CatSynth Pic: Gracie and Oberheim OB-Xa

Gracie is back and performing her duties as the quality manager for Synthetic Dreamscapes.

This Oberheim OB-Xa is not totally rebuilt yet, but our Quality Manager just had to get in on the action early!

The OB-Xa is one of the classic Oberheim analog synths and was featured in lots of early 1980s synth-heavy pop music. For me personally, it would probably be more interesting to have the SEM filter to complement the other instruments, but it still has a sound that would be instantly familiar to fans of this era.

The OB-Xa is a massive analog synthesizer with a very familiar and classic Oberheim sound. Its sound, size and power are very similar to the Prophet 5 from Sequential. However this one has up to 8 voices which can be split, layered and stored!

The OB-X was very similar to the OB-Xa except that its voices could not be split or layered and, more significantly, the OB-X had a lowpass-only discrete SEM 12dB/oct state variable filter, which had a great and classic Oberheim sound. The OB-Xa changed that in an attempt to economize manufacturing and increase stability by switching to CEM3320 Curtis chips for its filters. The Xa offered two switchable filter modes: 12 dB/oct (2-pole) or 24 dB/oct (4-pole). This hardware change resulted in a more agressive sound, not quite as creamy as the OBX original, but what still became a “bread and butter” sound of the Oberheim line.

Vintage Synth Explorer: http://www.vintagesynth.com/oberheim/obxa.php

CatSynth Pic: Gracie and Korg Poly 61

Gracie is back, this time with a Korg Poly 61 synthesizer. From Alsún Ní Chasaide (Alison Cassidy) of Synthetic Dreamscapes, who repaired the instrument.

This unusual Korg Poly-61 with factory MIDI retrofit (not Poly-61m) is finally finished and working perfectly. As usual, the last 20% takes 50% of the time!


In this case, the non-working panel buttons were traced to severe oxidation around two connectors on the MIDI board. Both pin headers *and* connectors had to be completely replaced / rebuilt for this to be long-term reliable. Also, one new rubber key contact set was needed, and Andrej’s new CPU board from yesterday.


And after a tune-up – perfect!! Ready to go back to its local owner 👍🏼😊

Gracie is the Quality Engineer for these repair projects 😸🎹

CatSynth Pic: Gracie, Moog, LinnDrum, Arp, PPG

Gracie is back, and inspecting the current crop of repaired instruments, including a Moog Subsequent 37, LinnDrum, PPG Wave, and what appears to be an Arp Odyssey (1st version). She always has quite the collection.

From Alsún Ní Chasaide (Alison Cassidy) via Facebook.

CatSynth Pic: Gracie and Moog Little Phatty

Gracie returns, this time with a restored Moog Little Phatty. From Alsún Ní Chasaide (Alison Cassidy) via Facebook.

The QA manager has given this her seal of approval!

CatSynth Pic: Gracie repairs a Roland MC-202

After spending so much time around vintage synths, Gracie is ready to take on the fine art of repairing. From Alsún Ní Chasaide (Alison Cassidy) on Facebook.

Gracie feels ready to take on this broken Roland MC-202. Good luck!!

CatSynth Pic: Queen of the Synth Hill

Grace returns to CatSynth, this time presiding as queen atop a rather impressive collection of vintage synths. We see Moog, Oberheim, PPG, Synergy, and more!

From our friend Alsún Ní Chasaide (Alilson Cassidy) on Facebook.

You see Grace’s other posts here.

CatSynth Pic: Gracie and Vintage Synths (Oberheim, PPG, DK Synergy)

Gracie returns with an impressive collection of vintage synths, including multiple Oberheim modules, a PPG Wave, and a Synergy.  

From Alsún Ní Chasaide (Alison Cassidy) on Facebook.

How does she even get up there??

You can see Gracie’s many appearances on CatSynth via this link.

CatSynth Pics: Gracie and Ensoniq SQ-80

Gracie and Ensoniq SQ-80

Gracie is back!  This time with an Ensoniq SQ-80 synthesizer. From Alsún Ní Chasaide (Alison Cassidy) via Facebook.

It seems that Gracie really likes this particular synth 😸

The SQ-80 is an interesting synth that came out about the same time as the Ensoniq EPS (which along with its successor the ASR-10 were mainstays of my studio until about 2000).  From Vintage Synth Explorer:

The SQ-80 is basically a reved-up ESQ-1 with a total of 75 waveforms, a 61-note keyboard with velocity & aftertouch, floppy disk drive for storing patches and sequences, and an enhanced sequencer. Great for organs, analog-type sounds, pads and sound effects. Like the classic ESQ-1, the SQ-80 functions in providing analog-type 4-pole lowpass filtering and editing of digital waveforms. Each voice can combine up to 3 of the 75 waveforms. These waveforms include multi-sampled transient attack waves such as violin bow, plectrum picks, mallet, hammer, breath attacks and percussive sounds. There are also 5 sampled drum sets. Three LFOs are onboard for some pretty wild modulation of the sounds you create or edit.

CatSynth Pic: Gracie and Polymoog

Our feline pal Gracie certainly knows how to strike a pose.  Here we see her laying claim to a Polymoog that is in for repairs.  From Alsún Ní Chasaide (Alison Cassidy) via Facebook.

It’s only been here a few hours, and she’s claimed it as her own! #PolyMoog #PolyMew

The Polymoog is a rare and somewhat anomalous instrument from Moog Music’s lineup.  In addition to being polyphonic, it’s focused on a series of presets.  It was intended in many ways to complement for the classic Moog mono synths – the nice wide flat (and presumably warm) surface where Gracie is sitting was designed to accommodate a Model D or similar instrument.  They are also known to be rather temperamental and high-maintenance beasts.  From Vintage Synth Explorer:

Unique among Moog’s lineup, the Polymoog is not at all like the Minimoog or any of the other mono-synths Moog has become famous for. Instead, it was designed to complement Moog’s monophonic synthesizers. It’s a unique and finicky product, the brain child of David Luce instead of Dr. Bob Moog himself. But like all Moog products, this isn’t an ordinary instrument — it’s the Polymoog and it sounds fantastic for what it is.

CatSynth Pics: Synergy Cat

Gracie returns.  This time with not one but two of the rare Synergy synthesizer from Digital Keyboards.  Submitted by our friend Alsún Ní Chasaide via Facebook.

Gracie is absolutely adorable with her poses on the synth 😻.  But she has also chosen a very interesting instrument.  The Synergy is a hardware additive synthesizer with 32 digital oscillators and various modulation sources.  Additive synthesis requires a lot of resources in hardware (i.e., compared to FM), and the Synergy carried a hefty price tag.  There aren’t that many of them in operation today, so it’s quite amazing to see two of them in the same place at once.

From Vintage Synth Explorer:

The Synergy is a digital additive synthesizer manufactured from 1982 to 1985. Of the approximately 700 to 800 that were produced, it is estimated that less than 100 may still be in operation today. In the 1970’s, Bell Laboratories developed a high-speed additive oscillator system which was used by Digital Keyboards, a US-based division of the Italian synth/organ maker Crumar, to create a sophisticated additive synthesizer known as the Crumar General Development System (GDS). The GDS originally sold for about $27,500. The Synergy was essentially a lower-cost version of the GDS, without all the programmability of the GDS, and a price tag closer to $5,300…

…Although the Synergy is not programmable, it does feature 24 tone presets (with many more available via 24-tone cartridges). The sounds are generated by additive synthesis and phase modulation using 32 digital oscillators, computer controlled, and allocated dynamically. Polyphony is variable, depending on the selected tone preset.

You can see some of Gracie’s previous appearances via this link.