Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

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folpon
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by folpon » Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:38 pm

Slight silly update: I ended up picking up an A4 mkII yesterday and it did sort of effectively cure me of my desire for an Xpander for now. A lot of the complex mod sounds that I admire on the Xpander weren't very hard to approximate with 3 envelopes, AM, weird sync, and two LFOs per voice. Even without touching the sequencer it just kind of... sounds good and is fun.

So thanks to all the wigglers in this thread that put the idea in my brain. Cheers, all.
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Ned Bouhalassa
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Ned Bouhalassa » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:12 am

I would highly recommend Hydrasynth. With the right programming, it can sound like an Expander, no doubt.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Daveyp » Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:48 pm

I second the Hydrasynth. Very easy to get it to sound like an Oberheim.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by maxwellravitz » Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:10 pm

I own a Hydrasynth and love it, but strongly disagree that it's easy to make sound like an Oberheim. The Hydrasynth is very digital sounding, although in a great way.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Nelson Baboon » Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:14 pm

I have friends who are not familiar with synths at all, and would say that the hydrasynth is pretty much indistinguishable from an oberheim.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by ThisDudeAbides » Wed Oct 28, 2020 8:05 pm

i hemmed and hawed and decided to just buy an Xpander. It hurts that I paid current going rates, but 'buy once, cry once' right?

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Blairio » Thu Oct 29, 2020 12:41 am

The Xpanders and Matrix12's have a sound it is very hard to replicate. The Matrix 6 and Matrix 1000 come close, but even they lack the modulation complexity of the Xpander / M12.

I envy you your Xpander!

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Analog Prophet » Mon Nov 09, 2020 5:09 am

I had Xpander and Matrix1000 simultaneously (but sold the M1000). In my ears they are not even close. I don’t say that to appear as snobby but it was a not that small difference.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by clusterchord » Wed Nov 11, 2020 8:18 am

hydrasynth and xpander?

can't imagine two synths with more different texture and tone. one sounds unapologetically digital, mid scooped with fizzy and sometimes harsh top end. another a buzzy but warm curtis affair from mid eighties, with wonderful warm low mids, saturation the works..

emulating arhitecture and capabilities is tad overstated imo, and will only get you that far. if hydrasynth is good enough stand-in, you might as well use any VST or digital synth that happens to have a multimode filter and decent mod matrix and call it Xpander. wont sound like one tho.

imo you really buy one for its tone married to a certain degree of flexibility, that is rare in polyphonics. however, if your goal is only the latter, then no point in limiting yourself with a mid 80s polyanalog with low resolution sluggish software generated modulation.

its the whole package that has appeal. or not.



i sold my xpander bcs i strayed from things i think it does best. in context of vintage analog, i prefer the tone of earlier, simpler obie units, for medium complexity in polyanalog form and dynamics i kept reaching for andromeda, and then, going deeper, in domain of complex and evolving, i preferred the sonic results, the flexibility and workflow of eurorack. i ended having very little need for polyphony or recall here. also, the standard keyboard interface input, with midi gate/velo/pitch or the gate/cv, becomes a bottleneck.

still, none of those sounds like xpander, and i sometimes miss it. still love the special ensembley sounds i made on it, voxy formant, notch and 1pole strings, fm pads, bells, drones/layers etc, when its strenghts coincide with your needs and sonic aesthetic, its a lovely machine, but in the end i just wasn't using it enough to warrant keeping it. which shouldn't stop anyone else of course.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Dr Gris » Wed Nov 11, 2020 5:53 pm

Modal 008?

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by yeskeys » Thu Nov 12, 2020 7:37 pm

I personally have owned and sold 3 Xpanders, thinking each time it would be different. The truth is they are a pain to program, don't sound all that fat, and your money can be better spent. On what, I don't know your needs.
Even though I loath Arturia, I bought their Matrix12 VST when it was half off and my itch is scratched. Why don't you try that?

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by folpon » Thu Nov 12, 2020 9:49 pm

I'm gonna level with you, man: I think in part we can't discount the fact that a weird-looking cyberpunk slab with pulsating green screens like an IBM 386 monitor just frankly looks really cool.

Also is fatness really the be all end all? Every mix I do has like 50 tracks. I'm cutting as many frequencies out as I can, not wishing I had more, tbh.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Synthacon » Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:02 pm

Xpander...... Mmmmmm I remember my first, bought because everyone used to go on about them. However they are a pain to programme, simply I would loose sight of where I was.

Now at the time I also had things like the Synthex, which gave me those poly type sounds and a rather nice multimode filter, yes there are 15 in the Xapnder, but most are not great. I also had some early Euro stuff, Doepfer and Analogue Systems plus 100M and 2600 etc which gave me the hands on and visible work flow for complex patching.

