Tuesday, November 22, 2016


via this auction

"So this is a really unique piece of equipment. I got it from a friend who passed away several years ago and it has been sitting (like many other synths in my studio) for several years without use. I took it out and set it up, and it needs the following: SEM#2 needs to be calibrated. It is out of tune with the three other SEM's. All of the knobs and switches work on SEM#2, it just doesn't track with the others, so I turned it down in the mixer section to test the other three SEM's. The other three work great. The other thing missing is the bulb behind switch number two in the programmer section. The switch works, but it doesn't light up. I usually recommend taking any old analog synthesizer to a qualified tech who can give it a tune up because often the oscillators can come out of calibration during shipping. The bulb is not necessary to operate the machine, but getting the 2nd SEM calibrated is not negotiable in my opinion, because it sounds so amazing when they are all in tune. I almost sent it off to the famous JL Leimseider for tweaking, but decided that anybody who knows what this is, and wants to own it, has access to a tech who can do the work, and why risk shipping it more than I have to? Most large cities have shops that can work on these things.

If you are not familiar with this synthesizer, this is one of the very first analog polyphonic synthesizers ever produced by Tom Oberheim back in the 1970's. It was used by Josef Zawinul to get the "Birdland" horn sound on Weather Report's "Heavy Weather" album, and Lyle Mays on the first couple of Pat Metheny albums amongst many others. It is unique mainly because unlike the Prophet-5, or JP8, or even the OBXa, it was more like playing four Minimoogs from one keyboard. Each SEM is an independent synthesizer and can have it's own settings. And speaking of the keyboard this one obviously doesn't have one. This might be a problem for some collectors, but frankly the keyboard that came with this unit was only four octaves, had no velocity or aftertouch, and the overall unit was HUGE and HEAVY. My friend had his rack mounted by one of the great synth shops in Los Angeles decades ago and they added MIDI. It also has CV gate ins/outs, which I have not tested, but I would be surprised if they do not work because they are very simple connections. The owner's manual has all the original patch sheets in the back as well as CV/GATE diagrams and what appears to be a service manual. I told myself I would never sell this for several reasons, but I need the cash.

THIS THING SOUNDS GREAT. And it sounds different from any other synth. This is a VINTAGE Oberheim four voice, not the re-issue. The re-issue sounds good too, but a little different."

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