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Which to buy? SEM Oberheim or Boomstar Desktop Synthesizers
Old 20th December 2016
  #1
Which to buy? SEM Oberheim or Boomstar

Considering getting a mono SEM and as the title suggest in a quandary between the Oberheim and the Boomstar SEM. I have an old 4075 Boomstar which has been upgraded with color coded metal knobs and the smaller ones have white position lines. While the guys at Studio Electronics were at it they put in new high grade pots, some newer internal components and adjusted everything to perfection. If I go the Boomstar route the upgraded knobs seem worth it. I look forward to peoples thoughts on this. Price between them seems to be similar enough to not be a big deal to me. Here is a picture of the upgraded Boomstar 4075.
Attached Thumbnails
Which to buy? SEM Oberheim or Boomstar-boomstar-4075-upgrade.jpg  
Old 20th December 2016
  #2
Lives for gear
you get a lot more functionality from a Boomstar, but if you want the true SEM sound, only a SEM will do.
Old 20th December 2016
  #3
Gear Addict
Kind of related... can anyone comment re: current Oberheim build methods? I'm sure they're sturdy and all, but I've read somewhere the new SEM PCB's are made differently to the old ones. Can anyone elaborate?
Old 20th December 2016
  #4
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eXode's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by smitty.west View Post
Kind of related... can anyone comment re: current Oberheim build methods? I'm sure they're sturdy and all, but I've read somewhere the new SEM PCB's are made differently to the old ones. Can anyone elaborate?
The old SEM was made with through hole technology while the new one is made with surface mount technology.
Old 20th December 2016
  #5
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by eXode View Post
The old SEM was made with through hole technology while the new one is made with surface mount technology.
I'm assuming the downside of the new ones in that case being that SMD is much harder to work on when something goes wrong? How about the Boomstars? Assuming SMD as well.
Old 20th December 2016
  #6
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cloud drift's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by smitty.west View Post
I'm assuming the downside of the new ones in that case being that SMD is much harder to work on when something goes wrong? How about the Boomstars? Assuming SMD as well.
Boomstar's are through hole
Old 20th December 2016
  #7
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Coorec's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by smitty.west View Post
I'm assuming the downside of the new ones in that case being that SMD is much harder to work on when something goes wrong? How about the Boomstars? Assuming SMD as well.
That depends. With some practice the difference is not that much and its easier to de-solder stuff from SMD imo, because you dont need to deconstruct the whole unit.

If you do maintenance on synths, you usually replace just single pieces anyways.

No clue what all the fuzz is about when it comes to SMD vs TH.

I even read a claim some time ago it would be bad for audio quality.. what nonsense...
Old 21st December 2016
  #8
Please lets keep the SMD vs TH thing low key. For me its about the sound in the end and both these companies make great sounding stuff. I had the original 8 voice Oberheim SEM which many years ago I sold. Feel pretty stupid about that. I find the new Oberheim SEM to sound amazing and close enough. Unfortunately I have never heard the Boomstar SEM in person.
Old 21st December 2016
  #9
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lineofcontrol's Avatar
 

I have an SEM PRO and the Boomstar also but with the Moog filter.

I find the SEM interface so very much easier to navigate whilst the Boomstar seems fiddly and overly complex.... yes I am a simpleton...

As to the sound. Well the SEM along with my SH-101 is the very best sounding and most musically pleasing sounding thing in my arsenal of goodies.

It's nothing but sweetspot. Truly remarkable.

Here is a taste. Nothing very song like here just a very simple sequence and a play with the filters. No effects or processing at all.
Listen to SEM Pro Demo by androiddreams #np on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/androiddreams/sem-pro-demo
Old 21st December 2016
  #10
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lineofcontrol View Post
I have an SEM PRO and the Boomstar also but with the Moog filter.

I find the SEM interface so very much easier to navigate whilst the Boomstar seems fiddly and overly complex.... yes I am a simpleton...

As to the sound. Well the SEM along with my SH-101 is the very best sounding and most musically pleasing sounding thing in my arsenal of goodies.

It's nothing but sweetspot. Truly remarkable.

