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
October 3, 2012 @ 3:06 pm
This was the synth that really helped me understand and get into programming and I managed to make some rather fantastic patches with it. I don't know about other users, but the power board on mine failed within a year of use, so I had that fixed and it's still going strong now.
Marc the Darc
September 28, 2012 @ 12:42 am
Had 1, sold it, regrets it!
Sadly they're getting quite hard to come by, and prices are rising.
Obviously it's not true analog, and yes the controls feel kinda cheap. But not in the almost 6 years i had mine, did it ever give me any trouble of any sort.
And most importantly, it actually sounds really really good! The Feedback OSC is awesome for really unique sounds, the supersaw is amazing, and overall you have a lush warm, albeit digital sounding synth, which is better sounding than most software. And just having all those knobs and the immediacy of hardware is so great. Miss mine...
August 24, 2012 @ 9:18 pm
the feedback osc on the sh201 makes it worth the purchase ive made some really lush "organic" sounding strings, to extremely loud harsh metalic screechs (great for industrial), great for fx, and even some funky basslines with that waveform. to all you people bashing this synth, just because you dont like it, doesnt mean this synth [beep] s. if you couldnt figure out what it does well, then you never gave it a chance in the first place. ive seen them go for 250$ (can.) used. What the [beep] is there not to like ITS HARDWARE FOR CHEAP OMG GET OVER YOUSELVES ITS NOT WHAT YOU USE, ITS HOW YOU USE IT
August 14, 2012 @ 5:05 am
Geoff Downes is using this synth with Yes and Asia.....most purists would probably laugh but he argues that he gets a good enough sound from them and they're more reliable than his old synths....I'll take his word over randoms on this site!
July 17, 2012 @ 2:24 pm
"stopped working after a couple of months, stuck in the highest octave."

All you need to do is open it up and spray/clean the dust off the button contacts. This has happened with a lot of synths I've owned, including this one. Works good as new now.
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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