Classic 8-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer

Oberheim OB-8

Here's a classic analog polyphonic synthesizer from 1983, the Oberheim OB-8.

The OB-8 is part of the famous OB-line, and was a "refinement and evolution of Oberheim's OB-X and OB-Xa".

This is an extremely powerful, classy sounding analog polysynth, and thanks to the numerous knobs and buttons, it's easy to program and configure - once you got an idea of all the various parameters.

The OB-8 could also be interfaced with Oberheim's "DSX" Digital Polyphonic Sequencer, and the "DMX" drum machine.

Most of the parameters are on the so-called "Page 1" - on the front panel, but there's also a "Page 2" mode - where one could tweak the more esoteric controls like several parameters for the LFOs, LFO envelopes, portamento modes, voice detune etc.

There is an excellent on-board arpeggiator, configurable in many ways, and an excellent "stereo spread" function, which allows the user to set each voice to be panned to any position in the stereo field.

The filter can be set to 2-pole (12db/octave slope, more gradual, brighter sound), or 4-pole (24db/octave slope, sharper, fuller sound).

The OB-8 is physically very large, but relatively light for its size.  As a plus, the knobs and buttons are very generously-sized, and the panel is easy to access and edit.

Two very powerful oscillators, featuring Saw, Pulse, and Triangle each

Incredible modulation and LFO capabilities

"Classy-sounding" filters..  a very lush and powerful, classic analog polysynth.


Oberheim OB-8 audio demos

Factory Patches


stream all audio demos below:

Patch name with audio demo My comments
A1 BRASS ENSEMBLE The classic, fat, supremely analog, famous Oberheim synth brass.
A2 ST. GENEVIEVE Gorgeous, melancholic, hollow analog pad featuring two oscillators set both at triangle waveforms
A3 STRING ENSEMBLE Archetypal analog strings, just beautiful-sounding, and strikingly analog.
A4 VIBES Not a bad emulation of a real vibraphone
A5 ACCELERATING ROTARY ORGAN A first example of the programming power of the OB-8 and its Page 2 - the LFOs are programmed to emulate a 2-speed Leslie speaker
A6 WHISTLE Realistic emulation of whistling
A7 REPEAT And here's a good example of the "stereo spread" achievable on the OB-8.  Thanks to eight pan-pots (panoramic potentiometers) on the right side of the case, each voice can be panned to any position of the stereo field.  The factory values suggest voices 1-4 all the way to the left, and 5-8 all the way to the right.
A8 BOUNCING BALL Beautiful, happy sound
B1 DEM BONES Powerful, brassy trombones
B2 CLAVINET The classic funk instrument - Hohner Clavinet
B3 HIGH STRINGS Nice set of broad, sparkling analog strings
B4 DIGITAL PIANO A challenge to the undisputed king of digital, the DX7
B5 CATHEDRAL ORGAN Realistic pipe organ, especially in the low register
B6 CHORUS Classic analog choir patch, typical of many synthesizers of the early 1980s
B7 PULSE SWEEP Sound very in vogue in the '80s pop
B8 CALLIOPE Captures beautifully the tone of the calliope, or "steam organ"
C1 TRUMPET Solid analog tone emulating a trumpet
C2 MAGIC CLAVINET Funkier version of a Clavinet
C3 SLOW STRINGS Lovely analog strings with slow envelope attack
C4 RESONANCE SWEEP The mega-powerful resonant filters of the Oberheim OB-8
C5 COMBO ORGAN Accurate rendition of a Farfisa combo organ of the 1960s
C6 DOUBLE REED Works as both reed organ and reed instrument
C7 FARR’S FUNK Fat, funky accompaniment synth - Note: I'm not sure of the correct name of this patch - because the scanned document was a bit blurry; it could be "F&FR'S FUNK".. or similar.  If you have a clean copy of the OB-8 manual and can tell for sure, please let me know..
C8 FM Another challenge to the DX7
AC1 TRUMPET ENSEMBLE Fine example of the classic early-to-mid-1980s synth brass, when the Oberheim brand was king of the show...
AC2 BASS 2 Solid example of bass, in monophonic mode, with a bit of portamento
AC3 FOUR POLE STRINGS Full strings using the four-pole filter mode
AC4 REED PIANO Fantastic emulation of a Wurlitzer, or similar reed electric piano
AC6 SAX Interesting..
AC7 HARP Fascinating harp sound, that works also as "koto" in the high registers
AC8 DISTORTION SOLO Mega-analog solo synth, typical of the era
BC1 TROPICAL HORNS Cool detuned synth brass, perfect for many genres
BC2 RUBBER CLAVINET Another variant of the classic King of Funk instrument,  the Clavinet
BC3 STRINGS 2 Beautiful, refined string ensemble
BC4 KLINK PIANO Cute, digital-sounding electric piano
BC5 HYMN ORGAN Typical small-chapel organ
BC6 RECORDER Very good emulation of a recorder
BC8 PERCUSSIVE SOLO Strong Minimoog-style solo synth
ABC1 COMP HORNS Superb, typical Oberheim synth brass
ABC3 FOUR POLE STRINGS 2 Elegant, thick strings
ABC4 SOFT PIANO Dazzling analog piano, with plenty of oscillators slightly beating against each other
ABC6 VOCAL WOW Cool special fx
ABC7 MARIMBAS Nice emulation of the wooden character of the real instrument
ABC8 ROCK UNISON Another example of the "hair-metal" rock type that often embraced Oberheim synths (Van Halen being the most famous example)
D1 DELAYED OCTAVE Sublime pad, these are some beautiful analog tones...
D2 TRIG PULSE WIDTH Still modern-sounding
D3 POLYPHONIC PORTAMENTO Resplendent analog synth, in full polyphony, with sweeping resonant filter engaged and portamento effect
D4 STEEL DRUMS Stunning synthesized steelpan, the famous Trinidadian idiophone
D5 SQUARE MOD Fat, full, and fast-moving LFOs
D6 COMP SYNTH Mellow '80s
D7 UNISON PORTAMENTO H U G E !!!  These types of "portamento effects" were typical of the '80s
D8 DELAY MOD Dazzling sci-fi ensemble
AD1 SWELL HORNS Horns with rising volume
AD2 SITAR Okay emulation of the Indian instrument
AD3 FIDDLE Very nice, and works beautifully as small string ensemble too!
AD4 SAW PIANO Different
AD5 PULSE WIDTH REZZ Pulsating beauty
AD6 TRIANGLE COMP Digital niceness
AD7 JAZZ SOLO Classic Jazz/Fusion solo synth - The Oberheim's older units - the 4-voice and 8-voice were used during that classic time of the 1970s
AD8 EARTHQUAKE Watch your woofers!!
BD1 S/H PORT REZZ Classic Sample-and-Hold technique
BD2 CONGA Nice synthesized conga drums
BD3 STRINGS 3 Gorgeous synth strings
BD4 FUNKY KEYS Typical "frog-type" reso synth of the '70s
BD5 FADING DETUNE Huge and beautiful
BD6 TREMOLO REZZ Nice synth with slight tremolo
BD7 BOX O’ POPS Charming and cute synth sound, reminds of kittens crying for their mom.
BD8 STEREO SPIN The excellent stereo capabilities of this synth.
ABD1 DECELERATE Again, the powerful LFOs at work.
ABD2 CARILLON Nice and bright
ABD3 SOLO STRINGS Sublime analog violins, violas, cellos
ABD4 DETUNED LONG PIANO Magnificent, quintessential synth sound of the '80s, with just the right filter sound, LFO setting, and VCA envelope setting
ABD5 FILTER DRONE Oh yeah.  Goes deep.
ABD6 3 WAY Fun pitch enveloping
ABD7 HARMONIC PERCUSSION Cool sound that reminds of a certain setting on the Hammond organ!
ABD8 CHOPPER Classic "Apocalypse Now" helicopter effect
CD1 TUNED PORTAMENTO More portamento coolness
CD2 ALIEN CRAFT Cool sci-fi fx
CD3 STRINGS 4 Very nice, subdued strings
CD4 PULSE WIDTH MOD Cool slow, pulsating pad
CD5 WHIPPETS Like asteroids zooming through space
CD6 METAL SOLO Another classic hair-rock solo synth
CD8 JET Very good synthesized jet plane fx
ACD2 STRIPPER SAX Classic "overblown" saxophone sound, as featured in the typical striptease music
ACD3 ROSIN STRINGS Classy strings
ACD5 SAW MOD Nice, chorused, elegant synth pad
ACD6 IMPACT Classic analog explosion fx
BCD1 Blank n/a
BCD2 Blank n/a
BCD3 Blank n/a
BCD4 Blank n/a
BCD5 Blank n/a
BCD6 Blank n/a
BCD7 Blank n/a
BCD8 Blank n/a
ABCD1 Blank n/a
ABCD2 Blank n/a
ABCD3 Blank n/a
ABCD4 Blank n/a
ABCD5 Blank n/a
ABCD6 Blank n/a
ABCD7 Blank n/a
ABCD8 Blank n/a


Additional audio demos

I used a Roland SRV-3030d to add fx to the following audio examples

Splits and Doubles


A beautiful split featuring warm strings on the left side of the keyboard, and expressive trumpet on the right


Very '70s


Typical 1980s split


Gorgeous split with classy strings and hollow synth - very Morricone


Classic strings + electric piano




Blade Runner style


Special analog FX

Demos with Roland TR-909 drums

'80s with 909 1

Typical comp synths of the 1980s

'80s with 909 2

The wonderful analogness of the OB-8

'90s Techno

Monstrous in Unison mode!


Demos with effects

I used a Lexicon MPX-1 processor for the effect in the eighteen demos below  (Stream all demos below:

01 Strings

02 Eerie Choir

03 Bass with Resonance

04 Reso Synth

05 Classic Analog Strings

06 Classic '60s Combo Organ

07 Funky Analog Polysynth

08 Retro AnaStrings

09 Fusiony

10 Synch'd

11 Emerson Portamento

12 Analog Pipes

13 Fat S&H

14 Early '80s Melancholic AnaStrings

15 Classic '80s Synth-Pop Pad

16 Pitchin' Up

17 Extremely Thin Synth

18 Arpeggiator At Work

Oberheim OB-8 video demos

Oberheim OB-8 specs
Year of release: 1983 (or 1982?)
Polyphony: 8
Sound generation method: analog
Preset memories 120
MIDI: In, out, thru
Sound expansion capabilities: cassette interface
Sequencer no
Arpeggiator yes



Oberheim OB-8 photographs (click on thumbnails to enlarge)




Oberheim OB-8 manual

available at



SITE Type of resource DESCRIPTION
  Manufacturer site home page

Oberheim OB-8 review with audio demo - February 15, 2009