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B&A BEMI and Buchla USA 200e modules
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge  
Author B&A BEMI and Buchla USA 200e modules
koshi
Hey guys,

Just wondering are there any differences between builds of B&A / BEMI or Buchla U.S.A. modules? Why would you choose one over the other? Are there massive differences in PCB revisions? Are there specific modules affected? Just curious to know especially while buying second hand. Can't seem to find it using search feel free to post relevant posts if that was covered in the past.

Also, how would you know for sure whether module is B&A or BEMI do you just go by the panel?

Really appreciate any info.

Cheers!
REcDeso12oi
Hey Koshi,

The sort answer is no. BUSA and BEMI were still making Don's designs as he originally made them. The only thing you'll really see people talking about on here concerning BEMI was the quality control wasn't the best. Not in terms of component selection or anything, just bad solder joints, loose screws, etc. BUSA from what I understand has taken care of all of that. BUSA made some slight changes to the Music Easel, but from what I can tell they are mostly cosmetic.

Anyways. If you buy a 200e module 2nd hand and it functions properly there will be no noticeable difference between a BA BUSA or BEMI.. though some of the analog ones will sound slightly different just because of the nature of analog construction. But that's what makes it fun

Hope this helps
ndkent
That's what I heard too. Definitely lots of build issues with the BEMI Easel. I think the spottable changes came *within* the B&A years but that's because they were new designs. Never heard any changes BUSA has made to 200e
bwhittington
If you are being picky, manufacturing date might be a better indicator of era. BEMI modules were sold with B&A panels for a while, presumably until existing stock ran out.
tmeade
The "wobbly" knobs in the early modules were addressed in most modules (exceptt 261e) at around the same time BEMI took over but not necessarily because of them.
Minimoog56
BEMI sold many non-calibrated modules, including some that were defective, during and following the infamous fire sale of old Buchla B&A stock. I know of 227e, 261e, and other modules that had severe bleeding from mismatched vactrols, dead channels, etc. BEMI Oscillators were rarely consistently calibrated for tuning, and they dribbled out 200e modules, rarely stocking enough to build even the Skylab system. BEMI was so absorbed with their initial reintroduction of the Easel (i.e., angry customers paying 100% down, year long wait lists, and poor quality control resulting in many defective units) that they essentially abandoned the 200e platform for 3+ years. In contrast, the old B&A 200e builds were exceptional, with reasonable wait times, and whole systems burned in and tested, tidy and secured wiring, all modules calibrated, checked and tagged by Jon, Karl, and Yasi at the Curtiss Street "factory". "New" modules from B&A were returnable, no questions asked, long after original sale for module swaps, repairs and tune ups. There is no comparison between Curtiss Street builds (wobbly knobs not withstanding) and what BEMI served up. After the sale and the move to Oregon, Don lost control of his designs that led to his suing BEMI for breach of financial and other terms of his contract. In contrast, Buchla USA has been delivering calibrated modules, but no new designs, and is effectively in a holding pattern with the 200e. The new owners are showing interest in the 200e platform which finally took off despite the ongoing digital versus analog debate following Don's passing due to the restricted supply and pent up demand during the BEMI period. The 200e format is technologically dated, low rez, but a wonderful fully integrated design with great ergonomics and aesthetics. The midi bus is well implemented, perhaps the best among modular synths, and enhanced the spatial control of 4 channel polyphony that Don first implemented back in the early 70's. Buchla USA plus the efforts of builders like Doug CL, Drillionaire, Roman, Verbos and the cloners keep the 200e format stumbling along despite the dramatic cost differences with other formats. I appreciate that. I have all the original B&A modules that Jon pulled together for me back in 2009. I think my good friend Adam has been through at least 6-8 systems since then. Beavers mate for life my wife keeps telling me.
askthedust
Minimoog56 wrote:
BEMI sold many non-calibrated modules, including some that were defective, during and following the infamous fire sale of old Buchla B&A stock. I know of 227e, 261e, and other modules that had severe bleeding from mismatched vactrols, dead channels, etc. BEMI Oscillators were rarely consistently calibrated for tuning, and they dribbled out 200e modules, rarely stocking enough to build even the Skylab system. BEMI was so absorbed with their initial reintroduction of the Easel (i.e., angry customers paying 100% down, year long wait lists, and poor quality control resulting in many defective units) that they essentially abandoned the 200e platform for 3+ years. In contrast, the old B&A 200e builds were exceptional, with reasonable wait times, and whole systems burned in and tested, tidy and secured wiring, all modules calibrated, checked and tagged by Jon, Karl, and Yasi at the Curtiss Street "factory". "New" modules from B&A were returnable, no questions asked, long after original sale for module swaps, repairs and tune ups. There is no comparison between Curtiss Street builds (wobbly knobs not withstanding) and what BEMI served up. After the sale and the move to Oregon, Don lost control of his designs that led to his suing BEMI for breach of financial and other terms of his contract. In contrast, Buchla USA has been delivering calibrated modules, but no new designs, and is effectively in a holding pattern with the 200e. The new owners are showing interest in the 200e platform which finally took off despite the ongoing digital versus analog debate following Don's passing due to the restricted supply and pent up demand during the BEMI period. The 200e format is technologically dated, low rez, but a wonderful fully integrated design with great ergonomics and aesthetics. The midi bus is well implemented, perhaps the best among modular synths, and enhanced the spatial control of 4 channel polyphony that Don first implemented back in the early 70's. Buchla USA plus the efforts of builders like Doug CL, Drillionaire, Roman, Verbos and the cloners keep the 200e format stumbling along despite the dramatic cost differences with other formats. I appreciate that. I have all the original B&A modules that Jon pulled together for me back in 2009. I think my good friend Adam has been through at least 6-8 systems since then. Beavers mate for life my wife keeps telling me.



