Oberheim TVS-PRO (2-voice SEM)

I already have an OB-6 (which I love), and I’m about to sell my whole modular gear to have the chance to get a TVS-Pro…

@martinZgen, @Nikarga I have seen that you both owned and sold this synth, what made you sell it?
And more generally, for those who had the chance to use one, would you still drop say 2k€ to get one, given the options on the market today?
What do you think are the pros and cons of such an iconic piece of gear?

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I’ve dreamed about getting a TVS-PRO or even an old four voice pro many times… sort of a white whale of a synth to me. I would pretty heavily consider getting the Pro 2 or Pro 3 also though in many ways I feel like they are as much a modern evolution of the SEM as they are an evolution of the Pro one and while the built in filter is similar to the OB-6 as I understand it has been tweaked to work better as a mono, which is more similar to the SEM. I don’t mind the idea of taking my Pro 2 out into the world to preform with but no way would I be willing to take a TVS-PRO out of the studio.

Would be curious about why they ended up selling also I’ll keep my eye on here :eye: Have to imagine it had a lot to do with how much money they could get for them

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I have one, and I’d say don’t hesitate. It’s my desert island synth - love it to pieces.

Things to mention; midi implementation is a bit limited, and the knobs aren’t as solid as the OB-6, but personally I’d forgive it almost anything because of the sound. The filter is spectacular- there’s no other word for it.

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OB-6 owner and had the opportunity to buy the TV. I played it several times and loved it.
If I had modular gear I could sell and easily repurchase new or 2ndhand , I’d sell it immediately for the far less available TV that’ll only increase in value both monetary and desirable.

If you can get a TVS-Pro for 2k€ … get it … if its in good condition …

I have a TVS-Pro in the studio for more than a year now and I love this instrument. Its a synth players dream come true.

Those two SEMs generate a gorgeous sound. It can be a monster with 4 VCOs and 2 VCFs including all modulation sources. It can be two absolute independent synths and some combinations of all this together. The semi-modular design extends the options of the classic TVS significantly and the sequencer is an improvement as well. I love those playing-modes.

This said … if you are a live musician playing melody AND sound with your hands simultaneously, like in the old days, when we had no patch memories, its a dream. But somebody needing patch memories will not be happy.

The user interface is logical, easy, and quickly operated. It’s fun to create patches and morph patches manually. But taking control from external gear and particularly via midi is limited. The midi-implementation is very simple. The CV inputs are of great use, but this takes some midi-to-CV or modular gear.

If you have an OB-6 already, I would recommend compare the sound. Sad that I didn’t have the opportunity to check out an OB-6 myself, but it could be that both are close, if they are compared monophonically.

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Thank you for your feedback, everyone. I’ll try to get it if I can.
I feel like I could use a powerful mono, and since I got some modules I am not that afraid of unpatchable synths anymore ^^

And man, do I love these SEM filters sound!

There’s a real beauty in the alternate SEM setting too; two different sounds for alternate notes.

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I think it was the cost-value ratio, if we compare the TVS-Pro to other synths available in 2016-2018.

There have been some reviews, which pointed out that the sound and the playability are a dream, but the instrument was a labour of love for people ready to pay a high price. I can confirm this. I bought it, because I wanted an original, this particular sound, and this great playability in the first place. This decision was not rational, but I love this synth and there is no regret.

I suppose the synth didn’t sell well enough and was no financial success for Marion Systems. If you want to keep cost low, you have to built in batches. But if the risk is too high that not all will be sold in a certain timeframe, it’s better to stop production and prevent losses.

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wow. that’s saying something. the OB6 pots are not what I’d call solid. I mean, they’re not awful; standard DSI level. feel like they’ll last many years. but nothing like Moog or Vermona, for example. those feel like you can stack bricks on them with no fear. truly “built like a tank” level. so if the the TV pots are worse than the OB6…

In of themselves they’re “fine”… just maybe not quite 4 grand fine

I missed the bid, it got sold for 2800€…
I’m a bit sad, I would have really liked to get this one.

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@LyingDalai hey, sorry for chiming in late here. Ive bought and sold the TVS twice now…

And both times I sold it was for the same reason.

Pros: wonderful sound, great if you can play the KB, still great if you cant because of the sequencer tricks and native implementation of KB alongside it. Overall a joy to play with.

Cons: I found I wasnt using it as much as I enjoyed looking at it, turning it on for 10’ and jamming but never really composing with it because of its (very) basic Midi.

The lack of patch memory, as romantic, nostalgic and liberating as it may be, was just a pain in the end. The onboard sequencer is a gimmick rather than anything really capable/usable and and the knobs were loose, small and sometimes 1-2 would “jump” up/down a semitone while playing back. It was a real pain. The patch panel on top was nice to have although not that useful unless expanded with other euro.

The OB-6 is far more studio friendly, has a wider palette of sound, an AMAZING filter, polyphonic, USB, stable, easy to use and easily repaired.

I dont want to bash the TVS because it was the fattest sounding beast Ive ever played with, but the sound is not very versatile. In the end I found I sold it and dont miss it.

Dont worry, keep your OB-6 and maybe opt for a SEM which has a smaller footprint, more reliable and can fill some of that melancholy :laughing:

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exactly … 4 VCOs and 2 VCFs that is fat …

didn’t you check out the semi-modular mod capabilities? There are a couple of audio-rate modulations possible, which generate very interesting tones … or did you play the original version of the 70ties. I wouldn’t call the TVS-Pro not very versatile. IMO it can give much more than a Mini-Moog, or the original version.

It’s as you mentioned a live players instrument and definitely not well suited for modern studio midi integration :wink:

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I did - the newer ones.

Yes more versatile than a Minimoog perhaps as it should be considering two filters, patchable, duophonic etc.

But the Minimoog isn’t the most versatile either (compared to a Voyager for instance).

The sound was awesome and its hard to make it sound bad because it wont go crazy… has that vintage, powerful and instantly recognisable tone. What its meant to do, it does very well

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I agree …

But the same goes for all “compact” vintage synths of the 70ties … Moog, ARP, Oberheim, Roland. Even a vintage Jupiter 8 of the 80ties is significantly less versatile compared to modern polyphonic synths.

Maybe some of us are sentimental only and want this original signature sound “at all cost”, which was out of range, when we were younger :wink:

I think you can make a strong case for it being hugely versatile - 2 entirely independent state-variable filters, 4 individually tuneable oscillators and a whole load of patch points… with time, you can coax infinite variation out of it.

Midi is pretty pap though. No matter - I love it.

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Playing and morphing the sounds live, and mix the playing modes like “split”, “parts controlled by the sequencer”, “toggle sound from SEM A and SEM B” while playing the keys is not only fun, it’s also very expressive.

IMO only players will get the most out of it and have much fun, because control by external gear is very limited … same goes for the ARP Odyssey or a Mini-Moog. If sophisticated MIDI-integration is important, there are better candidates :wink: