Studio Electronics synths sometimes fly under the radar a little bit. They’re not quite as well-known as some of the other names on this list, particualry in Europe, where distribution hasn’t always been particularly widespread. The California company was founded in 1981 and became best known for its work modifying and then cloning Minimoogs, leading to the creation of rack synths such as the Midimoog and eventually the current range, including the almighty CODE polysynth.
The Boomstar series sees SE make a break from rack units to introduce a range of monophonic desktop modules, all with shared DNA but subtly different flavours of sound. Each Boomstar features discrete circuitry, with two oscillators, two envelope generators and an LFO. The key difference between the options is in the filter circuit: the Boomstar is available in six different flavours: the SE80, with a Yamaha CS-80-derived multi-mode filter; the 700, with a MiniKorg VCF; the 5089, featuring the classic Moog 24dB ladder design; the 4075, with aggressive ARP 2600 VCF; the SEM, with the mellow Oberheim 12dB filter; and the 3003, recreating the TB-303’s classic acid sound.
The Boomstars are also semi-modular, featuring a small number of patch points for interfacing with other gear. While not as flexible as, say, the Pittsburgh Modular System 10 or Murmux Semi-Modular, it’s a worthwhile addition to what’s already a very powerful synth architecture.