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Oberheim SEM
Old 28th November 2009
  #1
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🎧 10 years
Oberheim SEM

Ok guys.. I've got Oberheim on my wish list at the moment.

First up I am loving the sound of the SEM. I know that the Telemark is a clone. But my question is would you get a new oberheim SEM or the Analogue Solutions Telemark?

Second piece of Oberheim gear on my radar is the Matrix 6. I can't afford the expander or
Matrix 12. Matrix 6R is even more affordable. Will it give me the lush strings that I am after.. or will I be disappointed? I'm not worried about the polyphony because 6 voices is plenty for what I need to do.

All thoughts appreciated

odey
Old 28th November 2009
  #2
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Anyone have any thoughts on The Matrix 6? Obviously not as good as a matrix 12 but does it have a good vibe to it?
Old 28th November 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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🎧 10 years
I have a Matrix 6 and man I love it.... Full of lush sounds....... and really dirty bases and whatnot... If you want a demo, PM me with an email address, and I will gladly send one your way!

Its an amazing machine man, and capable of some really amazing sounds.


alexP
Old 28th November 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexp ➑️
I have a Matrix 6 and man I love it.... Full of lush sounds....... and really dirty bases and whatnot... If you want a demo, PM me with an email address, and I will gladly send one your way!

Its an amazing machine man, and capable of some really amazing sounds.


alexP
PM Sent.. Good to hear man. Can't stretch for a matrix 12 at the moment.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I bought a SEMblance (telemark sans patch panel) a few weeks ago and returned it within 48 hours.

Without having the VCA open (no key depressed), and the oscs at max, there was a lot of bleed, something like -50db, which is loud enough to be annoying for me. The knobs are disappointing, a few of them were even scraping the edge of the pot somehow (poor qa process?) I also had no end of trouble using my Moog LP to control it, as playing any legato notes would create a stuck note on the SEMblance until you pressed another key. Noisebug said they couldn't replicate the issue, but I need it to work with my gear, and I tried pretty much everything I could thinkg of MIDI config wise, so out it went.

The filter sounds really good for what it's worth. I don't mean to harsh on it, but it was pretty much the worst analog synth experience I've ever had, and I've owned everything from an sh-09 to ms-20 to dsi stuff, moog stuff, and everything in between...

so yeah, my vote is on the new SEM, which I incidentally put a order in for shortly after returning the SEMblance.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctrlshft ➑️
I bought a SEMblance (telemark sans patch panel) a few weeks ago and returned it within 48 hours.

Without having the VCA open (no key depressed), and the oscs at max, there was a lot of bleed, something like -50db, which is loud enough to be annoying for me. The knobs are disappointing, a few of them were even scraping the edge of the pot somehow (poor qa process?) I also had no end of trouble using my Moog LP to control it, as playing any legato notes would create a stuck note on the SEMblance until you pressed another key. Noisebug said they couldn't replicate the issue, but I need it to work with my gear, and I tried pretty much everything I could thinkg of MIDI config wise, so out it went.

The filter sounds really good for what it's worth. I don't mean to harsh on it, but it was pretty much the worst analog synth experience I've ever had, and I've owned everything from an sh-09 to ms-20 to dsi stuff, moog stuff, and everything in between...

so yeah, my vote is on the new SEM, which I incidentally put a order in for shortly after returning the SEMblance.
I hear you man. Sounds like a bad experience. I think I will go Oberheim route anyway.

Which model have you gone for by the way? He is making three versions isn't he?
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Odey ➑️
I hear you man. Sounds like a bad experience. I think I will go Oberheim route anyway.

Which model have you gone for by the way? He is making three versions isn't he?
I got the MIDI-CV version: Synthesizer Expander Module with MIDI to CV Panel from audioMIDI.com

The CV patch version looks killer, but honestly I didn't feel like screwing with 1/8" to 1/4" convertion since my rig is Moog based, and I already have an ungodly amount of 1/4" TRS cabling. Beyond that, the MIDI-CV version has a dedicated portamento knob, dedicated pre-amp knob for the audio-in (hello overdrive/feedback antics with fx sends >:D) and all the benefits associated with analogs and midi-cv convertion like the ability to do LFO resets, VCF tracking of keyboard CV, env retrigger, pitch bend, and mod wheel assignment. These are just the preliminaries too, it's being revised (hence the delay) so maybe they'll be adding a few more features too!

