Roland SH-32 Synthesizer

Roland SH-32 Image

The SH-32 is a 4-part multitimbral desktop synth module using new Wave Acceleration Synthesis to deliver up to 32 voices of fat synth waves and entirely new waveforms. The raw waveforms are sampled rather than mathematically generated and are actually multi-sampled across the octave ranges. There's also a full complement of knobs and sliders, analog-style 808 and 909 drums, DSP effects and a killer programmable arpeggiator - all at a reasonably cheap price.

The SH-32 is more like an affordable follow up to Roland's JP-8000 and JP-8080 analog modeling synthesizers than the real SH-series synths of the seventies/eighties. But that doesn't mean it can't sound like an SH-101, for example. The SH-32 has awesome, aggressive filters, however audible stepping can be heard when slowly twisting the cutoff knob, but not so when modulated with the envelope or LFO. It has many more variations of each classic wave than older SH synths, offering 67 types of waveforms. Everything from thick bass sounds to entirely new sounds not possible on traditional synthesizers can be coaxed out of the SH-32.

Every parameter is available on the front panel via knobs and sliders. There are no hidden menus, although the mass clutter of controls and information printed on the face of the SH-32 is a bit overwhelming, but look closer and it does seem as logically laid out and organized as possible.

Whilst you can certainly hook this baby up to your MIDI keyboard or sequencer and go to town with its great sounds, the SH-32 is perfectly happy running stand-alone making it perfect for DJs, live musicians, and just plain having fun. It has no sequencer but does have an amazing Arpeggiator with programmable or tap tempo settings. There are 64 arpeggiations and 64 drum rhythm patterns and they can be fully programmed by the user. It even has a chord memory feature making it great for techno and trance style arpeggiations. Superb built in effects will sweeten up the sounds immensely as well, with 35 insert fx and 10 types of reverb and delay. The SH32 is a unique combination of virtual analogue synthesis, excellent rhythm sounds, rhythm styles, an arpeggiator, and other 'groove' facilities - with an affordable price and compact size.

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83 Visitor comments
dream demolition fact
November 6, 2009 @ 11:06 pm
I agree with Benny (below). You still see quite a few of these second hand, and I think it must be because people try them out in the shop and think 'Urghh'. The presets are truly appalling (and they all sound the same - whiny funk leads and weedy basses) and really don't give you a true impression of what can be done with it if you have a MIDI controller and a few hours to spare - there's two LFOs for a start (which, given that you'll find one of these for under 200 pounds, is amazing), and polyphony abounds. Just be careful with the filter; the resonance is pretty harsh.
November 5, 2009 @ 4:30 pm
I have to admit I was kind of unfair judging this thing, due to its confusing interface (which I'm starting to get a grip on) and its horrible preset patches I neglected it, thought it was a boring synth and put it out for sale, some time passed and nobody really came through with making a deal so I decided to give it another chance, and boy am I glad I did! With a proper master keyboard to play it with and patiently tweaking its settings, this thing sounds AMAZING! Lush, sweeping Jupiter-like pads, SH-like bass hits and bubbles, screechy filtered leads, organs and bells, even most of the effects sound great! This synth stays in my collection, end of story!

Don't make the same mistake I did and judge it by its presets, they do a terrible job at showcasing what this little box of joy is capable of..
September 17, 2009 @ 9:06 am
This is pretty descent sounding, not fantastic but good considering what youre paying for it, the number of voices available is amazing too, the best thing about it is the pads I think, I think my MS2000 makes better leads and basses than this thing, and is more fun with its mod sequencer. However, this has in my oppinion a huge flaw, and that is the interface, what was Roland thinking when they designed it? The display is cryptic, the button combinations and assigns is beyond confusing and the manual does a pretty terrible job at trying to explain it.. I would have given this 5 stars if it weren't for the horrible user interface, now it gets 3, an ugly zit on an otherwise great unit.
Logan 5
May 23, 2009 @ 9:33 am
An amazing synth,such a great hands-on machine.You can coax some incredibly diverse sounds out of it,but it does take a bit of getting used to and the manual is really useful.
May 18, 2009 @ 11:57 am
I got this as my first synth. It was a great buy! Loads of waveforms to choose from, which along with the diferent filters you are able to recreate lots of classic Roland sounds. Cant forget the drum machine thats built in with tweakable 808/909 drums. I later got a JX 8P which definitely has a warmer sound to it, but this thing has a greater range of sounds which makes the two go great together. Very good for a first synth as almost all the parameters have their own slider/knob. You should definitely read the manual, for one its very well written and two it will help you decode what the 3 digit alarm clock style LED display is trying to tell you :)
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Rated 4.57 (716 Votes)

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  • 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 - 32 voices (16 if both oscillators are used, sub-oscillators don't decrease polyphony)
  • Oscillators - 2 x Oscillators (with Sub Oscillator, PWM, Oscillator Sync, or Ring Modulation). There are 67 waves (7 categories) for main oscillators, 63 rhythm waves for rhythm sets.
  • Multitimbral - 4 parts (or 3 + 1 Rhythm)
  • LFO - 2 x LFO (7 forms)
  • Filter - 1 x Filter: low, band, high pass, PKG; 12dB or 24dB; cutoff and resonance knobs, ADSR, Envelope, Key Follow sliders.
  • Envelope - 1 ADSR envelope for the Amp
  • Memory - 128 User Patches, 128 Preset Patches. 4 drum sets including TR-808 and TR-909 sounds. 64 Performance patches.
  • Effects - 10 types of reverb/delay and 35 insert multi-effects.
  • Arpeg/Seq - Arpeggiator: 32 step with 128 patterns (64 arpeggiations, 64 rhythms), Style Programmable (Step/Realtime Input Modes)
  • Keyboard - None (has 13 preview buttons)
  • Control - MIDI In, Out
  • Date Produced - 2001
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Roland

    Reviewed December 2007.

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