Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II vs Oberheim SEM

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.

Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II vs Oberheim SEM

Postby projectwoofer » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:22 pm

During my hunt for a VCO monosynth, I tracked down these:

1. Spectral Audio Neptune II
Image

2. Future Retro XS
Image

3._Tom Oberheim SEM plus Kenton Pro-Solo
Image

Why these three? Because I would like my future synth to be in the 500-1000 euros range and because they have some nice features which are very important to me: Multimode filter, External Audio Input and MIDI-synced LFOs!

In my research, I have also seen other synths that doesn't seem to meet my needs:
_Doepfer Dark Energy (only one VCO-no noise generetor-no sync)
_MFB Synth II (drifting oscillators-no sync-not so good build quality)
_Vermona Perfourmer (no PWM-filter low pass only)
_Analogue Solutions synths (none has LFO sync-dubious build quality-plus I think they're way too expensive for what they do)
_Moog Synths (expensive)

I know the FR is much more expensive than the Neptune (with the SEM being in the middle) but they all seem to combine good sound with nice feature set and build quality. Any opinions on how they can be compared?
Last edited by projectwoofer on Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby Christopher Winkels » Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:21 am

One correction: the SEM does have sync.
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby nadafarms » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:26 am

honestly the new sem smokes them both and is cheaper and better sounding IMO than the XS. The neptune is obviously cheap and well priced but people complain about the oscillators sounding too clean. Also since the netptune isn't semi modular it's not really in the same category, but honestly I would choose the neptune or SEM :) and spend the rest of the money on effects.
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby projectwoofer » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:00 pm

Christopher Winkels wrote:One correction: the SEM does have sync.

Well, I'didn't know that... :shock: How one can achieve this with the new SEM? Is it possible with both versions? Any special external hardware required?
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby projectwoofer » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:42 pm

nadafarms wrote:honestly the new sem smokes them both and is cheaper and better sounding IMO than the XS. The neptune is obviously cheap and well priced but people complain about the oscillators sounding too clean. Also since the netptune isn't semi modular it's not really in the same category, but honestly I would choose the neptune or SEM :) and spend the rest of the money on effects.


Will the SEM's 12db multimode filter self-oscillate with high resonance settings?
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby Christopher Winkels » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:16 pm

projectwoofer wrote:
Christopher Winkels wrote:One correction: the SEM does have sync.

Well, I'didn't know that... :shock: How one can achieve this with the new SEM? Is it possible with both versions? Any special external hardware required?


It's actually there on the front panel.

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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby shaft9000 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:07 pm

i think he means MIDI->LFO sync, not osc sync??
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby Christopher Winkels » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:58 pm

Ah, right.... I missed that in his first paragraph. Ignore me. :oops:
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby Hair » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:51 pm

Spectral Audio states that you can add a lot of mods/ins and outs to the Neptune II:

Additional manual change possibilities (described in the Service manual) :

* Having PW(M) on Square Wave on Osc1,2 or 3
* Osc3 Sync with Osc1 or Osc2
* Even faster Envelopes
* Increase tune range for Osc1..Osc3
* Additional signal inputs and outputs (i.e. to work with your modular system i.e.)
* General in/outputs of Oscillators, Envelopes, Filter, Ringmodulator, ...
So although it's not semi-modular out of the box, you might (or might not) be able to spend less money making the modular implementations you want than the difference in price of the XS.

Service manual if you want to take a look at what's involved in the mods: http://www.spectralaudio.ch/support/Ser ... tuneII.pdf
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby projectwoofer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:50 pm

shaft9000 wrote:i think he means MIDI->LFO sync, not osc sync??


I think it's best to chose the semi modular version (MIDIless) of the new SEM and use it with a Kenton Pro Solo MIDI-to-CV converter which also has a very flexible MIDI synced LFO!
Honestly though, the new SEM has a really nice sound, maybe better than a Neptune to my ears...now I'm more confused! :)
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby projectwoofer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:53 pm

Hair wrote:Spectral Audio states that you can add a lot of mods/ins and outs to the Neptune II:

Additional manual change possibilities (described in the Service manual) :

* Having PW(M) on Square Wave on Osc1,2 or 3
* Osc3 Sync with Osc1 or Osc2
* Even faster Envelopes
* Increase tune range for Osc1..Osc3
* Additional signal inputs and outputs (i.e. to work with your modular system i.e.)
* General in/outputs of Oscillators, Envelopes, Filter, Ringmodulator, ...
So although it's not semi-modular out of the box, you might (or might not) be able to spend less money making the modular implementations you want than the difference in price of the XS.

Service manual if you want to take a look at what's involved in the mods: http://www.spectralaudio.ch/support/Ser ... tuneII.pdf


Out of these mods, I'd certainly wanted to add PWM! The only thing is that after reading the service manual, I still don't understand what EXACTLY one's supposed to do in order to do this... :?
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby Tsarik » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:48 pm

the Future Retro XS trumps all in sonic ability but I think all are some of the best mono synths available.

the Neptune II is the best budget emulation of the moog sound I've ever heard.

the SEM has a classic unique sound and the patchable version is awesome. i definitely plan on getting a patchable SEM to go with my XS.

when deciding on my first analog mono synth it came down to these 3 synths. i went with the XS and am completely satisfied. the XS has surpassed all expectations and has offered continuously new sonic discoveries. the XS has so blown me away I am now looking into samplers so i could incorporate some of its truly unique sounds into songs. i plan on programming all the percussion on the XS as well.
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II

Postby stikygum » Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:03 pm

The XS will definitely give you better percussion sounds than the other two. I don't think any of these 3 beats out the other. The XS and SEM are the most flexible, the XS being the most wild and unique, the SEM more classic, and the Neptune being more of an all arounder with a warm vintage like vibe.

I would like to get the SEM sometime. I should buy the Neptune and ABC it with my XS and ATC-Xi.
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II vs Oberheim SEM

Postby Villi » Sat Dec 26, 2009 5:48 pm

So, where would one buy a Neptune in Europe these days?
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Re: Future Retro XS vs Spectral Audio Neptune II vs Oberheim SEM

Postby projectwoofer » Mon Dec 28, 2009 1:28 am

Villi wrote:So, where would one buy a Neptune in Europe these days?


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