It’s the big one – best in show, best picture, performance of the year; you get the idea. The Product of the Year award is MusicTech’s most coveted prize and is given to the product that’s truly earned its headline spot. For 2022, that’s the Oberheim OB-X8.
Tom Oberheim’s collaboration with the late synth legend Dave Smith is a spectacle. We’ve seen plenty of revered brands reprise their classics – or indeed, other manufacturers emulating them – but for Oberheim to roll three of its OB-series synths into one drop-dead gorgeous package is magnificent. Its immaculate design instantly imbues nostalgia and the sound is simply wonderful. It’s exactly what you’d hope for in an Oberheim synth – the first in 40 years.
In our review, we said: “Turning on the OB-X8 and selecting any preset at random, an entire lineage of synthesis excellence flows effortlessly out of our speakers,” we said. “But the OB-X8 is far more than a simple reissue or reboot. For one, it adds a myriad of mod-cons into the mix, including a gorgeous FATAR-keybed endowed, velocity-sensitive keyboard with aftertouch, slots for over 600 user presets, USB MIDI and – purportedly a Dave Smith suggestion – a Vintage dial. This wonder knob adds an element of old-school unpredictability and parameter slop to the OB-X8’s otherwise squeaky-clean behaviour.”
We could go on – and we will. Read our feature on why the Oberheim OB-X8 is the definitive product of 2022 for MusicTech.
Elektron made tremendous waves in 2022 with the Syntakt groovebox. Not only does this compact collision of analogue and digital synthesis and impacting drum sounds, but a recent update also added Song Mode for performing whole tracks, passages and even sets with a single gesture. Factor in its fun performance tools and it’s easy to see why this versatile 12-track instrument quickly became a beloved gadget for many bedroom producers.
In our review, we said: “Durable, flexible and excellent-sounding at home in the studio or onstage, Elektron has done it again with Syntakt, showing no signs of loosening its hold on the hearts of producers across the electronic and experimental music world.”
Arturia V Collection 9
As if this plugin bundle wasn’t already incredible enough, Arturia has now brought two more classic instruments to the fray. Emulations of the Korg MS-20 and Ensoniq SQ80 join the likes of the Minimoog Model D, the Yamaha CS-80, the Fender Rhodes, plus there’s a new pair of Arturia’s Augmented virtual instruments and updates. V Collection 9 comprises a whopping 33 instruments for £599, putting an unprecedented number of vintage sounds at your fingertips for far less than the physical counterparts would cost you.
In our review, we said: “These instruments feel less like attempts to replace their iconic hardware predecessors than unbridled celebrations of them, quirks and all. And where they represent original architecture, it’s with an explorative approach that seeks out novel ways to work with sound in a software environment. Arturia has met the market’s challenges with creativity and finesse and, by the looks of things, they’re far from finished.”
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