Solid State Micro Technology for Music

Solid State Micro Technology for Music logo.png
Usually referred to by the the acronym SSM which can mean Solid State Micro Technolgy for Music, Solid State Music Technology or Solid State Microelectronics depending on which documentation one looks at.[1]

The company

Founded in 1975[2] by John Robert Burgoon,[3] Solid State Music Technology (SSM) originated out the Homebrew Computer Club, an early 1970s Silicon Valley computer hobbyist group.[1] It was one of two companies that in the mid-1970s designed and sold analog integrated circuits used in synthesizers, the other was Curtis Electromusic Specialties.

SSMs first products were computer boards for the now-obsolete S-100 bus standard, including some boards intended for music applications. As Dave Rossum told the story in a 1981 interview with Polyphony magazine, an engineer named Ron Dow had come to E-mu Systems looking for funding to develop a voltage controlled amplifier on a chip. However, the proposed design would not have been compatible with the modular synthesizers that E-mu was selling at the time, so they turned Dow down. Dow then went to SSM and they agreed to fund the project and market it. The result was the first synthesizer-specific integrated circuit, the SSM2000 VCA. The following year, Dow came back with an idea for an improved design that was compatible with E-mu's systems and E-mu became involved with SSM in the design, the result was the SSM2010.[1][4]

E-mu became both a co-creator and a customer for SSMs circuits, incorporating the ICs into their modulars; Rossum consulted with Dow and SSM on the designs. Shortly after, E-mu consulted with Oberheim on their first non-SEM polyphonic synth designs using the SSM ICs. SSM chips were used in many late-1970s and early-1980s polyphonic analog synths, including the Oberheim models of the day, the Voyetra 8, and the rev 1 and 2 Prophet-5s. Connoisseurs of such things consider the SSM chips to produce a "thicker" and "ballsier" sound than the Curtis design, but the SSMs had some reliability problems and by 1985 most designers that were still specifying these types of ICs had switched to Curtis.

SSM was bought out by PMI, which in turn was acquired by Analog Devices, the current owner.[5] Most of the classic SSM synth-specific designs are long out of production, but AD does still produce some of the VCA circuits and matched transistor arrays.[1]


Functionally equivalent ICs have been produced by Alfa Rpar AS, Coolaudio International Ltd. and Sound Semiconductor Inc.



Synthesizers using SSM ICs


DIY projects


See also


  1. ^ a b c d Electronic Music wiki:SSM
  2. ^ VCAs Invesigated part two by Ben Duncan, Studio Sound, p.60, Jul. 1989
  3. ^ "History of Anchor-Electronics". Archived from the original on 2013-01-03. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  4. ^ Interview of Dave Rossum by Jay Lee in Polyphony Magazine Nov/Dec 1981
  5. ^ ChipDocs
  6. ^ a b "Curtis Electromusic". Archived from the original on 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  7. ^ a b Synthesizer Database by Moogulator
  8. ^ SSM data sheets
  9. ^ a b Build a better music synthesiser by Thomas Henry, Tab Books Inc, 1987, ISBN 0830627553
  10. ^ Various schematics

External links

Data sheets

SSM Catalog, SSM2000, SSM2010, SSM2012, SSM2013, SSM2014, SSM2015, SSM2020, SSM2022, SSM2024, SSM2030, SSM2031, SSM2033, SSM2038, SSM2040, SSM2044, SSM2045, SSM2047, SSM2050, SSM2056, SSM2100, SSM2120, SSM2164

Some are also freely available from: