MATRIXSYNTH: Capacitance: An Oberheim OBXA Love Letter

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Capacitance: An Oberheim OBXA Love Letter

Published on Dec 6, 2017 Dudadius

"I’m a child of the 80’s and the Oberheim synths were always a favorite. From the Police to Van Halen, it held a mythical place in my musical mind. A few years ago I stumbled on an OBXA for a really great price. It was more or less functional, but needed some love.

I installed a Kenton midi kit early on, but then the project sat dormant for a few years. I did use the synth quite a lot, including in a favorite track of mine called Heavy.

Recently, I discovered a website called that sells various rebuild kits for some classic synths, including this one. Let’s do this!

I rebuilt the clacky keyboard, replacing the bushings. Then I rebuilt the power supply. Lastly, I undertook an overhaul of all eight voice cards. There are about 20 components on each card which need replacing. It was laborious, but I actually find working with it soothing in a meditative way. Maybe it’s the solder fumes.

I just finished the rebuild and performed a very detailed calibration yesterday. I was so inspired by the new sounds this puppy was making that I realized it was time for a youtube jam!

The first sound out of the gate is the classic massive OB resonant filter sweep bass. In unison this is a sound that could start WW III. Amazing.

Next is a new sound I discovered while calibrating. No oscillators are on for this, just the resonate, tuned filters with some noise. It’s a haunting tone.

Then at :27 that sound is joined by a patch I made as an homage to Lyle Mays, Pat Metheny’s longtime keyboardist. It’s a flutey tone with the second oscillator sliding into tune via envelope modulation.

A typical string patch then sneaks in.

All of that was played ‘live’. I did program the pulsing bass that comes in, and the hi hat. Kick, snare, and hi hat are all from the OBXA as well.

The little game music bridge features a square wave-modulated lead and the standard gigantic, Prince-style brass, with over-the-top pitch bend and modulation.

I think that’s about it. Every single sound is from the OBXA!

Special thanks to for answering my numerous questions and to Old Crow for helping me troubleshoot a bum envelope chip."

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