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The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
#3040147 04/22/20 09:45 PM
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The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2

While recently watching this video I immediately realized how much I love the sound of Oberheim synthesizers. Back in the days I was lucky enough to work for the Oberheim distributor in the Netherlands so every working day was an Oberheim day.

In the video about the 8-Voice it’s clearly showed that this polyphonic synthesizer is actually a combination of 8 SEM mono synths patched together. (“I hear voices Doctor” – Interesting, you have 8 different personalities in your head…)

On the 8-Voice you have to program EACH of the 8 VOICES in order to achieve a certain sound (Imagine the drummer counting down and you have to adjust 8 mono synths to get that brass sound for the intro…)

What’s the effect of having 8 mono synths acting like one polyphonic instrument? 8 Different sounding voices, no matter how meticulously you program them. 8 Voices with per voice 2 VCO’s, LFO’s and Filters - operated by pots which are non-stepped. Try to create 8 consistent tones with these specifications. Impossible.

And then the Prophet 5 hit the marked. A far superior memory system, consistent sounding polyphony – I traded in 8-Voice Oberheims for almost nothing. Instantly they became worthless pieces of junk.
And so the 19-eighties said goodbye to the white, unstable sounding log. End of the 8-Voice story.

Almost forty years later. #coronatime #quarantine


I treated myself with the Arturia SEM V2. A nice sounding virtual analogue synthesizer modelled after an Oberheim SEM/OB-1. Twist the knobies time! Recording time! Lack of sleep time!

The sound reminds of the old days and as all true Synth Gods act, every switch and knob is not left untouched. So I stumbled onto the ‘8 voice programmer’ (8VP) which functions in the factory programs as a step sequencer. Fun to use. Kraftwerk to the max. Filter modulations in a 16th rhythmic pattern always inspiring to play with. To be honest: fun, but actually nothing really special.

Nothing special until I watched the video and realised what the 8VP of the Arturia SEM V2 really represents: instant 8-Voice in-the-box! (well, almost instant because you have to set the parameters yourself)

As soon as you set the first row of the 8VP with very subtle changes to the fine tuning of osc 1, repeat that at the 2nd row with somewhat opposite values to the fine tuning of osc 2, the magic fairy dust starts sparkling in. Imperfection. Inconsistent tones. Unstable. Lovely. Finally I have the old working days back!

Try this for yourself:
Parameter values for each row – the extremer the values (both + or -) the more significant the imperfections will be. These values for a ‘Sweet Dreams’ bowed string ensemble sound really nice.

1. VCO1 Fine | -1.60% | -1.70% | 0.50% | 0.85% | -1.60% | 0.30% | -0.60% | -0.30% |
2. VCO2 Fine | 1.30% | 0.90% | 2.30% | -1.10% | 2.50% | 0.80% | -1.40% | 0.55% |
3. VCF Freq | -3.05% | 1.25% | -0.50% | 0.60% | -0.45% | 0.20% | -1.10% | 1.20% |
4. VCF Mode | 0.00% | 0.80% | -4% | 4.80% | -5.60% | 1.60% | -6.40% | 1% |
5. LFO1 Freq | 0.80% | 1.35% | 0.95% | -4.80% | 1.85% | -6.85% | 3% | -4.75% |
6. VCA Pan | -3.20% | 5.60% | 12% | -13.60% | 13.60% | 4.80% | -8.80% | 12.55% |

In the audio example you can hear the same piece for two bars with the 8VP on and for two bars switched off.

Can hear (an feel!) the difference?
Please share your thoughts on this matter! Thank you. smile

Audio example on Soundcloud: Arturia SEM V2

Attached Files
Arturia SEM V2.JPG (65.2 KB, 371 downloads)
Last edited by Pim; 04/22/20 10:08 PM.

keys My Musicthx I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040158 04/22/20 11:45 PM
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Brother Pim! Always a pleasure to see you here, man. wave

For those who may not know, my long time friend Pim was one of the earliest members of the Keyboard Corner. If you find the very first thread in this forum almost twenty years ago ( freak ), you will see he was the secoind person to post here.

If you can't tell by his post, he is a major synth geek. You can find some of his programs in Andromeda's Factory Bank. cool

Thanks for the tip on the 8VP. I'm currently lost in Arturia's Synclavier and CS80, but I will certainly go check this out.

