Studio Electronics has a particular pedigree when it comes to analog synthesizers. As opposed to say, any company who has joined the bandwagon of the "analog renaissance" over the past decade or so, they never needed a renaissance per se, because they never stopped making high-quality analog synths. Having started out in the 1980s as a custom pro shop that rackmounted Minimoogs and Oberheim SEMs and added MIDI retrofits to them, their first in-house instrument was the SE-1 in 1993, which was unabashedly Mini-like in its design philosophy. And for much of the '90s and '00s, SE was the only game in town if you wanted a real (not virtual) discrete analog polysynth: the Omega-8.
Now it seems SE has combined forces with the global reach and manufacturing power of Roland to create an analog mono monster that fits into Roland's "Boutique Designer" form factor. Like its predecessors from SE, the SE-02 is truly analog and features discrete (i.e. not integrated) circuitry. It boasts three oscillators, a 24dB-per-octave ladder filter, two-stage gain amplifier, and dedicated LFO section. It also has a 16-step sequencer 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 it’s possible to adjust shuffle, scale, direction, and first/last steps on the fly. Trigger and CV inputs are provided for oscillator pitch and filter cutoff frequency.
The SE-02 is designed to function in "modern" and "vintage" rig contexts equally well, but the big story here is the price: Online retailers now taking pre-orders are showing a "street" price of US $499. It's hard not to take this as a shot across the bow of a certain other music technology company that debuted a not-unsimilarly configured synth this spring. And while said company makes a great deal of excellent gear, it's safe to say they don't have the premium brand perception among hardcore synth enthusiasts that Studio Electronics enjoys.
Quite obviously, we're going to need to get our hands on this as soon as a review unit is available and have a session where we compare things to other things. Look forward to that report, and may the best synth win!