This is a redesigned anniversary edition of the classic Serge paper face modular series from 1972/73. The circuits are original, but Serge has added some refinements.
The original Serge Modular Music System designed by Serge Tcherepnin first appeared in the early 1970s. The instrument had an engineering bias where many of the functions were not considered musical at the time. Things like slew, comparators, processors and wave shapers that are now commonplace in synthesis. Many of the modules were multipurpose, like the Universal Slope Generator, which could be an envelope, slew, LFO, VCO, filter and all sorts. Everything came out on the front panel, making them rather boggling to look at, but it meant they were deeply versatile.
The “Paperface” name came from the use of paper on the front panels to show functions and labelling. It was a uniquely scruffy way of dealing with the inherent versatility in the system.
The modern equivalent is anything but scruffy. It’s a gorgeous piece of work with a few large front panels housed in a low-profile wooden enclosure. The use of banana plug patch cables gives it a solid and professional vibe that’s sometimes missing from Eurorack.
The first panel is the Serge Helios Voice Panel. It has oscillators, smooth and stepped generators, waveshapers and filters, along with a modulation processor. The second panel is the Serge Tempo Di Roma Sequencer with two 4-step programmers, a clock module, routing and directional switches. The third panel, which will come later in 2023, is the Serge Paris-Flash Slopes panel which is full of slew, envelopes, gates and filters for the ultimate in CV control.
Serge Tcherepnin comments that:
“Designing the first generation of Serge modules in ’72-’73 was a stab in the dark. Today, the redesign of these modules is like opening a door to a new universe. VCOs that track. Dual programmers featuring built-in sequencing and a metronomic clock. Silver on enamel panels, yet keeping to the spirit and patch-programmability of the original paperface panels. Glad to announce the first of several 50th anniversary Serge panels !”
The improvements include temperature-compensated 1V/Octave inputs on the VCO, pulse width modulation, a better clock and balanced outputs.
The Serge Paperface is a beautiful thing. Interacting with one would be quite an experience. The density of patch cables would be interesting to navigate.
Pre-ordering should open in January and the Serge Helios should cost €2,100 ex VAT including the boat. The Serge Tempo Di Roma is the same, and the forthcoming Serge Paris-Flash will probably be similar.
- Serge Modular website.