Studio Electronics Boomstar MK2
Studio Electronics are no strangers to analog synths, as this is where the company got started back in the mid-eighties. The Boomstar MK2 range is their return to the analog synths of that era and comes in five different flavors. Each one of them is a single-voice, monophonic desktop synthesizer that is identical in every way apart from the filters. The models on offer are the 4072, SE80, 8106, 5089, as well as SEM. These correspond to the Arp 2600, Roland, Yamaha, Moog, and Oberheim sounds produced by these filters. The Boomstar range is pretty stylish, and features are pretty weighty for their relatively compact size. The dimensions of these desktop synth modules are 206x180mm, including the beautiful wooden bookends. Studio Electronics has gone the extra mile by drilling these from the inside, so you won’t see any screw holes marring the retro look. The lumber and microlumber sides are hand-picked and handcrafted featuring Bocote, Marblewood, and Pau Ferro. These sides look beautiful with the sturdy steel chassis of the synths. The Boomstar MK2 features two VCOs, and the output from the oscillators is routed to a small mixer featuring white noise and a ring mod too. It also has two full ADSR envelope generators, with the first hardwired to the filter while the second handles the amplitude. In addition, it has one voltage-controlled amplifier and a single low-frequency oscillator. For the MKII version of the Boomstar series Studio Electronics has addressed some of the issues that users had with the first version. The synths have been refaced for clarity of function and now feature better signal flow along with an overall visual/tactile assist overhaul. This basically means that the different areas on the synths are now separated with printed lines and clear legends to make it easier to operate. The synths have also been revoiced for purity of tone and feature a diode-based feedback circuit for greater dynamic range and harmonic distortion content. The synths now also have lined, fluted knobs and lined quick-turn pot shafts top to bottom to make it easier for more precise programming and patch recall. Metal-shafted pots are also installed throughout, except for the envelopes, which feature custom taper plastic-shafted pots strengthened with an added bushing. The front panel jacks include a CV in, Gate in, Filter frequency modulation in, Amplifier modulation, in Oscillator out, and External signal in. The rear panel jacks consist of MIDI in, MIDI out, ¼’ Audio out, and a DC power input. The SE80 model also has a Traveller input. The Boomstar MKII series is not cheap, and there are much more affordable software versions of the classic synths available, but in terms of hardware, these are hard to beat. Not only are they fantastic to operate, but they will set you back a lot less than the original vintage hardware with the same type of filters.