What would your splurge synth be? It’s tough to top the OB-X8 for that, now in desktop form with the full sound functionality of the OB-X, OB-Xa, and OB-8. Plus, when you invest your money in this thing, everyone still sees your face – like your actual face and eyes, so you totally won’t be wearing dystopian ski goggles.
I mean, in all seriousness, it’s also likely to become obsolete a lot slower – like, sort of, never ever. (No one has traded in their Strad or old gongs, either.)
But yes, the OB-X8 is now shipping as a desktop model for US MAP $3499. Seeing synth legend Tom Oberheim smiling in the factory? Priceless.
This really is the same as the keyboard Oberheim (though that is still a good option, of course). You even have the onboard arpeggiator and split and double functionality, so once you connect any MIDI keyboard you have 100% of the controls and features in the desktop module – as a desktop module should.
It’s an incredible landmark, historically. Tom founded the original Oberheim company in 1969, and the architecture of the OB-X8 is the latest iteration of a design that is now 45 years old. The Oberheim brand hasn’t operated continuously, but it means you can buy an Oberheim synth in 2023 from Tom Oberheim as you could in 1978.
And yet even with that longevity, folks are using these instruments to make new sounds. Part of what’s beautiful about synthesis is that these architectures allow new musical ideas that open up more as we have longer periods of time with them – up to years and decades.
I think this can contrast with the disposable nature of most big consumer tech. Even computers take on longer lifespans when you give them to musicians – we have DAWs and development tools that last decades and retain interoperability and file compatibility. I’ve seen plenty of folks self-refurbishing computer from 15, 30 years ago or more. Musicians (rightfully) expect even affordable gear to be repairable and to last. They want to be able to trade and resell, not throw stuff away. And incidentally, that massive used market has not dampened interest in new stuff.
So, Tom, congrats. I’m just glad to see you in the factory, and to know the box that you hold in your hands is full of your original ideas. It’s inspiring to all of us. In music and in musical instruments, there are plenty of setbacks, delays, and disappointments. We assumed this was a name that would never come back. Seeing new Oberheim gear coming off the assembly line after some decades is a good reminder that we can trust in playing the long game.
You can order the OB-X8 from Sweetwater. If you buy something from a CDM link, we may earn a commission. (I will no doubt spend it recklessly on keeping our own synth manufacturing business going.)
Interestingly, I see they’re also offering a bundle of the OB-6 and OB-X8 together (plus pedal and cables):