Oberheim polyphonic

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Oberheim 4 voice.jpg
Oberheim Four Voice
PriceUS$4,295 ($5,690 with programmer module)
Technical specifications
Polyphony4 voice
Oscillator2 VCOs per voice with sawtooth or variable-pulse waveforms
LFO1 with triangle wave
Synthesis typeAnalog Subtractive
FilterLow, band, high, notch filter w/ resonance
Attenuator2 x ADR envelopes
Aftertouch expressionNo
Velocity expressionNo
Storage memory16 patches via programmer module
External controlCV/Gate

The Oberheim polyphonic is an analog music synthesizer that was produced from 1975 to 1979 by Oberheim Electronics. It was developed by Tom Oberheim, and was the first production synthesizer capable of playing chords.


Oberheim took the idea and electronics of a Minimoog synthesizer and put them in a small box, making a few changes, and produced the SEM (synthesizer expansion module), which became the building block of his polyphonic synths. By strapping two, four, or eight of these SEMs together under keyboard control, he was able to create practical, albeit large, synthesizers that could play two, four, or eight notes simultaneously. Oberheim polyphonic was born. Each SEM in an Oberheim polyphonic generates one voice (or note).

The four- and 8-voice models included a "preset programmer" which allowed the user to store and recall most sound settings, and you could glide from one note or chord to another using portamento.

The Oberheim polyphonic was later outdated by a new line of microprocessor-controlled Oberheim synthesizers, beginning with the OB-X. The OB-X was fully programmable and significantly more compact than the Oberheim polyphonic.

Despite their maintenance cost and rarity, Oberheim polyphonic synthesizers are still adored by many musicians today for their characteristic sonic 'thickness' and 'depth' caused in part by the random variance between each SEM module.

Oberheim Dual Manual 8 Voices (factory custom)[1]
exhibited at Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix)

Notable users[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Custom Oberheim 8 voice". SynthFool.com. — One of six made. Patrick Moraz once owned other one.

External links[edit]