The Return of an Analog Synth Classic Holland MI

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.

Meyer Music
(616) 396-6583
675 E Lakewood Blvd
Holland, MI
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

Data Provided by:
Firehouse Music
(616) 396-1776
23 E 8Th St
Holland, MI
 
Dillons Music World
(269) 344-0397
939 E Cork St
Kalamazoo, MI
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

Data Provided by:
Hammell Music Inc
(248) 624-8111
2700 E West Maple Rd
Commerce Township, MI
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Print Music

Data Provided by:
Sounds Incredible
(517) 796-2171
1737 Spring Arbor Rd
Jackson, MI
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Fretted Instruments

Data Provided by:
Firehouse Music
(616) 532-3473
3125 28Th St.
Grandville, MI
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment
Store Information
Instrument Rental: Yes
Website Sales: Yes
Lesson Information
Lessons: Yes
Clinics: Yes
Instrument Repair Information
Firehouse Guitars features in-house guitar, bass, and drum repair. From while you wait restrings to complete drum set reheading, we do it all and at very reasonable rates.
Hours
Monday-Friday 11:00AM-8PM
Saturday 10:00AM-6PM

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Evola Music Co
(734) 455-4677
7170 N Haggerty Rd
Canton, MI
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Print Music

Data Provided by:
Meyer Music
(616) 396-6583
675 E Lakewood Blvd
Holland, MI
Types of Instruments Sold
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

Data Provided by:
Chuck Day Music Center
(269) 683-8113
48 N Saint Joseph Ave
Niles, MI
Types of Instruments Sold
Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

Data Provided by:
Jims Music
(906) 789-9040
1513 Ludington St
Escanaba, MI
Types of Instruments Sold
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, 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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