We take a closer look at Roland's SE-02 Boutique Analog Synthesizer, a collaboration with modular synth designer and manufacturer, Studio Electronics.
Roland's new SE-02 Boutique Synthesizer Module, is the product of a collaboration between the Japanese musical instrument giant and Studio Electronics, a boutique American synth designer. While you've likely heard of Roland, Studio Electronics may be a new name to you. Founded in 1981, Studio Electronics has long committed themselves to the design of high quality analog products in a wide variety of formats including Eurorack, rackmount, desktop and pedal. Studio Electronics has also collaborated with Slate Digital, Slate Pro Audio, Pittsburgh Modular and others.
Now, with that out of the way, let's dive into the exciting new Roland SE-02 synth.
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. It's classic sound comes from three voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs), a 24 dB low-pass filter (LPF) and dual gain-stage amplifier.
Each oscillator has six different waveforms to choose from including Triangle, Sawtooth, Square and more. Each oscillator also offers Range, for octave selection, and tuning options (Tune on OSC 1 and Fine on OSC 2 + 3). Even better, where vintage synths would need to be tuned every few minutes as they heated up, these VCOs are temperature stabilized, with automatic tuning.
Moving on, there are three different types of cross modulation (XMOD), a filter feedback loop, and a tempo-syncing LFO (with 9 different waveforms to pick from). There are also dual ADS envelopes (which can be inverted), oscillator sync, a noise generator, and a tempo-syncing digital delay.
SE-02 also features 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, found on other Roland Boutique synths, is that you can connect multiple modules via Chain Mode to increase your total polyphony.
Roland SE-02 Sound Examples
Let's check out some great SE-02 sound demos on Roland's SoundCloud and YouTube channels.
7 minutes of Roland SE-02 Sounds
Connectivity and Control - MIDI, USB and Control Voltage
Like other Roland Boutiques, the SE-02 analog synth module can be used with Roland's K-25m 25-key mini keyboard or DK-01 accessory docks. It also has MIDI I/O for hooking up to an external MIDI controller. There's also USB connectivity to transmit MIDI and/or audio back to your computer-based studio.
Taking a closer look at the back panel reveals plenty of Trigger and CV connectivity, allowing pitch and filter control. There's also an External Input, so you can run external audio sources through the on-board filter section. Integrating it with the rest of your studio should be no problem. SE-02 also 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 that 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 have their own workflows and sonic qualities. There are also some very reasonably priced analog polyphonic synths from Korg (Volca Keys, Minilogue) and Behringer (DeepMind 6), but those cover different sonic ground, form-factor and application.