The other versions are the aforementioned patch panel version, which gives you access to modulate the hell out of this baby and seamlessly integrates into eurorack formatted studios with ease, and the panel only version, which is a drop-in replacement for people who own SEM units that have flatlined.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 10 years
wow - bad synth experience!! thats a shame cause the one I tried sounded great (filter especially!) and didn't seem to have any issues like you got.. but a few people complain about AS build quality - maybe it's the sort of synth you need to go and buy in person to make sure you're getting a good one? (or deal with some back and forth shipments)

I really want a new oberheim SEM, but part of me just can't do it - I think i won't be happy to own a new one until i've at least heard one next to an original SEM, or I'd always be wondering if I bought the right one. Stupid bloody obsessive rainman personality.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nofi ➑️
wow - bad synth experience!! thats a shame cause the one I tried sounded great (filter especially!) and didn't seem to have any issues like you got.. but a few people complain about AS build quality - maybe it's the sort of synth you need to go and buy in person to make sure you're getting a good one? (or deal with some back and forth shipments)

I really want a new oberheim SEM, but part of me just can't do it - I think i won't be happy to own a new one until i've at least heard one next to an original SEM, or I'd always be wondering if I bought the right one. Stupid bloody obsessive rainman personality.
I spent weeks researching the SEMblance, looked like a better deal, it's got better modulation options and noise, and 2 cv inputs, why not? I agree that I think I might've gotten a lemon, but if you really research online you'll see I'm not close to first person to complain about the build quality of these. I have nothing against ASol, I think they make cool stuff, and my partner owned a Red Square for quite a while that worked out great, but it appears the SEMblance is really an example of you get want you pay for. I'm sure there's some good ones out there, but I can't stand lazy build quality. They could have made it cost $100 more and gave it better pots and worked on the bleed in the circuit (seriously it's bad.) Maybe they did a better job with the Telemark? The demos on YouTube are fantastic, and inevitably what pulled me into buying one.

Anywho, best of luck on whichever you end up purchasing. Theres a couple of demos up on YouTube of the new SEM in action, as well as a few of the old for contrast. All I know is that the new one sounds amazing. Tom didn't change anything parts wise unless he had to due to it being missing, so I'm sure it's as close to the real deal as you're ever going to get in a re-issue.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctrlshft ➑️
I spent weeks researching the SEMblance, looked like a better deal, it's got better modulation options and noise, and 2 cv inputs, why not? I agree that I think I might've gotten a lemon, but if you really research online you'll see I'm not close to first person to complain about the build quality of these. I have nothing against ASol, I think they make cool stuff, and my partner owned a Red Square for quite a while that worked out great, but it appears the SEMblance is really an example of you get want you pay for. I'm sure there's some good ones out there, but I can't stand lazy build quality. They could have made it cost $100 more and gave it better pots and worked on the bleed in the circuit (seriously it's bad.) Maybe they did a better job with the Telemark? The demos on YouTube are fantastic, and inevitably what pulled me into buying one.

Anywho, best of luck on whichever you end up purchasing. Theres a couple of demos up on YouTube of the new SEM in action, as well as a few of the old for contrast. All I know is that the new one sounds amazing. Tom didn't change anything parts wise unless he had to due to it being missing, so I'm sure it's as close to the real deal as you're ever going to get in a re-issue.
Thanks man... yes the Telemark definitely sounds great. I think I will probably spring for the reissue SEM.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 10 years
As for the SEM, it's wonderful to see it back at a fair price. Sounds great and has it's own personality! One though must understand that it is a fairly simple expansion synth voice. The patch field is sort of a great byproduct of the SEM's open design. About the only thing I noticed, which I'm sure is from duplicating the original design is that the pots controlling the VCO frequencies do not take it really high or low. I'm sure you can go there with a voltage input (you know, hit a low key to start) and still use the pots, but that struck me as something a stand alone (no keys or modular synth) knob twiddler might find limiting. Other than that, after a few minutes of getting used to it I was making some fun sounds without a keyboard conneted.

As for the Matrix 6, it's a nice synth especially if you don't have an analog poly. Though if you do have some, I don't know, maybe it's less exciting. I'm not thrilled there are no knobs, then again there are too many options to include every knob. Because of the knobs, if one does use a computer maybe a Matrix 1000 is a good or better choice since it's quite cheap used and compact for close to the same capabilities if you use a computer to edit the patches. Also neither is multitimbral.

I myself held out for an Xpander. It took a number of years to have the money and find one at a fair price when I was new to synths but I'm glad I did. It's not the perfect synth but it's a lot more intereresting to me.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by itisnick ➑️
As for the SEM, it's wonderful to see it back at a fair price. Sounds great and has it's own personality! One though must understand that it is a fairly simple expansion synth voice. The patch field is sort of a great byproduct of the SEM's open design. About the only thing I noticed, which I'm sure is from duplicating the original design is that the pots controlling the VCO frequencies do not take it really high or low. I'm sure you can go there with a voltage input (you know, hit a low key to start) and still use the pots, but that struck me as something a stand alone (no keys or modular synth) knob twiddler might find limiting. Other than that, after a few minutes of getting used to it I was making some fun sounds without a keyboard conneted.