Here is a taste. Nothing very song like here just a very simple sequence and a play with the filters. No effects or processing at all.
Listen to SEM Pro Demo by androiddreams #np on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/androiddreams/sem-pro-demo
I agree that the Boomstar interface is a bit odd. It's flexible, but it seems that things are in odd places and the way the filter works in conjunction with the envelope took some getting used to. It's also weird that they used 1/8th inch plugs but didn't conform the audio level to the eurorack standard.

But, it sounds great. Not entirely like the Oberheim SEM, but definitely like a close cousin. To me it's not an issue because the extra functionality makes it worth it.
Old 21st December 2016
  #11
I've got them both and currently have the Boomstar for sale....
Old 21st December 2016
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by nodog View Post
I've got them both and currently have the Boomstar for sale....
Thanks for sharing. Can you elaborate on this?
Old 21st December 2016
  #13
My reasoning is exactly what Dubnspace and Lineofcontrol are saying above. I found the Boomstar to be too complicated though it does sound very good in its own way and is much more versatile. The creamyness of the Oberheim is unparallelled though and just like Lineofcontrol, I am a simpleton so love the simple operation of the synth.
Old 21st December 2016
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post

But, it sounds great. Not entirely like the Oberheim SEM, but definitely like a close cousin. To me it's not an issue because the extra functionality makes it worth it.
If you have time to record and post the Boomstar SEM what would be really helpful. Especially without the distortion or ring mod on which really could turn it into something else. So few sounds samples I could find and they are all more overdriven distorted sounding, not the pure smooth sound I was more interested in which I am sure it can do.

The Boomstar 4075 sound pretty fantastic here. Some of the modulation choices are odd but every synth here has its quirks. It has that larger than life modular sound I like for mono synths. The tuning on it is spot on and the pots are very smooth. Not sure what people mean by tweaky. I guess that it has so many options that its easy to over tweak it and waste time? You can get it to really go out on limb sound wise or keep it simple.
Old 21st December 2016
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by nodog View Post
My reasoning is exactly what Dubnspace and Lineofcontrol are saying above. I found the Boomstar to be too complicated though it does sound very good in its own way and is much more versatile. The creamyness of the Oberheim is unparallelled though and just like Lineofcontrol, I am a simpleton so love the simple operation of the synth.
I hear you on that. I guess having more patch options for me is a plus as the Boomstar does not bother me in that regard. I would like even more lol. I deal with clients and they all have different needs so more options can be good. I think my choice is simply going to come down to the sound of the Boomstar SEM. Unfortunately still hoping for a clean demo of it without effects and distortion showing off the oscillator wave settings, filter and resonance.
Old 21st December 2016
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioSoundzz View Post
If you have time to record and post the Boomstar SEM what would be really helpful. Especially without the distortion or ring mod on which really could turn it into something else. So few sounds samples I could find and they are all more overdriven distorted sounding, not the pure smooth sound I was more interested in which I am sure it can do.

The Boomstar 4075 sound pretty fantastic here. Some of the modulation choices are odd but every synth here has its quirks. It has that larger than life modular sound I like for mono synths. The tuning on it is spot on and the pots are very smooth. Not sure what people mean by tweaky. I guess that it has so many options that its easy to over tweak it and waste time? You can get it to really go out on limb sound wise or keep it simple.
I'll try, but don't count on me any time soon. The whole family is home for Christmas and the only way I can even type on gearslutz is because of smart phones and pooping.
Old 21st December 2016
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I'll try, but don't count on me any time soon. The whole family is home for Christmas and the only way I can even type on gearslutz is because of smart phones and pooping.
They should have made that demo long time ago actually, not you! If a company does not even bother promoting their own products why would you? Enjoy Christmas with the family man!
Old 21st December 2016
  #18
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lineofcontrol's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I'll try, but don't count on me any time soon. The whole family is home for Christmas and the only way I can even type on gearslutz is because of smart phones and pooping.
Old 21st December 2016
  #19
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lineofcontrol's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I'll try, but don't count on me any time soon. The whole family is home for Christmas and the only way I can even type on gearslutz is because of smart phones and pooping.
Old 22nd December 2016
  #20
The Boomstar manual says: "For oscillators we’ve essentially been using the same Moog-based design since our reissue of the MiniMoog® stabilized oscillator board". Then a lengthy discussion follows about the different filters for each model. So as has been said they are not meant to be clones of the originals but similar is some ways and often different.

