Tom Oberheim is cooking something up on YouTube over drinks, branded coasters and synths designed on the back of napkins. It’s adorable and full of tantalising promise.
Update 26/04/22: A new glimpse has emerged. It’s definitely a synth!
(Originally posted 12th April 2022) This feels completely natural. When Tom got back the right to use his name last August it was going to go one of two ways. Either he was going to retire feeling satisfied with his contribution to the story of synthesizers, or it was going to kickstart an Oberheim renaissance. In many ways, Oberheim is in constant renaissance mode because the love for the brand just won’t go away. Whether it’s in software or hardware Oberheim remains sought after and holds a rightfully legendary place in every synth enthusiast’s heart.
So, what’s coming? Well, I don’t know, I don’t have any insider information and I’ve signed no NDAs for privileged access but I’m going to stick my neck out and say it’s a synth. It wasn’t long ago that Tom was talking about a Eurorack SEM and then came the special edition of the TVS-Pro that arrived just in time for the return of the Oberheim name.
Tom has been popping up in all sorts of places, photo ops and documentaries, so he definitely has the momentum for something awesome. In the “Welcome Back” video we see him designing a synthesizer with engineer Marcus Ryle while Dave Smith and Tony Karavidas from Sequential seem to be behind the bar. I wonder if that has any significance? Tom and Dave are old partners in crime of course with the OB-6 synthesizer.
It feels terribly exciting. Do you think anything in the video is trying to give us clues or is it just celebrating what’s to come in a fun way? I mean the fact that they decided to put an op-amp circuit in a different place; is that revolutionary or just fun for the camera? And what’s with all the “party like it’s 2099”? It’s probably a reference to the Prince track 1999 that featured those fabulous synth stabs at the start that were played (most sources say) on an Oberheim OB-X, although in the video for 1999 it’s clearly an OB-Xa. There’s also a preset on the OB-6 that pays homage to it. So, maybe we’re about to see the evolution of the OB-X series.
I hope it’s something new, something that pulls from the past but brings in some reinvention. Leave the reissuing of the past to Behringer. Sign up on the website for news.