Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

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dubonaire
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by dubonaire » Sun Oct 04, 2020 6:31 pm

nuromantix wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 4:18 am
AND: Can you do stuff like modulate the attack or decay time of an envelope on any modern synths?
On the Prophet Rev2 and 12 you can modulate attack, decay and release times.

I've never heard an Expander other than on youtube or in tracks so I can't say whether or not these synths are going to get you where you want to go. But I have heard people program very different sounds with the Rev 2 and I find it an incredibly flexible synth.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by flashheart » Sun Oct 04, 2020 8:19 pm

nuromantix wrote:
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!
The DSI Prophet 12 has filters from the same lineage as the Xpander, though LP only. The Polybrute AFAICS is a modulation monster and does have keytracking and velocity to envelope times. Not even seen one yet of course, but the UI seems pretty decent given it's complexity. 2 filters one of which is multi-mode and anywhere between series or parallel so you can probably create most of thost Xpander filter types if you feel the need.
I'm not buying a maths though, not my idea of fun...

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by maxwellravitz » Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:57 pm

dubonaire wrote:
Sun Oct 04, 2020 6:31 pm
nuromantix wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 4:18 am
AND: Can you do stuff like modulate the attack or decay time of an envelope on any modern synths?
On the Prophet Rev2 and 12 you can modulate attack, decay and release times.

I've never heard an Expander other than on youtube or in tracks so I can't say whether or not these synths are going to get you where you want to go. But I have heard people program very different sounds with the Rev 2 and I find it an incredibly flexible synth.
I have both a Rev 2 and Xpander, and while the Rev2 is incredibly flexible (not to mention it's nice having 8/16 voices), it's nowhere near as flexible as the Xpander. The Xpander is as close to being modular as I've seen an instrument be without actually being modular. It might not have the immediate wow that an OB-Xa/8 or Prophet 5 have, but to me, that's because those synths are pretty reigned in function-wise. IMO the Xpander still has plenty of wow sound-wise, and it can run circles around most modern synths in terms of modulation, and is surprisingly intuitive for how complex it can be.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by maxwellravitz » Mon Oct 05, 2020 12:02 am

I also will echo the sentiment that the hydrasynth is super cool. It's like the Xpander, an Ensoniq ESQ-1, and a Waldorf Microwave all had a baby together.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Spanningtree » Mon Oct 05, 2020 1:22 am

Echoing above, perhaps the Arturia Polybrute? I have the Matrixbrute and the Poly's routing/mod matrix is very similar, a lot of options in there.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by sneak-thief » Mon Oct 05, 2020 3:23 am

Once upon a time when I used to repair synths professionally, there were times when my synth-hospital was jammed with patients.

This particular Xpander (see below) needed a new CEM3374 dual-vco and the OB-Xa needed a CEM3340 (thanks Doug!).

Having them side-by-side was a revealing experience because the presence, weight and pressure from the low-end of the OB-Xa was simply too much for the Xpander to compete with.

People often speak of the incredible modulation capabilities of the Xpander but I rarely hear that complexity and intricacy in the demos. Maybe it's because despite having all these filter combinations, the basic filter sound is somewhat utilitarian and lacking in character?

I found that the Xpander can sound very delicate and bubbly and has a nice sheen. That said, is it just me or does the tonal palette just seems more limited than what would presume by all of the modulation and filtering capabilities?

I wonder how much the slow envelopes/lfos plays into this...

Anyhow, the simple answer is to have both an Xpander and an OB-X, amiright???? :lol:

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by 3hands » Mon Oct 05, 2020 9:10 am

I have a Matrix 6 and it’s fairly powerful (shh don’t tell anyone, as they are still relatively inexpensive), but I want an OBXa badly. There’s something about the Oberheim sound that I love. I would take an Xpander in a heartbeat as well! :)
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by gruebleengourd » Mon Oct 05, 2020 9:41 am

I dunno about Xpander. I've been underwhelmed when I've played/programmed one myself, but people I who have a lot of experience with them that I know and respect have them as a desert island synth. There is nothing modern that really replaces every aspect of the xpander -- 6 multi analog with complex modulation and filtering, but perhaps you're only looking for a particular side of the xpander and could pick something or two that covers that range for less the oberheim. I'm personally very wary of getting one because of the rarity of replacement chips, and the suspicion that while there may not be something today that replaces it, it see,s inevitable that in a year or two, there will be something.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by phesago » Mon Oct 05, 2020 11:50 am

editing to remove incorrect information
Last edited by phesago on Mon Oct 05, 2020 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by sneak-thief » Mon Oct 05, 2020 12:00 pm

No - nobody has released new versions of the CEM3372 or CEM3374 chips.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Sir Ruff » Mon Oct 05, 2020 12:14 pm

sneak-thief wrote:
Mon Oct 05, 2020 3:23 am
I found that the Xpander can sound very delicate and bubbly and has a nice sheen. That said, is it just me or does the tonal palette just seems more limited than what would presume by all of the modulation and filtering capabilities?

I wonder how much the slow envelopes/lfos plays into this...
yes, definitely. My sense is that a LOT of the modulation potential was thought of in the context of a session musician who needed tons of performance and articulation options on the fly. All the foot pedal and mod-lever stuff would have made sense then. I think there was also still this very academic approach toward using synths to replace real instruments, so yeah, using 4 envelopes to make this really nuanced horn sound maybe made more sense then. Now? Not so much.

