The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

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The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by georgemarauder » Sat Oct 29, 2011 4:39 pm

I just bought mine and I have to say, it's an amazing synth. Definitely a sleeper that no one seems to know or care about in the synth world. It's got a ton of features, most of which I don't even use, but the best part is all the knobs and sliders are right there on the front panel for you. You don't have to dig through any menus to change parameters, only the very advanced features are behind menus (thankfully, because 2 days after receiving my OB-12 the backlight burned out, meaning I can't see anything on the screen without a flashlight :( ). But even with no backlight I make sounds on it very easily.

But yeah, this synth is great! I've made beautiful and gorgeous pads, strings, mellow sounds, leads, bubbly raw basses, weird FX, everything so far and it's all sounded great. I really love the ring mod and the 2 LFOs give you a lot of movement in your sounds. Any other OB-12 users lurking out there? Post some tracks made with the blue beast if so! (You can find OB-12 tracks on my Youtube ). Peace!

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by garranimal » Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:24 pm

I've never played the OB-12 but from what I understand they are a pretty good VA that can go head-to-head with the likes of MS-2000, Ion and JP-8000. Being a new breed with the Oberheim name, it would seem when it came out a lot of folks were disappointed it did not have any of the DNA lineage from the old great analogs SEM, OB-Xa, OB-8, and Xpander.

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by _seph » Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:52 am

That isn't why people were disappointed, but it is close. The reason it doesn't share anything in common with all of the classic Oberheim synths is because the OB-12 is not an Oberheim synth, it is a Viscount product that was attempting to cash in on the analog revival/VA craze and as a marketing gimmick they licensed the Oberheim name from Gibson (the guitar manufacturer and current owner of the Oberheim name). This plus the fact that when they originally shipped they were fairly buggy is why few people care about this synth.

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by georgemarauder » Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:45 pm

There are a few bugs in the system, but nothing deal breaking that I've come across. A few times I've gotten a "ripping" sound from the LFO, and have no clue what caused it, but it went away with a little tweaking. I have the 1.52 updated OS and haven't had any other problems yet.

One can say Viscount was trying to "cash in" by using the Oberheim name, but on the other hand one can say that Viscount was doing Oberheim a good deed by trying to revive it's brand name which wasn't getting much use after all. They owned the rights, might as well try to bring it back to life. They tried to revive a dead brand with a great new product (and make no mistake, it's a great synth).

No matter what the case, it didn't sell very well. People complained about the preset sounds, which I find silly, because I personally can care less about presets. But read some reviews and you'll see for yourself. Lack of good presets, fake Oberheim status, and a few bugs in the system = the synth didn't sell.

I view the OB-12 as a misunderstood classic. I haven't spent much time with it yet(a week so far) and I haven't even dug into the more complex and advanced features, but sound-wise it's all there; pads, fx, leads, basses, strings, you name it and you can probably produce it on this synth. And to top it off, the best part of the whole synth is the high amount of hands on control. Mostly all of the features are right there on the front panel. Unfortunately, there are a few features hidden in a menu, and with a burned out backlight it's a pain to get to those features, so I probably won't even use them. But overall, it's so simple to work with and both the layout and the sound reminds me of the old analog machines.

The only feature it's missing is filter self-oscillation, but it somewhat makes up for that with the inclusion of the triangle waveform in the oscillator section, so I can look past it. I'll just have to buy an Axxe for filter oscillation sounds. But overall, it reminds me of a modern, polyphonic Arp Odyssey. It can do everything the Odyssey does and then some, with the same amount of hands on control. I'm happy that I replaced my Ody with the OB.

If anyone's reading this and is considering this synth, I'd say give it a shot. The only issue is the backlight burns out, and all of them are set to start burning out soon. As for replacing the backlight, I have no idea. I read a post on matrixsynth about replacing them but I never got a response to my email. But even with a burned out backlight you can still get a lot of use out of the synth. Just have a flashlight on hand at all times if you plan on using the features placed in menus :)

That said, are there really NO OB-12 users on this website? I'm surpised if that's the case. I figured at least a few people would be using them around here...

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by greggybud » Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:44 am

I own an Oberheim OB-12 and the MS2000.

To me there is little comparison. They sound very different, and the MS2000 is more flexible. Also the arpegiattor is much more flexible too.

You nailed it!
1. bad presets when first released....better ones with later versions
2. they just used the Oberheim name and it wasn't an Oberheim, so a lot of people got immediately bent. Had Viscount released the unit with a new name it might have fared better.
3. the backlight burns out...very common.

If you go to the Yahoo Oberheim ob-12 users group you might find one person who was successful replacing his own back light. I might have his name around...it's been about 3 years ago. As I recall it took him months to find the right parts.

Or, you can do what I do which is send the unit to the official viscount repair guy (I believe he lives in Wisconsin...cant remember his name) and it will cost you about $300 if Im not mistaken. The display is pretty important.

