendering and electronic simulation from scratch … Know from various projects how mechanics and electronics regularly cause conflicts in design.
    Don’t like the name UB, sounds to much like Über Behringer … Still rather curious on this one. Never a desktop, so a keyboard version for me. No minikeys, 4 octaves sufficient, 76 keys or more with master keyboard functionality always welcome. Just waiting until one day, maybe and unexpected, its’ ready for delivery.

  10. Uli, please clone the Alesis Andromeda as this is one of the greatest synths of all time. Thank you sir and keep the clones coming. I love it

  11. “Today I am asking for your feedback in relation to the current design.”
    It sucks, don’t do it.
    Derivative is always worse than the original.
    [end of line]

  12. I just aquired a JD-XA. Another keybed is not really necessary. Good MIDI integration with >256 steps for faders potis would be better. I would love to get this desktop version for maybe 500€? Of course a five octave version would be more useful than four.

  13. It’s kind of cool to see these rehashes and that they might be available at more affordable prices.

    But does it make sense to make a bunch of knockoffs of 30 year old designs, or for us to buy them, when a really good modern analog design could blow them all away?

    I’ve met his engineers, Pete and Rob, at Knobcon, and there’s no doubt they could make a fantastic original synth design.

    The knockoffs sound like a good idea, until you realize that it would be cheaper to buy one powerful modern analog than buying a couple of limited retro clones.

    Behringer seems more interested in filling that nostalgia knockoff market than in making a great new synth, though.

    1. I think we really shouldn’t stop them from doing the OB-XA clone. The OB filter has some magic circutry not even the Moog can match and it’s polyphonic. It’s the only legacy synth I really want. But you are right, themain selling point is nostalgia.

    2. Different ocs have different sound, different filters have different sounds.
      For a modern analog to replace all classics, it would have to contain a bunch of oscillators and a bunch of filters per voice.

      I think clones are needed to move forward.
      We need to make up with the past.
      When the sound of the classics, are widely available, people will start to understand the limitations of them.
      But sometimes those limitations are good, especially when learning synthesis.

      For behringer, cloning the classics, will also give them a lot of knowledge, that they can make use of, when producing new synths.

  14. I’ve had the good fortune to have played most of the more venerable synths, so I’m a bit puzzled at both the fans of this idea and the detractors. If its a big Gotta-Have-It, I can understand why you might go for a $1500 knock-off over a $3k Sequential OB-6 MADE by Tom Oberheim. OTOH, its just too funny to hear a CZ-101 nail that Obie patch. Program or die, beeyotches, sheesh! Its your money and your right to the stack of your choice, but between the software Obies, the OB-6 and the world of Filter Heaven we live in, the actual sound of the line is already at your fingertips. Its sure nice to see a 5-octave keyboard for a change, though.

    1. Have they announced a pricetag?
      The OB-6 does not have the same type of filter that the OB-xa had. The OB-6 is made by Dave Smith Instruments, possibly with some feedback for tweaks to be made to the Prophet-6 archtecture by Tom Oberheim, but it is not made by Tom Oberheim… He does have a few products out there though, that is made by his design.

      There are ways to emulate the OB-Xa, but a good physical programming interface is a big part of a synth. And unfortunately, there aren’t any good universal Midi controllers, that can adopt their controls to feel like actually programming a synth.

  15. I have two 88 key controllers (different touch for different purposes). I still like 61 key keyboards for polysynths better than rack- or desktop versions. However – if keys are added they need to be top quality. If not – one can forget about it.

    Having said that – I ordered a Model D today.

  16. 5 octaves please for the players. And also dont forget to improve that pitch/mod-wheel. I prefer more the joystick roland/ korg thing than to have pitch and mod separated.

  17. I don’t like that you even copy the layout (all the more that the blue-black lines don’t look so nice).
    It would be better to make a new synth based on the sound of oberheim but with more features.

  18. would it be a good idea to release all the versions? I’d prefer the 5 octave version since anything less seem to be a hinder when I play.. been waiting for this one..very exited

  19. Eurorack that can be used as desktop with optional 19″ rack mounts (Roland System -1m alike) Still want to see more on how this will stay in tune and stable over time and if it is Sysex programmable for load/save patches. Those are the main reason to chose DSI over any other analog clone made of old style components and circuits Behrninger announced with the vague spec of a”comprehensive Midi implementation’ whatever that is.
    My first impression touching the controls of the DM12 was “ouch that feels cheap”, Even a Roland Boutique control feel more solid. (though it has too small controls)

  20. Definitely 5-octave Keyboard…and please, PLEASE a decent keybed. If DSI can manage to finally put decent ones on their OB6, Prophet-6 and, most importantly, the Rev2…so can you 🙂

  21. Cover versions that sound exactly like the original song are a waste of time IMHO. You could say the same with cloning synths. Uli – add an extra oscillator, maybe some other features, put your own stamp on it. Then I’ll be a lot more interested. 🙂

  22. OB-Xa is one of the best sounding synths of all time, but I have to say it was ugly. Nasty blue and black did not look good. Keyboard is the way to go, but please, no blue and black stripes. 🙂

  23. Just make the old OB sound and look but add modern features like OLED display, multitimbrality and sequencer with per trig changes.

  24. Hi Behringer Development Team and Synth family,
    I think it’s a great idea. The full key version would be awesome, only if the keybed was decent, I know ‘fatar’ are expensive, but they are excellent and the keybed is the bit the 200pound gorilla bashes on, so…’s gotta be half decent quality. If not, then a desktop version with cheeky ears, (wood cheeks or rack ears) interchangeable or able to buy options etc. I think DSI has the right idea re:Synthesizer with Keybed / Desktop & Rackable..the OB-XA is a synth I’d love to own, my synth repair guy has a couple proping doors open, because obtaining parts and good parts are near impossible, plus the ongoing repairs alone, well, that’s near the same expense as buying 2 or 3 clones. I say build ‘em all, then make a frankensynth (modular).hahahaa,..yeah man, a beri-mofo.!.

  25. Dear Uli,
    it’s Time now to think about POLYPHONIC PRESSURE
    (AFTERTOUCH) within an analog Synth.
    We miss the Expressiveness of a Yamaha CS-80 or a Prophet T8…
    Behringer has always made COMPLETE PRODUCTS.
    Kick Roli’s A$$!

  26. I know I am going to get burned at the stake for this but here is my idea. Make the module and 5 octave keyboard versions….and also make a mini key version with built in speakers and aim it at kids ( so sell ot cheaper than the module and 5 octave version). Why? We need to get the next generation into VCO territory early. Do the world a favor. You will be scorned but 20 years from now the young adults will praise you like a god.

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