The Return of an Analog Synth Classic Harrisonburg VA

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.

Hometown Music
(540) 434-4159
2990 S Main St
Harrisonburg, VA
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Musicgoround, Louisville Ky
(540) 248-4979
120 Mill Pond Rd
Verona, VA
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment

Data Provided by:
Lowry Music Corp
(276) 523-0866
610 Wood Ave
Big Stone Gap, VA
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, DJ Equipment

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Virginia Music Co
(804) 282-4261
305 Sweetbriar Dr
Richmond, VA
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Sound Reinforcement, Guitars & Fretted Instruments

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Ridenhour Music
(540) 382-9196
804 New River Rd
Christiansburg, VA
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment

Data Provided by:
Bens Music Llc
(540) 434-1376
34 S Main St
Harrisonburg, VA
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Print Music

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Hometown Music Llc
(540) 434-4128
2990 S Main St
Harrisonburg, VA
 
A Major Music
(804) 747-5833
4240 Sadler Rd
Glen Allen, VA
Types of Instruments Sold
Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

Data Provided by:
Jordan Kitt'S Music
(703) 450-5398
47100 Leesburg Pike
Sterling, VA
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral

Data Provided by:
Winter Sound Co
(804) 642-6434
P.O. Box 396
Gloucester Point, VA
Types of Instruments Sold
Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment
Lesson Information
Lessons: Yes
Instrument Repair Information
Board level electronics and guitar repairs on worthy equipment. Please bring us your loved quality guitars and electronics. We can help keep them on the road.
Hours
Monday - Friday 10:00AM-7:00PM
Saturday 10:00AM-6:00PM
Sunday 12:00PM-5:00PM

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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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