The Xapnder sat in a middle ground, complex analogue poly thats a bit clunky, the same as the A6, I could just not gel with the UI.

As for the Oberheim sound... thats SEM, OB1 and OB8 for me, the Xpander didn't sound like those.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by acidbob » Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:41 am

I would say all the newer Elektron machines can do this, although this is done by saving patches and per step changing them or per step

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by tIB » Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:45 am

Appreciate its all about opinions but I'm surprised to see the xpanders interface bashed - it's probably the best non one knob per function synth I've used. A very quick and intuitive workflow.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Synthacon » Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:04 am

tIB wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 2:45 am
Appreciate its all about opinions but I'm surprised to see the xpanders interface bashed - it's probably the best non one knob per function synth I've used. A very quick and intuitive workflow.
I think it is some times that people just do not gel with a synth, I couldn't with the Xapnder, the same as the Andromeda and even the Jupiter 8, had two and just did not get on with it at all. We are all different and that makes me glad otherwise we would all have exactly the same gear in our systems.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Portabella » Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:19 am

not sure if it has been mentioned yet but you should check out Abstrakt Instruements VS-1

https://abstraktinstruments.com/vs-1/

it has the flexibility of the xpander, the oberheim sound and much more.
and its future proof and won't need service every year

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Sir Ruff » Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:17 am

Portabella wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:19 am
not sure if it has been mentioned yet but you should check out Abstrakt Instruements VS-1

https://abstraktinstruments.com/vs-1/

it has the flexibility of the xpander, the oberheim sound and much more.
and its future proof and won't need service every year
The VS-1 is going to be fantastic, and if the Oberheim sound is critical, then that would be the one to go for over the Xpander. The "sound" of the xpander to me is those fuzzy 1-pole and combo filters, but it also nails the 4-pole OB-8 sound pretty perfectly so the palette is very broad. The only thing it doesn't do well is the classic OB 2-pole sound. Don't get me wrong, it's 2-pole LP filter sound is awesome, it just doesn't sound like a previous OB incarnation. My least fav filters are the BP... they just aren't very musically useful somehow.

And again, the modulation aspect can't be overlooked. A lot of it is overkill these days, but just simple things like modulating resonance or an envelope's stage time (probably?) won't be possible on the VS-1. But this is a big question for me in terms of how they compare, and I wonder if the VS-1 has the potential to unseat my M-12.

Also, as falcon mention, there is something truly great about sitting in front of all those LEDs and plugging away at buttons and values. Feels very star trek. I'm also probably repeating myself here but I don't think there is a better non-knobby interface out there.
Last edited by Sir Ruff on Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Blairio » Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:38 am

Sir Ruff wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:17 am
Portabella wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:19 am
not sure if it has been mentioned yet but you should check out Abstrakt Instruements VS-1

https://abstraktinstruments.com/vs-1/

it has the flexibility of the xpander, the oberheim sound and much more.
and its future proof and won't need service every year
The VS-1 is going to be fantastic, and if the Oberheim sound is critical, then that would be the one to go for over the Xpander. The "sound" of the xpander to me is those fuzzy 1-pole and combo filters....
I think that's right. I once described the sound of the Matrix 12 as 'furry / fuzzy', and my friend look at me like I had gone mad. Its true though.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by soundsubs » Fri Nov 13, 2020 11:03 am

I love it (again after owning/selling 2x M12's) and especially love it with a patch randomizer, but forgot that its an analog synth that's 100% menu diving.
You want a filter sweep? TOO BAD
You want to modulate something? ITS ONLY 4 BUTTON PUSHES AND SOME KNOB TURNS AWAY
You want to try 15 filters? YOU CAN BUT YOU'LL ONLY USE 1

Also agreed that the Arturia version--- while software-- is pretty damn good and certainly useful at 1/100th the price.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Analog Prophet » Sat Nov 14, 2020 4:43 am

The sound is classic old school unlike new polys (except the new Prophet 5/10 rev 4). It’s something with the attack, the core and focus of the sound. It took me a period of time to learn how to program and take benefit of the many possibilities to make it shine. The Xpander doesn’t replace other polys and it can’t be replaces by other polys.