I rarely use more than 2 envs or 2 LFOs for my most complex sounds, although my favorite self-playing patches (definitely one ace in the hole for the xpander/M-12) usually use multiples of everything. I have some self-playing stuff (not programmed by me) that could just go on for days, and sounds interesting the whole time.
Anyhow, the simple answer is to have both an Xpander and an OB-X, amiright???? :lol:
I mean, yes :) Though given the choice (which I had at one time), I would still keep the M-12. Once you get passed the great tone of the earlier OBs, there is just only so many places they can go in terms of sound design (even less than a prophet-5 in that regard) so tone becomes only part of the equation. The xpander/M-12 feels like the best possible compromise for me--it can do reasonable "vintage" and then a whole bunch of other stuff that the OBs could never do.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by ThisDudeAbides » Mon Oct 05, 2020 3:29 pm

alternatively, i suppose one could just pursue other synths using the CEM3372.

I like how you get hints of that fizzy resonance here:


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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Analog Prophet » Mon Oct 05, 2020 5:05 pm

Programming the Xpander as a regular polysynth does not make it that powerful. But I found this way to program the Xpander to be extremely powerful:

- Program a sound and make 5 copies of it (totally 6 patches of the same sound) in single mode and put together to a multipatch (e.g. 51 to voice 1, 52 to voice 2 etc).

- Activate one of the voices (underlined) in multimode and change it slightly (filter, attack time, tune, velocity, lfo, pan etc). Let voice one be unchanged and start with voice 2. Then change voice 3 etc. To change pan for single voices require latest voice software chip (can be ordered at Ebay for the cost as a nice dinner), otherwise it can be made by multimode.

Mainly I route the filter to the modwheel (for brass etc to the velocity) to be able to play dynamic.

Try different things such slightly portamento to pads etc, different variations of great multipatches (but just keep patches you actually use) etc.

Finally a nice reverb such Lexicon (have PCM 80), Strymon Big Sky (wont to have as well) or similar.

Don’t forget to make backup of the patches. Sysex Librian is an excellent and free profram for the purpose.

Now the Xpander will be incredible nice and more powerful than most analog monsters :)
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by LNerell » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:45 am

sneak-thief wrote:
Mon Oct 05, 2020 3:23 am
Anyhow, the simple answer is to have both an Xpander and an OB-X, amiright???? :lol:
I use to have an Xpander and an OBXa, is that close enough? :lol: I sold both of them years ago and now I'm down to my Matrix 6r and OBMx (also a couple of DPX1s but who's counting). I guess that makes me an oddball keeping those. Oh, I also have a Prophet 12, great synth. But to be honest their is nothing out that close to an Xpander/Matrix 12, they are just different beasts.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Sir Ruff » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:52 pm

Since the topic of envelopes always seems to come up, here's a demo I did years ago with my xpander. Not fast, but also not terribly slow.


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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by phesago » Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:05 pm

Sir Ruff wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:52 pm
Since the topic of envelopes always seems to come up, here's a demo I did years ago with my xpander. Not fast, but also not terribly slow.
Ive never found the envelopes to be an issue. Though thats a nice demo - i think i heard this before, but i ve seen you post in various forums over the years lol
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Sir Ruff » Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:08 pm

phesago wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:05 pm
Sir Ruff wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:52 pm
Since the topic of envelopes always seems to come up, here's a demo I did years ago with my xpander. Not fast, but also not terribly slow.
Ive never found the envelopes to be an issue. Though thats a nice demo - i think i heard this before, but i ve seen you post in various forums over the years lol
haha, yes, I have. But without any other good examples it remains useful. I started editing a big "50 patches" recording, will post that soon.
Last edited by Sir Ruff on Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by ThisDudeAbides » Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:14 pm

anything that can achieve blip in pitch with an envelope is fast enough for me. Try doing that on a JX8P/JX10 and hilarity ensues.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Kazremark » Wed Oct 07, 2020 12:11 am

I would consider a Solaris, that’s my favorite synth and I have quite a few classic ones. It’s also the most flexible in terms of being able to route just about anything anywhere.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by nuromantix » Wed Oct 07, 2020 3:40 am

Analog prophet: yes that's exactly what I like doing with it, kind of like a 6 voice mono-poly.
About the envelopes: I'm sure I've posted this tip before: if you want a fast attack then set the vca and/or vcf to max level and use negative modulation amounts for the envelopes. Gets rid of the initial squidge.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by grizzleb » Wed Oct 07, 2020 2:32 pm

Isn't part of the issue that polyphonic sounds don't tend to take being heavily processed and modulated in the same way that monos do, lots of complicated harmonics just get mushy and noisey with enough voices?

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by folpon » Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:35 pm

Dumb question about the Xpander (which it seems no amount of "meh"ing by wiser wigglers can stop me from irrationally desiring): couldn't one just feed faster or otherwise "better" envelopes into it via, for example, one of the CV inputs?
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by phesago » Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:41 pm

The cv ins only trigger gate and pitch, not the behavior of it
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Sir Ruff » Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:43 pm

folpon wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:35 pm
Dumb question about the Xpander (which it seems no amount of "meh"ing by wiser wigglers can stop me from irrationally desiring): couldn't one just feed faster or otherwise "better" envelopes into it via, for example, one of the CV inputs?
You can do that but a) it will be monophonic, and b) the scan rate for the pedal CV inputs is pretty slow AFAIK. I can't find it offhand, but I know for the Ensoniq SQ-80 it's like 100 Hz or even less. I also don't know if the pedal input is active or passive so that would make a difference in terms of being able to add external CV.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by folpon » Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:23 pm

Oh, huh. Interesting, thank you guys.
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