The Return of an Analog Synth Classic Columbia MD

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.

Bills Music House
(410) 747-1900
733 Frederick Rd
Baltimore, MD
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment

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Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center
(301) 946-8808
11151 Veirs Mill Road
Wheaton, MD
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, DJ Equipment
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Instrument Rental: Yes
Website Sales: Yes
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Clinics: Yes
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On-Site Band Instrument Repair Shop
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On-Site String Instrument Repair Shop
On-Site Speaker Repair Shop
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Monday 10 AM till 9 PM
Tuesday 10 AM till 6 PM
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Thursday 10 AM till 6 PM
Friday 10 AM till 9 PM
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Jordan Kitt'S Music
(301) 345-3310
12303 Twinbrook Pkwy
Rockville, MD
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral

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Menchey Music Service
(410) 453-6635
2444 Broad Ave
Timonium, MD
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Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Music & Arts Center #17
(240) 568-0600
11200 Scaggsville Rd Ste 111
Laurel, MD
 
Piano Man
(410) 747-0200
624 Frederick Rd
Baltimore, MD
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Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs
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Instrument Rental: Yes
Website Sales: Yes
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Lessons: Yes
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Repairs : Yes
Hours
Showroom Hours 11AM to 6PM Mon to Sat
Other times by appointment

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S & S Music Inc
(410) 451-2160
2421 Crofton Ln
Crofton, MD
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Electronic Keyboard, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment
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Instrument Rental: Yes
Instrument Repair Information
Guitar & Bass, String & Tune--
4&6 string
12 string / Classical tie end
Floyd Rose Trem
Includes restring, neck adjustment, and tuning.

Violin & Viola--
Bridge notched
String & Tune
Cello--
Bridge notched
String & Tune
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www.sandsmusic.com
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Monday - Friday 10:00AM to 7:30PM
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Sunday 12:00PM to 4:00PM

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Victor Litz Music Center I
(301) 948-7478
306 E Diamond Ave
Gaithersburg, MD
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Fretted Instruments

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Dundalk Music Center
(410) 284-3786
15 Center Pl
Baltimore, MD
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment
Hours
Mon-Thurs: 10:30-9:00
Fri: 10:30-7:00
Sat 10:00-5:00

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Best Buy Store #265
(301) 497-1890
14160 Baltimore Ave
Laurel, MD
Recycling Services
Recycling Kiosk
Ink & Toner Drop-off
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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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