After giving them a phone call today I decided to purchase a new Boomstar SEM off ebay at a pretty low price from a reputable seller knowing this kind of price is not going to last. Also I like the idea of the minimoog oscillator with the Oberheim sounding filters. I can at least hear it in person and if I like it keep it and if not return it. If I keep it I will probably have the knobs changed out to the smaller metal ones and possibly have a resonance control from CV mod done. I appreciate everyone's thoughts on this and the different opinions are refreshing. No need for sound demoes for me but more are needed out there. Maybe I will create something.
Old 22nd December 2016
  #21
Please do make a demo. I have an SEM Patch Panel on order. No telling when it will come due. On the other hand, the Boomstar is available.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #22
Gear Addict
Just can't understand how Boomstar interface can seemed too complicated to anyone... Imho it can't has simpler layout.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiTeR-aR View Post
Just can't understand how Boomstar interface can seemed too complicated to anyone... Imho it can't has simpler layout.
Okay, for one, all knobs and switches are similar to each other and the little pots at the bottom don't have a clear indication where they at.

Part of this is space. It would've been superb if it was twice it's size. Then it would have space for the envelopes to be on faders instead of pots. Have some bigger pots for "important" functions. This would immediately make it easier to handle.

All being said, this is also a matter of knowing your synth and I'm guilty of buying/having too much gear to really getting to know a beast of a synth like this. If I'd have been using it more I'm sure it would feel logical to me too. It's not that the sections on it are that weird or something, it's just there's so much possibilities it's easy to get lost and it would have helped if the interface was clearer imo.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #24
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Anyone knows if the oscillator out patch point on the boomstar will continue outputting the waveforms even if the volume of the oscillators on the mixer section is set to zero?
Old 23rd December 2016
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by projectwoofer View Post
Anyone knows if the oscillator out patch point on the boomstar will continue outputting the waveforms even if the volume of the oscillators on the mixer section is set to zero?
The Oscillator Out on the top front panel is always sending out the raw sound so the volume pot does not change it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nodog View Post
Okay, for one, all knobs and switches are similar to each other and the little pots at the bottom don't have a clear indication where they at.

Part of this is space. It would've been superb if it was twice it's size. Then it would have space for the envelopes to be on faders instead of pots. Have some bigger pots for "important" functions. This would immediately make it easier to handle.
I agree the knobs are all wrong. The bottom ones you cannot see where they are the the top ones are too large for the space between them. Thats why I went the extra mile to have them put in better knobs. Hope they change all the new units to have them soon. Also color coding them makes it much easier to find your way around.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #26
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiTeR-aR View Post
Just can't understand how Boomstar interface can seemed too complicated to anyone... Imho it can't has simpler layout.
Complicated isn't the right word. More like somewhat confusing. Weird things like the bandpass switch isn't near the rest of the filter controls. Neither is the filter velocity amount knob. It feels like something other than UX was driving their design decisions. It's not horrible, just not as good as other things.

But I'll say it again. The sound is top notch. Any interface issues are small compared to the additional functionality you get compared to the Oberheim.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #27
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Gringo Starr's Avatar
 

When in doubt always choose Oberheim.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #28
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gruvsyco's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gringo Starr View Post
When in doubt always choose Oberheim.
Even when not in doubt, choose Oberheim.
Old 23rd December 2016
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by gruvsyco View Post
Even when not in doubt, choose Oberheim.
Thats funny
Old 23rd December 2016
  #30
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gruvsyco's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioSoundzz View Post
Thats funny
Was only half way meant to be funny. I had an original SEM back in the day and currently have an SEM pro and TVS Pro. You can't go wrong with Oberheim.

If I were going to buy an alternative, I would probably look at Analogue Solutions Semblence or SemblenceK before getting the Studio Electronics offering. I'm sure the SE piece is a nice instrument though.
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