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Roland SH-101

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Roland SH-101 grey model
DatesNovember 1982-1986
  • US$495
  • GB£249
  • JP¥59,800 (1980s)
Technical specifications
Oscillator1 VCO with 3 simultaneously mixable
waveforms : Pulse with PWM, Saw and
Sub wave (selectable -1 Oct. Square,
-2 Oct. Square or -2 Oct Pulse)
The Pulse wave can be modulated by
LFO, by Envelope or manually
Noise is also available at the oscillator
mixing stage
LFO1 LFO: triangle, square, random
and noise waveforms
Synthesis typeAnalog subtractive
Filter1 resonant VCF, modulated with
ADSR, LFO, keyboard tracking
and/or bender controller
AttenuatorADSR envelope, triggered by
gate or LFO
Aftertouch expressionNo
Velocity expressionNo
Storage memory100 step sequencer
EffectsArpeggiator (up, down, up/down)
Left-hand controlBender assignable to VCF frequency
and/or pitch as well as pitch bend and
mod wheels on attachable handle
External controlCV/Gate, Clock in

The Roland SH-101 is an analog synthesizer manufactured by the Roland Corporation between 1982 and 1986. Though it was something of a commercial failure during the time of its manufacture, it later became a staple of electronic music in the 1990s, particularly house music.

Sound and features[edit]

The SH-101 is monophonic, meaning it can only play one note at a time. It has a single oscillator (the Curtis CEM3340)[1] and a sub-oscillator, a low-pass filter, a mixer allowing users to blend different waveforms plus a noise generator, and an arpeggiator and sequencer.[2] An ADSR envelope generator controls the filter and VCA, and the filter, VCA, pitch and pulse width can be controlled with an LFO. Users can attach an optional handgrip with modulation controls and shoulder strap to play the SH-101 as a keytar, and it could also be powered via battery.[2] According to MusicRadar, the SH-101 has "snappy and razor-sharp" bass, "squelchy and expressive" leads, and a "piercing yet smooth" filter.[2]


The SH-101 launched in the US at $495 and in UK at £249,[3] making it much more affordable than the popular digital synthesisers of the time.[2] Two limited edition versions were also released in both red and blue colours, in contrast to the original grey. Roland marketed the SH-101 to the emerging keytar market, with magazine slogans such as "freedom for expression" and “[the 101] takes you where you want to go".[3] However, it was outsold by the digital Yamaha DX7 and was discontinued in 1986.[3]


During the 1990s resurgence of analogue synthesisers, the 101 became a staple in dance music studios.[2] It was used by many famous electronic musicians.[3]

In 2014, MusicRadar wrote: "Some inexpensive synths were brilliant 'for the price'. The Roland SH-101 was brilliant, period. Never a rock star's instrument like the Minimoog or Prophet-5, the 101 was a synthesiser for the rest of us, and a damned fine one, too."[2] In 2016, Fact named the SH-101 one of the 14 most important synthesisers in history.[4]

Famous users[edit]

Famous musicians that have used the SH-101 include:

Nitzer Ebb,[5] Aphex Twin[6][7] Vince Clarke of Erasure,[8] Paul Frick from Tangerine Dream, Future Sound of London, Orbital, Überzone, The Prodigy,[9] 808 State,[10] The Grid, Eat Static, Jimmy Edgar, Apollo 440, Devo, Union Jack, Luke Vibert, Dirty Vegas, Skinny Puppy, Pig, MSTRKRFT, Josh Wink, Depeche Mode, The Crystal Method, Astral Projection,[11] Les Rythmes Digitales, Squarepusher, KMFDM, Freddy Fresh, Lab-4, Jimmy Dickinson of Little Angels, The Chemical Brothers, Boards of Canada, The Knife and many others.[3][12][13]

Hardware re-issues and recreations[edit]

In 2018, Roland introduced the Boutique SH-01A, a virtual analog synth, based on its Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology. It is available with or without a keyboard.[14][15][16]

In 2019, Behringer started producing a clone of SH-101 called MS-101, since the Roland patent had expired.[17][18] The layout and sound is very close to the original, with the addition of enhancements such as MIDI and USB.[19][20]

In 2019, Superlative Instruments launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce the SB-1 Space Bee,[21] very similar in layout to the SH-101 with a unique keyboard design and all keys and keyboard in dark gray.[17][22][23]

In 2023, Roland introduced the S-1 Aira Compact, based on its Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology. It is a small form factor with built in keyboard.

