Roland SH-01A – A Polyphonic Recreation Of The Classic SH-101

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On 808 Day, Roland has introduced the SH-01A, a Boutique-format recreation of the classic SH-101 synthesizer.

The SH-01A recreates the Roland SH-101 using analog circuit modeling, adding polyphony, new performance features and more. 

Features:

  • Sounds of the classic SH-101 synthesizer via ACB tech, including bass, lead, noise, and sound effects
  • New Unison, Chord, and four-voice Polyphonic modes expand on the original’s iconic sound palette
  • Built-in sequencer with 64 patterns available to save and recall
  • Easy performance arpeggiator with three playback modes, note hold, and three-way transpose switch
  • CV/Gate output for controlling modular or vintage gear
  • Multiple sync options including internal and external MIDI, MIDI via USB, LFO clock, and trigger input
  • 64 writeable preset patches for increased performance capabilities
  • Selectable advanced LFO with new waveforms and extended range of clock rate
  • Sends and receives MIDI control change messages via traditional MIDI jacks or USB
  • High-quality construction with metal front panel
  • Highly portable for mobile music making
  • Battery-operated (4 x AA) or USB powered
  • Compatible with the K-25m Keyboard Unit and other optional Roland Boutique accessories
  • Available in limited-edition red and blue colors like the original SH-101

Pricing and Availability

The Roland SH-01A is expected to be available in Sept, with a street price of about $350. See the Roland site for more info.

71 thoughts on “Roland SH-01A – A Polyphonic Recreation Of The Classic SH-101

    1. There is nothing more boring, than one osc synth.

      Therefore, if I’m going into this SH-101 business, I’ll buy this instead of the Behringer one.

      1. the unique sh101 character comes from the sourcemixer, wide tonal range and a fantastic filter with a wide sweespot. there are many people that prefer the single oscillator and the clean tone it achieves, especially for bass and lead duties.

        there are no boring synths. only boring people.

    1. Agree – I agree this is a pretty cool addition to the line – in that it is emulating old stuff but adding new functionality to it –

  1. Roland please release the Boutique SH-02A, SH-03A, SH-04A, SH-05A , SH-201A, SH-07A, SH-09A ,SH-1000A SH-2000A, a TR-05, TR-06, TR-07, TR-55A, TR-66A, TR-77A and a System 100A for my collection. The blue SH-01A probably will sound better than the red one and they are limited editions compared to the gray one so it should sound worse than the blue/red version. Hope someone will do a blind test because I can’t miss out not having every possible version. I really need to make sure to get all of these. The boutique version is polyphonic so it’s a must have. OMG, everything on 8/8 is so wonderful !

  2. Not analog. End of story.

    Why is Roland putting out VAs of their own stuff but doing real analog clone of Minimoog? Defines common sense.

    1. defines common sense eh lol?

      nah roland does not have inhouse expertise for analog anymore.
      both the modular and boutique were outsources to malekko and boomstar.

      they can only copy themselves digitally these days. its all very sad.

      1. Tragic truth, that. With Uli on the rise in the analog replica realm, Roland may really feel the sting of their VA dream crashing. Hopefully. Might put a fire under their bums to invest in analog again, like their 2 main synth competitors: Korg and Behringer.

        1. thing is – if am into VA, i will just go for a plugin, map it to the push 2 and call it a day. space comes at a premium and with us being spoiled for choice the physicality is what i need to consider.

          these seem to be aimed at an odd segment of the market, trying to look and sound the same like the real thing, for the people that dont seem to care about the real thing. why reissue them since the people that want them do not care for those iconic synths.

          its also far more cynical than behringer clones, since he seems to be going for the real thing and roland is doing toylike simulacra.

      2. I think you meant Studio Electronics, and not Boomstar…
        Boomstar is a production line made by Studio Electronics, the company.

      3. Who cares about Analog vs Digital battle any more? Might have made sense in 1997 but no longer. Modern Roland digital sounds as good as ancient Roland analog.

        A better complaint is that there’s no full-sized keyboard for Boutiques, and Roland missed the boat by not making Boutiques fit into a Eurorack modular system.

    2. There are some awful sounding analog synths. Just because something is “analog” doesn’t mean that it is worth owning, or that it sounds better than a digital instrument.

