Cherry Audio has released its take on the Oberheim 8-Voice synthesizer. Featuring 8 interlocked SEMs, Mini Sequencer and yes, a Windows version.
Following hot on the heels of the stunningly good GForce OB-E based on the same vintage machine Cherry Audio brings its own fireworks to the celebration of this classic Oberheim synthesizer. It’s a very similar deal with 8 SEM dual-oscillator mono-synths arranged together to form a wonderfully rich 8-voice synthesizer.
While it’s fun to compare the OB-E with the Eight-Voice let’s focus on what Cherry Audio is offering and let you make up your own mind on which one sounds best to you.
The biggest challenge of the 8-Voice is how to bring those 8 independent synth voices under some sort of control. Cherry Audio has put in a grouping system with two independent groups that allow you to link as many of the SEMs as you like and then whatever you do to one is mirrored by the rest in that group. You can zoom in to a pair of SEMs using some buttons in the toolbar for more detailed editing. Via a right-click menu you can copy the current SEM’s settings to other voices or groups of voices. You can also layer and zone voices across your keyboard and swap between mono and poly modes. The navigation and workflow are really simple to grasp and well thought out bringing this monster of a synth under control.
As far as the sound emulation goes they’ve stuck to the original machine and not embellished it very much except for adding an additional single LFO and some reverb and delay at the end of the chain. Oh, and you can turn the front panel black if you wish. The emulation of the Oberheim multi-mode filter was done by award-winning synth designer Mark Barton (MRB). Over 330 presets are included to get you started.
Listening to the demos it sounds pretty damn awesome to me. But even better, being a Windows user, I can download the 30-day demo and try it out for myself! Sadly the GForce OB-E was macOS only. Eight-Voice is available for macOS and Windows in every plugin format and standalone.
Eight-Voice is the sort of synthesizer you can lose yourself in. You can spend half a lifetime on a single SEM let alone eight of them. It gives you the opportunity to explore the nature of synthesis at its most naked and unadorned. This could be all you’d ever need and right now it’s $29.
The OB-E looks slightly crisper; Cherry Audio has a slightly cartoonish quality to their GUIs, and they added a third oscillator to each voice for modulation but otherwise, they are playing a very similar game. At £129.99 it’s a lot more expensive and it will be interesting to see how people feel they compare.