Roland SE-02 Analog Synthesizer Review

In his latest Sonic Lab video, host Nick Batt takes a look at the new Roland SE-02, created in collaboration with Studio Electronics.

The SE-02 is not a clone of the Minimoog, but is heavily inspired by the classic Model D design. It’s a three oscillator + 24dB ladder filter analog synth, like the Minimoog, but also offers delay, a step sequencer and USB audio.

Batt says that the SE-02 sounds really good, but that its compact size makes it fiddly to use, compared to an original Minimoog. 

The Roland SE-02 is one of two recently introduced Minimoog-inspired synths:

  • The SE-02 has a street price of about US $500, and is an updated design with many features not available on vintage Minimoogs, including stable oscillators, new modulation options, patch memory, full MIDI control, digital delay and more.
  • The Behringer D has a street price of about US $300. It is closer to a Minimoog clone, using updated circuits, and adding minimal MIDI support and some CV patch points. It copies the Model D look, but shrinks it down to Eurorack size.

Both companies are aiming to create a budget Minimoog-inspired analog monosynth. Both have kept the price down by leaving off the keyboard, using a small form factor and mass production.

Roland SE-02 Features:

  • Discrete analog circuitry with knob-per-function interface
  • Three voltage controlled oscillators with six waveforms
  • Temperature-stabilized oscillators with automatic tuning
  • 24 dB low-pass filter and dual gain-stage amplifier
  • Three types of cross modulation (XMOD), feedback loop, and noise generator
  • Tempo-syncing LFO with nine waveforms
  • Tempo-syncing digital delay with bypass to maintain analog signal path
  • Save and recall sounds with 384 preset and 128 user locations
  • Musical and intuitive pattern sequencer with song mode
  • Sequence notes, gate time, glide, and synth parameters
  • CV, VCF CV and gate inputs, plus trigger in/out
  • External Input for routing audio through the SE-02’s filter section
  • Standard MIDI, USB-MIDI, and USB-Audio
  • Create a polyphonic synth by using Chain Mode to connect two or more SE-02s together via MIDI

Pricing and Availability

The Roland SE-02 is available now for US $499. See the Roland site for details.

If you’ve tried the Roland SE-02, share your thoughts on it in the comments!

23 thoughts on “Roland SE-02 Analog Synthesizer Review

  1. I would be a potential buyer, but there is no way I’m gonna torture myself with those miniature controls. Please, Roland, usability!

  2. If I were buying a Moog clone, I would definitely chose this over the Behringer D. 512 memory slots: nice!

    The small controls don’t bother me one bit. They seem easy enough to use on my other Roland boutiques.

  3. I’m thinking of replacing my Waldorf Rocket. Could this be the one (he asked rhetorically)?

    He didn’t mention it in the video, so obviously no real problem, but wow, those knobs wobbled a lot when he touched them.

    1. I would say ONLY compared to the Behringer, considering Studio Electronics have themselves said that if they were making this synth solely by themselves, it would have cost a lot more, and only Roland’s operations made it possible for this price tag. It’s unfair to then say $500 is too much, especially taking into consideration Studio Electronics pedigree. Their other synths are considerably more, and I think it’s unrealistic to want the synth to sell for less. Behringer for it’s own reason’s are able to charge peanuts, but this is who they are , and they have been refining this practice for a long time

      1. Behringer got 20,000 pre-orders for their model D. So yes, Behringer seems to be the new kid in town who makes lot of oldies rather angry.

  4. I keep wanting to shout to him “careful, Nick you’re going to break those knobs…… they’re not on properly “

  5. Just look at those wobbly knobs, sheesh. I suppose the small size exaggerates their movement, but it doesn’t inspire confidence and begs the question why the diddy format in the first place. How much more cost to upscale it to the controller width? When the limited run is over ffs Roland act your company age and release something proper scale again.

  6. seriously, korg figured out tiny knobs from the start with the volcas…. stop thinking about making it look like a full-sized knob. A narrow “stem” instead of a knob makes for more room between them, more room for fat fingers. The level of precision pretty much balances out I’d say.

    I’m waiting for the youtube video of a boutique user showing how they pulled the knobs off and got better usability… then i start shopping

    1. The Korg knobs are just the stem of the pot without a knob stuck on it.

      I bet you can pull these knobs off and have the same thing going for you, if you want it.

      1. If they are the same knobs as the JP-08 or JX-03 then pulling the knob caps off won’t help because they are short D shaft which are even worse.

        This is unfortunate because I do agree the knobs on the Volca are pretty good… still too close together for my fingers especically on the Volca Keys and the funny thing is the shafts on the Volca are further apart than the shafts on the JX-03! So it is very fiddly.

        SE-02 might be better spaced as they are using the entire surface of the enclosure and it’s very possible they are not D shaft for this unit…. time will tell!

  7. I tried it out last night and I didn’t take it home. I feel conflicted about this instrument. I LOVE the sound, and the high resolution of the controls. I love that it has presets, a sequencer and a decent delay.

    What I wasn’t crazy about was the size of it and in particular, both the size and feel of the knobs. The space between them is tiny so I was bumping neighboring controls while I was adjusting them. The potentiometers have a decent sense of solidity to them, but the ones that switch for things like waveform and octaves do not. I also don’t dig the lack of professional 1/4″ connections on the back.

    The price in Canada is $700.00. Yes, it sounds really good and can do a lot of stuff, but for the money, you could get a Waldorf Pulse 2 that is also paraphonic and their editing matrix is easy to navigate.

    The Bass Station II doesn’t sound quite as rich, but it still sounds good and while it’s not a true 3 osc design, the sub osc makes up for a lot. You also get good feeling controls and much stronger filtering and distortion options. Playing the SE-02 felt frustrating. If you really need that form factor, I’d get a Waldorf or skip the presets and make due with a Volca Bass which again feels better to work on in spite of its lack of programming options and patch saving.

    If Roland made these Boutiques a bit larger – even the size of an iPad or something – and put better hardware controls on them, they would be a winner for me but so far I’d rather have something that does less but gives me a stronger connection to it as an instrument.

    1. I returned mine..
      I usually like small keyboards and Synths…..
      but these knobs were ridiculous ..

      the killer for me was the very difficult twirl of the octave knobs… one of my favorite moves is bouncing back and forth octaves and on the SE-02 i found it almost impossible to do that musically…

  8. The Behringer sound SOOOOOOOOOOOO much better.
    Plus looking at those knobs, they seem super shitty.
    maybe im crazy, but did Behringer make a more sturdy synth than roland?
    i think yes.

  9. Just got it after trying it in a local store. Absolutely fantastic. Loving the size, it stays on my desk close to pens, pencils, computer keyboard, whatever. Knobs are solid, trustable, smooth. I have big hands, I love the interface. Loving the fact that the knobs are _not_ analog controls, they are digital controls, so everything is saved. Again, absolutely loving the size of everything.

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