Roland SH-101 Plug-Out Software Synthesizer Now Available As Free Download For System-1


Roland today announced updates to the entire Aira line. In addition, they announced that the SH-101 Plug-Out software synthesizer is now available as a free download for the Roland Aira System-1.

The new software synthesizer is a reproduction of the iconic Roland SH-101. According to to Roland, the new virtual analog emulates the original ‘right down to the fine details and odd quirks that make it one of the most popular classic synthesizers of all time’.

The SH-101 is a monophonic synthesizer, launched by Roland in 1982. The SH-101 became popular for its characteristic tone and simple one-VCO > one-VCF > one-VCA > one-LFO structure.

The SH-101 Plug-Out software synth offers seamless DAW integration, via AU and VSTi. This means that the System-1 can be used as a dedicated controller for the plugin in your DAW, or the SH-101 can run on the System-1, independent of your computer.

Here’s a video intro to the SH-101 Plug-Out synthesizer.

The SH-101 Plug-Out synthesizer augments the System-1’s built in synthesizer. Here’s an demo of the System-1 synth engine in action:

The SH-101 Plug-Out synth is the first of several planned, using Roland’s ‘Plug-Out’ technology. While only one Plug-Out synth can be loaded to the System-1 at a time, the System-1’s built in synth is always available. This means that you can toggle between it and the currently loaded Plug-Out synth, even when you’re not connected to a computer.

Roland Canada has posted an article on its site, 7 Things To Know About SYSTEM-1 and PLUG-OUTS, that offers an overview of how the Plug-Out system works.

The Roland SH-101 PLUG-OUT Software Synthesizer s available free of charge to SYSTEM-1 owners. See the Roland site for details.

40 thoughts on “Roland SH-101 Plug-Out Software Synthesizer Now Available As Free Download For System-1

    1. Sounds really good to me. Best demos I’ve heard of this yet.

      I’m not going to be that interested, though, until they deliver several synth options for it and show that this isn’t the next Varios.

  1. How different do the SH-101’s oscillators and filters sound compared with the System-1’s built in sounds? I’d love to hear someone do a direct A/B comparison.

    1. Oops I meant to press like! Definitely going to wait to see at least five decent plug out synths before I think about buying this.

  2. The first demos I saw of the system1 gave me a bad impression, but man, after hearing that patch at 3:20 in the second video I NEED to buy it!!
    (BTW that passage sounds like a track I have already heard, but can’t figure out its name)

    1. Ever since you wrote this comment, I’ve been trying to remember where the melody at 3:20 is from. Still haven’t figured it out. Help us, fellow Synthtopians! I pretty sure it’s from some movie.

  3. I like the synth and I’m sure it sounds good enough you couldn’t tell the difference vs the original in a track, but these two octave keyboards really irk me: as you can see in the video demo, you pretty much only have room to play in C or C minor… (assuming you don’t use some transpose function, but that’s not great if you’re used to playing by ear).

    1. I felt likewise about 2-octave controllers for a while because I come from a piano background. Playing the actual keys in linear real-time was where I started. Over time, I’ve come to see the various lines between keyboard playing proper and event-triggering as a component of e-music synthesis. You need a little keyboard facility, but when you are composing with synths, that can be a solo line, an ensemble or something cockeyed. I’d never give up my full-sized keys, but after using a CME XKey for a while, I became a convert. For solo lines or basic chording, its far better than I’d expected, so now I have a 4-octave ‘board, a 5-octave and this little doo-dad for on-the-fly or string-quartet-y things built as several solo players. Don’t totally dismiss 2-octave tools. They have their place.

      1. But then I’d rather have an expander rack module, like the Nords, with no keys, and I can use whichever keyboard or controller I like with it.

        What about my point that a 2 octave keyboard tends to trap you into playing in the key of C? Anybody else find that?

          1. More than being trapped in C, I think most people today who use small keyboards don’t really think in terms of keys, and just play what they think sounds good. If they intended to play inversions while using 7s and 9s they wouldn’t be buying these little things. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it’s how I think the purchasing decisions go down. And like fungo pointed out, if you know what you are doing these little things can be very fun and useful beasties.

