Oberheim OB-X8 OS v2.0 Update – Binaural, MPE and More

Synthesizer maker Oberheim has announced a free v2.0 software update for their OB-X8 polysynth.

Synthesis enhancements take center stage in the OB-X8 OS v2.0 update, broadening the instrument’s sound palette with the ability to select simultaneous wave shapes in each oscillator for more complex timbral variations. Along with the OB-X8’s six iconic filter modes from the SEM, OB-X, OB-Xa, and OB-X8, a new 4-Pole low-pass filter type has been added that provides fuller, richer bass tones at higher resonance than ever before in an Oberheim synth. For sound designers seeking more dynamic soundscapes, independent LFO modulation per VCO level enables greater control over fluidly mixing waveform textures.

On top of that, the arpeggiator’s clock sync, with its selectable note division values, empowers musicians with expanded rhythmic control. Immersive stereo imaging is a snap to produce with the OB-X8’s intuitive new binaural mode.
Create more layered sound combinations with the expanded Split and Double memory locations. Unleash 32-voice sonic epics through polychain, which allows seamless connection and control of multiple instruments.

And finally,nuanced and expressive performances come alive with the introduction of MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) support-a multi-channel MIDI extension offering finerand more naturalperformance articulationsper note.

“At Oberheim, we have always worked hard at finding clever ways to bring more useful features to our instruments,”says Tom Oberheim. “It’s unusual to add a new filter type and oscillator waveshapes to an analog synth via a software update, but our team is sharp and tenacious – always striving to bring genuine value to the discerning musicians who love our instruments.”

OB=X8 OS 2.0 Features:

  • Instant binaural mode pans individual voices hard left and right for true stereo operation
  • Simultaneously selectable waveshapes for each oscillator extends timbral variety
  • New 4-Pole low pass filter type with fuller bass at high resonance
  • New VCO 1 and 2 level LFO modulation destinations for independent timbral mixing
  • Arpeggiator clock sync now has selectable note division values for expanded rhythmic control
  • Twice the Split and Double memory locations, including program storage directly in the new banks for 512 more stored sounds
  • Separate MIDI channels for lower/upper split bi-timbral operation
  • Poly chain for up to 32 voices with 4 connected instruments
  • MPE for new levels of expressiveness

Pricing and Availability. The OB-X8 v.2.0 firmware update is available now, and free to OB-X8 owners. For more information about the OB-X8, and about the update, visit the Oberheim website.

29 thoughts on “Oberheim OB-X8 OS v2.0 Update – Binaural, MPE and More

    1. Thanks for your feedback!

      Synthtopia welcomes any reader perspectives on the gear we cover. More perspectives mean that readers will have a more comprehensive context for understanding the news we cover.

      Binaural synthesis is not factually not marketing bull, though, even if you don’t care about what it does.

      It should be easy for any synthesist to hear and understand why using two separate analog synthesis paths will sound richer and more complex than just panning a mono signal or adding a time-based effect.

      This is basic knowledge of recording that every electronic musician should know – it’s effective with vocals, synth pads, leads, etc.

      If the price of current binaural synthesis synths is out of your reach, you can get a similar effect with any modern analog synth.

      Just record it into your DAW as both audio and MIDI, pan the first signal left, and then use the MIDI you recorded to sequence and record a second pass of your synth, and pan it right.

      Try it – real chorusing of two distinct analog synthesis paths sounds huge, and you’ll be a more informed musician.

      1. It’s still just panning, pan spread, whatever. Calling it binaural is just to make it sound more fancy than it really is.

        1. Binaural synthesis is essentially halving your polyphony and using two completely separate signal paths to generate your left and right channels for a single note, with the ability to modulate these two channels independently.

          I’m not 100% sure if that’s what they are doing here – but that’s what the term has been established to mean by other synths, like the UDO Super 6. This is similar to the traditional recording technique of double-tracking vocals and instruments to get a richer sound.

          So thinking of binaural synthesis as just panning or pan spread is misunderstanding the concept at a fundamental level.

          Has anybody tried this out yet that can offer an informed take on what they implemented?

        2. Yes correct. In my experience a binaural mix is created by encoding a 5.1, 7.1 or other multi speaker format into a binaural format

          It’s not just stereo

          1. Things like binaural mixes and binaural beats are completely different techniques, but also explore the fact that there’s a entire world of possibilities in creating a stereo mix that go beyond just panning and reverb.

            1. Binaural, as used for synths is a marketing term, hinting that there is something involved there beyond the stereo signal path. There are numerous synths that offer this capability, none use the term. Binaural audio given a specialized head relater transfer function, gives the feeling similar to that of listening in the real world. You can listen to the sound coming from all direction, front, back, down and up. This is a technique only feasible in audio reproduction from headphones (it requires the separation of both ears). Not true about those synths. Anyway, you can go back to all the music technology bibliography, you will not find the term binaural being used the way, oberheim and udio do. It is just a marketing term, reminding us monikers like “it’s toaster”, “what’s the worst that could happen”, and “feel around” from kentucky fried chicken.

            2. Look simply adding stereo fx to a sound does not make it binaural

              When I learned the meaning, it had to do with ambisonics and either a multi mic/multi capsule mic recording or downmixing a multi speaker or “surround” to a headphone format

              I say headphone because although it’s “stereo”, it’s also more than than

              What was popularly known as ambisonics less than 10 years ago is now just called 3d audio

              It’s not stereo

              What’s in these synths (UDO, Oberheim) is stereo processing

              Nothing more

        3. I don’t think so. I think that it is a 2 voice unison mode with voices panned left and right respectively. Basically one full independent identical analog chain for left and right. I do that all the time on the Moog One and really wished that it was just a single button press, instead of using 2 identical layers panned differently to simulate it.

      2. Actually this isnt binaural at all, as binaural by definition only works with headphones. 😉
        this is just hard panned voices left and right as you can read in the marketing blah.

        1. You may want to consider that ‘binaural’ is a word that means different things in different contexts.

          Binaural recording is an approach to recording that positions two microphones similarly to the spacing of human ears, in order to capture a more convincing stereo image.

          Binaraul mixing is an approach that goes beyond standard stereo mixing to try to translate the psychoacoustic effects of surround sound into a stereo format.

          Binaural beats is a psychoacoustic effect that’s created when your brain ‘hears’ difference tones or beats that are the difference in the fundamental pitch of two similar sounds heard over left and right headphone channels.

          Binaural synthesis, at least as implemented on synths like the UDO Super 6, is using a complete synth voice for your left channel and a complete synth voice for your right channel, with the ability to modulate them individually. This halves your polyphony, because it uses two voices for each note. This does not require you to wear headphones to hear, because it’s essentially the same idea as double tracking when you record – two vocalists sound richer and more complex than a single vocalist panned.

          If you’re still confused by the concept, check out Daniel Fisher’s demo of achieving a similar effect with two inexpensive Behringer Pro-800 synths:


          It sounds awesome, without the need for any effects, because you’re hearing all the micro-variations between two separate versions of the same note.

          1. Binaural recordings are supposed to be consumed via headphones.
            Binaraul mixing is an approach that … is supposed to be consumed via headphones.
            Binaural beats is a psychoacoustic effect … that only works on headphones.

            “Binaural synthesis” does not exist. it’s marketing blah for double layer voice split with panning (and detune).
            in what universe is this a new form of synthesis that needs its own name? 😉

          2. Not really. In the context of audio engineering or psychoacoustics it has quite a particular definition

            Outside of that I see it getting used to describe “fancy stereo”

            It’s become a bit of a buzz word like AI or Machine Learning

            Tossed around to generate interest without anyone knowing quite what it means

            1. Wow. Synthhead wrote a coherent argument for using the word binaural in a number of valid contexts, and you dismissed it with “not really.”

