SEM V

Synthesis horizon expander.

The Oberheim® Synthesizer Expander Module was a complete and gigantic sounding analog synth voice in a box. Now, SEM V resurrects this beautifully minimalist machine in stunning vintage detail, adding capabilities that meet the needs of today’s music makers.

A thing of analog beauty

Originally meant as a companion module to sequencers and other synths, the SEM sported a multi-mode filter and two tremendous oscillators that made it unlike anything else. Combining multiple SEMs into 2, 4, and 8-voice systems took things to another level - just ask Rush or Herbie Hancock. SEM V puts all this power, and more, right in your DAW.

Sounds Analog

True Analog Emulation® technology brings all the fat and warmth in a way no sampled version can. You’ll hear the difference and so will your audience.

Team Player

From synthpop to hip-hop, almost every musical style can use some of the burbling bombast of the SEM.

Vault of Voices

Set polyphony up to 32 voices for massive brass, swelling strings, and ponderous pads.

That Filter

The 12dB/octave multimode filter that sounded unlike anything else, eventually shaping the identity of Oberheim®, exquisitely recreated.

The monophonic synth that
launched a polyphonic revolution

Tom Oberheim had already enjoyed success building effects and a sequencer — and as the Los Angeles dealer for ARP synthesizers. He first conceived the SEM as an add-on, but it became a centerpiece.

Tom’s purpose was twofold: A sonic expander for synths like the 2600 and the Mini, and a stand-alone synth module for pairing with his DS-2A sequencer. Of course, you could also add SEMs to each other. Tom Oberheim himself said, “The SEMs were the beginning of synths being able to do polyphonic orchestration.”

Discover the history of Sem

A driving force behind the SEM was that the DS-2A took over the connected synth, which was often modular and always expensive, so players didn’t want to give up control while the sequence ran. An affordable and compact synth-in-a-box dedicated to the sequencer was the perfect solution.

Oberheim released the SEM in 1974. The Two-Voice and Four-Voice synths — two or four SEMs and a keyboard — followed a year later. The latter included a Programmer that could save and recall settings for all the SEMs at once, unifying them as a single instrument. This was three years before the Prophet-5 would claim the title of first fully programmable polyphonic synth. That’s true if you consider the Prophet’s all-in-one “slab” form factor. Multi-SEM synths were more like mini-modulars that folded up into their own carrying case, but they made Oberheim first to market with polyphony and basic programmability.

SEM-based synths maxed out with the Eight-Voice. It was a favorite of Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul of jazz-fusion giants Weather Report, and Geddy Lee of Rush, who famously melded his Eight-Voice with a Mini in a dual-keyboard custom build.

The SEM circuit formed the basis of the OB-X (1979), which was available in four-, six-, and eight-voice configurations. Successors like the OB-Xa (1981) and OB-8 (1983) used the same circuit design on microchips. SEM V can function like a single SEM, an Eight-Voice, or anything in between.

An SEM for Today
and Tomorrow

We faithfully modeled the core controls of the SEM, then added a few tricks of our own to make it more SEM than ever.

Its sound ranges from creamy to downright bossy, serving up leads, basses, pads, brass, strings, and special FX with gusto. Our additions give it a big boost while staying entirely within the spirit of the original.

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01. Multi-Mode Filter

The SEM’s calling card was its 12dB-per-octave filter, which was continuously variable between lowpass, bandpass, and highpass.

02. Bring the Boom

A sub-oscillator one or two octaves below the two VCOs allows for sounds with floor-shaking low end.

03. Extra LFO

The SEM had a single LFO. SEM V adds another and lets you modulate VCO frequency or pulse width from either. Of course, both LFOs sync to tempo.

04. Classic Arpeggiator

Generate retro riffs with the tempo-syncable Arpeggiator, which features a Random mode, Hold, and up to a four-octave range.

05. Here’s the Mixer

Mix the volume of sawtooth or pulse waves, as well as the sub-oscillator or white noise, heading into the Filter section.

06. Built-in Effects

Quickly dial in the perfect amounts of Overdrive, Chorus, and Delay to put the final sheen on your SEM V sound.

Expander
Expanded

Open up SEM V’s Advanced Panel to access a treasure trove of creative sound design features.

The magic of software is that once we’ve gotten the original sound exactly right, we can add functionality that would be a lot more costly in hardware. The SEM is already a powerhouse, but these extras make it a powerhouse with a Ph.D.

  • Eight SEMs in One

    The Programmer controls six parameters for up to eight virtual SEMs as you play notes. It’s like having a more sophisticated Oberheim Eight-Voice.

  • Mod Matrix

    We’ve greatly enhanced the SEM’s modulation capability with eight independent routings. Go nuts with eight sources and 26 destinations!

  • Follow This

    Six settings of your choosing can change based on the note played according to a user-definable curve. It’s the most surgical keyboard tracking on any synth.

  • Effects Control

    Tweak and tempo-sync the built-in FX here, then dial in each. The Delay even features a stereo ping-pong mode.

Hear it
in action

From Brit prog to American pop to Berlin acid, these original compositions from some of our most talented users show just a few of the places SEM V can take your musical ideas.

Artistscorner

PressClippings

  • Sound On Sound

    On SEM V

    “[The SEM V] will be an excellent complement to other synths and soft synths - beautifully simple to use in the first instance, while offering greater depth when you're ready to take advantage of it. Oh yes, and then there's that sound !”

