MATRIXSYNTH: Oberheim Xpander | Living in the Matrix

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Oberheim Xpander | Living in the Matrix


Published on Jan 24, 2019 Alex Ball

"The Oberheim Xpander (1984) is quite a curious release from the legendary developer.

It has the classic muscly Oberheim sound with 6-voice polyphony at 2 VCOs per-voice. However, it then becomes very interesting because it then has some deep digital control. There's five LFOs and five envelopes per voice, lag processing, tracking generators, ramp generators a filter with 15 modes and a whole bunch more. Pretty amazing for 1984!

The instrument is fairly chunky, but most of the control is built around page diving and a modulation matrix. So, it would be absolutely enormous if they had a switch or potentiometer for each function. It's kind of a modular-esque synth without any cables and some elements being virtual.

Furthermore, there are multi-patches where a different single patch can be loaded for each of the six voices. The voices also have their own CV/Gate and discrete outputs if you so wish. It's also fully midi equipped and so some folk use the Xpander as a midi to CV converter to control various parts of a modular rig.

After I'd read the manual and got my head around the workflow, I programmed a few patches, tweaked a few others already saved on the unit, did some live playing, some midi and some CV/gate sequencing and this was the result.

All synth sounds: Oberheim Xpander
Midi control via Prophet REV2 and my DAW
Drums: Oberheim DX
Vocals: Recorded with an AKG C414
Guitar: Dan Electro Baritone / Boss HM-2 / Fender Blues Junior mic'd with an SM57"

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