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

In his latest loopop video, host Ziv Eliraz 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 Portamento
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
53:45 Pros & cons
58:30 Outro

15 Tips For The Obverheim 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 you 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

2 thoughts on “Oberheim OB-X8 Review, Plus 15 Sound Design & Performance Tips

  1. Best vid so far, summarily covering the dsktp unit & the similar features of the kybrd. A fair impartial comparison tooo the OB-6 douldn’t hurt either & that side by side each other, the two dsktp’s look very sharp & cutting edge kid’s¡!

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