Tonal difference between OB-Mx and Xpander

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silikon
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Tonal difference between OB-Mx and Xpander

Post by silikon » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:13 am

So, does anyone out there have reasonable experience with both units to say whether they both impart their own timbre, or would you consider them to be really redundant as far as sound goes?

I know that's really sort of a general question, but I've got an OB-Mx (two more voices than the Xpander) and I've been contemplating getting an xpander, but really only if it adds to the sonic palette enough. I'm not too into redundancy, especially when it comes to rather expensive pieces of kit.

I've overheard some comments and threads here that state things like "the xpander's modulation routings are rather similar / identical to the Mx" and things like that, so... my question would be... Would it be a reasonable assumption that the xpander would have a different tonal quality than the Mx, significant enough (obviously this is subjective to an extent) to warrant adding it to one's arsenal?

Thanks, and sorry if the question is sort of retarded. I just have not had the pleasure of actually playing with an xpander.. and would be interested in hearing thoughts about it

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Re: Tonal difference between OB-Mx and Xpander

Post by Synthacon » Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:43 am

While they both contain lots of CEM's I have never been able to define the OBMX as an "Oberheim" synth, it has never had the sound as I look at it.

You will get some tonal overlap but the Xpander is a nice enough unit to be honest, I had one for a couple of years and it was a fun synth to have, I think if you enjoy the CEM sound and like to have a flexible synth engine you will more than get along with an Xpander.
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Re: Tonal difference between OB-Mx and Xpander

Post by SubliminalEffect » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:15 am

i have two OB-Mx (twelve and ten voices), an Xpander and a Matrix-12.

i've never done it but i suppose if you open up their filters all the way and zero all modulations so you're just comparing VCO triangle waveshape to VCO triangle waveshape side-by-side, you could generally say they both have similar basic tone (or as much as any other CEM VCO synth).

going beyond this most basic patch, the OB-Mx and Xpander/Matrix-12 take two completely divergent design/architecture/signal paths so it would take intentional effort at lowest-common-denominator programming to bypass these differences and arrive at similar tones/timbres.

at a minimum, if you compare their filter sections, the (incidentally, vastly under-rated) OB-Mx has a Moog and low/high/band pass output Oberheim state variable filter all simultaneously available compared to the fifteen different modes (including combinations) on the Xpander. so whatever you pass through their respective filter sections will come out sounding different by default unless you're specifically tweaking the Oberheim SVF to mimic one of the three Xpander two-pole low/high/band pass modes and the OB-Mx filter output mix accordingly.

as for the modulation routings being similar, how many synths can't route the ModWheel to VCF resonance or an LFO to VCO pitch? when a synthesizer like the Xpander has a modulation matrix of twenty-seven sources and forty-seven destinations, there are bound to be possible routings that overlap with those available in the OB-Mx (and many other synths too). conversely, how many synths can replicate the modulation effects of the OB-Mx's envelopes with their additional Attack Delay, Decay Delay, Sustain Decay and Velocity Sensitivity settings? or the effects of the Xpander's Lag processors, Ramp Generators and Tracking Generators?

while there are somewhat unique features shared in common among these Oberheims that really stand out (e.g. the Freerun and Reset modes in the EG section), there is no direct lineage in design (or designers) from the Xpander to the OB-Mx and neither featureset supersets the other. comparatively, there is a lot more overlap and lineage between the Prophet 5 rev. 3 and the Prophet T-8. i think that you would find that if you had the latter, you really wouldn't also need to have the otherwise highly desirable former unless you were a completist.

so yeah, i would recommend adding an Xpander. as synthesizers go, they both stand tall, each in their own way. the OB-Mx has the additional fine control envelopes (times four!) plus the flexibility of the dual Moog and Oberheim filters simultaneously. the Xpander doesn't have these but it has more filter modes, EGs, LFOs, assignable modulation routings, modulation sources and modulation destinations, plus FM and those wonderfully fun lag processors, ramp generators and tracking generators. you're not going to go wrong with either (or both).

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Re: Tonal difference between OB-Mx and Xpander

Post by Soundwave » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:50 am

I has experience with a Xa and Xpander

the Xpanders VCO's aren't quite as full and the overall tone is more even and controlled however the Xpanders filter still has that Oberhiem bite which put's it a little above say a DS P08

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Re: Tonal difference between OB-Mx and Xpander

Post by silikon » Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:42 pm

Oh man, that's the most thorough review of the differences EVER.

Thanks to all for the replies... Extremely appreciative.

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