Software emulations[edit]

In June 2020, Roland released Zenology plugins for Roland synths, which includes an SH-101 emulator.[24][25] Roland claims it is an ultra-detailed replica.[26]

Other software emulators include Togu Audio Line TAL-Bassline-101, D16 Group LuSH-101, Togu Audio Line TAL-Bassline (a free limited version of the other Togu app).,[27] and Softube Model 82.[28]


  1. ^ Anatomy, Synth (2018-01-04). "Erica Synths Reissues The Curtis Synthesizer Chips CEM 3310, 3340 & 3360". SYNTH ANATOMY. Retrieved 2022-12-27.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Tech, Computer Music2014-04-17T13:55:00 106Z (17 April 2014). "Blast from the past: Roland SH-101". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2019-08-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e "Red Bull Music Academy Daily". daily.redbullmusicacademy.com. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  4. ^ "The 14 most important synths in electronic music history – and the musicians who use them". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  5. ^ Rosenschein, Ari (2020-07-28). "Synthesizing Belief: A Conversation with Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb". Roland Articles. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  6. ^ "Aphex Twin's Roland SH-101 Synthesizer | Equipboard®". equipboard.com. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  7. ^ "7 pieces of gear that helped define Aphex Twin's pioneering sound". Fact Magazine. 2017-04-14. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  8. ^ "Erasure: 'We're still trying to work on the perfect pop song'". www.gigwise.com. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  9. ^ "Roland SH-101 monosynth - The Prodigy equipment - The Prodigy .info". theprodigy.info. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  10. ^ "808 State Article: TBD". 808state.com. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  11. ^ Dummy. "Terekke interview: "Astral projection."". DummyMag. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  12. ^ "Roland SH-101 | Vintage Synth Explorer". www.vintagesynth.com. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  13. ^ "Roland's brand-new SH-101 Boutique synth has allegedly been leaked via Instagram". DJMag.com. 2017-07-23. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  14. ^ Corporation, Roland. "Roland - SH-01A | Synthesizer". Roland. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  15. ^ Kane. "Review: Roland SH-01A". Magnetic Magazine. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  16. ^ February 2018, Bruce Aisher 19 (19 February 2018). "Roland Boutique SH-01A review". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  17. ^ a b "Everybody needs a 101". Mixmag. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  18. ^ "Behringer's synth clone train keeps rolling with modular System 100". Engadget. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  19. ^ "Behringer's Roland SH-101 clone goes into production". DJMag.com. 2018-12-19. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  20. ^ "Behringer MS-101 Review". MusicTech. 2019-10-17. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  21. ^ "Superlative Space Bee SB01 opens for preorders on Kickstarter". gearnews.com. 2019-10-22. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  22. ^ April 2019, Simon Arblaster 11 (11 April 2019). "Superbooth 2019: Superlative Instruments teases rechargeable SH-101 synth clone with unique keyboard". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ October 2019, Ben Rogerson23 (23 October 2019). "Superlative's SB01 synth looks like a Roland SH-101 from the future". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  24. ^ July 2020, Ben Rogerson01 (July 2020). "4 classic Roland '80s synths are coming to the Zenology plugin: the JX-8P, SH-101, Juno-106, and Jupiter-8". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ Abrons, Sara. "Roland Intros ZENOLOGY Software Synthesizer Plug-in – rAVe [PUBS]". www.ravepubs.com. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  26. ^ Corporation, Roland. "Roland - SH-101 | Software Synthesizer". Roland. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  27. ^ Music, Computer (17 April 2014). "Blast from the past: Roland SH-101". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  28. ^ "Softube Model 82 Sequencing Mono Synth". Sound On Sound. 6 July 2022. Retrieved 2021-02-25.

External links[edit]