Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by phesago » Thu Oct 01, 2020 1:25 pm

Nelson Baboon wrote:
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no. and i do not enjoy you.
Awwwwww c'mon. Geez mister i was just kidd'n
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Petajaja » Thu Oct 01, 2020 2:57 pm

Seeing as we're talking about Xpanders, Moog Ones and other typically expensive polysynths, It might be worth considering the Motas again and just buying several of them (however many voices you need?) I think it's unrivalled in its modulation power and Jon the designer is currently working on the firmware for a large range of polychain features. You can already patch share quite effortlessly between units so the workflow would be pretty good.

I've for a long time been looking at various options for polysynths and it pretty much always feels like some compromise that I don't want to have to do, I'm pretty set on the idea of just buying more of them if I can ever justify spending out more on gear.

Oh and I thought I'd add that it has a very nice sound which imo leans towards a vintage sound.. The designer's also very nice / helpful and is generally very happy to answer any questions you may have.

And another thought.. You'd also not have to deal with the pains of vintage electronics.. The guy's very much a genius when it comes to electronics and am very confident that these will live a very long life.

Edit: Like last time I got talking about the idea of multiple units, I'm now considering selling my two semi modulars to fund buying another.. damn it..
Check out my Motas-6 demos over at: https://soundcloud.com/retroreflector :love:

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by nuromantix » Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:43 pm

I think I will get the Xpander serviced by someone expensive and hope for the best.
Only the Prophet 12 seems to be close in terms of modulations & polyphony. The idea of chaining loads of monosynths or using an Elektron box that's only 4 note poly doesn't appeal. I play a lot of 6 note chords :)
Thanks for all the input.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by nuromantix » Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:51 pm

Aaargh new Prophet 10 though!!!

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by folpon » Thu Oct 01, 2020 4:41 pm

Since we're on the topic, can I ask a question of the mighty Ultra Wigglers in this thread?

I've kind of been GAS'ing for an Xpander for the last ten years but I've never been able to make myself pull the trigger on one. Something about the sound really does it for me? And its history as a prime source on a lot of the records I loved growing up in the 90s... It just feels like kind of a white whale for me.

But someone on this thread brought up the Elektron A4 -- that A4 is insanely modulatable, and it had never occured to me to compare them before.

So does the Xpander actually compare, in terms of modulation? I mean... the A4 can more or less completely reconfigure the entire patch every step. How can the Xpander come close to that?
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Nelson Baboon » Thu Oct 01, 2020 5:41 pm

folpon wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Since we're on the topic, can I ask a question of the mighty Ultra Wigglers in this thread?

I've kind of been GAS'ing for an Xpander for the last ten years but I've never been able to make myself pull the trigger on one. Something about the sound really does it for me? And its history as a prime source on a lot of the records I loved growing up in the 90s... It just feels like kind of a white whale for me.

But someone on this thread brought up the Elektron A4 -- that A4 is insanely modulatable, and it had never occured to me to compare them before.

So does the Xpander actually compare, in terms of modulation? I mean... the A4 can more or less completely reconfigure the entire patch every step. How can the Xpander come close to that?
i haven't used an a4 in a few years, so I'll start with that disclaimer. I remember more of my reaction to it, than the actual machine.

I remember that the xpander did some stuff that, to this day, is pretty damn rare. There are other synths that allow you to modulate envelope stages, but you could set up an envelope that would modulate some parameters over huge time period. I remember setting up them up so that you'd hit a key, and over the course of 30 minutes, you'd get a sound slowly evolving into a dramatically different sound.....

i don't think that the a4 can do that kind of thing (but I can't remember some of the details of how extreme it could get).

if i had to encapsulate the differences in the instruments - it would be that the a4 is organized around the sequencer. The parameter lock concept was pretty much invented by Elektron, and I confess that this is one thing that I really like about their machines. And, while stand alone sequencers are generally more powerful than those built into synths, the elektron sequencers are beautifully integrated into the synth, the both of them together forming a cohesive instrument.

so, you might be able to come up with a feature for feature comparison (can you modulate this, can you modulate that, what filters do you have, etc), i think that they are extremely different to actually work with.

It's hard for me to describe in a general sense why i always get bored and frustrated with elektron synths.

On the other hand, i have owned xpanders, and even a matrix 12, and always found them to be dissatisfying given their great specs. I've realized over the years that I"m really not into vintage instruments. For the most part, i think that the synths are far better now. what's the going rate for an xpander now? I'm guessing $4,000+? You're paying a collector's price.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Sir Ruff » Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:16 pm

folpon wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Since we're on the topic, can I ask a question of the mighty Ultra Wigglers in this thread?