      While gear collectors may spend hours running blind A/B listening tests on their friends, musicians take the tools at their disposal and attempt to make the best music they can. Whether that tool is a spoon, an analog synth or a grungy 8-bit sampler from the 1980s doesn’t matter a bit. It’s all a matter of inspiration and talent.

      1. Really well stated Frodo. It is laughable that some merely will attest to anything analogue and others blindly follow.

      2. Sure, talent is everything. But technically – one doesn’t need golden ears to hear the differences between boutiques and their analogue ancestors. Youtube is full of these comparisons and differences are NOT subtle – usually they are VERY noticeable. And ALL the time – real thing wins.

        1. And you hear that difference between analog/digital in a highly compressed and digitized video? Which voids your mantra that only real analog can sound real analog! Moronic people everywhere. smh

      3. That’s missing the point entirely. The point is that Roland are clearly capable of making these Boutique modules analog as evidenced by the SH 02 yet they keep peddling their ACB technology which for what it’s worth sounds good but is already implemented great in the System 1, TR 8 and system 8 synths making these Boutiques pretty much pointless.

        The point is Roland are selling a limited VST in a box when they could’ve made legitimate recreations of these synths.

      4. Sold my VA-synths for an iPad. If Roland wanted they could host this VA within their cloud. And let users play with it by a Windows, OSX, iOS or Android app.
        This is nothing more than a specialized controller for a specific VA.

        By the way, I’m not against VA or VST synths. What counts is how they sound.

    3. Studio Electronics made that synth, not Roland. That’s all Roland is good for now, giving smaller companies access to means of mass production.

  3. After the release of the Behringer minimoog clone Roland should start producing analogue synths otherwise they will loose serious loads of money

  4. Behringer seriously just introduced their own full size analog SH-101 clone. This is not a joke. A pic is up on their Facebook page.

    Behringer 1 – Roland 0

    1. I think it is just a joke pic. It is unlikely they would clone the exact case (and handle) 100%.

      They may come out with a clone, but it will probably be small like the D.

      1. The whole point of a SH-101 is not polyphony. It’s a monophonic synth. I don’t really care for a built in sequencer. I can use whatever I want to sequence it. If Behringer focuses on making a true perfect clone in sound and design, that’s more important than a digital recreation that sorta sounds like the real thing.

    2. And honestly, Roland lost face by having an outside company do the overpriced SE-02. Common sense says that Roland better wake up real soon and invest in analog R&D to compete in the market, or Behringer and Korg will continue to capture the market with their excellent budget priced analog synths.

      1. Opinions like that are played out. Meanwhile Roland keep releasing synths that either sell enough or sell by the shedload, just like they’ve done for years. They know exactly what they’re doing & the market they’re after.

  5. So i have to buy this do i? I only buy the stuff you guys hate which is bloody annoying to be honest. I’ve got a whole studio full of stuff you people rant about.

    One day i might make music with it all. Or burn it in the back garden.

    1. Follow your own, Grammaton632, never join with the main stream. You’d be surprised (or probably not) of the quality and freshness of the sounds and music you bless the world with in that way.

  6. I don’t get why Roland is plasticwrapping plugins like this. I get the Aira-controller-lineup and the plugout-stuff, but this to me is kinda – in your face environment – seriously, we have an island of plastic in the ocean the size of France, if you have to put anymore of it into the world please make an effort to not make it completely futile – like a plastic wrapped plugin.
    Sorry if I offend anybody who is making music with these things, but I can’t help but being disappointed that they do not make these remakes of analogues analogue – it’s such a waste.

    1. Hello, all analog guys,
      Sometimes I really wonder whether you know what analog really is? Digital emulations used to suck, years ago, but can be high level quality right now.
      Do you realize at all how much of your eurorack, should you have any, is actual digital? And are you aware that many synthesis models (like FM, wave tables formant synthesis) can only be realized practically using digital techniques?
      It should be the sound and composition that really matter, not the equipment.

      1. Well said, Ad. Additionally- buying only analogue synths won’t have any effect on plastic lost to the oceans. Linking digital synths to an environmental catastrophe is a bit of a stretch.

