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I am head over heels for this black box.
The SE-1 is the evolution of Studio Electronics' famed MIDI Moog. At its heart the SE-1 is very much a rackmounted, Mini Moog with full MIDI implementation, but there are a few useful additions to the Moog package that make this synth way more versatile. It features a ring mod, dedicated LFOs (so you don't have to sacrifice an oscillator to LFO duty like on a real model D) and a multimode filter. The filter of course has the classic Moog 4 pole 24db/oct low pass ladder and its wet and thick as can be, but it also can be set to an oberheim 2 pole 12db/oct low pass or band pass and the oberheim filter coupled with the moog oscillators and snappy envelopes provide a really distinctive sound for pads and leads. Using the ring mod and/or frequency mod features you can get some Xpanderish sounds on the less complex end of the oberheim spectrum.
She's not terribly attractive, but she's built like a tank (weighs a ton, but its not a synth you move once its plugged into your set-up).
At $400 used this synth is a no brainer as Moog doesn't offer a comparable product in this price range. Also, this synth sounds very different from my Sub Phatty. Setting the 3rd oscillator to sub provides a much different sub bass response and the oscillators in general sound a little more hifi. In Moog mode thefilter is wet ans sloshylike the Phatty, but cleaner even hen the Phatty's drive control is off. The filters on these 2 synths also respond differently when self-oscillating (cranked resonance). All in all this was a great buy. While it covers some of the same ground as Moog's current offerings it does a lot of stuff the Moog gear doesn't and the Moog synths can get textures that the SE-1 can only approximate with external processing (and a few that it will enver do thanks to the Phatty's infinitely variable oscillator shape control versus the fixed shapes the SE-1 inherited from the original Model D).
I highly recommend everyone get an SE-1 or SE-1X. My only wish is that each oscillator had an additional sine mode. I understand there are some limited edition 1Xes that replace the triangle on osc 3 with a sine, but the synth would be a perfect 3 oscillator analog giant if all the oscillators had a sine shape as well as all the other included shapes.
But this is a lot of synth for the money and a joy to program and play. I can't dock it a point anywhere, the MIDI implementation is fabulous, the knobs are inviting and easy to turn without sacrificing precision. Patch storage is a breeze. This is one of the absolute best monosynths on the market. I wish they would make a poly version.
Monster Bass Monosynth
Many people have never heard of Studio Electronics or the SE-1, as they were one of those smaller companies quietly making excellent analog synths before the current revival (and are still around today, by the way). The SE-1 is a 3-oscillator monosynth that can be described as a pseudo-minimoog with modern features (patch memory, MIDI) and some other interesting tweaks. Considering that Moog itself is making synths again, why should you bother with a SE-1? It sounds amazing, especially if you are looking for huge bass sounds, and it has lots of lovely knobs to make sound editing a breeze. And, unlike the Moog Slim Phatty that this replaced in my studio, the sounds fit very well with the other synths and gear that are being used. It's a lovely synth, and for under $500 used, a hell of a deal...if you can find one!
(The newer SE-1 models are called the SE-1X, and feature expanded patch memory, an audio-in port and some other updates.)