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Oberheim Electronics

Oberheim Electronics
Founded 1969
Headquarters Oakland, California
Key people
Tom Oberheim, founder
Products Signal processing, synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines

Oberheim Electronics is an American company, founded in 1969[1][2] by Tom Oberheim (a former designer and contract manufacturer for Maestro),[3] which manufactures audio synthesizers and a variety of other electronic musical instruments.


  • History and Products 1
    • Oberheim Electronics 1.1
      • Oberheim polyphonic synthesizers 1.1.1
      • Oberheim drum machines 1.1.2
    • Oberheim/Gibson 1.2
    • Oberheim/Viscount 1.3
    • 1.4
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

History and Products

SEM (1974–1979, 2009–)

Oberheim Electronics

Originally a manufacturer of electronic effects devices (most notably the Maestro phase shifter),[3] and briefly an ARP Instruments dealer,[3] Oberheim went on to create several ground-breaking products in the early days of synthesizers and electronic music including the DS-2 (one of the first digital music sequencers) and the Synthesizer Expansion Module (SEM).

Oberheim polyphonic synthesizers

Oberheim 4 Voice (1975–1979)

Oberheim's Two-voice TVS-1, Four-voice FVS-1 in 1975,[1] and Eight-voice in 1977,[4] (which was the four voice frame with an external 4 SEM module) were among the first commercially available polyphonic synthesizers. Configurations were based on the SEM. The Two-voice synthesizer included a two channel voltage controlled sequencer, and the Four-voice and Eight-voice machines included a rudimentary Programmer, capable of recalling sound settings.

Oberheim's later synths like the OB-X and OB-Xa abandoned the relatively bulky SEMs in favor of individual or compact voice cards, and common cabinetry and power supplies. Oberheim continued to make synthesizers until the late 1980s. Other notable Oberheim synthesizers include the OB-1 (monophonic), the OB-8, the Xpander, the Matrix-6, the Matrix-12, and the Matrix-1000 marketed after the acquisition by Gibson.[5][6]

OB-1 (1978/1979)
OB-X (1979)
OB-8 (1983)
Xpander (1984)
Matrix-6 (1986)

Oberheim drum machines

Oberheim's DMX drum machine, a staple of early hip-hop music,[7] lent its name to the Producer Davy DMX, electro musician DMX Krew, and is still used in dancehall reggae music.

DMX (c.1981)
DX (c.1983)
Prommer (1984)

Both Marcus Ryle and Michel Doidic worked for Oberheim as instrument designers before helping develop the ADAT multitrack digital tape recorder for Alesis, (a 'prosumer' grade digital recording multitrack deck designed to compete with the Tascam DA Deries of digital multitracks) and then moving on to found Line 6 together.[8]


Matrix-1000 (1988)
Oberheim / Gibson
    Echoplex Digtal Pro
OB-Mx (1994)

Oberheim went bankrupt and was acquired in 1985 by a group of lawyers who changed the name to Oberheim ECC. Tom was creatively still at the helm, although he left the company within a couple of years to start a new venture called Marion Systems. After a second bankruptcy in the early 1988, Gibson Guitar Corporation, a larger musical instrument manufacturer (who, incidentally, also owned the Maestro brand), acquired Oberheim, and in collaboration with Don Buchla produced the OB-Mx,[10] the Echoplex Digital Pro in collaboration with Aurisis Research, and the Strummer with Viscount International.

Ironically, Gibson had split away from its parent company, Norlin, in 1986. Norlin handled distribution for Oberheim's major competitor, Moog Music.


OB*12 (2000)

The trademark was later licensed to

  • Oberheim Abbey Synthesizer Discussion Forum
  • Oberheim Zone at
  • Viscount Italy main site
  • The new Oberheim site

External links

  1. ^ a b "Session Transcript: Tom Oberheim".  
  2. ^ Susan Caust Farrell (1981). Directory of contemporary American musical instrument makers. University of Missouri Press. p. 101.  
  3. ^ a b c Trevor Pinch & Frank Trocco (2002). Analog Days. Harvard University Press. p. 270.  
  4. ^ "Oberheim Eight Voice". Vintage Synth Explorer. 
  5. ^ "Oberheim Matrix 1000". Sound On Sound (June 1994). 
  6. ^ "Access Oberheim Matrix 1000 Programmer". Sound On Sound (September 1996). 
  7. ^ "Oberheim DMX". Vintage Synth Explorer. 
  8. ^ Mark Vail (1993). Vintage Synthesizers. Miller Freeman Books. p. 21.  
  9. ^ Matthias Grob. "How the Gibson / Oberheim Echoplex Came Together". 
  10. ^ "Oberheim OBMx". Sound On Sound (September 1994). 
  11. ^ "The Synth Sequel - Oberheim/Viscount OB12 Analogue Modelling Synth". Sound On Sound (September 2000). 
  12. ^ Oberheim GM-1000 - 24bit Digital Signal Processor - Operating Manual (PDF). Oberheim (Viscount joint venture). 
  13. ^ "Stereo MCS - Oberheim/Viscount MC3000 & MC2000 Controller Keyboard". Sound On Sound (November 1999). 
  14. ^ "Oberheim/Viscount OB3-squared". Sound On Sound (September 1997). 
  15. ^ "Tom Oberheim Introduces New Oberheim SEM Synthesizer". June 4, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Tom Oberheim". 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-08-09.  — Tom Oberheim reissued SEM in 2009.
  17. ^ "Tom Oberheim Synthesizer Expander Module with MIDI to CV Panel". Archived from the original on 2009-08-15. 
  18. ^ "Tom Oberheim SEMs Shipping - First Impression". MATRIXSYNTH. September 30, 2009. 
  19. ^ """Son Of 4 Voice Polyphonic Synthesizer: "SO4V. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-02-07.  — Tom Oberheim announces Oberheim 4 Voice in 2011.
  20. ^ "New! Two Voice Pro Synthesizer". 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24.  — Tom Oberheim announces Oberheim Two Voice Pro in 2012.
  21. ^ "Tom Oberheim". 2013. 


See also

MIDI-to-CV converter panel for the SEM
Two-Voice Pro (2015)

In 2011–2012, Tom Oberheim announced a four-voice SEM called "Son Of 4 Voice" (SO4V),[19] as well as an updated version of the classic Two-Voice known as the Two-Voice Pro.[20] The "Son Of 4 Voice", also known as SO4V, started shipping in 2014.[21]

In 2009, Tom Oberheim announced that he was manufacturing a new version of his classic analog SEM.[15][16][17][18]


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