Oberheim – the perfect partner
Recently, hardware synth fans have been all abuzz over the OB-6, Tom Oberheim's collaboration with Prophet-5 mastermind Dave Smith, and for good reason – the OB-6 is a keen reminder of the massive sound that made Oberheim a success in the 70s and 80s.
Oberheim's first synth, the SEM (Synthesiser Expander Module), was not a standalone instrument, but rather a keyboardless synth-in-a-box designed to be interfaced with then-popular monosynths. Oberheim would eventually lash multiple SEMs together to form primitive-but-powerful polysynths. The fact that the parameters of each of the modules had to be individually tweaked meant that none of the voices ever quite matched, resulting in a gargantuan sound.
The SEM-based polysynths were eventually replaced by the OB-X, a programmable poly that stuffed the individual synth circuits away under the hood, offering a single set of controls. Since the OB-X (and its follow-up, the OBXa) made use of individual voice cards for each voice, they retained much of the power that made Oberheim popular among the rock musicians of their day – most famously Eddie Van Halen and Rush's Geddy Lee. As you can imagine, such a design makes for some of the thickest bass patches on the planet!