Abstrakt Instruments VS-1 Synthesizer Now On Kickstarter, Revival Of The Oberheim OB-X

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Abstrakt Instruments VS-1 is a new polyphonic analog Synthesizer with up to 8 voices based on the circuits of the legendary Oberheim OB-X.

What a week already and the NAMM hasn’t started yet. The next big news comes from Abstrakt Instruments that have announced a clone of the Oberheim OB-X Synthesizer but with modern technology and as a DIY kit. According to the developer, the VS-1 combines vintage analog sound with modern features, designed for those that find modern synths over-perfected.

The core is divided into two sections: a discrete analog and a digital side with a 600MHz ARM-Cortex-M7 based system that includes all the memory and I/O interfacing. The VS-1 will be available in a 4, 6 and 8 voice version.

Abstrakt Instruments VS-1

Analog Engine

Based on the discrete analog design of the iconic Oberheim™ OB-X, the VS-1 utilizes many of the same design trade-offs, including a signal path comprised of discrete transistors, op-amps, & 3080 OTA’s utilizing through-hole components. Combined with modern digital control, a clean & simple interface, and packed into a 3U rack… this is the essence of the VS-1.

Each voice consists of two discrete analog VCO’s and a 12dB OTA Filter (LP/BP/HP) and VCA. The VCO offers saw and pulse width can be adjusted from 0% to 100%. VCO 1 can be modulated by VCO2 (crossmod) and VCO2 can by hard-synced to the frequency of VCO1. VCO’s can also be modulated by two analog LFO’s, two digital LFO’s per-voice, and a DADSR 5-stage envelope generator. It comes also with an analog white & pink noise generator.

12dB OTA Filter The classic resonant 12dB multimode filter is the desert island filter, simply awesome in a polyphonic synth. The classic OB-X had a fixed lowpass mode, the OB-R has lowpass, bandpass & highpass modes. The VCA’s are based on the 3080 OTA and also includes a stereo panning VCA that can be modulated by several sources. The spread control make it easy to pan voices across the stereo field.

On the modulation side, you get for each voice a dedicated analog ADSR for the filter and VCA. In addition, there is a global five-stage DADSR with (20) modulation destinations. Two global analog LFO’s also onboard with triangle, square and S&H waveforms can be sent to VCO1 frequency and pulse width, VCO2 frequency and pulse width, and filter cutoff.

Analog polyphonic portamento gives a natural clustering effect between voices as the analog components are never perfectly matched. Although this requires many additional components it has been included – another example of small imperfections that impart character. In addition, digital portamento with both fixed rate and fixed time modes is also included.

Digital Side

Besides the analog engine, the VS-1 also offers a powerful digital core based on a 600MHz ARM-Cortex-M7-based System on Module. Here, it offers two additional LFOs per voice with triangle, sawtooth, reverse sawtooth, square, and random waves with (20) destinations.  LFO’s also have dedicated attack-decay envelopes and can be free-running or synced to the arpeggiator, sequencer, or MIDI clock for tempo-synced effects. But that’s not all.

Further, it offers different key modes (bi-timbral, single, split or layer), up to 15 alternate tunings and an autotune function. It also features a 64-step polyphonic sequencer with up to 240 patterns, different arpeggiator modes, and the possibility to create chords. MIDI Channel aftertouch can be routed to (16) destinations including VCO1 frequency, VCO2 frequency, filter cutoff, loudness, and LFO modulation amount. Eight velocity response curves have also been included to suit playing styles and to compensate for controllers with non-linear aftertouch response. MPE is not yet on board but a stretch goal. A high-resolution OLED display gives you visual feedback.

Abstrakt Instruments VS-1 back

Connections Of The Abstrakt Instruments VS-1

  • Main Audio Outputs—Unbalanced, 1⁄4 inch audio outputs. These are the main stereo outputs for the synth. They carry Part 1 and also Part 2 if no cables are connected to the Aux Audio Output jacks.
  •  Aux Audio Outputs—Unbalanced, 1⁄4 inch audio outputs. Connect audio cables to these jacks if you want separate stereo outputs for Part 2 (for splits and Layers).
  •  Audio Inputs—Unbalanced, 1⁄4 inch audio inputs. These are inputs to the filters of Voices 1 & 2. Each input has a preamp with gain.
  •  CV & Gate I/O—Voice 1 only.
  •  Filter CV Input—Part 1 only
  •  Assignable CV Inputs—Assign to any parameter.
  •  USB Host—Bidirectional MIDI communication with a computer. The VS-1 is a Class Compliant USB device and does not require additional drivers when used with Mac OS or Windows.
  •  USB Peripheral—Direct connection to a usb-enabled midi keyboard controller.
  •  MIDI In, Out, and Thru—Standard 5-pin MIDI DIN connectors.

Abstrakt Instruments VS-1 is available now for pre-order on Kickstarter for $995 USD as a DIY kit. You need to pledge up to $3495 USD for the built version of the 8 voice version.

More information here: Abstrakt Instruments

Hardware Synthesizer News

NAMM 2020 News


  1. Sounds and look great. Does that price include the same terrible after purchase support that customers had to endure with the Avalon bass synth??

    • Apparently they intend to hire one person, yes a single person for after sale support as noted in their Kickstarter video. As impressive as this synth sounds, I’m still a bit surprised that it has been funded.

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