Much love to Tanja!

dB

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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040162 04/23/20 01:35 AM
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Yes great to see you back on here Pim, you're two minute song on one of the KC Compilations is still on regular rotation! thu

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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040164 04/23/20 01:45 AM
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So let me make sure I'm understanding this - if you use the 8VP screen you essentially have 8 SEMs playing at the same time. So you could use 4 of them and have a 4 Voice and use 2 of them for a 2 Voice. Am I understanding this correctly? Just checking. If so, what an awesome find. I've had plenty of fun playing with just one SEM instance up to now. I'm gonna jump in and try that myself! Thanks Pim!!! Y'all may not see me for a few days! lol



Kronos 88 | MODX7 | KeyLab 61 | CPS SSv3 | MacBook Pro | MainStage | More VSTs than I'll ever figure out

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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
midinut #3040199 04/23/20 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by midinut
So let me make sure I'm understanding this - if you use the 8VP screen you essentially have 8 SEMs playing at the same time. So you could use 4 of them and have a 4 Voice and use 2 of them for a 2 Voice. Am I understanding this correctly? Just checking. If so, what an awesome find. I've had plenty of fun playing with just one SEM instance up to now. I'm gonna jump in and try that myself! Thanks Pim!!! Y'all may not see me for a few days! lol
Hi midinut, nice to meet you! Please go watch the video I refer to > Oberheim 8-Voice That video shows the (perfect) imperfections of the 8-Voice.
If you like the imperfections, check out the 8VP in the Arturia SEM V2.

The 8VP doesn't really divide your SEM into a multi timbral synth but is capable of giving the SEM the imperfect analogue 8-Voice character. Check out my example - 2 bars with 8VP switched on and 2 bars switched off. Can you spot the difference? Arturia SEM V2 example


keys My Musicthx I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
midinut #3040211 04/23/20 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by midinut
So let me make sure I'm understanding this - if you use the 8VP screen you essentially have 8 SEMs playing at the same time. So you could use 4 of them and have a 4 Voice and use 2 of them for a 2 Voice. Am I understanding this correctly?....

No - it's still mono. The flip up 8VP allows you to program fine or coarse variations for each of 8 steps.
With the arp turned off, each time you hit the keyboard, the display (and sound) move to the next step.
With the arp turned on, each note can have small or large variations to both oscillators, the filter, and so on.

End result is a perception of randomness if you use small amounts of fine settings,
or a typical 8 step sequencer pattern if you use large amounts of the coarse settings.

Arturia makes some great stuff. I especially like the Matrix 12V and the Synclavier V for their proper implementation
of release velocity. If I were buying from them today, I probably would get just those two instead of the whole
collection. But their pricing strategy makes it attractive to just go for the collection.

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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040218 04/23/20 03:27 PM
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PIM!

Outstanding. About to go dive in....


David
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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040230 04/23/20 04:53 PM
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Pim, you are amazing. Love your sound design, brother. Your SEM patch sounds alive!

Agree that Arturia makes great tools. Even their non-emulation synth Pigments allows for polyphonic variability as follows: You would set LFOs to modulate the parameter you wish to vary (oscillator pitch, filter cutoff, etc), then set KBD to modulate rate and phase of the LFO's. Since the LFO's are polyphonic, each time you press a note, you will have a different value for those parameters.

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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Tusker #3040241 04/23/20 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Tusker
Pim, you are amazing. Love your sound design, brother. Your SEM patch sounds alive!

Agree that Arturia makes great tools. Even their non-emulation synth Pigments allows for polyphonic variability as follows: You would set LFOs to modulate the parameter you wish to vary (oscillator pitch, filter cutoff, etc), then set KBD to modulate rate and phase of the LFO's. Since the LFO's are polyphonic, each time you press a note, you will have a different value for those parameters.

Will try it out immediately! Thank you Tusker. Glad to see there are more of my kind... wink


keys My Musicthx I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040271 04/23/20 09:49 PM
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If your computer's up for it, you can just run 8 SEM V2 instances - all with the same patch, with the same or different settings for chords,
or with different patches and arp settings. Might be a bit much though.

I just had 3 instances running and got a little hypnotized. laugh

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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Dave Bryce #3040273 04/23/20 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
Brother Pim! Always a pleasure to see you here, man. wave

For those who may not know, my long time friend Pim was one of the earliest members of the Keyboard Corner. If you find the very first thread in this forum almost twenty years ago ( freak ), you will see he was the secoind person to post here.

If you can't tell by his post, he is a major synth geek. You can find some of his programs in Andromeda's Factory Bank. cool

Thanks for the tip on the 8VP. I'm currently lost in Arturia's Synclavier and CS80, but I will certainly go check this out.

Much love to Tanja!

dB


Speaking of the Andromeda - you probably don't remember this, but somewhere about 15 years ago, I posted here (under a different name) an "open letter to Alesis",
practically begging them not to discontinue the A6 until I was able to get one. You suggested I get an Ion to hold me over.