        Excessive consumption coupled with lack of control for disposal & recycling caused that island of junk. Yes, synths must surely have contributed a little to it, but that contribution’s not down to analogue vs digital. Remember- the OG SH-101 comes in a plastic case.

      2. Yes the equipment matter and the relationship the user has with it. this utterly ridiculous diminutive format from roland is a joke and does not encourage most of us to play it, you have to squeeze your fingers hard to be able to turn those knobs or move those sliders. Plus they look like toys and will brake within 5 years, thats not what i look for when buy something. Plus roland is just exploiting people with these recreations, making some quick bucks based on its reputation. Theres so many flaws with the entire boutique range even before talking about the sound. Fortunatelly theres plenty of options out there, good and better ones, so each to its own

      3. Hi ad
        I have no problems with digtal synths or drummachines. I also have no problems with digital emulations of analogue or digital hardware a.k.a. Plugins …or plugouts for that matter. The one thing I do not like about this is the fact that roland is plasticwrapping a digital emulation of (in this case) analogue hardware. If they, like eg. Korg (volca fm) plastic wrapped a digital copy of an old out of production digital synth it would be super cool with me.
        So please don’t straw man argue with me.

    2. From what I imagine the Boutique stuff will probably still work long after support for AIRA has long since vanished. True you may still be able to switch plugouts if you keep an old computer with an old OS working, or just be happy with the last plugout you loaded before your old computer died.
      The boutique units will probably still be fairly functional, but you’ll have to power them off batteries as the usb port will be a shredded mess by then.
      The original SH-101 will probably outlast both, as more of its obsolete parts go back into manufacture.

  7. I recently sold my SH101 and with the proceeds bought a Novation Bass Station. I don’t regret it, I now have a great little mono with midi, velocity sensitivity and aftertouch, patch memories, choice of filter and other features missing on the 101. The 101 is great for bass and pseudo acid lines, the portamento is wonderful, the design very user friendly, and fun to be had with the sequencer if you put in a different number of notes to triggers. The boutique version appeals with its patch memories, midi, polyphony and styling, but I think there are better options for this money, perhaps a volca keys with a minibrute, for instance?

  8. My god, the level of synth snobbery and elitism on this post and site is staggering. Of course a tiny $350 synth reproduction is not going to compare to a $20,000 synth from the 70s/80s, it doesn’t always have to, it’s still an interesting product worth considering.

    Go back to making love to your Moogs and Jupiter 8s and let the rest of us get a fair chance to see if we want this already.

    1. So many people are very passionate about these original iconic instruments, and their opinions are valid as far as I’m concerned, as they are witnessing the ‘evolution’ of the instrument. It seems fair play that if it doesn’t come up to scratch, they have a valid
      concern about it, especially if the new incarnation lacks the ‘feel’ or ‘vibe’ etc. of the original. I don’t actually think most of the critics are ‘synth snobs’, they are just conveying their feelings which for the most part, are valid concerns. Those who never owned an original SH-101 or are not interested in how they compare at this level don’t have to take notice, and can value the instrument on it’s own merits. It has to be understood though, that so called ‘purists’ or ‘synth snobs’ simply want newbies to enjoy the instrument in the form in which it became a classic, with all it’s original ‘magic’ etc.

  9. Think both the Roland action and the comments on this page are a lot of fun.
    From what I hear from the video the sounds seem to come pretty close. I only wonder what the JX-3P is doing in that (yes, I can hear it at occasions), and why they didn’t use the JX3 boutique (and to avoid a full thread of answers on that: I had the JX-3P, it broke beyond repair and recently replaced it with the JX3 which sounds and operates identical).

    1. I had a JX-03 (sold it) and did a direct comparison with my friend’s JX-3P. They did NOT sound exactly the same. Pretty damn close, but the JX-03 was just flat in comparison. Well, at least as far as we were concerned.

  10. Behringer vs whomever is like a rap battle form the 90’s when Beef was real. I wouldnt be surprised if a real fist fight breaks out at NAMM. I’d still put my money on Behringer to win the fist fight. Behringer even sounds like a UFC fighter…Roland sounds like the guy form the Geek Squad coming to fix your wireless router.