That’s one hell of a great informative post. Thank you!
REcDeso12oi
Wow. Good to know! Thanks for the info!
mutierend
Minimoog56 wrote:
BEMI sold many non-calibrated modules, including some that were defective, during and following the infamous fire sale of old Buchla B&A stock. I know of 227e, 261e, and other modules that had severe bleeding from mismatched vactrols, dead channels, etc. BEMI Oscillators were rarely consistently calibrated for tuning, and they dribbled out 200e modules, rarely stocking enough to build even the Skylab system. BEMI was so absorbed with their initial reintroduction of the Easel (i.e., angry customers paying 100% down, year long wait lists, and poor quality control resulting in many defective units) that they essentially abandoned the 200e platform for 3+ years. In contrast, the old B&A 200e builds were exceptional, with reasonable wait times, and whole systems burned in and tested, tidy and secured wiring, all modules calibrated, checked and tagged by Jon, Karl, and Yasi at the Curtiss Street "factory". "New" modules from B&A were returnable, no questions asked, long after original sale for module swaps, repairs and tune ups. There is no comparison between Curtiss Street builds (wobbly knobs not withstanding) and what BEMI served up. After the sale and the move to Oregon, Don lost control of his designs that led to his suing BEMI for breach of financial and other terms of his contract. In contrast, Buchla USA has been delivering calibrated modules, but no new designs, and is effectively in a holding pattern with the 200e. The new owners are showing interest in the 200e platform which finally took off despite the ongoing digital versus analog debate following Don's passing due to the restricted supply and pent up demand during the BEMI period. The 200e format is technologically dated, low rez, but a wonderful fully integrated design with great ergonomics and aesthetics. The midi bus is well implemented, perhaps the best among modular synths, and enhanced the spatial control of 4 channel polyphony that Don first implemented back in the early 70's. Buchla USA plus the efforts of builders like Doug CL, Drillionaire, Roman, Verbos and the cloners keep the 200e format stumbling along despite the dramatic cost differences with other formats. I appreciate that. I have all the original B&A modules that Jon pulled together for me back in 2009. I think my good friend Adam has been through at least 6-8 systems since then. Beavers mate for life my wife keeps telling me.


That belongs in a Buchla format FAQ!
koshi
Thanks so much for all the answers and Minimoog56 this is golden info.
Love this forum for that!
thumbs up
tIB
Think it's also worth pointing out that BEMI, for all their faults, sold plenty of completely working modules.
djangosfire
Minimoog56 wrote:
I think my good friend Adam has been through at least 6-8 systems since then. Beavers mate for life my wife keeps telling me.


Ha!! Buchla 222e well... I absolutely LOVE my current 12 space 200e.. which is a mix of B&A, BUCHLA USA & Studio-H. ... LOVE!! SlayerBadger!
koshi
tIB wrote:
Think it's also worth pointing out that BEMI, for all their faults, sold plenty of completely working modules.

True I have 259e with BEMI panel which is totally fine so is 267e which is also BEMI tho its with B&A panel Dead Banana

My 292e have really wobbly knobs and B&A panel on so really hard to tell what is going on. Its so inconsistent that looking at the panel doesn't make much sense. Good points about the dates on pcbs!

Useful to have info about what others experienced tho. thumbs up
jsheaucsb
I'll also say that though the BEMI stuff gets a bad rap, I have a BEMI panel 259e, two 292e's, and a 285e. They have been a joy to use and I've never experienced a problem.
mutierend
I have a lot of BEMI modules from 2017 and 2018. I only had a couple of issues. I have a 260e from the really old B&A days and my (former) 227e was one of the first ones built, in 2004/2005. My new 227e is from Buchla USA. I'm sure I won't be able to tell the difference.

The two issues I experienced: on my 291e, output A was shorting out so I had to put a little piece of electrical tape in there. (Thanks fellow Wigglers for that tip.) I also have had to tighten the faceplate screws on a couple of modules.

Buchla modules are expensive, but looking at the price list from 2008 and adjusting for inflation, most of the modules are cheaper now than they were 11 years ago. So, there's that.
REcDeso12oi
I'll go ahead and chime in as well since I'm super bored. For what its worth I put my entire 18u system together when BEMI was in charge and all of the faceplates had B&A on them. Out of all the modules I ordered I had issues with my 206e and my 250e. Fortunately both were easy fixes. There was a bad connection with the ribbon cable for the screen in the preset manager in the 206e and there was a bad solder joint for one of the pulse switches for the 250e. All of the modules once fixed functioned perfectly and sounded amazing. I had no issues with faulty or bad components or bleed. Its possible some of my modules were from B&A since they had the faceplate I guess.

Anyways, I still stand that if you buy a 200e module that functions properly, you're most likely going to be fine. Maybe final last words hehe
cuttooth
For what it's worth, my new 272e just showed up today with a B&A faceplate. seriously, i just don't get it

Put my system together mostly during the BEMI days as well, and only had an issue with the 291e cutting audio in and out. Turned out to be an easy fix -through John Leimseider, no less- due to what he called "some careless assembly". I guess a couple of the audio in contacts were shorting/touching one another.
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