I did eventually get a couple Ions, a couple Microns, and a Fusion (to add to my QS's) and finally an Andromeda.
The only ones I have left now are a Micron and a QS6.2. laugh

While the A6 was great, I never really bonded with it like I thought I would.
For keyboards, I'm pretty happy with Kurzweil stuff now.

I do wish Alesis would get back in the synth game again. I was a big Alesis keyboard fan.
But it probably wouldn't be the same now.

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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040277 04/23/20 10:53 PM
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Pim, good to see you back here! cool

I have the V Collection version 6, and the SEM V2 is one of my favorites! Never got a chance to play or hear a real SEM 8 Voice back in the day, but listening to records that used it makes me believe Arturia got really close with this. And I agree, being able to offset parameters like oscillator fine tuning, panning, VCF frequency, LFO speed, etc. really makes the sound much more organic and lively. Joe Zawinul or Lyle Mays would have loved this. Heck, I often prefer to leave the chorus either off or mixed very low, just so I can hear the natural chorusing of the voices. cool

Thank you for the offset parameter settings. Can't wait to try them out! keys2


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Steve
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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Tusker #3040278 04/23/20 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Tusker
Agree that Arturia makes great tools. Even their non-emulation synth Pigments allows for polyphonic variability as follows: You would set LFOs to modulate the parameter you wish to vary (oscillator pitch, filter cutoff, etc), then set KBD to modulate rate and phase of the LFO's. Since the LFO's are polyphonic, each time you press a note, you will have a different value for those parameters.

I also have and love Pigments. I'll have to try these suggestions as well. Thanks for the tip! wave


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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040320 04/24/20 05:01 AM
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Thanks Pim for the inspiration to further dive into the SEM. I hadn't spent much time with this but felt motivated after your suggestions. It really is a nice software emulation.

I also really enjoyed the video & what I realized many years ago was confirmed - that imperfections in sounds intrigue the brain & create more stimulating sound palettes. Likewise, a synth with good solid sound generation does not need a lot of bells & whistles to become a classic.

Personally I'm glad I lived through the era of live performance twisting, sliding, switching & tweaking sounds. It made me one with my instruments at the time & also made me more appreciative of future simple things like the ability to store & recall a patch. Today I feel spoiled that I flick a power switch on any of my keyboards & literally have thousands of sounds at the click of a button. Cool yes, but it's nice to remember what I went through to get here!

Cheers,
Larry


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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040325 04/24/20 06:59 AM
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Thank you all. It's really great to read your thoughts on sculpting sounds. Tusker's contributions to the Arturia Pigments review inspired me to add two SEM programs to this thread: one with the 8VP ON and the other is without. I suggest to start with 8VP ON, play around for a few minutes before switching to the second program without the 8VP.

SEM 8VP Examples - Google Drive

Keep sharing your thoughts and feelings! smile


keys My Musicthx I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040331 04/24/20 11:51 AM
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I don't have the Arturia SEM nor did I ever own a real 2V, 4V or 8V but I have a question for you guys. Both real and virtual allow not only independent filter and envelopes per each voice but also independent ADR of each voice's filter and VCA as well? Same for the filter amount, type and resonance?

I seem to recall asking this question about another product years ago and maybe it was Mike Martin responding that the XW-P1 has this feature. I could be remembering this wrong. Anyway I'm curious about this hyper polyphonic function.

(edit) Btw I understand you get this with mult instances but it would be cool to have this control under one GUI.

Last edited by Markyboard; 04/24/20 11:56 AM.
Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Markyboard #3040380 04/24/20 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Markyboard
I don't have the Arturia SEM nor did I ever own a real 2V, 4V or 8V but I have a question for you guys. Both real and virtual allow not only independent filter and envelopes per each voice but also independent ADR of each voice's filter and VCA as well? Same for the filter amount, type and resonance?
Hi Markyboard,

Take a look at the attachment in my first post. The Arturia SEM has 6 slots to address the parameters you wish to alter per voice.


keys My Musicthx I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040383 04/24/20 04:57 PM
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Ah, got it and that's very cool! Thanks Pim!

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Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040444 04/24/20 10:19 PM
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You can download the free demo, take a peek at it, and try it out, from here: https://www.arturia.com/products/analog-classics/oberheim-sem-v

Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
felis #3040526 04/25/20 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by felis
You can download the free demo, take a peek at it, and try it out, from here: https://www.arturia.com/products/analog-classics/oberheim-sem-v

Thanks Felis- I'll keep that in mind for when I clear my bench.

Re: The (somewhat) hidden gem in the Arturia SEM V2
Pim #3040667 04/26/20 02:40 AM
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Thanks so much for a great post! I own both the desktop and iPad versions and can happily verify that the features you pointed out above are also available in the iOS version.
These are great days to be a synthesist, for sure!!!

Stay well, all my friends!
Tom


Tom
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