Analog synthesizers inhabit a special place in the musical world. As the first synthesizers that were widely available commercially, analog synthesizers have provided artists and producers with incredible sounds and tonal ranges for decades.
Roland has a long history with analog synthesizers. From immense modular setups like the System-700, to portable monophonic classics like the SH-101 and epic polyphonic icons like the Jupiter-8 and Juno-106, Roland’s analog synthesizers can be heard across 4 decades of music and counting.
The latest addition to the Roland analog synth family is the SE-02 Analog Synthesizer. Designed in collaboration with Studio Electronics, the SE-02 is a brand-new, Boutique-sized, monophonic, all-analog synth module with the benefits of digital control.
This includes MIDI, USB, Delay (which has a bypass option), a very powerful Step Sequencer and patch storage.
As Roland’s first all-analog synthesizer since the JX-10 back in 1986, the SE-02 is certainly a highly anticipated new product.
But you might be wondering, who is Studio Electronics?
Contributed by Byron Struck for the Roland Australia Blog
WHO IS STUDIO ELECTRONICS AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
Studio Electronics is an American company that formed in 1981 in California. The company began life as a replacement/spare parts/modification service for analog synthesizers, but today, they are regarded as one of the finest boutique analog synthesizer manufacturers in the world.
Val St. Regis and Tim Caswell of Studio Electronics spent years examining the fine details of many classic analog synths. The process of analyzing each component of these famous analog synths gave them a special insight into what made specific instruments so recognizable.
They successfully figured out which design quirks and circuit interactions created the nuances that people loved. In time, their analysis naturally lead them to develop their own instruments.
The instruments they created merged the best with the best from classic analog synth design. Some of their products even found their way into the studios and live setups of many well-known artists, including Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Junkie XL, Hans Zimmer, Keith Emerson, OutKast, Dr. Dre, Depeche Mode and Jean-Michael Jarre.
Using the same circuit boards, components and other elements as the instruments that inspired them, Studio Electronics’ high-quality, accurately-voiced synthesizers paid tribute to the brilliant American analog synthesizers of the 70s and 80s.
Their flagship release, which is still one of their most famous products, was the SE-1. A double rack space, monophonic, analog synth module with a classic American East Coast synthesizer sound, the SE-1 was (and still is) a monolith of analog synthesizer power.
Ideal for the music that was becoming more and more bass reliant during the 1990s, the SE-1’s huge low-end bass power became incorporated into Hip-Hop, Dance and Electronic music styles across varied sub-genres. Famous users of the SE-1 included Fatboy Slim and Dr. Dre.
With huge patch memory storage, 24 knobs, 21 switches, LED screen display, an unmistakable filter sound and full MIDI control over its many parameters, the SE-1 was a hit with producers and artists alike.
The Roland/Studio Electronics SE-02 is a direct descendent of the SE-1, taking the classic American East Coast analog synthesizer sound and delivering it in a convenient and portable Boutique format.
From Studio Electronics’ point of knowledge and experience with the American East Coast synthesizer, Roland is excited to incorporate a new vision into this iconic sound and to see where artists, musicians, producers and other users can take it! The SE-02 is the result, or a synthesis, of two visions.
WHAT OTHER THINGS DO STUDIO ELECTRONICS MAKE?
After years of experience and exploration of synthesizers, Studio Electronics’ founders remain convinced that one of the main factors that give classic synths their unique tone is the filter that each one uses.
As such, Studio Electronics’ approach of combining the “best of the best” has led them to create some of the finest analog synthesizers available today.
Some of Studio Electronics’ instruments include the following:
The Tonestar is a modular synthesizer inspired by the legendary ARP 2600. Combining ARP, Oberheim and Moog synthesizer circuits, it essentially becomes a “greatest hits” of classic American synthesizers.
The Tonestar and Roland share a mutual connection – the “Juno to Jupiter” filter that is incorporated into the Tonestar 8106 is based on the Roland IR3109 chip, which formed the basis for the filter modules on the Roland Jupiter and Juno synthesizers.
Boomstars are Studio Electronics’ desktop synthesizers. Now also available in Eurorack modular components or as a standalone module, the Boomstars epitomize the raw power and purity of discrete analog circuitry.
The Boomstar is available in 6 models. Each model has a different filter which is inspired by a classic synthesizer, including the Yamaha CS-80, MiniKORG, a classic Moog, ARP 2600, Oberheim SEM or our very own Roland TB-303.
Studio Electronics describe the Omega 8 as “an eight-voice, discrete circuit, multi-timbral, stereo, multi-filtered, arpeggiating, DSP free, Analog Dream Machine.”
One of the most powerful analog synthesizers available today, the Omega 8 is capable of astonishing sounds for practically any style of music.
If you’re a sci-fi fan, then take a look at the Orion Galaxy Omega 8 – an Omega 8 inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s classic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey!
WHAT MAKES AN ANALOG VISION STUDIO ELECTRONICS’ STRENGTH?
Studio Electronics’ success lies in its meticulous attention to detail and decades of careful trial and error testing of circuitry components to achieve desired sounds.
Lately, we’ve seen a trend in the synth community of manufacturers recreating classic analog synthesizers.
While this might seem like a novel idea, the truth is that simply following a schematic with similar or even inferior components to the original machine that the instrument is based on is not a true recreation. The classics are classics for a reason and they’re the sum of their parts.
Studio Electronics’ commitment to quality, design, circuitry, components, and innovation found in classic American instruments are what makes them a high-end boutique company that is highly respected in the synthesizer world.
The wealth of knowledge and experience that Studio Electronics have accumulated over decades of hands-on work with analog synthesizers ensures that the SE-02 has the voice and power of the beloved American synthesizer sound.
Roland’s lengthy experience with synthesizer design, both digital and analog, brings an intuitive usability to the instrument, making it ideal for live performance. It’s undoubtedly the experience accumulated by both companies in the field of electronic audio synthesis that’s made the SE-02 collaboration all the more exciting.
Earlier, we mentioned that the SE-02 contains a fully-featured, novel-design, 16-step sequencer. The addition of this dynamic sequencer keeps performance, collaboration, song sketching, and usability at the forefront of the SE-02’s design.
The sequencer features:
- PATCH MODE
– 512 Presets: 128 x 4 banks (3 preset, 1 user).
- SEQ MODE
– 128 x 16-step patterns can be stored.
– NOTE, GATE, and GLIDE per step.
– Variable synth parameters can be recorded by step.
– Performance features of shuffle, scale, direction, first/last step.
- SONG MODE
– A SONG consists of 16 PARTS. Each PART consists of a PATCH, PATTERN, and x number of REPETITIONS.
– There are 16 SONGS available to store.
Studio Electronics and Roland are thrilled to bring the sound of American East Coast synthesis to the Boutique format, as well as introducing it as the debut product of the new Roland Boutique Designer series. We hope you enjoy using it as much as our two companies enjoyed creating it!
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