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Introducing OB-E – our tribute to a legend


February 23, 2021
by GForce Software

Pure madness, but pure genius. Only GForce could tackle this monster and absolutely pull it off and f**k me, they’ve done an INCREDIBLE job!

Ty Unwin, Composer

London, 23.02.2021 – It’s been our most requested product, a labour of love and more than two years in the making. We are pleased to introduce our new GForce Software OB-E synth, an emulation of the iconic 8-Voice synthesizer.

After posting a tribute video to our 8-Voice on YouTube, it’s fair to say we’ve been inundated by requests for a dedicated 8-Voice software instrument. While a hardware SEM is within the financial reach of a dedicated synthesist, the hardware 8-voice isn’t.

The original instrument is a physical monster, yet the concept of the 8-Voice is actually very simple; based around a single Synthesiser Expander Module (SEM®) containing two VCOs with Pulse and Sawtooth waveforms, two ADS Envelope Generators, one LFO, and a magical Multi-Mode Filter. In isolation a SEM is monophonic, but in the 8-Voice, because there are eight SEMs triggered by a polyphonic keyboard, you also have a superb eight note polyphonic synthesizer.

Finally, while simple at heart, OB-E is, to our knowledge, the first virtual instrument with complete per-voice control. This unique Octaphonic architecture offers fresh and exciting creative possibilities to music producers, composers and sound designers for the first time in the digital realm.

OB-E octaphonic panel with all 8 Synthesiser Expander Modules

The Development of a monster
We actually embarked on a project to emulate a SEM many years ago but as soon as Tom Oberheim announced his intention to remake them in 2009, we decided to discontinue that project. In 2018, when we learned that Tom intended to discontinue the SEM and 2-Voice instruments we decided to resurrect our project due to our enduring passion for this instrument.

We’ve painstakingly emulated our 8-Voice creating a sonically authentic instrument with the convenience of software control over those eight SEM modules. Programming a polyphonic Patch on an original 8-Voice was a daunting mission, OB-E makes it a cinch. Unison Chords a forté. Using Oberheim’s MS-1 as a starting point and to ensure authenticity, we’ve added an extremely comprehensive and creative 8-step Sequencer that provides a flexibility and fun-factor unavailable via the original hardware. An all-new routable (when using splits), Stereo Delay provides sonically complimentary effects.

Oh, and it has a fully scalable UI.

Dave’s enthusiasm for the 8-voice provided my first inspiration. Hearing the sounds he was capable of making with it made me instantly recognise the musical potential of this unique synth. The challenge was tough, the instrument intimidating, but I believed those sounds would make it a hugely worthwhile project, I still do. I sincerely hope everybody who uses it gets as much enjoyment out of OB-E as we have during the development process.” – Hugo Brangwyn, Lead Software Developer at GForce Software Ltd.

Find a superb sound quickly
We’ve complemented our instrument with 600+ factory Patches. While a selection has been chosen to show how beautiful this instrument can sound, the majority have been designed to fit the mix. Each Patch has been categorised and tagged to enable easy and quick selection from the librarian. The user can navigate through the categories and Patches using their computer keyboard’s arrow keys for easy auditioning.

Dave Spiers invited a roster of brilliant sound designers to contribute alongside him: Tom Wolfe, Darren Price, James High, Alex Ball, Stefano Daino, Kent Spong, Jerry Kovarsky, Andrew Schlesinger, Nate Williams, Sean Charles, Graeme Rawson & Hugo Brangwyn.

Ever since we took delivery of our 8-Voice, and I did the walkthrough YouTube video about it, I’ve dreamed of being able to offer it in software. OB-E is the realisation of that dream. Aligned to sublime audio quality, Unison mode, where each SEM can be set to different tunings, filter & amp envelopes, pan positions and more, sets OB-E apart from all other synths in software.” – Dave Spiers, co-founder GForce Software Ltd.

OB-E Zoom Mode for ease of programming

Poly / Mono Buttons – the two faces of the OB-E
OB-E
makes it easy to start sound design with the ‘Mono’ and ‘Poly’ buttons that give quick access to the two faces of the instruments.

Pressing the ‘Mono’ button loads the default Mono Patch. SEM 1 is Zoomed showing the front and rear panels side by side. OB-E plays SEM 1 monophonically. This is a great place to start programming an individual SEM.

Pressing ‘Poly’ loads a default Poly Patch, a great place to start patch design. The screen is set in 8-Voice ‘Octaphonic’ view with the front of all 8 SEMs visible.

OB-E takes a unique yet beautifully simple polyphonic concept from the hardware domain adding a range of complimentary components and programming flexibility to create an instrument overflowing with creative potential.” – Chris Macleod, co-founder GForce Software Ltd.

OB-E – key features

  • Unique 8-Voice Octaphonic architecture
  • An authentic sounding emulation of the 8-Voice
  • 600 factory Patches designed to fit in a mix, all tagged and categorised
  • Librarian for easy access to the presets (Arrow Keys Navigation)
  • ZOOM enlarges an individual SEM filling the UI with front & rear panels side by side
  • Group and Offset mode to edit all SEMs at once, Individual SEM Copy/Paste/Save
  • Upper/Lower SEMs can be Split across the keyboard
  • Multi-faceted analogue style sequencer
  • Extensive Velocity & Aftertouch modulation, Pan and Volume per SEM
  • Polyphonic aftertouch and MPE ready

More info
https://www.gforcesoftware.com/products/ob-e