Dave Spiers’ Gforce Software revives the legendary Oberheim 8 Voice polyphonic analog Synthesizer in the form of a new Mac-only plugin named OB-E with all the beloved and new modern features.
A teaser about a new Dave Spiers aka Gforce Sofware Synthesizer plugin has been circulating for a few days. It shows a very rare and expensive polyphonic analog synthesizer from 1977, the Oberheim 8 Voice.
Today Dave Spiers and his development team at Gforce Software presented the OB-E, an emulation of this famous vintage polysynth. The plug-in has all the well-known and also new features that make the virtual instrument even more versatile than its analog counterpart.
Important, there is no Windows version. The plugin runs exclusively on macOS (Intel & M1) (VST/AU/AAX). A bummer and there is no information on whether a Windows version will be launched or not.
Gforce Software OB-E
Like the original, the OB-8 has eight individual SEM modules that are interconnected. Each has not two but three oscillators, a morphable multimode filter, two ADS envelope generators, and an LFO. The third oscillator can be used as a second LFO as well as. Since you have this 8 times, you have up to 24 oscillators, 8 filters, 16 envelopes, 8-16 LFOs… That’s massive. Splitting the envelopes or LFOs and routing them to other modules is not possible. Each SEM module acts here on itself. There is also sophisticated velocity control and aftertouch support per module. This allows you to control up to 8 parameters simultaneously with aftertouch. On top, you get MPE and polyphonic aftertouch support.
If 8 modules are too many at the beginning, you can also use a single SEM module with the “mono” button. So you can use the plugin as a classic SEM emulation. Similar to the Arturia SEM V …
Effects, Splits & Sequencer
In addition to the control for portamento, vibrato, and global oscillator 1 and 2 tunings, it offers a vintage-inspired stereo delay effect at the end of the signal chain. This can be flexibly routed to all 8 modules or to the upper or lower row. The operation is clever. With the group function, for example, all 8 cutoff parameters can be operated at the same time. The additional lock function allows you to exclude modules from this parameter group.
The OB-E shines in the polyphonic section. Mainly because you have a split function here, whereby you can split the 8 voices (modules) into two rows with 4 voices each. So you can design two different sounds each with 4 voices in one patch that is playable on the left and right side of the keyboard. The split section is also fully adjustable.
OB-E also has an 8-step polyphonic sequencer with a number of creative features. The rhythm, the number of steps … can easily be changed. The sequencer also has a function called SEM 8 Output. If you activate this, the sequencer does not send all the notes to all modules but only to the SEM 8. This enables up to 3 sounds in one patch. A sequence with the SEM 8, and by splitting the other 7 voices two more sounds are possible that you can play on top of it.
The sequencer also benefits from the fact that the OB-E uses 8 SEM modules. So you have a new sound per step. Like the AFX mode in the Novation Bass Station 2 where you have per-key a new sound. Here in a more vintage way.
The plugin is fully resizable and ships with over 600 high-quality factory patches. Each patch has a categorization and tag that makes it easy to find a sound. Dave Spiers invited a roster of brilliant sound designers to contribute alongside him: Tom Wolfe, Darren Price, James High, Alex Ball, Stefano Daino, Kent Spong, Jerry Kovarsky, Andrew Schlesinger, Nate Williams, Sean Charles, Graeme Rawson & Hugo Brangwyn.
I had the opportunity to test the plugin before it was released. Here are a full review and big sound demo.
The OB-E is a great-sounding virtual analog Synthesizer. It sounds analog-style fat, is versatile, and uses relatively little CPU power. That is a big plus point. The presets are excellent. Very useful and playable. The weakness point of many soft synths are the presets, here it’s not the case. Great job Dave and all other designers. The split functionality is also very inspiring and makes the plugin very flexible. I don’t know how accurate or how close OB-E is on the original Oberheim 8 Voice. I don’t have an original myself.
Unfortunately, there is no arpeggiator or macro controls. The latter would be super practical especially in a very knob-rich Synthesizer like the OB-E. The missing Windows version is also a point of criticism. But hope that one comes in the near future.
Gforce Software OB-E is only for Mac (Intel & M1) only and runs as a VST, AU & AAX plugin. It’s available now for £129,99 (ex VAT) instead of £149.99. Use the coupon code 30GF to reduce the price to £99.99 (ex. VAT). This offer expires on 31st March 2021.
More information here: Gforce Software