One of the criticisms that’s been levelled at Roland’s Boutique series has been that the modules contained within it are digital rather than analogue. The Boutique Designer Series addresses this issue, with the new SE-02 synth boasting analogue circuitry for a “distinctly vintage sound”.
The SE-02 was created in collaboration with Studio Electronics, which is responsible for - among many other things - the Tonestar and Boomstar instruments. It features three VCOs, a voltage-controlled 24dB low-pass filter, and a dual gain-stage amplifier. The oscillators have six different waveforms, which promise the “warmth and complex character” that you’d hope for.
Vintage tones might be part of the SE-02’s shtick, but Roland says that it goes a lot further than that. The stakes are raised with three types of cross modulation (XMOD), a filter feedback loop, a tempo-syncing LFO with nine waveforms, envelope sweeping and inverting, oscillator sync, a noise generator, and a tempo-syncing delay.
As far as control goes, you’re looking at a knob-per-function design and a layout that’s said to be intuitive, so you can get tweaking right away and go deeper when you need to. There are 384 presets, and 128 user locations in which you can store your own sounds.
And then there’s the sequencer: a 16-step affair that can sync to external tempo via MIDI, USB, or trigger input. Per-step gate time, adjustable glide, tempo, and patch number are stored with each sequence, and you can use the shuffle, scale, direction and first/last step functions on the fly. You can also use the sequencer to automate synth parameters.
The sequencer can store up to 128 patterns and 16 songs, each of which can have 16 parts.
The SE-02 has the same form factor as the other Roland Boutique synths, so can be chained to them and is compatible with that range’s accessories. There are CV inputs for pitch and filter frequency, and also trigger in and out, and you can route external audio through the filter. USB audio and MIDI capabilities are on-hand for those who want to integrate the SE-02 into a computer-based setup.
Find out more on the Roland website. We’re still awaiting official price confirmation, but early indications are that the SE-02 will cost around $500 and should be available soon.