New Documentary On Tom Oberheim

GForce Software shared this new mini-documentary, featuring engineer and electronic instrument design pioneer Tom Oberheim.

Oberheim’s company, Oberheim Electronics, has released an amazing string of great sounding and influential instruments, including the Synthesizer Expander Module (SEM); the Oberheim 2-Voice and 4-Voice synthesizers; the OB-X and OB-Xa; the DMX drum machine; the Xpander and more.

Oberheim was also an early advocate for the now-ubiquitous MIDI standard.

And at 85, Tom Oberheim is still at it. His recent collaboration with Dave Smith, the Sequential OB-6, is considered by many to be a modern classic.

Bright Sparks – Tom Oberheim, embedded above, is “a fascinating journey through the life and career of one of the most revered synthesizer pioneers, whose work has graced the tracks of everyone from Joe Zawinul to Stevie Wonder, Lyle Mays, Jam and Lewis and countless others.”

Documentary Credits:

Camera – Sam Graydon.
Edit Producer – Jeff Boult.
Executive Producer – Dave Spiers for GForce Software.
Artwork – Jarrod Gosling
Animation – Luke Highet
Photos – Dave Spiers, Ian Legge, Robert Rosen, Marcus Ryle, Tom Oberheim & Sequential Circuits
Music – I Monster (Bright Sparks Instrumental). Jeff Boult. Dave Spiers.
Archive – Internet Archive. Prelinger Archives.

14 thoughts on “New Documentary On Tom Oberheim

  1. I’m not a nostalgic bloke however the humility and unassuming nature of this man is truly humbling. After recently watching a video of Urs Heckman of Uhe speaking of his exploits and “brilliance” I can’t help but respect Tom all the more. That’s Mr. Oberheim to the likes of Heckman.

  2. Which video? Haven’t heard of Urs Heckman before, and your short description sounds like a good entry point into knowing what that guy is all about. 🙂

  3. I watched the documentary today. It was very interesting. Not many people have changed the world of music like Tom Oberheim, Dave Smith, Bob Moog, Roger Linn, and a few others. As Tom Oberheim discussed in the documentary, I found it interesting that his interest and love for music didn’t really kick in until his college years, and he learned to play the piano at that point. “For the first time, I learned who Beethoven was. For the first time I learned who Bach was.” It was also interesting that, even though he had no previous formal musical training, he talked to a music professor and was permitted to take classes reserved for music majors. That’s cool for someone educated in electrical engineering and physics to also get interested in music and musical training. I didn’t know that the Oberheim Electronics company had its start with Tom Oberheim being asked to create a ring modulator. “Okay, I had no idea what a ring modulator was…” The rest is synth history. Now that he owns his own Oberheim trademark name again, it would be cool if Tom Oberheim developed a relatively inexpensive new Oberheim synth, maybe something like the DSI Mopho keyboard but with the SEM features/sound (and maybe the famous blue line look). That would be awesome.

  4. I thought I had the ‘fortune’ to play the OB-X, own 2 Matrix 1000’s and the OB-6, but after watching this , I’d rather had the ‘honour’ of playing the OB-X.

  5. Well… I was clearly an Oberheim guy… I wish I had kept some of that gear. Love to Tom and Marcus!
    T

    Using: RD-2000, Logic Pro X, Omnisphere, Keyscape, Komplete 12, CFX Lite, Arturia V, Pigments, ME80, VPS Avenger, u-he Diva, Hive2, Roland Cloud, OB-E, OP-X, 27” Retina iMac

    Sold: Korg: Kronos 88, T3, MS20, Yamaha: Motif XS8, Motif ES8, Motif 8, KX88, TX802, Oberheim: Modular 8 Voice, OBXa, OB8, Prophet 5, Roland D50, Dyno-My-Rhodes, Crumar T2

  6. I’m so glad Tom Oberheim got his trademark back. Obviously Gibson was doing nothing with it, so it’s only fair they should give it back to Tom – so he can do nothing with it.

  7. Fun interview! I notice that most accomplished people don’t have an attitude over it. Their work pushes aside that Big Ego thing. I liked it when Simone Biles said to some detractors “I can’t hear you over my 7 Olympic medals.” Tom could make a similar statement about his trail of great instruments.

    The OB-X line has a lot of love as software, but its a grin for me to see so many SEMs in the middle of modern rigs. The OB-6 is a big winner, but those SEMs are special, whether original or reissued. The one with the numerous patch points would make a nice gift for any modular fiend. Its uniquely creamy.

  8. Tom Oberheim, I believe, is the Godfather of all polysynths for developing a scanner that read the keybed to determine which keys were pushed down.

    1. Actually, the keyboard he used was the Digital Scanning Keyboard produced by Emu Systems, but this doesn’t diminish the value of the 4 and 8 voice Oberheim poly synths

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