It's a great synthesizer and dissed by many simply because it's not a real Oberheim. I have an OB-8 and I still use the OB-12 quite a bit. It has it's definite weaknesses and strengths.

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by georgemarauder » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:50 pm

^ Cool. Thanks for the info about the Viscount repair people. I contacted them and am waiting for a response.

Can you talk about it's strengths and weaknesses in your opinion? So far I haven't heard much weakness but I haven't had the synth for very long. I suppose for cutting, aggressive leads it's probably not the best, but I don't usually use those sounds anyway, and haven't really tried programming them. There were a few lead presets that sounded okay, but nothing mindblowing. I have made some Arp Odyssey-sounding leads and some more grimy sounding leads using the ring modulator and it sounded pretty good. But I'd be interested to hear what another user considers its strong and weak points.

I too owned an MS2000 a few years back, it was my first hands-on synth in which I learned subtractive synthesis on. I recall it being a flexible machine that sounded pretty good, but always maintained a sort of "virtual analog" sound that I myself could easily identify in my tracks. Maybe it was just me though. I did make some great sounds on it and it had a wide array of routing features. It's hard to compare for me now since that was a few years ago, but right now I'm really liking the OB-12 and I wouldn't trade it for an MS2000 at all. Both are great synths though.

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by greggybud » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:18 pm

The Viscount USA guys name is Norm. Search for Yahoo Friends of OB-12. "DIY Display replacement" In 2009 there was a long discussion about replacing the display. I know 1 person was successful, but don't know too many others who had success. Obtaining the right parts was difficult.

Strength: Most everything is immediately accessible. That alone can be inspiring. The very first patch with my version I think it's called "lush strings" is incredibly nice. Definitely my favorite, and its far from simply detuning the oscillators as has been suggested in other threads.

Weaknesses: Bass. Bass overall seems to be weak.

Also, take it for what it's worth....I somehow fried my board when doing a midi sysex dump/add. I sent it to Norm for display replacement AND to replace a new main board. When Norm replaced the board he somehow ruined the new board and had to order another one. I will never do another midi dump with the OB-12!

Here are a couple nice youtube examples.

This guy doesn't use many if any factory patches.


This guy uses factory patches.

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by georgemarauder » Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:09 am

So far I haven't had a problem getting decent bass out of it, but then again I have been mixing everything in headphones, so my bass response is based on hearing it in headphones. It sounds good to me though. The on-board EQ seems like it would help a bit, though I haven't really messed with it much. But I imagine you can bring out the bass by boosting the low end on the EQ a bit if you wanted to. The filter though is great and you can really get some low sounding tones from it. There's even a patch on mine called "Low Tone" and it's a very rich sounding sub-bass sound.

I made some lush strings on it too. Detuning the oscillators is great, then adding a bit of PWM and a little oscillator LFO, and you get a lot of movement in the sound that sounds great. So far my favorite sounds on the synth have been pads and strings. I also made something that sounds like a Polymoog sound. I've made a nice sounding tines/crystalline bell sound that sounds nice too. Overall, I'm really loving it. It's like a polyphonic Arp Odyssey or something. For $550 I'm very pleased with it. Just wish I could get that backlight taken care of.

I sent an email to some Viscount repair site that is supposed to give me a quote on fixing it. Is that the proper way to go about getting it fixed? This is the site > http://www.nyco-systems.com/Products/mfr.php?mfg=6144 . I haven't heard back yet.

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by greggybud » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:36 am

If you wish, PM me and I will try to find Norms phone number. At that time I believe he was the only authorized Viscount Tech in the USA...but that was in 2009.

250-275 is what I paid for display replacement. Consider 500 a good deal as most OB-12s go for around 700?

Here is my old link.

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/Fr ... ssage/2605

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by trevordutton » Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:49 pm

I owned an OB-12 for years and it was a love/hate affair. Love: features, layout, ergonomic sliders and buttons, color (ya, for me that counts!), screen, keyboard. Hate: sound (cold and clinical to my ear), and OS (this is the only synth I've owned that would experience a full-on system crash while programming a complicated patch, which was insanely frustrating).

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by Purity_Control » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:07 pm

Did they ever fix the issue with the polyphony being underpowered on some patches? Some reviewers said that if you played enough notes on a complex patch some of them would come in a after a delay.

Always meant to have a play with one of these and never got round to it. Turnkey were banging them out on clearance for £450 and I've never seen one used for that amount or less since and refuse to pay more used than it was new :lol: and now some people want RARE and VINTAGE prices for it :lol: so it can wait a little while longer.

