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
July 11, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
want to buy one, new, but seems like no one sells it byt the anyobe know where to get a new? thanks
June 26, 2012 @ 2:14 am
Uh, dude, omg, total crap bro... lol, cheap, roflmacchio. Worst synth EVAR!!!1111

This is actually a surprisingly a good synth for the money. You can score one off eBay for $300 right now, which is insanely low for a hardware VA. Build quality is cheap plastic, much like the JP-8000 which cost $1,200 a decade ago, but you get a built-in audio interface and computer library for patches. Missing is cross mod and the ribbon controller, but here there's more LFO modulation options. Apples and oranges since it's the same recycled sound. So flip a coin, the JP-8000 and SH-201 are equal winners.
June 20, 2012 @ 9:27 am
I find this synth good! and i recomend it to beginners, its panel has a great layout to understand how sound synthesizes works..I manage to great great sounds form this synth, all you need to to is to dedicate time to learn how to program it! that is the key!!
June 12, 2012 @ 8:08 am
you.."claiming that one somehow sounds better comes off as being biased. .."

me.. No. as i stated 5 times. IMHO. does a humble opinion mean biased?
i like the jp better. move on don't. no biggie.
June 10, 2012 @ 10:54 pm
What I said about using presets is not cheap at all. I replaced my JP with the 201 and can point to other online sources of others who've owned both and can make the same claim. When you initialized a patch, the raw oscillators and filter sound identical. There's a few differences in how the oscillators are modulated, but overall, it's the same sound program and claiming that one somehow sounds better comes off as being biased. I've taken apart a JP before to repair the pots and it's a hollowed plastic case just like the 201 and AN1X. All 3 feel cheap, but the 201 was at least priced fairly.
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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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