Shear Electronics Relic, the bi-timbral OB-X clone made a comeback at SynthPlex 22

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Shear Electronics Relic, the fascinating bi-timbral OB-X clone made a comeback at SynthPlex 22 with a new look, more features, and more. 

In 2017, I attended the NAMM Show in Anaheim. It was my first time and had a lot of fun. Or as they say in Bavaria: a good Gaudi. Hidden between pedal, amp, and Chinese cable manufacturers, the then 18-year-old engineer Jacob Brashears exhibited the Relic. An authentic discrete analog clone of the Oberheim OB-X. A time when neither Oberheim nor Behringer was working on projects.

I wasn’t just fascinated by his project, but also by his enthusiasm and understanding of analog circuits. After NAMM 17, the project went quiet for a long time. At SynthPlex 22 there was now a sign of life. Jacob had a small booth where he showcased the current prototypes.

Shear Electronics Relic Synthplex

Shear Electronics Relic Synthplex 22

Yes, the Relic project is alive, fantastic news and it’s even bigger than the unit from 2017. As a reminder: Relic is a discreetly built analog clone of the legendary Oberheim OB-X. According to Jakob, it will be a super authentic clone in terms of concept and sound. The features follows the year 2022 and the synth has a lot more built-in than its original unit.

The new relic now has 8-voices, is bi-timbral, and has four LFOs and 4 envelopes. Then, it offers two different filter topologies, one that gives you the classic state-variable filtering characteristics with SEM morphing capabilities and a normal mode. There are still some details missing because the filter structure in the Relic is very deep.

The look of the first Relic was very reminiscent of the Star Trek bridge. The current version doesn’t look much less futuristic, having doubled in size.

Shear Electronics Relic Synthplex 22

The Relic completely dispenses with a screen but uses a unique concept with a light-bar, buttons, and touch-responsive rotary knobs. For example, each modulation layer (env1, env2…) has a different color. Or you can find out what value the parameter currently has with a light touch on the knob without moving the whole knob

Unfortunately, there was no sound demo for the new Relic. That’s because the current engine is in calibration process. Jakob pointed to the NAMM 2017 demos which are close to what you get in the new one.

Even if the synth is completely out of my budget, I’m very happy to see that the project with Jakob continues.

The official price and the release date are TBA. But Jacob says that they have enough components to do a limited run of 8 machines with estimated shipping by March 2023. If you are interested to buy one, you need to get yourself on the waiting list. He suggests it will cost at least $6500 USD.

More information here: Shear Electronics 

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  1. Considering that run is limited to 8, with an inflated cost of $6,500 (clearly economies of scale at play here) from an unknown entity, and missed opportunities with such a large faceplate yet they chose a minuscule screen to share vital data, this is still a hard pass to an otherwise truly impressive feat.

      • I hope this synth is wildly successful and you clearly have a bright future in this segment if you wish to pursue it. However if I may, a $6,500 synth would have greatly benefited from an upgrade of that still relatively small screen. OLED modules are typically no more than $60 per unit for the larger variety, even in smaller quantities. And please, for the sake of science and further misinformation, do not give breath to this inane argument of analogue vs digital. Tonality can be replicated, duplicated, and creating in either technology.

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