Roland's new SE-02 Boutique Synthesizer Module, a 3 oscillator analog beast, is the product of a collaboration between the Japanese musical instrument giant and a small, boutique American synth designer, Studio Electronics. While you've undoubtedly heard of Roland, Studio Electronics may be a new name to you. Founded back in 1981, Studio Electronics has long committed themselves to the design of high quality analog products across a diverse array of formats including Eurorack, rackmount, desktop, pedal and more. In addition to their newest collaboration with Roland, they've also worked with Slate Digital, Slate Pro Audio, Pittsburgh Modular and others.
Now, with that important background info out of the way, let's dive into the exciting new Roland SE-02 synth.
No menu-diving here! With a nearly 1:1 knob:function ratio, you'll love the real-time control that SE-02 offers.
Roland SE-02 Signal Path
Utilizing Roland's now well-established Boutique form-factor, this is an incredibly powerful monophonic analog synth that derives its classic sound from three voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs), a 24 dB low-pass filter (LPF) and dual gain-stage amplifier.
Each oscillator offers six different waveforms to choose from including Triangle, Sawtooth, Square and more. Each oscillator also offers Range (octave selection) and tuning options (Tune on OSC 1 and Fine on OSC 2 + 3). Even better, where vintage analog would require you to tune your synth every few minutes as the internal temperature increased, these VCOs are temperature stabilized, with automatic tuning so you can focus on your playing.
Moving on from the oscillator section, there are three different types of cross modulation (XMOD), a filter feedback loop, a tempo-syncing LFO (with 9 different waveform options), dual ADS envelopes (which can also be inverted), oscillator sync, a noise generator, and a tempo-syncing digital delay.
For even greater sound design and performance flexibility, there's an on-board 16-step sequencer for notes, gate time, glide and synth parameters. This sequencer can sync to internal tempo, or externally via MIDI, USB-MIDI or trigger input.
One really cool feature, which is found on other Roland Boutique synths, is that you can connect multiple modules via Chain Mode and increase total polyphony.
7 minutes of SE-02 Sounds
Connectivity and Control - MIDI, USB and Control Voltage
Like other members of Roland's Boutique family of products, the extremely portable analog synth module can be used with Roland's K-25m 25-key mini keyboard or DK-01 accessory docks. It also offers MIDI I/O for hooking up to an external MIDI controller and USB connectivity to transmit MIDI and/or audio back to your computer-based studio.
Further inspection of the back panel reveals plenty of Trigger and CV connectivity, covering pitch and filter control, as well as External Input, which allows you to run external audio sources through the on-board filter section. In other words, integrating it with the rest of your studio should be no problem. Also worth noting is that offers 384 presets and 128 user locations for storing your own creations.
Why You Should Buy The SE-02
If you're considering dipping your toes into the synth world, SE-02 is a great option. With a clearly laid out front panel that belies an extremely straight forward signal path, this latest offering from Roland is a great synth to cut your teeth on. If you're a more advanced user who's got plenty of other synths but appreciates incredible sound at a great price, this is a perfect choice to expand your sonic arsenal.
Other analog mono contenders in this price point include Korg's MS-20 Mini, Volca Bass and Monologue, Novation's Circuit Mono and Bass Station II and Arturia's MicroBrute, all of which offer their own unique workflows and sonic qualities. It's worth noting that there are also some very reasonably priced analog polyphonic offerings from Korg (Volca Keys, Minilogue) and Behringer's DeepMind 6, but those cover different sonic ground, form factor and application.
Ready to take the plunge? Get your pre-order in today!