The Return of an Analog Synth Classic Brownsville TX

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.

Performing Arts Academy
(956) 548-1248
1200 Central Blvd
Brownsville, TX
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Dave'S Music Center
(956) 986-2526
2100 Fm 802 Ste 2040
Brownsville, TX
 
Mr. Music
(956) 542-2503
1425 Ruben Torres Blvd
Brownsville, TX
 
Vicki Lynns Music Ctr
(817) 641-2462
503 W Henderson St Ste A
Cleburne, TX
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Music World
(936) 639-5800
1319 S John Redditt Dr
Lufkin, TX
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Mr Music
(956) 425-2731
2000 S Expy 83
Harlingen, TX
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Guitar Center #467
(956) 542-0526
1601 E Price Rd Ste H
Brownsville, TX
 
Joys Music Co
(903) 885-4986
325 Davis St S
Sulphur Springs, TX
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Fretted Instruments

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Music Makers Austin
(512) 444-6686
517 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX
Types of Instruments Sold
Electronic Keyboard, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, DJ Equipment

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Music Factory
(281) 482-0100
1411 Broadway St
Pearland, TX
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, 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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