              The critical thing is that this synth does something that very few other instruments can do, and it opens up some interesting sonic possibilities. While you’re arguing the definition of a phrase, a musician somewhere will create and use a brilliant patch to make great music.

              1. Thing is, this shouldn’t be special / amazing. If these polysynths just came with individual voice outs, our lives with these expensive machines would be so much better. Implentation of this tends to be rather simple with boards that allow modding.

          3. So a Roland 1080 is “binaural” because it does double layer voice split with panning and detune?!?

            stop the bs

      3. For the love of god. I am more than 30 years active in this field as a professional, having passed thru all stages of academia, either as a student or as a tutor. Don’t lecture me on something which is wrong. This thing begun with udo and continues unfortunately with Oberheim. It is nothing more than a marketing ploy and definetely a wrong use of the term.

        1. xrx – with 30 years of experience in this field, you should have a basic understanding of the traditional recording technique of double tracking vocals and instruments to create a natural chorus effect.

          This is essentially what UDO is doing with it’s implementation of binaural synthesis – halving your polyphony and using two separate analog voices for every note, with the ability to modulate them independently or in parallel.

          It’s seems like you’re getting hung up on the word ‘binaural’ and understanding it through its use in other contexts, as noted previously.

          You can disagree with UDO’s choice of terminology, but suggesting that their approach is a ‘nothing more than a marketing term’ is factually incorrect, and ignores 50 years of traditional recording technique.

          Give Daniel Fisher’s demo (linked previously) a listen, if you have not already. He demonstrates that you can get similar effects with cheap gear. And I’ve previously noted that you can get similar effects by double-tracking any modern analog synth.

      4. In this case it’s definitely misleading, Yes, binaural per definition means the sound is split up and coming from two sources simultaneously, what is more commonly known as STEREO!

        The immersive audio trend right now make the use of binaural here suggest that some sort of Binaural Encoding is possible, which I assume is not the case.

        So yes, Marketing BS big time!!

        1. I already miss the brain cells I just lost reading this meaningless ping-pong match that has absolutely nothing to do with a really fantastic OS update.

          WHO…THE F…CARES

          Well done Oberheim!!!

  1. I’m not hurting for gear at all, but the idea of poly-chaining “just” two of these gives me a serious chill. Panning giant Oberheim pads left & right lightens gravity a little. Who wants to be the first to play four of them in quad? 😛

    Its a pleasure to see Tom crank up the 8 with more memory and MPE. Instant Hearts of Space.
    This is the mushroom-dream mega-synth you grampas hallucinated in 1980 or so.

  2. im really excited by this, but this release is V2.0.0.0….i have heard of peoples synths being bricked when its updated via the USB…call me cautious, but i think i will wait at least until version….

    Do your own research on ppl posting the problems first… just fyi

  3. @synthhead, you have the patience of a saint. I don’t know how you deal with trying to make reasonable points to the so-called experts who always feel obliged to chime in here telling everyone how wrong they are!

    Whatever people want to call it, I’ve tried this technique myself by recording essentially the same sound, just with a slightly different LFO rate for the pitch, once for each stereo channel. The result is totally different from putting a sound through a reverb. It sounds expansive and intimate at the same time. For a synth to do this in real time is cool.

  4. Re: binaural, stereo, yada yada. Whatever you call it, it’s a good feature. (I use it all the time on my beloved old Kawai SX-240.) When the Prophet 10 reappeared, I never understood Sequential’s (cheap/weird) decision to stay with the mono output of the P5 (on a bitimbral synth with two voiceboards). Hopefully the P10 gets the minor hardware update required to do this on it as well.

  5. Headline reads; “This really has to be one of the greatest firmware updates that a synth has ever received.…” is a super long shot to the moon and back. Really?

  6. @Percivale I dunno, I don’t remember the last time an analog synth received a new filter type as an update! OK so the obie is hybrid, still.

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