Roland SH-201 Synthesizer

Roland SH-201 Image

Roland has resurrected their SH-series of synthesizers with the SH-201, an analog modeling synthesizer that's both fun and easy to use with plenty of features and cool sounds at a great price. The sounds and controls are analog style, and the SH-201 features Roland's famous Supersaw waveform (introduced in the JP-8000), resonant filter, saturation control, and more. Unlike the original SH-synths which were monophonic affairs, the SH-201 offers 10 voices of polyphony, which is perfect since we only have 10 fingers and this is definitely a hands-on performance oriented synthesizer.

At its heart the SH-201 has two beefy analog-modeling oscillators with ten analog styled waveforms. The two oscillators can be blended together in the Mix section, and there is also oscillator sync and ring modulation. Of course there is a filter section with High, Low and Band pass filtering at 12 or 24 dB/oct slopes, with the usual cutoff, resonance and key follow controls. Two LFOs add some modulation with 6 wave shapes plus sample-n-hold and multiple destinations. It also comes with high-quality delay and reverb effects, an overdrive control, and (like the SH-101) an arpeggiator function with 32 patterns.

Like the SH-101 of the early eighties, the SH-201 is quite user friendly, with a fairly simple and organized panel lay out (in a logically positioned signal path from left to right) and every control onboard is within reach. There are no complicated touch screens or menus of parameters to wade through, just grab a control and tweak! The keyboard is compact with just 49 keys and is only sensitive to velocity (no aftertouch). Patch memory is a bit on the disappointing side, with only 32 user and 32 preset patches. However, with its state-of-the-art USB connectivity, the SH-201 can be connected to a Mac/PC computer (both MIDI and audio can be routed through the USB port) and a VSTi software editor is included, which allows SH-201 sounds to be edited and stored from within a VSTi-compatible host software sequencer.

Roland SH-201 Image

The SH-201 also features external audio inputs with dedicated filters and effects. The SH-201 also features Roland's D-Beam technology allowing you to simply wave your hand above the D-Beam controller to create some wacky pitch-bends or modulations to the sounds. While it is clearly loaded up with Roland's latest technology it is packaged in a synth that is easy to use and simple to understand, with instantly accessible analog-type synth sounds that won't empty your wallet to attain--and in that way, this truly is a Roland qualified to carry the "SH" designation.

It is used by Noisia and Richard Barbieri.

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148 Visitor comments
July 24, 2010 @ 9:06 pm
well, I cannot hate it, even if I try. It's dead-cheap, now the Gaia is in the shops.
Have a MS2000 too, so I can actually compare. The SH doesn't sound as bad as people would let You believe. Some aliasing on high filter settings, but not too bad.
Presets are meh... I got phatter sounds out of it after only an hour of twiddling.
It's lay-out is exellent. Much better than many other VA-synths that seem to relish making You go utterly mad while trying to find hidden menu-driven crap.

My only gripe is the limited routing possibilities. No velocity linking to cutoff etc., at least, not that I can find.

Oscillator syncing is also a bit of a hit- and miss.

But for the money? Unbeatable.
June 28, 2010 @ 3:47 pm
I just bought an sh-201 recently and I absolutely love it, although it lacks a step sequencer and aftertouch, the lush pad sounds more than make up for it. Besides, the features the sh 201 lacks are present in its teammate within my sythesizer rig, the alesis micron. Together they make an awesome pair, the nearly infinitely flexibly programmable micron with its plethora of features and the hands- on instant- access sh 201. BTW I just found out that the SH 201 can be persuaded to do a rather convincing hammond organ emulation.
Son of MooG
April 23, 2010 @ 7:16 am
As longtime-owner of a Juno-6, MC-202, MonoPoly, MS-10, MFB Synth Lite ll, Doepfer Dark Energy, SH-201, i regard myself as a capable analog synth programmer and i can't understand how it is possible not to get good sounds from the SH-201. Granted, it has its weaknesses (filter resonance), but knowing this there are plenty other undiscovered sonic countries to explore. I wouldn't use my TX81Z for lush String-Pads as i wouldn't the SH-201 for high-resonant synth-bubbles. These are the domain of the MS-10 & Dark Energy, the SH-201 gives me all the pads i need...
Dj Defo
April 9, 2010 @ 4:41 am
I've had mine about three months ago, and i'm sure it'll take some years to me to get bored of it... I'm an analog lover but my wallet's always crying, and i think that this machine is the best solution if you can't afford a vintage machine or you just want to learn subtractive synthesis. You can obtain superclassic analog sounds, heavy drum'n'bass styled basslines and experiment with digital-like moving pads using the feedback oscillator modulating pulse width with the LFOs... And still have fun with silly effects ;) A++
February 22, 2010 @ 9:39 am
Alice Spooner of Hadouken also uses one of these
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.24 (928 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Up to 10 voices
  • Oscillators - 2 Analog Sound Modeling oscillators;
    Knobs: Pitch, Detune, Pulse-Width/Feedback, Pitch Enveloper: Attack, Decay;
    MIX/MOD Section: Oscillator Sync, Ring Modulation, Low Boost/Low Cut, Knob: Balance (OSC1/OSC2)
  • LFO - 2 LFOs; Shapes: TRIANGLE, SINE, SAW, SQUARE, TRAPEZOID, SAMPLE AND HOLD, RANDOM, Knobs: Rate, Destination 1 Depth, Destination 2 Depth, Tempo Sync ON/OFF
  • Filter - 1 Filter; Types: LPF, BPF, HPF (-12 dB/-24 dB), Knobs: Cutoff, Resonance, Key follow, Enveloper: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
  • Amp - 1 Amp: Level, Insertion Effect: Overdrive, Enveloper: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
  • Effects - Reverb, Modulation Delay
  • Arpeggiator - 32 Patterns (programmable with PC editor software)
  • Memory - Preset : 32, User: 32
  • Keyboard - 49 keys (velocity sensitive)
  • Control - MIDI (IN, OUT), USB Connector (AUDIO/MIDI)
  • Date Produced - 2006
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Roland-US.

    Reviewed August 2008.

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