New Oberheim SEM

Posted by Scott


This one is for all you analog synth geeks out there (but mostly just Beamer): Tom Oberheim is producing a new line of SEM modules. This is big news for any synth enthusiast as the Oberheim SEM (introduced in 1974) is widely regarded as the best sounding synthesizer ever made. Unfortunately they are very rare, complex, and expensive machines so until now it’s been pretty difficult acquire and maintain a working example.

I have an Oberheim Four Voice (pictured below) and while it’s not the synth I use the most, it’s certainly the prize of my collection. I really do love working with older machines, but for the sake of reliability I prefer using newly manufactured versions of the originals (e.g. the Moog Voyager). That is, of course, as long as they sound like the original and according to Mr. Oberheim — see video above — these new SEM’s are very faithful to their predecessors. Here’s hoping someone will make a faithful recreation of the Korg Mono/Poly because it’s pretty scary knowing my favorite synth is about to turn 30 years old.

Oberheim Four Voice sitting atop a Fender Rhodes

Oberheim Four Voice sitting atop a Fender Rhodes

Joe Zawinul (Weather Report) at the Oberheim Four Voice

Joe Zawinul (Weather Report) at the Oberheim Four Voice

And just for good measure, here’s Jan Hammer (who also used an Oberheim Four Voice) freaking out on a Minimoog:


8 Comments Leave A Comment


sean patrick says:

October 12, 2009 at 7:24 am

This is such a great post! Its very cool that you have one of those. Super rare stuff, sir. is that a jupiter above it? well, very awesome insight into your world, once again!


frank says:

October 12, 2009 at 10:24 am

It’s cool that he got the look right (well almost right). I wish Dave Smith would follow suit and make his stuff look a little more classy.


cmh says:

October 14, 2009 at 7:38 am

This is the very next thing on my list of purchases. I’ve just been waiting for the pre orders to clear out. Not to mention the patch version is selling faster than the midi version I suspect because it’s not only cheaper but most people who know what this is are using some sort of midi to cv anyway.

Frank I hear ya man. I would give anything for a faithful-ish reproduction of the prophet 5. I don’t think the prophet 08 comes close the way the minimoog voyager does to the orginal D. I think Dave is committed to making accessible pieces to the masses for now. I hope maybe if he makes enough money he will change his mind about making a more quality instrument then I will re-evaluate DSI. But for now the Sequential sound blows DSI to bits.

Sadly I doubt korg will do anything to return to the days of yore.


Dogboy73 says:

December 14, 2009 at 6:18 am

Very excited about the new SEM. I’ve just ordered one myself but the MIDI>CV version I went for is not ready to ship yet (Tom is still working on the design). So looking forward to the day I get hold of it though :-)