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by madrasputin » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:24 pm

I have an OB-12 and I love the thing. It's a purely underrated synthesizer and yes it was manufactured by Gibson so it has not an inkling of resemblance to other Oberheim synthesizers. However the fact that the synth forces you to create sounds rather than just plug along with the presets (which at times sound totally weak.) makes it a synth for pure creation. You can tweak that synthesizer and get sounds out of it which I thought and many others may think impossible. The bass is a little weak on the synthesizer but none of it's drawbacks make it an "unusable" or "poorly built" machine by any stretch of the words. Plug it in, mess about a bit with its many knobs and buttons and tweak the h**l out of the presets. You'll be surprised by what you find lying in wait as far a sonic palate goes. I have had none of the problems with my OB-12 that have been stated here in this forum topic. I see it as a great synthesizer which kinda slipped through the cracks so to speak in the VA craze/explosion from the time it was built. Definitely a keeper and definitely worth taking the time to get to know the synthesizer inside and out.
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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by georgemarauder » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:38 pm

Purity_Control wrote:Did they ever fix the issue with the polyphony being underpowered on some patches? Some reviewers said that if you played enough notes on a complex patch some of them would come in a after a delay.

Always meant to have a play with one of these and never got round to it. Turnkey were banging them out on clearance for £450 and I've never seen one used for that amount or less since and refuse to pay more used than it was new :lol: and now some people want RARE and VINTAGE prices for it :lol: so it can wait a little while longer.
On some patches, for some reason or other, if you play 4 note chords in Unison mode, sometimes a note or a few notes will come in after a slight delay. It's only happened on one or two patches that were set up in Unison mode for me. A minor annoyance but it doesn't really bother me because I don't really bother with Unison mode anyway. Just save Unison mode for mono sounds and you'll be fine. But no, it's never been completely fixed as far as I know, and I have the latest operating system.

The OB-12 is only going to go up in price, probably. I know you don't want to hear it, but it is somewhat rare, not a lot of them were made and they will soon be discovered to be very capable synths indeed. I just saw one sell on Ebay for $1300 and was not surprised. I would buy one now before they are discovered as the next classic, must-have vintage synth. You can still get them for around $750-900 I think. I paid $550 for mine but with a burned out backlight, which is something you have to watch with these synths, because the backlights are set to start burning out on all of them by now. But at this rate, unless you really find an owner who doesn't give a damn, you're not gonna find one for less than $500, unless you get pretty lucky.

I can't say it enough, this synth is bad a*s. There's so many sweet spots in the filter. The filter is just gorgeous. Plus the resonance really wails. Only thing is the filter will not go into self oscillation, which sucks, but whatever. That and I wish the Ring Mod were a little more grungier and added more noise artifacts. Other than that it's a sweet synth. Being partial to movie soundtrack type material myself, I love the strings and pads I've created on it. They just sound so lush and alive. The synth does not sound sterile at all, and it really does sound quite analog. Somehow they made it sound alive. If you check out my Youtube you can hear it all over my tracks. Most of my new material was made strictly with the OB-12. Check out Synthetic 2 or Synthetix for cool string-like sounds I made on it.
Last edited by georgemarauder on Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by georgemarauder » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:42 pm

madrasputin wrote:I have an OB-12 and I love the thing. It's a purely underrated synthesizer and yes it was manufactured by Gibson so it has not an inkling of resemblance to other Oberheim synthesizers. However the fact that the synth forces you to create sounds rather than just plug along with the presets (which at times sound totally weak.) makes it a synth for pure creation. You can tweak that synthesizer and get sounds out of it which I thought and many others may think impossible. The bass is a little weak on the synthesizer but none of it's drawbacks make it an "unusable" or "poorly built" machine by any stretch of the words. Plug it in, mess about a bit with its many knobs and buttons and tweak the h**l out of the presets. You'll be surprised by what you find lying in wait as far a sonic palate goes. I have had none of the problems with my OB-12 that have been stated here in this forum topic. I see it as a great synthesizer which kinda slipped through the cracks so to speak in the VA craze/explosion from the time it was built. Definitely a keeper and definitely worth taking the time to get to know the synthesizer inside and out.
You're the second person who has said the bass isn't that great, but I was creating some good bass tones with it. Only thing is, I can't exactly tell how deep they are since I have been working strictly with headphones lately. But they sound good in a good set of headphones for sure. One of these days I will hook the OB-12 up to my Fender Bassman and see what the bass sounds like. And can't you also use the EQ to fatten up the bass? The EQ, in the little amount I've used it, sounded killer. It completely changed the timbre of the sound based on how you dialed it in. I'm sure it would come in handy for fat bass tones as well.

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Re: The Official Oberheim OB-12 Thread

Post by greggybud » Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:44 am

greggybud wrote:Strength: Most everything is immediately accessible. That alone can be inspiring. The very first patch with my version I think it's called "lush strings" is incredibly nice. Definitely my favorite, and its far from simply detuning the oscillators as has been suggested in other threads.
Hate it when I'm on the road and don't have access to my studio. It's not "lush strings" it's "OB Fat Pad" but it sounds lush! I'm not sure if this patch was included when the first version was released.

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