If you don’t have the latest firmware I can recommend to get it (Ebay) with new possibilities to the voice panning in single voice mode, transpose etc.
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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by m0rb1d » Sat Nov 14, 2020 8:07 pm

I totally agree on it not quite having the constant wow factor of something like an older Obie or an old Prophet 5, but it has something Super special about it. I was prepared to be way more bummed out about the knobs and menu diving, but it's really not that bad and quite an easy instrument to program. Filter sweeps weren't a problem for me especially when my monitors are at a decent volume and can't hear the dreadful sound of the knobs. The string sounds are jaw dropping and have a super organic movement to them that is god damn beautiful. :hail:
So far it has interfaced fine with CV from my 4u Serge as well through the pedal inputs.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by MisterJ » Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:02 pm

After reading through some of this thread, I got interested in my Xpander and started programing some new sounds. For the past few years, I've been using it mostly layered with other synths in sequences where I use the complex modulations to get a certain textured randomness in the mix that is still in sync and harmony with everything else and contrasts with the quantization that comes from the arpeggiators, sequencers and drum machines. I'd been altering my existing patches to fit in with whatever sequence I was working on but I hadn't made any patches from scratch for a long time.

So, in becoming reaquainted with Xpander programing, the first thing I have to say, is that it is flexible enough to do just about anything analog you can think of, even if it does do some things better than others. If you can't get what you want out of it, you aren't putting enough thought and imagination into what you're doing. Example, from the basic patch, I put both oscillators on pulse waves with each getting PWM from a different source. I added a little FM modulated by velocity so one oscillator woud buzz a little when the keys are hit hard. Then on to the filters where I put a total of 4 modulation sources on cutoff and two on resonance. The LFOs were moduated both by the mod wheel and velocity so that they would modulate deeper and faster with increased velocity. At that point, I had a beautifully complex modulation going, comparable to what you can get with a modular synthesizer. I hit the 20 source limit and then made several variants of that patch with different filters. In answer to the comment about the bandpass filter being useless, not so. I went from 2 pole lowpass to 2 pole bandpass and just had to adjust the cuttoff a bit and turn up the resonance to get a full sound. When I went to 4 pole bandpass, the sound got really thin but, with so much filtered out, I just had to further increase the resonance and turn on the triangle waves in addition to the pulse waves to feed it more frequencies, tweak modulation levels a bit, and the resulting sound could easily be described as "phat" and that's with the modulation wheel at zero. At full modulation, it goes way beyond anything as simple as "phat". A bandpass filter is only dull if it is static with low Q. With both cutoff and resonance modulated and moving, the sound gets rich and interesting. There is also a workaround to just using one filter type at a time. Just set up several single patches with different filters and combine them into a multi patch. Even though the Xpander only has 6 voices, it is fully multi timbral.

The other thing the Xpander has that I use a lot is the CV inputs. I take the CV and gate outputs from my Sequential Pro One and drive one of the Xpander voices with it's quirky sequencer and convert the CVs to MIDI and sequence them with it's CV to MIDI conversion capability. I can play the other voices polypohically with a MIDI keyboard at the same time which can get pretty wild, each hand playing a different keyboard and both being fed to a sequencer on different MIDI channels. I'm only using one of the CV inputs right now but I'm working on a restoration project that will eventually give me a couple more and the Xpander can handle up to six and convert them all to MIDI. That would work quite well with a modular.

I've had my Xpander since 1994. It wasn't cheap or easy to find even back then and I've never even thought about selling it. It's too good to ever part with and nothing I can think of would ever take it's place.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by Nelson Baboon » Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:10 pm

MisterJ wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:02 pm
,,, If you can't get what you want out of it, you aren't putting enough thought and imagination into what you're doing. ,,,
I have my curmudgeon credentials, and i must say....
at this point in my life, as soon as I read the above, I stop reading.

i have heard this nonsense about practically every electronic instrument that I don't care for, or only care for partially, and i find it to be an arrogant, patronizing position.

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Re: Oberheim Xpander and modern analogue synths

Post by MisterJ » Mon Nov 16, 2020 12:18 pm

Nelson Baboon wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:10 pm
MisterJ wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:02 pm
,,, If you can't get what you want out of it, you aren't putting enough thought and imagination into what you're doing. ,,,
I have my curmudgeon credentials, and i must say....
at this point in my life, as soon as I read the above, I stop reading.

i have heard this nonsense about practically every electronic instrument that I don't care for, or only care for partially, and i find it to be an arrogant, patronizing position.
Ultimately, making music is about what's inside of us in terms of technique and creativity. The gear is just a means. I've actually taken some of the negative comments about the Xpander as a challenge and am trying to push it a bit. It's true that some gear doesn't gel with some people. If you want an Xpander, you are getting it because you know something about sound design and synthesizer programing and have some sort of love of analog. Your not going to buy one for the cool presets it comes with. I came out of a school of thought that the first thing to do when you get a new synthesizer is to wipe out all the presets and make your own sounds. I started with Serge Modulars back in the day and wanted an Xpander because it was the only polyphonic synth out there that had anything comparable to a modular in terms of programmability. I had never even heard it, or any Oberheim, before I bought it. I just wanted to program it and knew it would be capable of doing beautiful things. I wasn't disappointed.

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