      1. Actually you would already own the computer need to run that 60$ plugin. For me to enjoy that SH-101 plugout I would need to buy the 700$ System-1.

        But still its a very good incentive to buy one, and its a very good bonus for the people who already own the System-1.

      1. I guess because the SH-101 plug-out is hosted in a dedicated piece of portable hardware that can run independently of a computer?

  4. I wasn’t too crazy about the System-1 originally, but the SH-101 sounds pretty good in the video. I like the concept of the Plug-Outs in general, and seeing it in action does make this synth way more tempting than it would be as a stand alone. Has Roland said how much Plug-Outs are going to cost when they start releasing them? Are we looking at $20, $50, or $100+? That pricing of them will ultimately determine if I decide to buy a System-1 I think.

  5. Not sure I get the point of “Plug-Outs”. Ultimately your laptop has way more CPU power than the System-1 (or Nord Lead G2X or …) so the Plug-Out can only ever be inferior to what you could run on your computer. So then it’s just a matter of convenience of carrying a stand-alone 2-octave keyboard synth, vs a laptop and a controller keyboard… Unless Roland, KORG, … include true analogue components in their hardware synths, then all they really have a is a proprietary distribution platform that locks you in.

    1. I think the point is that Roland have been wanting to get into the plugin market and developed the System-1 as sort of a “dongle.” You need the hardware to run the plugins.

        1. Research? It’s my opinion. You can’t run the plugins without the hardware, so who is to say I’m wrong? Why do you think Arturia got into the hardware business? Because you can’t torrent a MicroBrute.

          1. Because it’s not a dongle. By definition if it were a dongle it would need to stay connected to the computer. It’s a musical instrument that can load plug-ins and if they keep making these plug-ins it’ll be well worth the $599.

      1. Not correct.

        Roland says that you will be able to run the ‘Plug-Out’ synths in your DAW without buying the System-1. .

        The big advantage of the Plug Out synths, though, is that they can run as software in your computer or as firmware on the System-1.

    2. The point of “Plug-out” is to be able to unplug the System-1 from the computer and take the VSTi/AU (SH-101) with you to a gig or studio.

    3. The usability of playing a soft synth on your computer will always suck compared to using hardware – so there’s a place for both!

  6. We as musicians.acid house.techno and electro fans owe roland more than they owe us.This new gear keeps us afloat as it sounds good. Is well made.
    I have two aira machines plus other roland gear.I just got my hands on the studio logic sledge.Roland that machine you need to compete with .My mates downloading the plugout tonight for his system one.Ill be getting his opinion in the morning.I do think the tiny number of patch memories is v v poor on the system 1. The plug out maybe is what will sell me it.laptops and softsynths no thank u.a laptop As a midi only sequencer yes.nice one Roland keep going.

  7. For some reason this synth just doesn’t do it for me. It does not trigger the “GAS” like a lot of othe gear does, and believe me, my GAS is strong!!!

  8. im really only interested in something like a SH-7 or Jup 8 plug out.. and i dont know how this little keyboard could handle all that

    1. agreed…. I’d love the magic of my old SH-5 back… but how is this hardware going to cope with the layout? the mixing and modulations options… etc etc…?

  9. Got the SH101 for the System 1 and I have to say… It’s great. It’s hosted software, I get that but it sounds about a genuine as I could wish for.
    The System 1 is a great machine and with the other Aira gear, it’s a killer IMO. I know it’s not everyones’ cup of tea but I’ve got a shed load of hard/software and can use other machines if I wish and I keep going to the System 1. That’s gotta be worth the money 🙂

  10. download never worked for me didn’t show up in my daw,nor is it a standalone looks like I will stick to artura for software,i still like the roland aira products but like most there software I skip it,it was like when I bought a vg99 and gr55 3rd partys did more than roland,plus getting online support there is none

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