Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 Review

Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith have collaborated for just this once for creating the instrument that is known as Dave Smith Instruments OB-6. Dave and Tom both are very influential designers and they take their work very seriously. The OB-6 has voltage-controlled oscillators, 2-pole filter, amplifiers, studio-quality effects, a polyphonic step sequencer, and much more which will be mentioned later in this Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 review. The OB-6 has a knob-per-function front panel which allows you to control all the functions at your fingertips. There are 500 permanent factory programs and 500 rewritable user programs that are available for your convenience.

This synth is easy to play with and it is something that you can play on stage or even at the studio without any problems. The device has a four-octave, semi-weighted keyboard and the keyboard also includes velocity and channel aftertouch. The nice part is that the OB-6 sound engine is inspired by Tom’s original SEM and it has two discrete voltage-controlled oscillators per voice with continuously variable waveshapes. It also has a sub-oscillator along with two voltage controlled oscillators. The filter is inspired by Oberheim and it is a 2-pole, state-variable, resonant filter. It provides you with low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, and notch functionality.

There is a dual effect section that gives you studio-quality reverbs, delays, chorus, flangers, a phase shifter and ring modulator. The phase shifter and ring modulator are like Tom’s original phase shifter and ring modulator. The OB-6 specifications are listed below.


  • Two discrete VCOs per voice
  • Continuously variable wave shape (sawtooth and variable-width pulse, plus triangle on oscillator 2) per oscillator
  • Pulse width per oscillator
  • Hard sync: oscillator 1 syncs to oscillator 2
  • Square wave sub-octave generator (oscillator 1) per voice
  • Low frequency mode (oscillator 2)
  • Keyboard tracking on/off (oscillator 2)
  • Oscillator detune amount for increased tuning instability, from subtle to extreme


  • Oscillator 1 amount
  • Oscillator 1 sub-octave amount
  • Oscillator 2 amount
  • White noise amount


  • Two-pole, resonant, filter per voice with low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, and notch functionality inspired by the original Oberheim SEM filter
  • Bi-polar filter envelope amount
  • Velocity modulation of envelope amount
  • Keyboard tracking: off, half, full


  • Four-stage (ADSR) envelope generator
  • Velocity modulation of envelope amount


  • Four-stage (ADSR) envelope generator
  • Velocity modulation of envelope amount


  • Five wave shapes: sine, sawtooth, reverse sawtooth, square, and random (sample and hold)
  • Clock sync (internal or external MIDI clock)
  • Initial amount
  • Mod destinations: oscillator 1 frequency, oscillator 2 frequency, oscillator 1 and 2 pulse width, filter cutoff, filter mode, amp


  • Sources: filter envelope (bi-polar) and oscillator 2 (bi-polar)
  • Destinations: oscillator 1 frequency, oscillator 1 shape, oscillator 1 pulse width, filter cutoff, filter mode, normal to bandpass filter


  • Source: channel (mono) aftertouch with bi-polar amount
  • Destinations: oscillator 1 frequency, oscillator 2 frequency, LFO amount, amplifier envelope amount, filter envelope amount, filter mode


  • Master clock with tap tempo
  • BPM control and display
  • MIDI clock sync


  • Selectable note value: 16th note, 8th note triplet, 8th note, dotted 8th note, quarter note
  • One, two, or three octave range
  • Up, down, up/down, random, and assign modes


  • Polyphonic step sequencer with up to 64 steps and rests


  • Stereo analog distortion
  • Dual, 24-bit, 48 kHz digital effects, including: reverb (room, hall, plate, spring), delay (full bandwidth digital delay and emulated bucket brigade), chorus, flanger, phase shifters, and ring modulator
  • Delay sync
  • True bypass maintains fully analog signal path when digital effects are off


  • Full-sized, semi-weighted, 4-octave keyboard with velocity and aftertouch
  • Backlit pitch and mod wheels
  • Spring-loaded pitch wheel with selectable range per program (1 to 12 semitones up and down)
  • Transpose controls for an 8-octave range
  • Hold switch latches held notes on
  • Polyphonic portamento
  • Unison (monophonic) mode with configurable voice count, from one to all six voices, chord memory, and key modes
  • Manual switch: when on, the front panel is live; what you see is what you hear


  • 500 user and 500 factory programs in 10 banks of 100 programs each
  • Direct program access, including single-button access to the current set of 10 programs


  • Left/mono and right audio outputs (2 x 1/4” phone jack)
  • Headphone output (stereo, 1/4” phone jack)
  • MIDI in, out, and thru ports
  • USB for bidirectional MIDI communication
  • Filter cutoff expression pedal input
  • Volume expression pedal input
  • Sustain footswitch input
  • Sequencer start/stop footswitch input


  • IEC AC power inlet for internal power supply
  • Operates worldwide on voltages between 100 and 240 volts at 50 to 60 Hz; 30 watts maximum power consumption


  • 31.8” L x 12.7” W x 4.6″ H (80.7 cm x 32.3 cm x 11.7 cm)
  • 20 lbs (9.5 kg)

Walnut end panels


The price is around $2,999 and you will find it fair if you are into these kinds of instruments.


This is an amazing instrument that brings together two legends. This is a synth that belongs in a modern synth collection. Some things about this synth are old school but still you will like this synth. It finds the right mix between power and portability. If you are a serious synth lover then you will not be disappointed by this synth.

Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 Review Video



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