    1. Nah, anyone willing to fight another person about Behringer vs Not Behringer gear is probably someone who can’t make a fist, let alone throw a punch.

      Behringer fanbois are the synth version of fat dads wearing Tapout shirts & trackpants.

  11. Remember in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Augustus Gloop fell in the chocolate river and got pulled under and then was sucked up in a tube and got stuck, and everyone including Willy Wonka was standing there waiting to see what would happen to Augustus? That’s an analogy for this new Roland release.

    1. What’s in the box is irrelevant. If you want a hardware synthesizer to physically interact with, who cares how the sound is generated? What matters is how it sounds.

      The Boutique offerings so far sound great.

  12. Seriously its boring to continue to see so much hate over new released products

    Useless opinions from onions crying

    Not everyone can make the perfect synth you want so get please over yourselfs
    What do you really expect to happen?

    Leave the company alone already and let them be what they are

  13. Sounds no better than my 101 plugin.

    Hoping the Behringer Ms-101 will get closer to the original 101. Would be great to have the 101 sound back in my studio for less than $500.

  14. Wow, here I was thinking of saving for the SE-02… 4 voice polyphony? Awesome!

    Will still save for the Peak first, then Minilogue. Goodbye Minibrute & bass guitars!

  15. I think many people overestimate the importance of analogue circuits as a selling proposition in the synth market. Most buyers of these Roland boxes don’t care if they’re analogue or digital, and many probably don’t even know the difference. Some of the best selling synths of the last decade were digital, including Juno-DS, Virus TI, Nord Lead, OP-1, MiniNova, Microkorg, Korg Kross and the Deepminds (which are pretty much digital). So the money is made with digital synths obviously. No reason for Roland to jump on the analogue hype just because some hipsters cry for retro synths.

  16. I don’t understand the need for such negative comments being delivered with pious self-righteousness. The tired debate about analogue verses digital, the moaning about price, size etc. If some piece of kit isn’t for you, or won’t work in your music just don’t buy it. Some people might have wanted whatever for a long time or see how the gear fits into their music. I have the Roland Boutique VP3 Vocoder or whatever its called. I use it for strings and the choir pads. I have always loved the sound of the original unit and now I have a tiny one I can use whenever I like. Put it through a phaser and some reverb and instant Eno. But I don’t expect everyone to use it the way I do. Stop being negative and make some music!

  17. I know its small and all but I thought the demo was pretty decent plus is has 4 voice polyphony which is pretty cool although 8 would be better.

  18. Been using my SH-101 for 30 years. This thing sounds pretty effing good/accurate to my ears; even some of the odd-ball closed filter gurgle sounds. Polyphony and disconnecting the LFO from the sequencer tempo are both proper big deals to me.

    The thing I’m not understanding is why they didn’t put these out with the keytar action grip! Perfect size for it, no?

  19. I’ve been working with synths for 35 years and have owned practically everything, at one point or another.

    My current studio includes both analog (vintage and new) and digital gear. Small and large. Desktop modules and keyboards.

    I was extremely impressed by the original 101 plug-out when putting the System-1m up against my pristine OG SH-101 (grey edition, with handle-grip).

    This Boutique will be at least as good as the plug-out. The polyphony will be interesting, too, as the 101 shares a fair amount of circuitry with the original Juno-60, including Roland’s IR3109 IC filter chip.

    As for the analog vs. digital argument in this thread, please – by all means – explain to me how *anyone* can hear the difference between the two technologies via YouTube.

    “The audio you hear during a YouTube video will usually be 126 kbps AAC in an MP4 container or anywhere from 50-165 kbps Opus in a WebM container. Changing video resolution (360p, 720p, etc) in the video settings will probably not impact the audio stream, but it is likely that your connection performance will. ”

    Can’t wait to get my hands on this synth 🙂

  20. Haven’t seen this represented in the thread yet, so I wanted to contribute. Portable, battery powered/usb powered hardware synths and gear. May not be important to some but for my current direction, this is my focus. The more the better, imo.

    I’m wondering if these types of things (including Volcas, TE gear) are selling because people have a similar setup. Give me portable analog and I’ll go for it. Whip up a TR 8 that can run of USB power and I’m in. Anyone else the same way?

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