Not at NAMM but just live on Kickstarter is the VS-1 Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer. They say it’s based on the voice card from the Oberheim OB-X and aims to bring that classic, warm analog polyphonic sound to life in a modern synthesizer.
They are aiming to fuse vintage analog sound with modern features. They want to keep all the quirks, all the drift and deliciousness of analog. Combining the discrete analog design the Oberheim OB-X voice card with the digital control and clean interface of a modern 3U rack synthesizer.
They did this before, sort of. In 2018 they produced OB-X voices cards and were able to fund them successfully via Kickstarter. This time around they’ve developed a whole synthesizer around these voices cards to offer a more complete product. That’s fabulous!
Each voice card contains two VCOs with saw and pulse waves, cross-modulation and hard sync. There’s white and pink noise. A classic 12dB OTA filter with multiple modes and a dedicated ADSR envelope. Panning VCAs with spread control. A dedicated ADSR for the VCA plus a global DADSR envelope with 20 destinations. There are two analog LFOs and two digital LFOs.
The modern part runs on 600MHz ARM-Cortex-M7-based System. It has a 16-bit DAC that updates the CVs 4,000 times a second. It has single, split and layer modes playing either a single program of up to 8 voices or two parts of 4 voices. There are alternative tunings built-in and an “Autotune” function while lets you either leave it a bit dodgy like the OB-X or pull it into line a bit more with perfection. There’s a 64-step polyphonic sequencer, an arpeggiator and chord memory. It has aftertouch support although full MPE compatibility is a stretch goal.
The look of the box matches the OB-X although it’s also reminiscent of something Black Corporation might produce.
The sound demos are awesome and Abstrakt Instruments believe with some minor adjustments they are pretty much ready to go. They are looking to raise just over £60k and are a third of the way there already.
There are a range of preorder options starting with the 8-voice kit at $995. It comes with everything other than the components which you will have to source yourself. For $2,795 you can get a 4-voice version of the VS-1, £2,995 gets you 6 voices and $3,195 gets you all 8 voices. But there are Early Bird prices and so get in there quick to take advantage of the discount.
There seem to be many Oberheim OB-X based synthesizers that pop up and then never reach the light of day. The VS-1 looks like it’s well on its way to becoming a reality.