Tom Oberheim on synth emulations: “Anything that brings new sounds is exciting — I don’t care what the brand is”

“Some people think the industry’s reached a pinnacle. I don’t see that…”

When you purchase through affiliate links on, you may contribute to our site through commissions. Learn more
Tom Oberheim and the TEO-5

Tom Oberheim and the TEO-5. Image: Oberheim

Legendary synthesizer designer Tom Oberheim has spoken about the various emulations of hardware synths on the market, saying that he finds them exciting no matter who releases them.

Right now, there are plenty of different ways to get your hands on an Oberheim-style sound if you can’t shell out $5,000 for an OB-X8, for example. Arturia has its OP-Xa V synth plugin, while GForce has a handful of Oberheim-endorsed plugins. If you want a hardware emulation, Behringer’s UB-Xa, which is a top-seller at Thomann at the time of writing. Whether they sound like the real deal is another question, but there certainly seems to be a market for such products.

READ MORE: “There is no collaboration between us”: Tom Oberheim on Behringer’s UB-Xa

Tom Oberheim isn’t fazed by them. Instead, he says in a new interview with MusicTech that “Anything that brings new sounds to, let’s say, young musicians just starting out, is exciting to me. And I don’t care what the brand is.”

“There have been a few different simulations of Oberheim over the years and, I have to say, GForce did a great job,” he continues. GForce has emulated the OB-X, the Oberheim 8-Voice, the DMX and the SEM. You can even get them all in a single bundle.

“I don’t have the ear training to get into the fine details [of the sound of the emulations],” Oberheim says.

“I’ve been relying on musicians to tell me what sounds good since the ‘70s. But the reaction to the GForce stuff was very positive, and I certainly think it sounds really good…I mean, the fact that you can spend $1,000 and get a great system in your bedroom is exciting, no matter what’s being simulated. Imagine if you were able to do this in 1970.”

Oberheim appears keen to bring more synthesizers into the studios and homes of synth enthusiasts. His latest synth, the TEO-5 is the most affordable Oberheim synth ever. Meanwhile, Behringer claims that it got consent from Tom Oberheim to create the UB-Xa — “He designed a fantastic product. [The UB-Xa] is no copy but took inspiration from the original synth and brought it to a complete new level…We discussed the UB-Xa with Tom Oberheim and got his consent…”

And Oberheim still thinks there’s plenty more to do.

“Some people think the industry’s reached a pinnacle. I don’t see that…I think we’ll continue to see a lot of creativity in this business because you can take a certain bag of parts and do a lot of different things with it.”

Read more music tech news


Get the latest news, reviews and tutorials to your inbox.

Join Our Mailing List & Get Exclusive DealsSign Up Now

The world’s leading media brand at the intersection of music and technology.

© 2024 MusicTech is part of NME Networks.