As for the Matrix 6, it's a nice synth especially if you don't have an analog poly. Though if you do have some, I don't know, maybe it's less exciting. I'm not thrilled there are no knobs, then again there are too many options to include every knob. Because of the knobs, if one does use a computer maybe a Matrix 1000 is a good or better choice since it's quite cheap used and compact for close to the same capabilities if you use a computer to edit the patches. Also neither is multitimbral.

I myself held out for an Xpander. It took a number of years to have the money and find one at a fair price when I was new to synths but I'm glad I did. It's not the perfect synth but it's a lot more intereresting to me.
thumbsup

thanks man. I thought the Matrix 1000 is a preset machine? Matrix 6 seems to be going pretty cheap too.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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Beermaster's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
SEMs are the biggest single analogue sounds I ever heard. Nothing I've ever used comes close to the balls of SEMs - Love the gritty earthy sounds and what they can do.

M1000 are bloody great value and with 800 presets and 200 RAM you can't go wrong. You can also daisy chain them up in 'unit' mode to create Uber polyphony or Earth shattering unisons

Beer
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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Odey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beermaster ➑️
SEMs are the biggest single analogue sounds I ever heard. Nothing I've ever used comes close to the balls of SEMs - Love the gritty earthy sounds and what they can do.

M1000 are bloody great value and with 800 presets and 200 RAM you can't go wrong. You can also daisy chain them up in 'unit' mode to create Uber polyphony or Earth shattering unisons

Beer
I'm looking forward to getting an SEM. I like what I have heard of it so far.

But I'm definitely looking at a Matrix 6 over the Matrix 1000.
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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🎧 10 years
How many patch cables should I get for the SEM? I'll probably have it tomorrow, but I don't have any minijack patch cables. I'm thinking just for SEM itself?
(I'll need 6 for the converter alone, if I want to use all options.)
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeHayduke ➑️
How many patch cables should I get for the SEM? I'll probably have it tomorrow, but I don't have any minijack patch cables. I'm thinking just for SEM itself?
(I'll need 6 for the converter alone, if I want to use all options.)
I can't imagine you'll really need a whole lot more than maybe 6-8 unless you're just trying to cross modulate every parameter available on the thing (in which case get like 12 or something)
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by itisnick ➑️
About the only thing I noticed, which I'm sure is from duplicating the original design is that the pots controlling the VCO frequencies do not take it really high or low.
The MIDI version has Transpose + / - two octaves built in. Handy!
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #18
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctrlshft ➑️
I can't imagine you'll really need a whole lot more than maybe 6-8 unless you're just trying to cross modulate every parameter available on the thing (in which case get like 12 or something)
Alright, thanks!
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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🎧 10 years
Ok I've snagged a matrix 6 for Β£280.. which isn't bad. Being that I am in the UK.. it might make more sense to go for the telemark because it is around Β£500 whereas the new SEM is around Β£1000 once you get it in the country.

And I can easily return the telemark if it has quality issues. Plus I don't have to choose between a patch panel or midi as I believe the telemark has both?
Old 29th November 2009 | Show parent
  #20
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ctrlshft's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Odey ➑️
Ok I've snagged a matrix 6 for Β£280.. which isn't bad. Being that I am in the UK.. it might make more sense to go for the telemark because it is around Β£500 whereas the new SEM is around Β£1000 once you get it in the country.

And I can easily return the telemark if it has quality issues. Plus I don't have to choose between a patch panel or midi as I believe the telemark has both?
Seems reasonable, hope you have a better experience than I did.
Old 30th November 2009 | Show parent
  #21
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctrlshft ➑️
Seems reasonable, hope you have a better experience than I did.
I hope so too! I'll be on the look out for quality issues though...
Old 30th November 2009 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 10 years
can the SEM be set to do drones? (VCA always open)
Old 30th November 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by shaft9000 ➑️
can the SEM be set to do drones? (VCA always open)
It sure can!
Old 30th November 2009 | Show parent
  #24
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctrlshft ➑️
I got the MIDI-CV version:...Beyond that, the MIDI-CV version has a dedicated portamento knob, dedicated pre-amp knob for the audio-in (hello overdrive/feedback antics with fx sends >:D) and all the benefits associated with analogs and midi-cv convertion like the ability to do LFO resets, VCF tracking of keyboard CV, env retrigger, pitch bend, and mod wheel assignment. These are just the preliminaries too, it's being revised (hence the delay) so maybe they'll be adding a few more features too!...
You make a good case for the midi-version and since I'm new to cv I got a bit 'hmmm' about buying the patcher.

