This post will discuss the best Oberheim plugins you can find. We picked only three even though there could be more of them. Though, we are confident enough about these three!
In a nutshell here they are:
So let’s jump into it:
3 Best Oberheim VST Plugins 2023
1. Synapse-Audio Obsession
Let’s look at Synapse Audio’s take on the classic Oberheim OB-Xa synthesizer.
We’ve checked out an emulation plugin of the Oberheim OB-X synth, which was the first synth released in 1979 in this series. Conversely, Oberheim OB-Xa was a newer version released in 1981.
It utilized Custis CEM IC generators making it sound contrastingly smoother compared to the raw and wild personality of the OB-X, which used the SEM module instead.
Obsession by Synapse Audio brings the powerful polyphonic vintage synthesizer to your music studio with modern features added to it. It features detailed per-voice controls that no other synth provides. The feature is useful for creating rich, dynamic sound.
Furthermore, the temperature-dependent fluctuations you find on the original hardware are also simulated using the Organic knob. The result is an impressively authentic experience alongside jaw-dropping sound quality.
- Three Modes
Obsession can operate in three modes: single, dual, and split. Single-mode plays one patch and is the default mode of the synth. Conversely, the dual-mode can play two patches simultaneously. It stacks two different patch settings; each is called a “part.” You can access each part by clicking on the A and B buttons at the top left of the interface. Similarly, the fader between these two buttons lets you control the balance between the two parts. And lastly, the split mode lets you load two patches, but you can play each separately. Instead of stacking the two patches, it loads one in the lower region of your keyboard and the other patch in the higher octaves.
- Sound Engine
Obsession uses two oscillators and a noise generator. The oscillators can produce saw, pulse, a mix of saw and pulse, and triangle waveforms. While the saw and pulse waves have dedicated buttons, the mix is activated when both switches are turned on, and the triangle wave is selected when no switch is enabled.
Each oscillator features a frequency/pitch control, and the second oscillator employs a pulse width control. You can also hard sync the second oscillator to the first oscillator.
- Filter Section
The filter section holds a filter that is a low-pass by default. However, you can also switch it to a band-pass mode. The section has three input buttons: OSC 1, OSC 2, and Noise. The two oscillator buttons toggle whether or not the oscillator is sent into the filter. If you disable it, the oscillator becomes inaudible. Similarly, the Noise button enables white noise at a fixed volume like the original hardware, although you can control it via the modulation matrix. Furthermore, the filter provides a 4-pole mode, which switches the default 12 dB/octave slope to 24 dB/octave. Lastly, it features keyboard tracking.
There are two envelopes in Obsession: amp envelope and filter envelope. The amp envelope controls the synth’s volume, and the filter envelope modulates the filter cutoff. However, the latter can also modulate the second oscillator’s pitch if you enable the F-ENV button in the oscillator section.
Likewise, it features two LFOs. They feature three waveform shapes: sine, square, and sample-and-hold (S/H). You can sync the rate of the LFOs to your DAW using the steps button. You can apply the LFOs to the frequency/pitch of the oscillators, the filter cutoff, and the pulse width of a saw wave.
- Voice Edit
This feature is the most powerful and exciting one of Obsession. You can differ each synth’s voice in many ways by changing the value of various parameters per voice. So, if you played a C major chord, you could make the C note sound different from E, which sounds different from G.
Entering the Voice Edit mode is as easy as clicking on one of the voices at the bottom left under the Voice Adjustment Edit section. Note that the number of buttons you see here depends on the number of activated voices. For example, in 8-voice polyphony mode, you’ll find eight buttons there. Once you enter the Voice Edit mode, the knobs turn into trim-pots to indicate that you are adjusting a voice alone. So, all the pots are set at twelve o’clock and moving them left or right changes the parameter relative to its underlying value (in the regular, non-voice edit mode).
Note that you cannot edit every parameter per voice. For example, you cannot change the LFO rate per voice. However, you can change the LFO offset, pan, and semitone changes.
- Back Panel
The plugin features a “back panel,” where you’ll find the modulation matrix, analog simulation settings, and some effect processors. The modulation matrix has twelve slots that allow you to link a modulation source to a destination parameter. The sources include velocity, key track, modulation wheel, pitch bend, modulation wheel, aftertouch, polyphonic aftertouch, constant values, LFO x modulation wheel, etc.
Similarly, you’ll find two Step Editors, which are 128-step modulation sequencers. These allow you to create tempo-synced rhythms or draw custom envelopes. They’re essentially the modern interpretation of the LFO modules.
The effect processors include reverb, delay, and chorus. Each provides detailed parameters to help you polish your sound and bring the synth sound closer to the modern standard. The reverb also features a shimmer knob, which overdubs the reverb wet an octave higher. And the regen knob adds even more harmonics to the shimmer effect.
Synapse Audio Obsession is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.11 or higher, both 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Obsession is undoubtedly one of the most powerful virtual analog synths available today. Synapse Audio has convincingly captured the sound and personality of the Oberheim OB-Xa synthesizer while still maintaining a noticeably modern interpretation.
The front panel provides everything you’d expect from a standard virtual analog synth, including two oscillators, filters, LFOs, and envelopes. It has a very warm and fat tone, especially with the VCA Sat button on the back panel switched on, which enables the amplifier’s saturation.
And the Organic control helps simulate the unstable nature of analog components. If you want only one virtual analog synth, Obsession could be the ideal choice.
