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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147 Visitor comments
April 26, 2012 @ 10:57 am
i like this synth alot for making huge ambient synth pads
April 11, 2012 @ 3:04 pm
Oh, this is a pure waste of time, I would hardly recommend it to anyone.
Better focus on SH-32, a midget diamond.
costas [2]
March 27, 2012 @ 10:29 pm
As for the sound? Well I still believe it's amazing, but IT IS a VA. I now have a moog slim phatty too and I can say this: two different synths for different tasks.I have a flexible, multitimbral polyphonic,with arpeggiator and FX one with a couple of weaknesses and an monophonic PHAT analogue that has it's own drawback. Anyway have you ever seen JMJ, Keith Emerson or any other keyboardist, with only one set of keys? e.g.
Conclusion: It's a very good synth, if what you want is a synth and not patches ready to use.And for today's prices? A bargain!
costas [1]
March 27, 2012 @ 10:10 pm
After 2 years more with this little VA, and I can tell you that it still gives me satisfaction. I'd say "good job Roland" but,in our times, that almost anything with a USB gets an update, nothing for this one (beside patches).LFO destination could EASILY be even more flexible, although in the pc editor, as are other things that you can do with it. OWNERS! DON'T READ THE MANUAL! STUDY IT! You can find many things that everybody here says "It doesn't do this and it hasn't got that, or why I don't hear the sound via USB" or anything like that. Even now after 4 years I run to it from time to time
March 6, 2012 @ 2:45 pm
I got this as an extra keyboard, the last month.
I have many analogs and digital synths from Roland here, V-synth, JD-800, Jupiter 6-8, D-50, SH-101, JX-3P, Juno 60-6. I enjoy create sounds with it. Great live replacement for many vintage synths. Arpeggio, Dual, split, ring mod. Very underestimated by the musicians. This is a future classic, really secret weapon. Silky strings, basses, CS-80 brass. Who needs a Jupiter ?
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User Rating

Rated 4.25 (926 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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