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G-Force’s OB-E Looks AWESOME

Yesterday, G-Force Software introduced the OB-E synthesizer emulation. It’s another OB-8 emulation – sort of – except it has some features that make it look really compelling.

Oberheim has some absolutely iconic synths. They were originally built around the SEM, the Synthesizer Expander Module, which was a monophonic synth; it was pretty simple, although it had a really good, strong sound. Arturia has an emulation of the SEM, written pretty directly. It’s a really good emulation, but the SEM, by itself, is pretty limited. You’ll struggle to get some of the iconic Oberheim “sounds” out of the SEM, because while it was a core building block of those sounds, it wasn’t how those sounds were built.

Which sounds, you ask? Whew! Let me tell you, limiting myself to the music in my playlist:

  1. The opening “growl” of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” is an Oberheim.
  2. Most of the keyboards in Rush’s “The Camera Eye” – including that opening synth – is the same Oberheim on Tom Sawyer.
  3. Most of Rush’s “Signals” was done on an Oberheim as well. Those lush, beautiful analog synths that swamp the drums and guitars? They’re an Oberheim.
  4. Van Halen’s “Jump” is an Oberheim brass patch.

So if the SEM was only a building block for those sounds, what was the actual machine? Well, it was the next step up: an Oberheim SEM poly synth! This was a beast made with multiple SEM modules chained together to play from a single keyboard, with each SEM being individually set. They’re all similar sounds but they’re not the same sound; they’re directed individually in the stereo field, they have different frequency cutoffs, they have their own effects, they have their own tuning.

It creates a giant sound.

Arturia has a really good OB-8 emulation now, the OB-Xa V, and it’s a really good emulation of the actual OB-8 (and other similar machines, like the OB-X.) I have it; I love it. (It’s one of my go-to synths, actually, along with a few Moog emulators.)

Sonic Projects also has the OP-X Pro-II emulator, also targeting the same line of Oberheims; it’s also a really good emulator, with different strengths and weaknesses compared to the Arturia. (The strengths: it allows you to emphasize some of the filters compared to the slightly-more-tame OB-Xa; that “Tom Sawyer growl” is near-perfect with OP-X Pro-II but the OB-Xa’s version is kinda weak because the resonance can’t be overdriven as much.)

But here’s the thing: neither the OP-X Pro II nor the OB-Xa are Oberheim Polysynth emulators. They don’t give you six (or eight) individually addressable SEMs, although they get close to what the capabilities can be; there’s drift, but there’s not separate signal sources

And that’s where G-Force’s OB-E comes in, because it literally provides you the individually-addressable SEM modules, from the looks of it. I don’t have it, but looking at it, I’m thinking I want it pretty badly.

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