2. discoDSP – OB-Xd
One of the most iconic hardware synthesizers in history is reborn with modern features in software form.
As the name suggests, discoDSP’s OB-Xd is modeled after a real Oberheim OB-X synthesizer. It emulates the sound and personality of the original.
However, as with any software interpretation of classic synths, you’ll find some added features and quirks. All of them are quite handy and enhance the user experience.
The Oberheim OB-X synth was beloved for many classic sounds you hear on hit records from the 80s. For example, I’m a fan of its triangle lead sound with glide. Similarly, you can create awesome pad sounds with its individual voice pan controls.
And thanks to the slight detuning effect that occurs randomly, the synth sounds convincingly analog and dynamic.
- Dual Oscillators
The plugin features two oscillators, each capable of producing a saw, triangle, and square wave. The square wave offers a pulse width control. However, unlike the original design, OB-Xd doesn’t have a frequency modulation with the second oscillator modulating the first. Instead, the first oscillator modulates the second. Similarly, a mixer section next to the oscillators section lets you control the volume of each oscillator and add white noise. Conversely, the original design had fixed volumes.
The Step switch allows you to make precise pitch changes through semi-tone steps. You can turn the switch off if you’d rather tune the oscillators manually or want to create pitch sweeps. Similarly, the Bright control adjusts the clarity of the higher harmonics.
- Multi-Mode Filter
Unlike the original design’s single 12 dB/oct low-pass filter, the OB-Xd offers a multi-mode 12 dB/oct filter akin to the Oberheim SEM module. You can crossfade between low-pass, band-pass, and high-pass by turning the Multi knob from left to right. It also features a 24 dB/oct mode, although it will switch to a fully low-pass mode. Then, the Multi knob controls the filter slope from 24 dB/oct on the complete left and 6 dB/oct on the complete right instead.
- Further Controls
The plugin offers a maximum of 32-voice polyphony, but you can change it on the fly in the global section. You’ll also find a unison mode that stacks a monophonic voice to all the polyphonies available. And there’s a glide feature with four types of legato mode. Next, the voice variation section lets you generate random changes on various parameters.
While the original hardware wasn’t velocity-sensitive, this plugin lets you alter the envelope depth of the filter and amplifier using velocity. Furthermore, the voice variation section also features eight pan knobs, one for each voice when you aren’t in unison mode. This feature lets you create ultra-wide pad sounds or narrow but convoluted lead sounds.
discoDSP OB-Xd is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10 or higher, 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Any hardware synth fan will appreciate the revitalization of the iconic Oberheim OB-X synth. And the new features in the software iteration make OB-Xd much more flexible, making it feel better suited for contemporary uses.
Of course, without built-in effects, the synth sounds unashamedly raw. However, you’ll find its sound on par with or better than any modern synth with a little mixing. You can use this synth to create bass, massive pads, and even plucky arpeggio sounds for Synthwave and Chillwave music.
And if you want the authentic vibe, avoid adding a chorus and let the rawness of the synth seep through.
3. UAD PolyMAX Synth
Modeled after the classic Oberheim® Xpander and Matrix-12 analog synthesizers, known for their rich and complex sound, the UAD PolyMAX synth is a virtual synth plugin developed by Universal Audio.
It features two oscillators per voice, selectable waveforms, and a wide range of modulation options. It also includes a powerful arpeggiator, extensive modulation matrix, and built-in effects such as delay, reverb, and chorus.
One of the unique features of the PolyMAX Synth is its ability to create “polyphonic patches” that allow multiple notes to be played simultaneously on a single voice, creating complex and evolving sounds. It also includes a comprehensive preset library with classic and modern synth sounds.
- Polyphonic capabilities
Creating polyphonic patches is a unique feature that differentiates the UAD PolyMAX from many other synth plugins. That makes creating rich and complex sounds that respond to your playing style and other inputs possible.
- Versatile modulation options
A modulation matrix in the synth allows for extensive modulation of various synth parameters, such as LFOs, envelopes, and external controllers. That makes it possible to create complex and evolving sounds that are difficult or impossible to achieve with other synths.
- Comprehensive preset library
Along with the plugin, you get a comprehensive preset library with a wide range of classic and modern synth sounds, making it easy to find a sound that fits your needs quickly or to use as a starting point for your patches.
- High-quality effects
Some high-resolution built-in effects in the PolyMAX Synth include delay, reverb, chorus, distortion, etc. You can apply these effects to individual voices or the overall output of the synth.
- Integration with UAD hardware
The PolyMAX Synth requires a compatible UAD-2 DSP accelerator, which provides additional processing power and low-latency performance. This integration with UAD hardware can make the PolyMAX Synth more reliable and stable than other software-only synth plugins.
You can run the plugin on almost any DAW and computer, as it is available in AAX, AU, and VST plugin formats and is compatible with both Mac and Windows OS. However, it’s important to note that the PolyMAX Synth requires a compatible UAD-2 DSP accelerator, which may limit its compatibility with certain systems.
The UAD PolyMAX Synth is a vintage-style virtual instrument plugin Universal Audio developed and modeled after the classic Oberheim Xpander and Matrix-12 analog synthesizers. It features two oscillators per voice, a resonant low-pass filter, a high-pass filter, a bandpass filter, a comprehensive modulation matrix, an arpeggiator, and built-in effects such as delay, reverb, and chorus.
Overall, its authentic analog sound, versatile modulation options, extensive polyphonic capabilities, high-quality built-in effects, and comprehensive preset library make it one of the best synth plugins.
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