101 Shootout: Behringer MS-101 Clone vs Roland SH-101

In this video, UK synthesist Rob Puricelli (Failed Muso) compares the sound of a vintage Roland SH-101 synthesizer with a modern clone, the Behringer MS-101.

Puricelli takes an hour-long look at the two synths, comparing the sound oscillators and filter, trying to create matching patches on the two synths and looking at differences and enhancements in the MS-101.

Check out the comparison and share your thoughts in the comment!

44 thoughts on “101 Shootout: Behringer MS-101 Clone vs Roland SH-101

  1. Sounds the same – but WHY BOTHER? They both sound thin and weedy.

    Get a Bass Station 2 instead and have a real synth that sounds great, instead of a clone of a old design that wasn’t that great to begin with,.

      1. Put it next to any Moog or even the Behringer D and that bass is going to sound like weak sauce.

        In this day and age, the only reasons to get this are nostalgia or if just for fun as a keytar.

        Did you hear anything in this demo that’s really unique or impressive?

          1. Seriously – a real artist can make music with junk:


            You shouldn’t confuse things, though, and think that junk is good for making music!

            Put this next to the Behringer D or the Novation Bass Station 2 – a couple of powerful synths in the same price range – and the 101 will sound like nothing.

            And if you really want a thin sound from a D or a Bass Station 2, you can always turn off the additional oscillators. The opposite isn’t true with the 101.

            1. so if the 101 is junk you must think the tb-303 is a pile of trash.
              I guess Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada prefer to use junk in their productions.
              I always thought bass stations were known as the poor mans 101.

              Of course the model D is great but a much different flavor. No liquid rubbery acid sounds.

              I have put my 101 up with a OBX, Yamaha CS60, Studio Electronics Omega 8, and a Cwejman S1 and its complements them wonderfully. 🙂

            2. If you really think that tuning off oscillators on other synths will get you closer to the 101, than that shows you have no clue what the 101 is about. Many artists have discovered its power over the years. And that’s not because ‘real’ artists can ‘work with junk’. It’s because the 101 can somehow do things no other synths can.

              It definitely has a polite tone, but it just invites you to manipulate its knobs in real time. And almost everything you do sounds musical. It’s super bouncy, rubbery, elastic, it’s a funky jazz machine. And on top of that it just works so well in a mix, almost no need to EQ. I think this bassline sums it up nicely:


              This stuff comes naturally to the 101. Of course, the 101 won’t work for everyone. Each of us is looking for something else in a synth. But to say there is no merit to it whatsoever just makes you look silly.

              1. damn thank you for posting that track… forgot how great Minilogue were. I used to listen to the first half of Animals almost every day!

        1. I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt you are not my ex….but anyways…lol the name sorry too convenient….well back on topic

          It’s all about how you use it. The MicroBrute sounds trash in most people’s hands but some can make it sound magnificent.

          If the MS-101 as some speculate does not have the auto glide function then it will be meh, thats a feature that really made the original fun and special.

          Behringer most likely will clone the SH-5….so if you want more heft, just wait for it.

          1. From the video, the glide function on the MS-101 works like the auto portamento setting on the SH-101. (Glide only occurs when the second note is triggered while the first is still being held down.) The MS is missing the “on” portamento setting, where it triggers even when the previous note has been released.

  2. Monumental waste of time. Why this thing was ever considered a classic is a head-scratcher. Behringer’s own Neutron absolutely slays this thing. Who cares if it’s not a clone of something old? It’s a beast. Model D sounds good, but I wish it had more patching possibilites. Same thing with the pro one, judging by the early demos. The sound of this MS thing is a total snore by comparison.

    1. Cool story because your opinion about it accounts for everything when comes to why the 101 has been one of the most instrumental synthesizers in electronic music history. It definitely has nothing the do with the countless influential artists who’ve used it in their recordings or the fact that it sounds really good. And while the Neutron might sound it will never live to reach the status the 101 has. Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Boards of Canada… I guess these guys have no idea what their doing, right? If you can’t make the 101 sound good, the problem is not the 101 but the person sitting in front of it

      1. Everyone has different tastes, and different analog or bass sound that they want. I’ve got to agree with those saying it’s not ‘my’ sound at all. There is hype over various synths at various times in history, and tho each is different i think it’s fair to say regardless that for leads or bass a minimoog is a superior synth.. Yes each is a bit different. but I don’t really think the 80s roland filters are exceptional for monosynths at all, for my ear.

