New Company, Sound Semiconductor, Reissuing Classic SSM Chips For Synths

New company Sound Semiconductor has  announced its formation and its product for analog synthesizers, a reissue of the classic SSM2044 filter chip for synthesizers, developed by its original designer, Dave Rossum.

Headed by Dan Parks, CEO of 80’s chipmaker SSM and former Audio Products Director at Analog Devices and National Semiconductor, Sound Semiconductor plans to focus on high performance IC’s for electronic musical instruments and professional audio equipment. The development team includes previous SSM IC designers; all passionate about music and audio.

Sound’s first product is the SSI2144 Four Pole Voltage Controlled Filter (PDF), an improved re-issue of the classic SSM2044, thought by some to be the best sounding synthesizer filter chip ever produced. Developed by original SSM2044 designer Dave Rossum – the SSI2144 has been improved with lower noise and control feedthrough, better performance of the resonance control circuit, and pin connections optimized for PCB layout. Preservation of the SSM2044’s sonic characteristics – a key project requirement – were achieved.

The SSI2144 is now available in sample quantities to interested OEM’s, with production quantities in stock by late Spring. The device is offered in a 16-lead Shrink Small Outline Package (SSOP).

Pricing of the SSI2144 is $1.60 at 1000-pieces. Sound Semiconductor intends serve the hobby and enthusiast community through resellers for small volume sales and evaluation boards.

‘It’s exciting to see the renaissance of analog synthesis,’ stated Dan Parks, President of Sound Semiconductor. ‘When the idea hit to develop new ICs for this market, it was gratifying to have so much interest from my former colleagues to get involved in this effort.’

More chips reissues are planned, with the second expected this summer. See the company site for more information.

via matrixsynth

41 thoughts on “New Company, Sound Semiconductor, Reissuing Classic SSM Chips For Synths

  1. Those SSM2044 are really great sounding filters…. I built Fonitronik/Timo module and it sounds excellent

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    1. No, because the original SSM2044 chip was designed by Dave Rossum (of E-Mu fame) and Dave was part of the team of former SSM employees that created this improved version.

      The SSI2144 isn’t pin compatible with the 2044 (the new pinout makes more sense from a layout perspective) and incorporates a number of improvements (better resonance consistency, minimum +/- 4V power) because fab processes have dramatically changed.

      This chip wasn’t reverse engineered in China, it’s an improved version of the original created by someone who really knows what he’s doing.

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      1. And you really think that Behringer doesn’t know what they’re doing? Come on, because Behringer bought CoolAudio in 2000, foreseeing what is happening today, Behringer is the one to bash now?

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    2. I don’t think she will, because Doug’s company was responsible for the CEM (Curtis Electronic Music) stuff, while SSM was, I believe, their primary competitor.

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  2. One thing I wonder about is although it is a great design and should be made. How come with all this talk about new synth design that no one has designed a new series of chips for the market. I only say this because I see this explosion of raspberry pi board designs and all these new synth design and the technology has been advance leaps and bounds compared to the days when the original SSM was made.
    Who would not like to see return of the 76477 or top octave

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      1. Ooo nifty. also designs and sells some synth based programmed chips.

        Neither actually design the physical chip just the code running on it. So not exactly the same as analog filters and analog vco’s but very usable depending on what you want.

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      2. only issue, NON USA, so you have deal with currency and shipping international
        Although it is pretty cool
        Only thing is is it true chip design or programmed micro controllers
        I was hoping for TI or maxim to get in the game and make a true hardwired chip

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        1. Actually the issue with that guy is, his designs don’t work, or he doesn’t actually deliver anything. Even pretends his digital chip is analog! Seems like you have to shame him publicly to get a refund

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        2. LOL dude if that’s an issue. If I had to buy only synths made in Belgium I would still be beating a cardboard box 😛 😛

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    1. I imagine one big reason would be fear of the analog trend dropping off again.

      But as someone that enjoys building my own synths it sure would be sweet for designing a diy poly. A lot less part count per channel and even less space if smd based.

      Some day my Crumar Performer’s TOG will give up and I’ll have to try and fit this into to the case to fix it.

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      1. It’s been going strong since 1996 and is even stronger today.

        I don’t see analog interest dropping off, since it obviously is not just a fad.

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        1. Nor do I. But I can see it being a big concern for someone about to invest a lot of money. They would need to know the chips are going to be sold to manufactures for large scale use not just for hobby use in order to get back the initial investment.

          A filter chip definitely seems the safest way to start up again. An adsr or lfo maybe not since a lot of manufactures are doing the controls digitally on the newer stuff.

          None of us know the future. There may always be an analog synth market but it won’t necessarily be the dominant of the hardware synth market. But I hope it lasts for my lifetime cause I love this stuff.

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  3. I realize they are synth oriented but it would be cool if they did a Dolby B chip for cassette decks since no more are available and the patent has expired. But I’m not holding my breath.

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    1. You’ll never see reissued analog Dolby B ICs, but somebody could design a discrete analog circuit, or maybe do it in software.

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  4. Is this something that a home hobbyist could obtain, and then use to replace existing filters on synths they own?

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    1. It’s not pin-compatible with the original 2044, so you can’t just plug it in to replace a broken chip. As far as adding it to other designs… that would be a lot of work for a casual hobbyist.

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      1. well it should have been the same case and pinout. Hopefully they make it as well. I mean i understand the need to make it for surface mount but the legacy chip shoulda been factored in as well.

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        1. OEMs would much rather see surface mount, so there probably wouldn’t be the volume to justify DIP. Putting one of these new ICs on a little daughterboard that plugs right into the original DIP socket should be trivial.

          But just using one of these new “improved” ICs as a replacement for one voice of a polysynth probably wouldn’t be a great idea anyway. It may sound a bit different from the SSM2044.

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  5. See in the data (Fig.4) sheet that the signal amplitude decreases as resonance is increased.
    That is not good !

    There might be versions of Q compensation’ circuit modifications to get around this.
    With one of the CEM filter chips, there was a ‘White Dot’ version which had improved resonance characterisitcs to keep the signal level constant when Q is changed.

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