One piece of analog hardware that made history in the 1970s wasn’t even a synth; well, not at first. Created by Oberheim Electronics, the Synthesizer Expander Module (or SEM for short) was exactly what its name suggested: a separate module designed to be connected to other synths of that era. This was very useful for musicians who wanted to set up sequences.
However, the module became so popular due to the sound it created that Oberheim soon began to sell it alongside a keyboard. Thus the SEM became a synth in its own right, and now you can have it as a software emulation in the form of SEM V2.
Powerful analog sounds
Like with most instruments from their V Collection, Arturia’s developers have managed to find a balance between a historically accurate emulation, sleek graphic design, clear analog sound with modern-day applicability, and ease of use. Well, the latter isn’t really applicable if you don’t know much about synths, but you can use the application’s in-built tutorial to quickly get familiar with the interface and start producing your own sounds.
Apart from the standard interface which mimics the original SEM module (plus a keyboard and a few extra parameters), you can expand the workspace to access four additional sections. In Keyboard Follow you can draw various curves that will help you modulate parameters directly with the keyboard. The 8 Voice Programmer allows you to adjust voices, but can also be used as a sequencer/arpeggiator. As for the Modulation and Effects sections, well, their names are self-explanatory.
Exploring the presets
SEM V2 comes with a wide variety of presets that you can add to your compositions, and browsing through them is made easy by the filters provided. Whether you’re trying to make your tune sound retro or just producing contemporary electronic music, most of the sound produced by this virtual instrument can fit in seamlessly.
The Oberheim SEM was among the first multi-voice modular synthesizers. Being a truly unique instrument, it has been relatively forgotten since the turn of the century.
SEM V2 is a powerful, faithful emulation of the original SEM, right from the keyboard. Combined with a brand new interface, the emulated SEM became a new instrument in its own right.
With the ability to translate the SEM’s sounds into a 16 voice VST and a mixer, the new version allows you to create and mix your own SEM sound designs.
There are four different sections:
* Keyboard Follow – curves can be drawn to control the SEM or to act as a modulation source.
* 8 Voice Programmer – allows you to control, combine and sequence SEM voices.
* Modulation – controls like resonance, panning, and modulation duration.
* Effects – additions like a tube amplifier with distortion and the oscillator envelop with 7/8/16 steps of attack.
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The excellent Thing application by Fabien Sanglard covers a huge amount of things, and the latest release, Thing V2, is no exception. Thing V2 is a sound and instrument library, a plug-in and a stand-alone application that covers an insane amount of sounds and instruments.
The possibilities are very big, and Fabien and his team have paid special attention to the vintage console sounds. They are rich in analog synth and tape effects, and while today many of us tend to dismiss hardware, those like me who appreciate them for what they are, will appreciate Thing V2 for its accuracy and attention to detail.
This latest Thing release comes with some new features, but also some new sounds. Here is my short review of the new releases and some of the features available.
Thing V2 Main Feature:
Compared to the previous release, Thing V2 comes with a lot more sounds, and can generate even more with the new Analog and Modulator sections. When you purchase Thing V2, you can immediately download everything you need to have a good experience out of the box. Even more than that, when you purchase the new Thing V2, you get the new Thing V3.
Thing V2 Main Feature:
Features a new Circuits section that adds a new generation of oscillator, filter and amplifier. It is a very precise emulation, and sounds very authentic. The four oscillators available are straightforward to use, and the new Auto Shape option will help you get a sound you want without you having to spend any time trying to do it on your own.
The new DSP section brings you a wide range of effects. These sounds are very analog, and sound very accurate. The new Multi control is very powerful, with its ability to split and combine sounds as its name suggests. Some of the effects available are also very useful for other things, such as the Massive Enhancement which can make other plugins sound more natural.
One last thing I would like to say about Thing V2 is its price. The free version has a limited number of sounds and features, and a paid version is also available. The paid version comes with a little more than the free version, including access to the Analog and Modulator sections. The paid version is $69.99 USD.
Just as a little side note, Thing V2 stands for “thing version 2”. It is the third official release in a series of Things software, and the second major new feature in
The second generation of the popular, pioneering and best-selling standalone Expander Module. SEM V2 has long been one of the most popular modules in history and, as always, they are still greatly respected by the electronic musician community.
The SEM was designed to be an add-on to any modular synthesizer, and was originally included with the Roland JP-08 module.
Many of the sounds and unique qualities of the SEM are still very much alive in the market, and this synth is a great instrument for pre-programming. It can also be used in settings where it’s impractical or impossible to use a synth module – for example, in a broadcast or a live venue.
The Module has been designed to retain the unique, award-winning’semi-modular’ sound that is so characteristic of the original SEM – while incorporating all of the latest advances in synthesis technology.
With the SEM V2 you can open up a host of new possibilities in your music. It’s a true ‘open heart’ synth, extending the scope and potential of what you can achieve.
• Dual keyboard/cabinet rack version.
• Digital or analog signal path; analogue only version also available.
• 8 voices, 128 programable parameters
• 4 sections to connect external synths
• 64 patches for each section, containing 64 unique patches.
• SEM in addition to Analog Universe sample library used to create patches.
• Analog sound emulation by use of exclusive ‘Alan’ oscillator
• Two expansion voices allow you to expand the spectrum of sounds
• Four sections connected as drum rack interface (DSM, Launchpad, Octave Up, Octave Down), allowing you to use the SEM as a 24 bit drum synth
• No external gear required, fully integrated and designed to work together with your modular synthesizer of choice
• SYNTH INPUTS
• Main input is for a direct analogue signal from your modular synthesizer; the control of the standard MIDI In port of the module is also available when the synth is in ‘Wave’ mode.
• DIGITAL INPUT
• DIN connector for direct MIDI (version 1 and 2) input.
• STANDARD MIDI OUT port for connecting the SEM to a MIDI controller such as an ARP Soloist or a programmable MIDI controller of your choice.
• COMBO EXTRADIN-M MIDI OUT port for connecting the SEM to a Windows MIDI
Set up a modular system with the synthesizer expander module. The SEM allows you to add each module you want to your system. Each module has eight voices, a changeable filter and an envelope follower. Each module has eight voices, a filter, a macro control and an envelope follower. The SEM makes it easy to put together your own modular system.
Another thing that I really like about this emulation is how it works with or without your hardware. When connected to a rack version of the synth, you can view the internal sounds, mix together or use them as a plug-in. If you plug it into a virtual soundcard however, you will only be able to connect to external modules and patches, which is what makes it possible to generate sounds on a computer.
As with many synth emulations, the quality and usability of this one will largely depend on the user. If you’re a veteran of synths and never thought to try a synth expander, then this might just be the one for you. For those who are new to synths though, I would recommend you give this emulation a chance. It can give you an impressive amount of sound for very little cash.
A demonstration can be seen here.
This emulation is suitable for all sorts of electronic music styles including EDM, tech house, deep house, breaks, and dubstep.WSL-093
The WSL-093 is a RISC-based 32-bit microprocessor, available as a kit form, for use in personal computers, developed by Waikato Micro.
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