The Return of an Analog Synth Classic Aurora CO

In contrast to most second comings of great analog synth names, the SEM is almost identical to the original. In fact, the external cosmetics are changed far more than the innards.

Schmitt Music
(303) 777-1900
685 S Broadway
Denver, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs

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Sound Town
(303) 733-3336
1233 W Alameda Ave
Denver, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, DJ Equipment

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Universal Music Co
(303) 452-1557
1200 E 104Th Ave
Thornton, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment

Data Provided by:
Prosound Music Centers Inc
(303) 412-9060
9252 Sheridan Blvd
Westminster, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Forte Music Corp.
(303) 948-9221
11387 W Progress Ave
Littleton, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral

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National Speaker & Sound
(303) 777-6400
1559 S Broadway
Denver, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, DJ Equipment

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Flesher Hinton Co
(303) 433-8891
3936 Tennyson St
Denver, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

Data Provided by:
Universal Music Company
(303) 452-1557
1200 E 104th ave
Thornton, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, Karaoke Equipment, DJ Equipment
Store Information
Instrument Rental: Yes
Lesson Information
Lessons: Yes
Instrument Repair Information
We offer repair and cleaning service for all band and orchestra instruments.
We also offer repair of guitars and basses- specializing in setup work and electronics (pickups etc).
Hours
Monday thru Thursday 10:00am to 8:00pm
Friday and Saturday 10:00am to 6:00pm
Closed Sundays

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Rockley Music
(303) 233-4444
8555 W Colfax Ave
Lakewood, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment

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Brentwood Music Center
(303) 935-7893
7834 S Teller Ct
Littleton, CO
Types of Instruments Sold
Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment

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The Return of an Analog Synth Classic

0310 Tom Oberheim SEM

In 1974, Tom Oberheim released the first Synthesizer Expander Module, or SEM. Players loved this easy-to-use, ballsysounding synth, and its unique multimode filter gave it a distinctive sound. The SEM went on to become the basis for some of the world’s first polyphonic synths, such as the Oberheim Two-, Four-, and Eight-Voice, which were essentially multiple SEMs in the same cabinet as a keyboard. Beginning in the late ’70s, these gave way to more compact analog polysynths (the Oberheim OB-Xa behind Paul Shaffer on page 28 among them) but analog tone nuts still hunt for original SEMs. Much to their delight, Tom has now reissued it.

HANDS-ON

  1. You get 33 patch points on 1/8" mini jacks. The SEM is compatible with all one-volt-per-octave analog synths, transforming the SEM into a powerful synth expander module, hence the name!
  2. Large coarse tuning knobs for each oscillator offer a five-octave range; small pots above fine-tune over a range of about a major third.
  3. Unique multimode filter operates in lowpass and highpass modes and is continuously variable between modes with a knob — at 12 o’clock it’s a notch filter. Slide switch activates bandpass mode.
  4. These knobs combine the oscillator waveform and mixer functions found in separate sections on other synths: Center is off, left makes the sawtooth louder, right does the same for the pulse wave.
  5. Slide switch bypasses the VCA. Translation: infinite sustain. This also lets users run external audio inputs through the filter without triggering the envelopes — handy.

THE SIMILARITY STARTS HERE

In contrast to most second comings of great analog synth names, the SEM is almost identical to the original. In fact, the external cosmetics are changed far more than the innards. Tom tells us that just one component was changed from the original design due to lack of availability, and it doesn’t affect the sound. He kept the wedge-shaped beige case, and even the knobs are the same parts as on the originals. Some details have changed: two separate tuning knobs work better than the original’s touchy concentric arrangement. The biggest difference is the 33-jack patch panel. Since “bringing out” patch points is a common mod on originals, Oberheim took it one more step — a large step — providing fantastic flexibility for interfacing with other analog gear. Modular and Moogerfooger maniacs rejoice!

0.0000midipanel MIDI AND THE SEM The SEM’s extensive control voltage I/O is a boon for serious fans of analog, but what if you want to just wail on it from your MIDI keyboard? Tom Oberheim will soon release the SEM MIDI edition. This replaces the SEM’s left-side patch panel with a nicely outfitted MIDI-to-CV converter, and adds rear-panel MIDI jacks. Along with standard note on/off reception, there’s an auxiliary CV that you can control with your choice of velocity, mod wheel, or other continuous controllers. The aux CV destinations include oscillator frequen...

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