Anyways, my Kenton USB Solo, which just arrived, made me happy that I have gained rather a lot of control with this thing. I knew it had LFO but it even has portamento which a couple of options implemented (eg. portamento only when playing legato). And some other features too, tuning etc. Nice! (No, I hadn't quite gotten a handle of its functions before flicking the buttons and reading the manual.)

It seems like a real neat little machine all together and rather good looking with its functional machine shop look. thumbsup

However, I'm a bit disappointed that only one aux. cv send is sending continuosly variable output - the other two are specifically for 'switchable' inputs.

Am I just being a newb, or would it be better with two or even three continuos sends instead of switch controls?
Old 30th November 2009 | Show parent
  #25
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeHayduke ➑️
Am I just being a newb, or would it be better with two or even three continuos sends instead of switch controls?
No you're not, and yes it would, a lot...
As potentially the biggest users these days of MIDI->CV are modular & semi modular users I'm surprised most interfaces have so few aux outs.
Now with Volta & Silent way around maybe the converter manufacturers don't think there's any need for more?
Old 3rd December 2009 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 10 years
This thing (serial 0065) is sweet!!!

Just for kicks, a sound clip I just made, - same setting basically on all tracks. Guess the tune, real hard heh
Attached Files

Oberheim_SEM_DM.wav (3.97 MB, 1673 views)

Old 3rd December 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeHayduke ➑️
This thing (serial 0065) is sweet!!!

Just for kicks, a sound clip I just made, - same setting basically on all tracks. Guess the tune, real hard heh
i'm so damn jealous! beautiful! :D

hurry up tom and get those midi ones movin!
Old 3rd December 2009 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctrlshft ➑️
i'm so damn jealous! beautiful! :D

hurry up tom and get those midi ones movin!
Trust me, its worth the wait. It is definitly one of the sweetest synth tones I ever had in front of me.

Bass is just syyyyck.
Attached Files

b sem loooow_24bit.wav (1.99 MB, 1161 views)

Old 13th December 2009 | Show parent
  #29
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Odey ➑️
Being that I am in the UK.. it might make more sense to go for the telemark because it is around Β£500 whereas the new SEM is around Β£1000 once you get it in the country.
Just ordered the MIDI > CV version of the new SEM myself. I decided on this version as I don't have another CV source, which would mean buying a Kenton converter to go with it. I think the MIDI > CV version has some cool features anyway. Β£1000 to the UK though? Its $899 for the unit & around $60 for shipping. Running that through the old Yahoo! Currency Converter comes out at about Β£590.

I was also looking at the Telemark myself. Sounds sweet & it does have MIDI input + the patch points. But at the end of the day having the chance to get a brand new Oberheim SEM, that to all intents & purposes is the same as the original machine, was much more tempting than any SEM clone. It's also a bit worrying about all the reports regarding build quality. I read about this somewhere else & posted a comment on one of the ASUK Telemark demo vids on YouTube. You can see the response for yourself here;

YouTube - Analogue Solutions Telemark and Oberkorn sequencer - what a great pair!
Old 13th December 2009 | Show parent
  #30
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogboy73 ➑️
Just ordered the MIDI > CV version of the new SEM myself. I decided on this version as I don't have another CV source, which would mean buying a Kenton converter to go with it. I think the MIDI > CV version has some cool features anyway. Β£1000 to the UK though? Its $899 for the unit & around $60 for shipping. Running that through the old Yahoo! Currency Converter comes out at about Β£590.

I was also looking at the Telemark myself. Sounds sweet & it does have MIDI input + the patch points. But at the end of the day having the chance to get a brand new Oberheim SEM, that to all intents & purposes is the same as the original machine, was much more tempting than any SEM clone. It's also a bit worrying about all the reports regarding build quality. I read about this somewhere else & posted a comment on one of the ASUK Telemark demo vids on YouTube. You can see the response for yourself here;

YouTube - Analogue Solutions Telemark and Oberkorn sequencer - what a great pair!
I'm glad they use good pots, but my experience with this type of issue is hardly the first report of it...do a google search and you'll see people have been going on about this since it came out. the noise knob literally was grinding (audibly) into the enclosure when you turned it counterclockwise on the one I got. I've heard similar reports about this issue (many are from users on this forum) when I was researching getting one in the first place, but the audio demos sounded so good I threw caution to the wind.

Anyway, I hope your experience with the Telemark is better than mine with the SEMblance, especially regarding the noise floor, with both the oscs mixes up at max they were bleeding at a very audible level without the VCA even being open. i think that pissed me off more than the knob thing.
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