Monday, March 26, 2012

Oberheim OB-1A and OB-X "A family that plays together..." ad, Contemporary Keyboard, 1979

Oberheim OB-1A and OB-X "A family that plays together..." 1-page black and white advertisement from page 43 in the October 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

I actually posted this ad waaaaaay back in February 2009 (over three years ago!) but wasn't commenting on ads back then. Now, since this ad is kinda just sequentially fitting into the Oberheim ads I've been posting lately, I thought it deserved a bit of attention.

The main reason this ad deserves attention is that stylized hand-drawn Oberheim logo and logo-type in the bottom right hand corner. Blows me away. *THAT* version of the logo belongs on a t-shirt. Somebody get on that and I'll be first in line to buy one. 4 true!

The second reason this ad deserves a second look is that readers finally got to see a "final" OB-X. What I mean is (and like I pointed out in my last blog post on the OB-X) up until now most readers of CK had only seen what I called "prototype" versions in CK. These variations included different versions of the OB-X and Oberheim logos spread about in various locations on the front of the synth. But the photo in this ad finally captures the real OB-X. Delicious.

Finally,  this ad deserves more attention because I had not realized just how rare the OB-1A was. I tried to find some quick information on the differences between the original OB-1 model and the OB-1A using Google, but the top hits I got in Google Images were for a bunch of other Retrosynthads' posts (yay!), and the Web search top results brought up only a few significant links.

The main noticeable difference is, as the ad states, the "new improved chassis design and graphics", updating the synth's looks to fit in well with the newest direction of the Oberheim look - the OB-X.  As much as I'm in to the color black of the original, I really like the updated design. I haven't played on it, so can't tell if it is more user-friendly to the eye in terms of zero'ing in specific knobs and dials for tweeking sounds, but it sure looks like it would be.

The ad also states a few other updates from the original OB-1 design, including switchable 115/230 volt power and vibrato input pedal. Meh.

As for other tidbits about the OB-1A from around the Web that may give hints to differences between the two synths, two pages in particular popped out at me. The first was the Oberheim Files page on I can't recall visiting this page before, but it contains a wack of great info including wiring block diagrams for both the OB-1 and OB-1A. And they do look slightly different. Now, this doesn't mean they *are* different. Just thought I would point it out.

The other page I found on the Web was (of course... :) a MATRIXSYNTH OB-1A auction post from April 2008. One of the great things about his auction posts is that he adds the photos to Flickr, where we get to see a lot more close-up photos of the synth. It's not a lot of photos, but I'll take what I can get when it comes to the OB-1A. Yum.

If you haven't noticed, I'm kinda a fan of the OB-1 and its kin. But all is not perfect. The biggest annoyance I have with this synthesizer is that although the back of the unit indicated that it was an OB-1A, it was still labelled "OB-1" on the front of the synth. I will always think of them as two different beasts, even if the differences are slight. 

Others aren't as convinced as I am that these two products should remain totally separate. For example, Oberheim Electronic's Wikipedia page labels a photo of an OB-1A as an OB-1. Even my fav, Vintage Synth Explorer, doesn't admit to its existence on their timeline or the OB-1 page. Yet.  

I know its not a big deal, but it still bugs me just a little bit.  :D  

Whether you call it an OB-1 or OB-1A, it won't change the fact that this ad only appeared twice, October 1979 and February 1980, and then this was the last readers would see from the OB-1 in ads.

I miss you already. Lots.

*cue tear running down face*

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