July 5, 2010
by GForce Software

If you want subtractive, additive, monophonic, duophonic, polyphonic, multiple oscillator waveforms, multiple LFO types, multiple filter types, multiple triggering modes, keyboard velocity response, integrated effects, an arpeggiator, filter overdrive, programming immediacy, a hefty patch library and the capability of producing a vast and varied range of sublime tonal textures, then the impOSCar really could be the only virtual synth you need!

This is a bold claim, we know, but such has been the response to the impOSCar and our belief in it’s ability to produce the highest quality sounds across an extensive tonal range, that it might not be so fanciful after all!

Oxford Synthesiser Company’s OSCar.

The impOSCar is modeled on the unique and wonderfully esoteric British synthesizer, the OSCar, manufactured between 1983 and 1986 and subsequently used to great effect by artists such as Ultravox, Jean-Michel Jarre, Stevie Wonder, Underworld, Orbital and even Oscar Peterson.

It looked interesting. It had an additive synthesis section. It had memories. It was duophonic and monophonic and, with the exception of the filter, it was all digital.

Because it was released at the same time as MIDI and early affordable polyphonic synthesisers, the instrument wasn’t a huge commercial success and only 2000 were produced before the company ceased trading.

However, to those in the know, OSCar has been a highly prized item and the secret weapon in many programmer’s sonic arsenal. In a sea of monophonic subtractive synths available at that time it was unique and refreshing in many ways:

All of these features contributed to its sound which could be summed up in one word- Awesome. From sublime to screaming, from clean and clinical to phat as phuck, the OSCar did it all.

The OSCar’s eye-catching layout.

The impOSCar was two years in production and since its release it has become one of the most respected virtual synthesisers on the market. All the notable features of the original instrument are evident here as well as several enhancements including a more intuitive additive section, polyphony, increased LFO waveforms and a chorus and delay effects section.

The filters are a particular highlight of the impOSCar and features two stunning 12dB filters running in series, a filter overdrive and sublime separation control. In fact these filters are now so respected, ace instrument and sound design company Spectrasonics licensed them for use in their wonderful Stylus RMX.

Gforce’s original impOSCar user interface.

With additive and subtractive synthesis, a huge number of potential waveforms on offer, a plethora of kick-ass filter modes and an intuitive design, the impOSCar is capable of a range of sounds far beyond that of any standard subtractive synthesiser.

Inside Info

One of the unique characteristics of the original instrument was it’s ability to overdrive the filter for those ‘screams like a bastard™’ tones. This came about because many synthesists like Billy Currie and Jan Hammer were using instruments like the ARP Odyssey and Minimoog and putting them through overdrive or distortion pedals.

The OSCar inventor, Chris Hugget, and then sidekick Paul Wiffen had the idea of incorporating this into the filter itself, thus saving on having to carry a separate pedal.