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DSI / Sequential OB-6  | demo + sounds


 

 


 

BUYING AND LOADING MY SOUNDS / PATCHES:

Please transfer 25 Euro to this paypal address: [wcologarb at tlen.pl] writing "ob-6 sounds" in the title. You will receive all the sounds from both my videos (demo part 1 & demo part 2) plus extra sounds that are not included in the demos (125 sounds + their variations = 139 sounds in total). My library will come to you in two formats: sysex format and OB-6 Sound Tower editor format.

I did not use additional FX in the demo, no layers, etc. All the delays and reverbs are part of the OB-6 engine.


MY THOUGHTS:

At the beginning the OB-6 sounded thin & glossy & metallic, and the limited modulation options seemed illogical and surprising for me. I went to Youtube but all the videos only confirmed my first impressions: it costs $3000 and sounds like crap! Holy cow! Call the police.

But when you have an interface like that, you can't just walk away and not give a second thought to the synth. All the knobs convinced me to keep the faith and carry on. Finally I came up with a set of over 120 original sounds, and again, I was surprised - this time by their variety. Even though the modulation of the synth is in some aspects severely limited, thare are some neat little alleys you can go to add spice to your sauce. When you finish having your usual fun, don't forget to tamper with the Detune knob, the Pan Sprad knob to give the sound that extra space / spaciousness, and most importantly the X-Mod VCO2 knob, which will introduce some unpredictability / wonkiness. Just remember that since the OB-6 is a little bit wonky in itself, all the more so when you start using the Detune knob, the X-Mod section will create a challenge. Because if the VCO2 pitch changes each time you hit a note, the modulations "inflicted" by this VCO will vary, so sometimes it's impossible to have consistency (for example when you mod a pitch destination and pitch stability is needed).

Don't underestimate the FX section. On paper it looks pretty standard: delay, reverb, chorus, flanger, phaser. But the fact that you can combine 3 of them at the same time (any 2 of the above + hidden distortion) let's you double the sonic palette of the OB-6. And they are very good, because, one: they sound good, and two: because they can go to solid extremes and mangle the timbre noticeably. This transforms the FX unit into another sound sculpting module, which can't be said about the FX design of other synths, say, Korg Minilogue XD, whose FX section is rather a decorative element. Pay attention to the ring modulator too: in its non-usual mode, it tracks the pitch of the lowest note that you play on the keyboard. Combine it with the seqeuncer and you can go pretty mental.

I don't know why that is, but the only DSI/Sequential synth that seemed "100% right" to me was the Evolver. I played the Prophet X and asked about Prophet 12. Those synths are unable to launch the LFO and fill its phase independently of key strikes (note on/off). Here, the OB-6 cannot properly latch the Arpeggiator (I don't think there even is a button for that). So in the aforementioned synths it's impossible to keep consistent LFO modulation across the sequence, it sounds different with each key strike (or restarts in an ugly way with each key strike). And since I am a human and not a robot with quantized motions, in OB-6 the lack of Arp Latch option makes the Arpeggiator useless for me, and it's better for me to program an arpeggio pattern into the sequencer, but of course that has its drawbacks (I'm a slave to the rhythm, to quote a classic).

It's pretty obvious for everyone that has eyes, but it needs to be mentioned: the interface should win an award. I know, I know - there are numbers instead of patch names, no possibility to edit the sequence without relying on software, etc. But let's be honest. If you can afford this kind of synth, you probably are so successful that you have no time to play it, let alone dive deep into the sequences or come up with fancy patch names. So why care about its quirks? You don't experience them anyway. It's great that Sequential decided to use a "no force necessary" buttons, because it's not so obvious, even in 2020. Guys at Moog have yet to figure that out, because on the SUB-37 they decided, for whatever reason, to use buttons which require a bit of muscle strain to click them.

When I got the OB-6, I asked my friend why this synth sits on the bestseller list while it costs so much. I mean, there's the Deepminds and the Odyssey clones and the Microfreaks and the OB-6 among them looks like a macaw in a field of cabbage. "It's the sound", he said, "people pay for the Oberheim sound". I think I've managed to "get" this sound and in some patches it sounds really cool (LP/BP filter morphs, x-moded basses, synthetic brass-like tones, etc). Also, the envelopes are so snappy and punchy that I would swear the sounds are running thru a compressor if I hadn't made them myself. Opposite of the SUB-37. To get that sound from the Moog you HAVE to run it thru a compressor.

Generally speaking, the OB-6 reminds me heavily of the Nord Leads. One: it sounds as if it was already mastered in a studio. Two: the sound is kind of "thin" but lucid, so that's the good kind of "thin" (it never gets muddy). Three: the interface is hands-on, you get what you see, no menu diving, etc. Four: the build quality is top of the tops (although it's much better/more sturdy than Nord Leads). Five: made in the country of design (USA for OB-6, Sweden for NL). Of course in the end it's much more than the Nord Lead thanks to its FX, filter morphing and modulation routings. But the first three characteristics alone ("pro" sound, clarity, UI) are a recipe for success among the synth crowd that rarely fails.

I'm not a nerd with an oscilloscope in my garage and I don't spend 4 hours each day splitting hairs on a forum, so I'm not sure, but probably the synth uses some analog components that have their significant cost. Still, I think the OB-6 sounds too sterile / tame / hi-fi compared to "real" analogs, so I'm not sure I would feel justified spending that much money on it. On the other hand, the "real" analogs have such absurd prices today, that I don't think I would feel ok spending that much on a ticking time bomb. Go figure.

 

 

 

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