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Oberheim OB-1, Semi-Modulars, Sounds of Peace: Synth Journal


Oberheim OB-1, Semi-Modulars, Sounds of War: Synth Journal  · 

Source:
YouTube / GForce Software

In this week’s edition of Synth Journal, GForce Software pays homage to the Oberheim OB-1, cre8audio updates the East Beast and West Pest, and Chris Meyer turns the horrific sounds of war into something incredibly beautiful.

The Oberheim OB-1 – “An Underrated Enigma”

The Oberheim OB-1 came out in the late 1970s as a competitor to the Minimoog, ARP Odyssey, and other compact monophonic synths. However, it never really got the attention it deserved. Was it because the competitors seemingly had more to offer? Because it didn’t sound as good? I don’t think so. What’s more likely is that it somehow slipped through the cracks as the synth world became enamored with polyphonic synths. It was also quickly overlooked between Oberheim’s SEM-based synths and the stunning OB-X, which came out the following year. Polyphony was all the rage, so the humble 2-oscillator monosynth struggled to make an impression.

Oberheim OB-1
The Oberheim OB-1 was the first monosynth to offer patch storage · Source: YouTube / GForce Software

While it may have slipped under the radar, the OB-1 did make an important contribution to synth history. It was the first monosynth to offer patch storage, albeit in a rather limited form. While it lacked the modern microprocessors and total recall capabilities of the Prophet-5 and OB-X, it could store and recall the settings of some of its controls. Unfortunately, the feature was limited to a selection of digitally controlled parameters. Other settings, including VCO fine tune and the LFO, always had to be adjusted manually. Still, it was a groundbreaking improvement at a time when players yearned for a way to store their settings.

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GForce Software pays homage to the Oberheim OB-1 in a wonderful new video that proves what a hidden gem it really is.

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Wait a minute – GForce Software? The folks who created the amazing (and Tom-endorsed) software emulations of the OB-XSEM, and Eight-Voice are suddenly talking about the OB-1? What’s going on?

As of today, GForce Software hasn’t announced anything. But could the video be a hint that they’ve set their eyes on the OB-1? After watching this video, I’m sure I’m not the only one who wouldn’t be surprised if something is in the works.

Cre8audio East Beast and West Pest get a Firmware Update

Let’s move on to this quirky duo of modern analog monosynths. Cre8audio has released firmware updates for the East Beast and West Pest semi-modular desktop synthesizers. The update fixes a bunch of bugs and adds several new features and improvements. As the digital control sections of both synths are identical, both receive the same fixes and updates.

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According to Cre8audio, the update resolves several issues with MIDI control. You can now assign MIDI CC to any channel and clock divisions are properly saved on reboot. And if you use an Elektron Octatrack to sequence the East Beast or West Pest, you’ll be delighted to hear that the synths no longer miss note on and off messages.

Furthermore, the firmware update adds a fourth octave to the arpeggiator. They’ve also changed the LED behaviors for all settings to make the user interface more intuitive. And the multifunction tool – the synths’ unique digital multi-modulator – gets a much more comprehensive MIDI implementation.

You can download the firmware updates for the cre8audio East Beast and West Pest from the manufacturer’s website. Both synths are available at Thomann*.

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Turning Sounds of War into Sounds of Peace

Let’s finish up this week’s edition of Synth Journal with this mesmerizing modular performance by Chris Meyer. Performed at Citizen Vinyl in Asheville, North Carolina as part of a fundraising event for the Moogseum run by the Bob Moog Foundation, the haunting performance titled “Nightfall, Kyiv” incorporates field recordings of the war in Ukraine by Maks Histibe.

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Chris Meyer explains:

The idea for this piece came when Maks Histibe of Mask Movement in Kyiv, Ukraine contacted me. As part of the invasion of Ukraine, their power grid is often knocked offline, and he was looking to raise money for solar panels and batteries to keep his studio operating. To do this, he created a series of field recordings of the war and life during wartime in Ukraine, and crafted them into a virtual instrument called Swords to Ploughshares.

I gladly purchased it, and used it as the basis for this song, which flows from the realities of life during wartime to attempting to lead a normal, happy life … only for the war to intrude, and drag people back in. A version of this song will appear on my summer 2024 release: Finite Space.

That something as sinister as sounds of war can turn into something so beautiful fills me with hope. I’d truly like to believe that the universal language of music can help us overcome war, hate, division, and disunity.

In addition to his modular rig, Chris uses Ableton Live and various software synths and libraries, including Korg Wavestation, Frozen Plain Terracotta, Luftrum Bioscape, Soundiron Circle Bells, and Synapse Audio Dune 3.

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Oberheim OB-1, Semi-Modulars, Sounds of War: Synth Journal

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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