Be relieved, budget-constrained synth addicts. Now, instead of coveting the OB-6 six-voice analog synthesizer in keyboard form and working out what you’d need to sell to get it, you can … covet the OB-6 six-voice analog synthesizer in desktop form and work out what you’d need to sell to get it.

Or, alternatively, if you have extra money lying around, you can get twelve-voice polyphony by chaining two OB-6 together — like, for instance, a desktop unit and a keyboard unit. I say if you can’t presently afford that, you should fire your booking agent. (“But I have two kids!” “Don’t care. Some blog told me I don’t have enough gear.”)

But – hey, wait a minute. That single six-voice synth is now starting to look like a pretty good buy. US$2,299 is the projected minimum advertised price for the USA. That’s not exactly cheap, but at that price you get a deep, versatile synth with six voices you could use for more or less everything – at a price that starts to compete with some two-voice analog models.


And it is something special – enough so to talk about it again. It’s got a beautifully designed front panel, worthy of the “knob-per-function” advertisement. And it has a sound engine inspired by one of the more unique synths in history, the Oberheim SEM. And that’s worth saying,because it sounds really, really good. It’s also I think an eminently playable design. And it’s great that in 2016, synth news involves a collaboration between Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim.

It also marks the beginning of what I hope will be a trend.

Desktop versions.

Especially as people start to assemble hardware studios again, having to buy the keyboard manual all over again is a bit bonkers.

Plus, the OB-6 in desktop form is really portable – a hair under 6 kg (13 lb).

So… wait. Maybe I do need to work out how to buy one. It’s coming early fall.

The price may change – I suppose the UK could secede from the EU, California could leave the US, Trump could detach the US from Earth and rocket it into space – you know, probably in any of those scenarios, you’ll really want an OB-6 to unwind, so I’m not going to worry about a slight change in MAP. Looking forward to the fall.



Speaking of Dave Smith, Dave and friends, not to detract from the OB-6, but I heard a newer model Prophet (was it actually the Prophet ’08?) at the James Blake concert at Sónar. And it sounded utterly beautiful. It’s wonderful when an electronic instrument can sound as sweet as a talented singer.

Dave did a great interview where he talked about his favorite music and his take on synths and history.

We live in wonderful times with some wonderful inventors around.

  • Tim DiGravina

    Great news. And funny, informative concise delivery of that news, Mr. Kirn. 🙂

  • heinrichz

    So we’re back now with electronic instruments for rich kids only. Electronic music production was supposed to have a democratizing effect for good, but of course there is a lot of money to be made while cashing in on the economic inequality of society. I hope that people will understand that this kind of gear is not necessary to make high quality synth sounds and riveting music. This from a guy who’s been wotking with a whole room of analog gear for many years.

    • Polite Society

      Boutique instruments are always for people with money. Same in any music instrument. It’s okay though, people can still make electronic music on little to no money AND there are heaps of amazing low cost synths and other amazing musical tools for everyone. The only sad thing about it is that I cannot possess them all.

    • Random Chance

      People do understand. But people also usually don’t get worked up about social and economic injustice (which is a very real thing, I grant you that) when talking about synths. Actually, they do. I don’t know why exactly. And what’s with the “democatizing effect” of electronic music production? Think about how the whole thing started: Few (if any) commercially available pieces of gear sold at extraordinary prices that only rich kids or grown-ups could afford. There was nothing democratic about that.

    • If one thing, than the “democratizing of music” has proven that shit music is shit music, because it is made by shit musicians. And good music is good music, because it is made by good musicians. That is: creative people, who dare to push envelopes and boundaries, use, re-use and abuse any piece of gear, any tool, any instrument to produce interesting and inspiring sounds, beats and melodies. And if Youtube is good for one thing, than that it proves with a gazillion shaky home made videos that you can produce great results with the tiniest and cheapest tools and instruments right there.

      In short: I do not worry that a cheaper-than-the-keyboard but still-too-expensive-for-many new DSI desktop synth will rock that boat. My first thought was: Why should I get this OB-6, when I can get this for less than half?

    • wetterberg

      Well as far as I can tell Korg hasn’t stopped making the Volca series, laptops are cheaper than they’ve ever been, even our phones are plenty powerful for music production.

      Should that mean we stop having deluxe products? Or stop talking about it aw hell no.

      Let those who have more money be able to enjoy having fancy kit, and let the rest of us salivate over it.

    • Michael Di Francesco

      Yeah man true, the idea is more important than the gear but high end stuff has never been cheap. Regardless its a beautiful thing and sounds awesome. I have a broken OBXa here and since i got this i really don’t have the desire to have it fixed…… it sounds new and its reliable, and now that the CEM 3310 is being produced who knows what the future holds. An exciting time to be into synths virtual or hardware…..

  • Hey

    “Dave did a great interview”

    That link just leads to Beatport. What am i missing ?