I've kind of been GAS'ing for an Xpander for the last ten years but I've never been able to make myself pull the trigger on one. Something about the sound really does it for me? And its history as a prime source on a lot of the records I loved growing up in the 90s... It just feels like kind of a white whale for me.

But someone on this thread brought up the Elektron A4 -- that A4 is insanely modulatable, and it had never occured to me to compare them before.

So does the Xpander actually compare, in terms of modulation? I mean... the A4 can more or less completely reconfigure the entire patch every step. How can the Xpander come close to that?
I wouldn't buy an xpander thinking it will offer you anything close to an A4 experience. These days would buy it as a classic poly that has some novel tricks up its sleeve as far as multitimbral patches. It does FM, but there is no audio rate envelopes/LFO in sight, which is a huge limitation these days. OTOH, the filter range is still pretty unique and gives it a modern edge but the core sound is still vintage/classy (i.e., it's a OB-8 on 'roids). Unlike something like the very "modern"-sounding MKS-80.

I would also say (and this is unlike a lot of other analog polys whose price has far exceeded their worth) that if you love the sound, you should just go for it. They are by far the most reliable vintage ana-poly out there and aside from the display, all parts are still easily found (the display also really never fails). They also are still relatively affordable compared to literally EVERY other high-end ana-poly at this point. They have been around the $3500-4000 mark for years. I'm sure this will change sooner than later tho.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Nelson Baboon » Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:37 pm

Sir Ruff wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:16 pm
folpon wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Since we're on the topic, can I ask a question of the mighty Ultra Wigglers in this thread?

I've kind of been GAS'ing for an Xpander for the last ten years but I've never been able to make myself pull the trigger on one. Something about the sound really does it for me? And its history as a prime source on a lot of the records I loved growing up in the 90s... It just feels like kind of a white whale for me.

But someone on this thread brought up the Elektron A4 -- that A4 is insanely modulatable, and it had never occured to me to compare them before.

So does the Xpander actually compare, in terms of modulation? I mean... the A4 can more or less completely reconfigure the entire patch every step. How can the Xpander come close to that?
I wouldn't buy an xpander thinking it will offer you anything close to an A4 experience. These days would buy it as a classic poly that has some novel tricks up its sleeve as far as multitimbral patches. It does FM, but there is no audio rate envelopes/LFO in sight, which is a huge limitation these days. OTOH, the filter range is still pretty unique and gives it a modern edge but the core sound is still vintage/classy (i.e., it's a OB-8 on 'roids). Unlike something like the very "modern"-sounding MKS-80.

I would also say (and this is unlike a lot of other analog polys whose price has far exceeded their worth) that if you love the sound, you should just go for it. They are by far the most reliable vintage ana-poly out there and aside from the display, all parts are still easily found (the display also really never fails). They also are still relatively affordable compared to literally EVERY other high-end ana-poly at this point. They have been around the $3500-4000 mark for years. I'm sure this will change sooner than later tho.
really? it's my strong impression that audio rate envelopes and lfos are still pretty rare. this might be a false impression, but i certainly have not gotten to the point where i make that a show stopper for me. does the a4 actually have this? (can't remember).

I personally don't give a flying fuck about specs, if the result isn't commensurable with the spec. I've never liked that actual sound of the xpander that much, so why would i care that it has 538 filter types? I've never understood this obsession.

note that while the interface for the xpander is extremely good and intuitive, it is totally a menu based instrument. The excellence of the ui is partially due to the sheer size of the synth and the well designed interface. but it's not like you can just choose the knobs and just play.

$3500 - $4000 is affordable? Damn.I'd love to have an xpander lying around if i had tons of space (what is it, like 10x the area of an a4, for instance), and I'd pay maybe $1,000 for one (and probably not even that, since the processing is just so, fucking slow). It's a totally antiquated machine, a typical example of what people shell out thousands of dollars for because they grew up with the sound of these things. the technology HAS improved. So, so, not worth the money.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by dogoftears » Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:20 pm

ya a4 has audiorate lfos. envelopes not loopable afaik tho (pls correct me if im wrong!!)
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Nelson Baboon » Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:33 pm

dogoftears wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:20 pm
ya a4 has audiorate lfos. envelopes not loopable afaik tho (pls correct me if im wrong!!)
audio rate as in? very few go way up into audio rate, like able to kill my fleas.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Sir Ruff » Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:36 pm

Nelson Baboon wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:37 pm
Sir Ruff wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:16 pm
folpon wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 4:41 pm
Since we're on the topic, can I ask a question of the mighty Ultra Wigglers in this thread?

I've kind of been GAS'ing for an Xpander for the last ten years but I've never been able to make myself pull the trigger on one. Something about the sound really does it for me? And its history as a prime source on a lot of the records I loved growing up in the 90s... It just feels like kind of a white whale for me.

