Roland SH-5

Roland SH-5 Image

The SH-5 is a classic yet very advanced monophonic synthesizer rivalled mainly by its successor, the SH-7. The SH-5 has just about two of everything. There are two analog VCOs with triangle, ramp, square and pulse waveforms, two LFO's, two filters, two VCA's, white and pink noise generators, and more.

The oscillators can be modulated by the LFOs or the ADSR envelope generator. The two LFOs include controls for rate and waveshape: ramp, reverse ramp, triangle, sine, square, delay; and there is also a Sample + Hold feature. The two multi-mode filters include hi-pass, low-pass, and band-pass filtering with cutoff, resonance, keyboard tracking, envelope sensitivity (AR, ADSR or preset) and modulation (ramp, sine, square, s+h) controls plus an additional band-pass-only filter. The two VCAs offer Attack/Release and ADSR envelopes which can be triggered by the Sample + Hold, LFO #2 or an external audio trigger input.

Extra features include the standard SH-type Mixer section with 5 sliders to adjust noise, VCO1, VCO2, ring mod and an external signal levels. Each of these 5 signals can be individually sent through the VCA, the multi-mode filter, the band-pass filter or both. The SH-5 even has stereo output with panning controls in the VCA section and portamento! The Ring Modulator alone is enough to wet your appetite for this synth. A serious analog mono-synth with lots of flexibility for creating serious electronic and dance music. It has been used by Eat Static and Freddy Fresh.

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16 Visitor comments
March 17, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
I have a Minimoog, Multimoog, Yamaha CS 15, Roland ProMars. All of which, I love. But I use this the most. Not much that I've heard sounds like this. Maybe Ms-20? The filters are really sick. Lot's of modulation possibilities. I'm in a pretty heavy electronic bass driven world at the moment, and this synth really holds it down in that arena. Not to mention all the crazy noises, leads, S/H. It gets freaky.
December 29, 2010 @ 8:00 pm
This is basically the 'performance' version of system 100.. I've which is roland's best sounding mono besides the system 700. I've compared the two and the sound character is very similar. just lovely. pure classic.

Its destined to be a highly sought after synth, the prices are going up and will continue to do so. to have a system 100 that you can carry around pretty easily is a dream. just add a sequencer.
October 3, 2010 @ 6:09 pm
I owned and used one of these back in the late 70s. Great machine! I also had an ARP 2600 earlier, but it was a lot of money to tie up in one piece of equipment. We also had an ARP Odyssey and other Roland synths around (SH1000, SH3A, Roland Vocoder, etc.), but this was my main axe.

I used this recording with Del Dettmar of Hawkwind and others on the Melodic Energy Commission's "Stranger in Mystery" and "Migration of the Snails". Del had his VCS3 (actually the AKS portable version), which was another great synth. Actually got to borrow it for a few weeks.

Loved the SH5. It had good filters and a nice fat sound, plus the ability to do some interesting patches without cables. It was fairly easy to play live, despite its lack of memory. Eventually I had to sell it to go to university. I'd buy another one, but only in the $400-800 price range. If you find an affordable one, grab it. Great sound for a lot less than the superior but more expensive Minimoog and ARP Odyssey.
August 6, 2010 @ 12:11 pm
This is good, nice filters makes the difference on the sound. then again it has [beep] loads of modulation and pretty nice sounding oscillators giving it a vintage sound.
Alex J
November 23, 2009 @ 11:48 pm
I bought one of these from a used music store in the early 80's for $400.
It was my first synth and it sat nicely on top of my Rhodes 73.
In the early 90's when I got off the road, I sold all my gear, and to this day I am kicking my [beep] for being so stupid.

I basically 'threw in' the SH-5 for nothing with the rest of my 6 synths.
Looking on Ebay it seems these beauty's are selling for 2-3k, I want to buy it back but man! If I'm going to spend 3k, I'd rather spend the money on one of those new Moog Voyageurs.

I miss my SH-5, the pink noise was cool. I remember using the square waves for that song we did by the cars "Just What I Needed", it was the exact same sound.
I'm still looking to buy one, but not for 2 grand.
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Rated 4.09 (361 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 - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - 2 VCOs range: 32' to 2', (triangle, ramp, square, pulse)
  • LFO - LFO 1: Rate, ramp, reverse ramp; LFO 2: Rate, Delay, triangle, sine, square; 1 Sample+Hold: Sample time, delay time
  • Filter - VCF 1: hi-pass, low-pass, band-pass, cutoff, resonance, keybd, env sensitivity (AR, ADSR or preset) and modulation (ramp, sine, square, s+h); VCF 2: Band-pass with cutoff, resonance and amount
  • VCA - 2 VCAs: AR and ADSR, triggered by sample+hold, LFO 2 or external trigger
  • Memory - None
  • Keyboard - 44 keys
  • Control - CV / Gate
  • Date Produced - 1976 - 1981
  • Resources & Credits
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