ROLAND SH-101

An sur­prise suc­cess in its day, the 101 still has the weight and flex­i­bil­ity to cut through to­day

Computer Music - - Make Music Now -

Use in mu­sic

Re­leased when costly dig­i­tal work­sta­tions were the pre­ferred tool of the day among the big names, the SH-101 didn’t make a big im­pres­sion on the charts the first time round. It would be sec­ond­hand users such as 808 State, whose trio of 101s pro­vided lead lines and bass se­quences dur­ing the ses­sions for New Build. Other no­table users in­clude The Prodigy, A Guy Called Ger­ald, and more re­cently Xeno and Oak­lan­der.

How it works

The SH-101 was Roland’s last clas­sic monosynth, com­ing to mar­ket when polyphony and pro­gramma­bil­ity were all the rage. With a price of £249, this gar­ish, gui­tar-han­dled in­stru­ment was priced to sell, and sell it did, with a whop­ping 50,000 units hit­ting the streets dur­ing a pro­duc­tion run that spanned from 1982 to 1984.

A sur­pris­ing hit at a time when dig­i­tal synths were ‘the next big thing’, the SH-101 packed a ton of power be­neath a plas­tic case that came in a choice of red, grey, or blue. One would have ex­pected a flimsy sound from this sin­gle-os­cil­la­tor synth, yet the SH-101 sounded thick, full and punchy thanks to the in­clu­sion of a sub os­cil­la­tor. Ad­di­tion­ally, though it pro­duced only saw, pulse and noise wave­forms; they – along with the afore­men­tioned sub os­cil­la­tor – were ac­cessed not by a switch, but by a mixer panel that al­lowed any and all to be mixed into a sin­gle, com­plex wave­form.

This com­pos­ite wave­form was plumbed through a squelchy, selfos cil­lat­ing 24dB res­o­nant fil­ter that could be mod­u­lated by a sin­gle LFO, the lone ADSR, and the key­board.

The in­tu­itive built-in se­quencer was a gem, al­low­ing users to step-en­ter notes to be played back at the LFO’s clock rate. Se­quences could be trans­posed from the in­stru­ment’s key­board. Cool.

Great for leads and not bad at sound FX, the SH-101 is most fa­mous as a source for solid bass sounds and en­gag­ing se­quenced pas­sages.

Get the sound

To­day’s would-be 101 user can go di­rectly to the source. Roland them­selves of­fer the SH-101 among their Synth Leg­ends se­ries. There’s also D16 Group’s LuSH-101, Togu Au­dio Line’s TAL-Bassline-101, or their free ver­sion, TAL-Bassline.

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