But someone on this thread brought up the Elektron A4 -- that A4 is insanely modulatable, and it had never occured to me to compare them before.

So does the Xpander actually compare, in terms of modulation? I mean... the A4 can more or less completely reconfigure the entire patch every step. How can the Xpander come close to that?
I wouldn't buy an xpander thinking it will offer you anything close to an A4 experience. These days would buy it as a classic poly that has some novel tricks up its sleeve as far as multitimbral patches. It does FM, but there is no audio rate envelopes/LFO in sight, which is a huge limitation these days. OTOH, the filter range is still pretty unique and gives it a modern edge but the core sound is still vintage/classy (i.e., it's a OB-8 on 'roids). Unlike something like the very "modern"-sounding MKS-80.

I would also say (and this is unlike a lot of other analog polys whose price has far exceeded their worth) that if you love the sound, you should just go for it. They are by far the most reliable vintage ana-poly out there and aside from the display, all parts are still easily found (the display also really never fails). They also are still relatively affordable compared to literally EVERY other high-end ana-poly at this point. They have been around the $3500-4000 mark for years. I'm sure this will change sooner than later tho.
really? it's my strong impression that audio rate envelopes and lfos are still pretty rare. this might be a false impression, but i certainly have not gotten to the point where i make that a show stopper for me. does the a4 actually have this? (can't remember).

I personally don't give a flying fuck about specs, if the result isn't commensurable with the spec. I've never liked that actual sound of the xpander that much, so why would i care that it has 538 filter types? I've never understood this obsession.

note that while the interface for the xpander is extremely good and intuitive, it is totally a menu based instrument. The excellence of the ui is partially due to the sheer size of the synth and the well designed interface. but it's not like you can just choose the knobs and just play.

$3500 - $4000 is affordable? Damn.I'd love to have an xpander lying around if i had tons of space (what is it, like 10x the area of an a4, for instance), and I'd pay maybe $1,000 for one (and probably not even that, since the processing is just so, fucking slow). It's a totally antiquated machine, a typical example of what people shell out thousands of dollars for because they grew up with the sound of these things. the technology HAS improved. So, so, not worth the money.
I don't know if this is why you didn't like the sound, but it turns out there is a big difference between the different revisions of the 3372 filter. Basically the B rev. (the most common I think) creates this gauzy, opaque veneer (with harsh distortion at high resonance), whereas the later C rev sounds worlds better. It's not exactly night and day, but it's a big difference. I was able to compare the chips next to each other and i couldn't believe how different they sounded at high-res.

Beyond that, horses for courses (of course). For me, the xpander/M-12 for me have a combo of vintage sound and modern features that I have never found on anything else. The price is absolutely worth that to me. They weren't cheap 10 years ago but given how insane all other vintage prices are, they are a relative bargain now.

And as far as the UI... yes, knobs for basic functions would be great, but the irony is that it's still faster in use than the Solaris, which has more screens and more knobs but also has ridiculously long modulation destination lists that I hate scrolling through on any synth.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Nelson Baboon » Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:00 pm

in my day, i think i've had (pathetically) 3 or 4 xpanders, and 2 m12s. I always wound up not liking the sound much.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by dogoftears » Fri Oct 02, 2020 9:10 am

Nelson Baboon wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:33 pm
dogoftears wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:20 pm
ya a4 has audiorate lfos. envelopes not loopable afaik tho (pls correct me if im wrong!!)
audio rate as in? very few go way up into audio rate, like able to kill my fleas.
only Ciat Lonbarde gear can kill fleas.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by h4ndcrafted » Fri Oct 02, 2020 10:04 am

If you don't mind Mono , The prophet 3 has all the modulation options you could want thanks to its 64 step sequencer , and yes you can sequence things like envelope parameters and a shed load more as well.

Only 3 note paraphonic though, or whatever the correct term is, three notes one path, but you can alternate through the notes in trigger mode. Not exactly vintage sounding, but the SEM is super nice, not as pleasing as with the poly on the ob-6 though. On the OB-6 the modulation was limited , yet it did an incredible range of sounds.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by nuromantix » Fri Oct 02, 2020 11:35 am

For the guy who wants to know what the xpander is like: it's great but it doesn't have the instant wow factor you get from a prophet 5 or obx. I can't decide if that's because it's so flexible that it's hard to find the sweet spots, or if it's just not quite as great. It doesn't do the parameter lock stuff like an elektron box, there is no sequencer. But you can step through patches or diff versions of the same patch as you play a sequence, by assigning different sounds to each voice. Editing is really easy and instinctive. It's much better than elektron if you actually want to play it with a keyboard like a musician 🙂. The thing I like about it, which is also what I like in modular synths is to set up patches that respond to dynamics in playing in interesting ways. Eg. Envelopes getting faster when you play harder, stuff like that which sounds Boeing on paper but is really great to play and listen to. They are definitely still a good deal compared to the price of a Jupiter 8, prophet 5 or obxa!

