CEM Options

Got a client asking if I can build him a CEM Shruthi. From trawling old threads is this a fair summary:

  • CEM chips are difficult but not impossible to find
  • Olivier has no more boards (and no plan to)
  • could make your own boards from the Eagle files

Is the control board still compatible with the old CEM board?
Anyone had a CEM board made and where from (I’m in UK)?
Anyone made one recently and have any tips or links?
Should I just try to convince them that a 4P is a better option? :slight_smile:



I’d convince the 4P is the better option, because… it is.

+1 for the 4PM. This stating having a CEM3379 at hand and it being the Filter of some of my favourite Synths.

I got the same request. For me personally, apart from practical issues which you mention above, the reason not to do this was that Olivier discontinued those boards because he did not want to contribute to the boundless scavenging of those ‘vintage’ chips. It seems that fully working synths are getting torn apart because their innards bring more if sold as separate parts. I felt better just saying ‘no, sorry’.

I was in the “you can butcher an Ensoniq ESQ-1 camp” since I heard that those are problematic and it’s better to gut a non-working one. These days I want an ESQ-1… Some day I’ll even be against butchery of old Elkas.

IF you want to butcher something for a CEM3379, please consider killing a Dœøpfer A-122 or A-109 instead of a ESQ - or even more horrible someone ripping apart the Chips from a VS…

Had same request by Petrus,… told him to look for a second hand one… they pop up now and then…
Don’t know if this one is still available?

Neil - email sent!

I decided a wanted a CEM Shruthi but after some discussion on here decided to build a standard kit as in fact it is fairly similar in sound. You can get the parts from old effects pedals but it is a shame to destroy some vintage gear to build something that “sounds vintage” when the standard kit sounds great.

I won’t dig up the old thread but here is what Pechenettes said: “Yes, only the SMR4 (mkII) filter board is available as a full kit, all parts included. Luckily for you this is the most “classic” filter, and it is indeed quite Rolandish.”

If you’re ready to build a 4P… Sell him a 4P, he won’t regret it.

I sort of missed the bit about the option of a 4PM, I built one of those as soon as I finished the kit, and I would recommend that too.

Good advice chaps, thank you!

i got the same request a few days ago too, must have been a chain mail :smiley:
my advice would be build them both. i didn’t have the impression that the 4PM gives the 3379 feeling, rather many more different feelings than just that bassy screaming. i still think it’s good to have the cem as it’s one of my favorites (like all the others too, for different reasons)
build all. if there’s a cem lying around just knock it together on perfboard, it’s a small circuit compared to 4pm or svf

I gather he contacted all trusted builders to see in anyone could/would build him one. If anyone on the forum has a used one up for sale, this would be the time to raise your hand…

[smartass] hehehe sure, everybody can’t wait to get rid of them [/smartass]

Hey! Yes i contacted everyone on the list. I was going to get around to answer back also, but has not done so yet. Since i like the Shruthi-1 so much i had to get one back after selling the SMR4 a while back, why not go with the filter of preference? Luckily, Raph on trusted builders list had just assembled one which i have now ordered custom made.

4PM seems to be great and versatile, but still cant sound like the CEM3379 chip.
From the mutable instruments soundcloud the CEM filter sound a little bit horrible.

But from this video:

i convinced myself this is the filter flavor i like the most.
I hope it is the same build from the youtube video as the one i have ordered now.
They sound a bit different from the two examples…

There still is one for sale on the forum, but due to a slow response by the seller i thought it was not for sale and already paid for the custom one…

Cant wait the brutal lofiness of Shruthi again…

Now the question is: how much what you hear in this video can be explained by the CEM filter rather than the rest of the synth engine? Unless we hear a recording of the same performance on a different filter… we don’t know!

I have some spare CEM 3379s here (besides the CEM 3399s i stock until i need to buy a Maserati of fund my sons Unjversity… The only reason is, i couldnt live with a 7 Voice ESQ. But i can well live with a 4PM instead of a CEM3379 Shruthi. To cut a long story short
why go for an overhyped, hard to come by vintage chip when the new filters are so much better?? I guess it just because in our fading memories yesterday was always better.

My 0,02 Euro (works out the same as $0.02 strangely enough)

“why go for an overhyped, hard to come by vintage chip when the new filters are so much better?? I guess it just because in our fading memories yesterday was always better.”

Answer is simple:

"i convinced myself this is the filter flavor i like the most. "

Obviously, my perspective is a little different since I provide a service but what the customer wants, they get if I can do it. If that entails 50,000 MCD blue LEDs that will burn your shadow into the back wall, so be it. I’ll politely advise against it but never pass judgement on anyone’s preference to this or that

In this case, it was coincidental that I just happen to have boards and chips on hand. I personally REALLY like the CEM filter (since the shurti actually) so I had 3 boards made via OSHpark. 1 to keep, 2 to sell. Mantora just came knocking first

Pichenettes i fully agree with that. It is hard to say, but for sure a part of the sound is due to the filter characteristics.

I had no idea this filter was overhyped, i have never owned an ESQ1 before so i cant agree about fading memories of yesterday. I just compared the filter boards by the sound sources online.
Another aspect is that i see an advantage in only having one filter instead 15+ to choose from. Simply that of simplicity. Sometimes having to many options can be more of an hindrance, more questions about “what to choose?”.

I don’t understand why some seem to get upset, if you are happy with your pole mission be happy with it. Sound and music is such a subjective issue and ever changing. Honor the differences in taste. Would it not be boring if everyone had a pole mission?

Actually you kind of convinced me i made the wrong decision, but the decision is already made and now i hope i will be happy with what i have chosen.