Oberheim OB-8 Analog Polyphonic Synthesizer

The instrument

The Oberheim OB-8, released in 1983, is a polyphonic analog synthesizer that represents the culmination of Oberheim's OB series. As the successor to the OB-Xa, the OB-8 offered enhanced features and greater reliability, solidifying its place as a classic in the realm of analog synthesizers. The OB-8 is an 8-voice polyphonic synthesizer, providing rich, layered sounds ideal for a wide range of musical genres. This model was embraced by many prominent artists, including Prince, Depeche Mode, The Police, Future Sound of London, Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor, Simple Minds and Van Halen among other, who utilized its powerful and versatile sound palette.

The OB-8's design and features were aimed at professional musicians and studios, offering a robust and reliable instrument capable of complex sound design. Its advanced capabilities and user-friendly interface made it a favorite among both live performers and studio producers.


The Oberheim OB-8 features eight independent voice cards, each equipped with two Voltage-Controlled Oscillators (VCOs) per voice. These oscillators offer multiple waveforms, including sawtooth, triangle, and pulse waves, which can be mixed and modulated for a wide variety of sounds. The synthesizer is equipped with a switchable 2 or 4-pole VCF (filter) with ADSR, derived from the OB-Xa design, providing smooth and rich tonal control.

A key feature of the OB-8 is its extensive modulation capabilities. It includes two Low-Frequency Oscillators (LFOs) for modulation effects, an arpeggiator, and a comprehensive envelope generator with ADSR parameters. The OB-8 also offers a unique split and layer function, allowing the keyboard to be divided into different zones with distinct sounds or to layer multiple sounds for complex textures.

The OB-8 comes with 120 programmable memory slots for storing patches and 24 for doubled/layer presets, significantly more than its predecessors. But mostly, the OB-8 introduced an entire second layer of programming functions. Hitting the "Page 2" button would assign all front panel controls to an entire second set of parameters.