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by nuromantix » Fri Oct 02, 2020 11:37 am

Boring not Boeing!

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by galanter2 » Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:25 pm

I had a Matrix-12 (basically 2 Xpanders + keyboard) for quite a while. In the last year I bought a Hydrasynth, and while it doesn't use an analog signal path, it does remind me of the Xpander/M12 in many ways. It has a modulation matrix that exposes most parameters. And it has a broader selection of filter types (albeit virtual).

LP Ldr12 - 12dB Uncompensated Ladder filter
LP Ldr24 - 24dB Uncompensated Ladder filter
LP Fat12 - 12dB Compensated Ladder filter
LP Fat24 - 24dB Compensated Ladder filter
LP Gate - Low Pass Gate filter
LP MS20 - Low Pass filter with an MS-20 flair
HP MS20 - High Pass filter with an MS-20 flair
LP 3-Ler - The Low Pass flavor of a boutique modular synth
BP 3-Ler - The Band Pass flavor of a boutique modular synth
HP 3-Ler - The High Pass flavor of a boutique modular synth
LP Stn12 - Our version of a popular 12dB Low Pass filter
BP Stn12 - Our version of a popular 12dB Band Pass filter with dual 6dB slopes
HP Stn12 - Our version of a popular 12dB High Pass filter
LP 1 Pole - A gentle 6dB Low Pass filter
LP 8 Pole - A steep 48dB Low Pass filter
Vowel - Vocal formant filter

Not saying it replaces the Xpander/M-12. But it has a very similar feel when designing patches. For the price it's a remarkable synth I think.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by galanter2 » Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:27 pm

Manual is here if curious:

http://www.mecldata.com/download/asm/Hy ... l_v1.5.pdf

Modulation targets are on page 81. It includes things like attack time on envelopes, etc.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by AKMORSY » Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:04 pm

Unfortunately, I am dealing with the pains of vintage electronics, as mentioned above, with respect to my Xpander. Does anyone have any recommendations for techs in the Seattle area or elsewhere in the US with experience working on them?

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by onthelees » Sun Oct 04, 2020 2:15 am

AKMORSY wrote:
Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:04 pm
Unfortunately, I am dealing with the pains of vintage electronics, as mentioned above, with respect to my Xpander. Does anyone have any recommendations for techs in the Seattle area or elsewhere in the US with experience working on them?

Thanks in advance!
I have someone in PDX who is excellent, and he has done at least 2 Xpanders to my knowledge in recent years. PM me if you want contact info.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by ThisDudeAbides » Sun Oct 04, 2020 2:36 pm

Man, i've been hankering for one for a super long time, too. But yeah, at current prices, it's a tough pill to swallow.

For me, it's something about the signal at higher resonance that fizzes (distortion? as someone noted above?) that i absolutely love. In the video below, it's demonstrated in the second patch (around 1:32 mark.)



This guy does a great job bringing it out in some patches. What other synths have this character?

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Sir Ruff » Sun Oct 04, 2020 5:15 pm

Yeah, that’s a great “Oberheim“ sound. Despite what people try and suggest, the xpander/M12 are from the exact same sonic lineage as all the earlier OBs.

I have a long demo that I recorded the other day, maybe this thread will convince me to finally post it.

Re:: distortion in the filter, it was really only noticeable at full self oscillation. Will be less noticeable with lower resonance but still imparts a gauzy sound quality.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Nelson Baboon » Sun Oct 04, 2020 5:20 pm

well, if that's what you want your synth to sound like, go for it.

I am so not into vintage, and recreating a pop sound from years ago.

and even though I'm not into vintage, all of those people who say that the xpander/matrix don't have that strong sound of the earlier oberheims? I can't say, other than I really didn't like the core sound of the xpander/matrix 12. But if you want to spend tons and tons of money buying a collector's synth, go for it.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by folpon » Sun Oct 04, 2020 5:28 pm

ThisDudeAbides wrote:
Sun Oct 04, 2020 2:36 pm
Man, i've been hankering for one for a super long time, too. But yeah, at current prices, it's a tough pill to swallow.

For me, it's something about the signal at higher resonance that fizzes (distortion? as someone noted above?) that i absolutely love. In the video below, it's demonstrated in the second patch (around 1:32 mark.)
Folks can correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that fizz just pretty much what Oberheim's filter is known for? Anyway, yeah; I kinda fell in love with that sound, too. My TVP had it. But then so does the Moogah SEM filter I got for like 150$, so... :despair:
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