For many years I have been a fan of Massive Attack, but I have to admit that I never been a fan of Tom’s „blue lines“. But what was underneath the blue lines I loved. For a long time. Today the OB-6 arrived for factory sound programming. A once in a life-time collaboration between Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim. And of course I started the session with taking photos.
The OB-6 sound engine is inspired by Tom Oberheim’s legendary SEM. It comes with two discrete VCOs plus a sub-oscillator. Like DSIs Prophet-6 is the OB-6 a six voice analogue synthesizer. The Filter is an Oberheim-inspired 2-pole. Find more details here.
I will post demos of some of my programs here. So in case you are interested, it might be worth to visit again.
DSI OB-6 only:
As I have been asked – yes, the first sound was inspired by none other than Mr. Thomas Dolby, who played the intro on Foreigner’s „Waiting for a girl like you“. However, Thomas did not use an Oberheim. In an Interview with Moog, released on June 3rd, 2013 he explains that he used a Minimoog! And that is just only one example of him being such a great guest musician [listen for example also to Joan Armatrading’s „Walking under ladders“, or him playing keys on Bowie’s „Heroes“ at the Wembley Live Aid concert]:
„And so I’ve used Mini’s a lot over the years but never owned one. The first serious recording I did with one was on the Foreigner „4“ album. I remember Mutt Lange had left for the night, and left me for the night like a kid locked up in a toy shop. And I had six tracks and had to make an intro for „Waiting for a Girl Like You“. And so I made some sort of Eno-esque ambient drones on the front of it. And to my amazement, it stayed! It was quite an odd feeling traveling around in the early eighties and hearing AOR Radio playing this sort of out there…
The following demo file #2 consists of six patches which I programmed for the OB-6. At the beginning you hear four chords playing a pad without any EFX (OB-6 „dry“), followed by the same chords plus a bit of the internal bbd delay and a little chorus on it. Like in all my other OB-6 tracks, no external EFX have been used.
Examples of single sounds:
And here is a great demo from Lorenz Rhode:
As the following has been discussed on several forums. Here is an overview about the different filters used in some of Tom’s synthesizers:
Discrete SEM 2-pole LPF state variable filter
CEM3320 Curtis chips [2-pole or 4-pole]
Same as OB-Xa
Dave Smith Instruments OB-6
State Variable Filter design inspired by the original Oberheim SEM
2-pole low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, and notch
The next two photos show the differences between the Prophet-6 and the OB-6 voice cards.It is pretty obvious, there is. The oscillators are a new design and not the same as in the Prophet-6. The Filter is a SEM „inspired“ and architecturally different to the P6′. But at the same time it should be clear that the Oberheim voice boards do not contain an entire SEM module. Tony Karavidas, hardware engineer at DSI posted the following at gearslutz.com:
While the main board is exactly the same hardware, the panels Boards are not. The mapping of controls on the panels are different and the CV mapping to the voices cards is also different. So, you have to load the correct firmware for the specific instrument. If you have a P6, and borrowed your friend’s OB6 Voice cards, you would not have a functioning front panel. Trust me, you don’t have to try it.
The core of the Oberheim VCO is not the same as the core of Prophet-6 VCO. While they are both saw integrators, the topology is quite different and the compensation is also quite different. I actually used tighter regulation on the P6 card, and loosened it up a bit on the OB card. You never know exactly what you’ll get until you actually build it and hear it, and we liked what we heard.
The OB VCO did come directly from the SEM, but of course in order to make it programmable, we had to add extra stuff. Also, the triangle never existed in the SEM, so that was a lift from the P6.
The filter is a direct lift from the SEM, as was the one in the Pro 2. Again, we added stuff to make it all programmable.
The digital control of this Voice does not ‚lock down‘ the frequency of any of the cards. We calibrate them, like any microprocessor-controlled analog Voice, and the slop allows us to push the Voice into more unstable territory.
We actually never knew another Voice or instrument was coming to this platform when we worked on the architecture of the Prophet 6.
Originally published24 on Feb 9th, 2016