  • Future Music

    On SEM V

    “An awesome synth which takes the Oberheim® classic and expand it into a versatile all-rounder”

  • Future Music

    On SEM V

    “As a straight emulation of the classic SEM sound, the SEM V ticks all the boxes, but the software has so much more to offer when you explore it in greater depth : small but effective additions to the SEM design, advanced voice editing features and, of course, an excellent polyphonic mode. The range of sounds available is much greater than the SEM name might suggest, covering classic Oberheim® ground and much more, and this makes the SEM V a great synth in its own right.”

  • Keyboard US

    On SEM V

    “I'm impressed by how well SEM V captures the sound of Oberheim® hardware, and its extended features make it more flexible than its namesake [...] SEM V is one of the most genuinely analog-sounding soft synths yet. If you love the sound of vintage synths, SEM V should be a part of your virtual rig.”

  • MusicTech

    On SEM V

    “The SEM V is a gorgeous-sounding synth and, crucially, like the original it’s fairly easy to get to grips with. You don’t have to be a synth wizard to tweak and design sounds, and it’s a lot of fun when you play around […] The new features – arpegiattor, sub-oscillator and three modules - extend the functionality of the instrument even further, and will surely help you get more out of what is already an excellent synth.”

Included in
V collection

Legendary Keyboards Reinvented

This instrument is also part of the V Collection -your complete dream line-up of the legendary synths, organs, pianos and more that made keyboard history. They’re modeled with the most advanced technologies for authentic realism, and enhanced with new creative options. Whether you use it as DAW plugins in the studio or standalone at gigs, V Collection puts the greatest keys of all time at your fingertips for instant inspiration.

Learn More

The features
you need

  • In-App Tutorials

    Integrated in-app tutorials guide you through every aspect of the instrument, from individual parameters to tips from our sound designers, so you can focus on the creative stuff. It shouldn't be this easy, but it is!

  • ASC

    Arturia Software Center lets you download, organize, and update all of your Arturia software titles in one place, as well as manage all of your licenses across multiple devices. Keep it simple.

  • DAW ready

    Our virtual instruments and plugins are designed to fit right into your setup without hassle. Whatever your style, you can explore sound while enjoying full compatibility with major DAWS, on both Windows and MacOS.

  • Preset browser

    Instantly find the sound that’s in your head with intelligent & streamlined preset browsing. Search with keywords, explore by instrument type, musical style, and more - you can even save your favorites to quickly recall later.

  • Resizable GUI

    Whether you want the full visual immersion of our classic instrument emulations, or to save precious screen real estate, the interfaces for all of your Arturia virtual instruments can be resized to a scale that suits you.

  • Perfect integration

    Instruments come seamlessly mapped for the Arturia KeyLab range - but they’ll place nice with other MIDI controllers too. Instant sound tweaking macros, easy DAW integration, and standalone operation.

TAE® Powered

The exclusive analog modeling technology that makes our emulations indistinguishable from the originals.

By accurately mimicking the characteristics of analog oscillators, filters, and soft clipping, we can provide astonishing component-accurate detail and authentic analog charm in equal measure.

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Gallery

Main Features

All the original parameters of the Oberheim® SEM : two oscillators, each offering sawtooth wave and variable-width pulse wave with PWM, sine wave LFO, 12dB/oct multi-mode Filter with low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and notch, two ADS envelope generators.

Added functionalities : New LFO, Noise, Sub oscillator, on board effects (overdrive, chorus and delay), Arpeggiator, Portamento.

Polyphony up to 32 and 8 Voice Multitimbrality

New 8 Voice Programmer module

Advanced Keyboard Follow module

Modulation Matrix module

Works in Standalone

Now compatible with iSEM Preset export/import

Polyphony parameter to limit the polyphony of the plugin

20 new factory presets from Ian Boddy

21 new factory presets from Erik Norlander

35 new factory presets from Richard Courtel

11 new factory presets from Kevin Lamb

14 new factory presets from Drew Newmann

"Forward Retrigg" mode for the 8-Voice Programmer (for easy use of sequences using the Arpeggiator)

"Reassign" mode for the 8-Voice Programmer (like in the original one, the SEM V will first use the boards that are not gated in its voice assignment)

Sustain pedal is now active on all systems

Platform specifications

Windows

  • Win 10+ (64bit)
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 4 cores CPU, 3.4 GHz (4.0 GHz Turbo-boost)
  • 3GB free hard disk space
  • OpenGL 2.0 compatible GPU
  • ARM processors not supported on Windows

Required configuration

  • Works in Standalone, VST, AAX, Audio Unit, NKS (64-bit DAWs only).

Apple

  • Mac OS 11+
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 4 cores CPU, 3.4 GHz (4.0 GHz Turbo-boost) or M1 CPU
  • 3GB free hard disk space
  • OpenGL 2.0 compatible GPU

Work with ASC

  • An elegant and simple solution to help you install, activate, and update your Arturia software instruments.

All manufacturer and product names mentioned on this page are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Arturia. The trademarks of other manufacturers are used solely to identify the products of those manufacturers whose features and sound were studied during the development. All names of equipment, inventors, and manufacturers have been included for illustrative and educational purposes only, and do not suggest any affiliation or endorsement by any equipment inventor or manufacturer.

*Oberheim® is a registered trademark of Tom Oberheim.