        1. Its not really hype when it has been used to such great effect on so many tracks. Hype is claiming the Neutron is better without any objective reasons, but I guess that is the un-scientific mind at work.

          1. “Scientific” has nothing to do with why I said what I said. There’s no science being discussed here. Merely opinions. And while it’s true that SH-101s have been used to great effect over the years, it doesn’t mean I’d want to buy one today. It’s a very unremarkable, minimally featured synth-voice, and my point is that today there are better options from a sound and features standpoint.

            1. Sorry, but this has to be said.

              If you feel that way about the SH101, then why bother to navigate to a web page regarding a clone of that synth, just so you can tell everyone that you didn’t like the original in the first place? I don’t get it.

              Surely, all that matters from this instrument’s point of view, is that as a clone, how close does it get to the original?. It’s a sought-after instrument irrespective of how you rate it, that is why it has been cloned, and this just feels like someone being critical of a release for the sake of it.

  3. Pretty good! As somebody who daily uses and loves the original, I’m happy that more people can now find out if this synth works for their music. Without paying ridiculous money.

    I think that a demo like this doesn’t really reveal the secret of the 101. It’s only once you start playing and tweaking it, that you realize what made this a classic. Knocking the 101 based on demos like this is the same as bashing the 303 after somebody just plays notes on it, without ever starting the sequencer.

    1. I got to play on an ms-101 and was really surprised how close it came to the original. The filter was not as liquid/rubbery sounding as the vintage roland, it seemed a little edgier to me still very close. However, the fm modulation is amazing and the ms-101 can be pushed a lot further than the original. Plus the quality was a lot better than the original its in a metal case. It really feels, plays, and looks like a 101. the knobs and sliders are the same. The Behringer clones are the best clones I have ever heard, the 808 I liked more than the original. For the prices I would rather let go of the vintage.

    2. OK fine. But what makes him sound great is his tweaking his sequences. He’s skilled at it. My main takeaway from that is that vertical sliders are better than rotary pots for that kind of live parameter manipulation. The other takeaway is that it would be awesome to have a Cirklon. But I do concede the point that you can do great things with it, even if I still think the synth voice itself is unremarkable and minimally featured and I don’t think I would buy it in 2019.

  4. I can pour lighter fluid on this and set it on fire and then smash one at the end of each show. For $299, it’s more cost effective for this than the Prophet 12s that I’ve been using.

  5. I love how many people here claim that more oscillators makes a bass sound more “phat” or bigger or better or more ballsy. The 101 sound is incredible. It is WAY more than the sum of it’s parts. I agree that it’s seemingly simple architecture might not look like much on paper, but it truly possesses a quality all it’s own. Nothing else really catches that rubbery quality.

    1. There is indeed something special to it, and I’ve never been able to put my finger on it. There is definitely something to the sound, but I think the way it invites you to manipulate it is a bigger factor in how it sounds. And somehow the controls just always yield something musical. For instance: Random LFO to VCF cutoff is something you can do on many synths. But I’ve never heard it as funky on the 101.

  6. Sorry, but the sh 101 sound better. There is more clear character, especialy when the comparison is between the two portamento example, next to the end of the video. However the ms 101 sound great !

    1. @Diego I dont think you will be able to hear the difference live, in studio or on record… or on those cheap headphones most people use to listen their music …

  7. Nice clone of a fine monosynth. The Roland System 1 also does a passable impersonation of the SH-101 via ACB. Saw a real SH101 in a 2nd hand shop recently for a grand. I suppose whether you buy Behringer’s clone depends upon how much you love the SH101, and whether you prefer something new rather than an original. Fair play to Behringer, at least they can bothered to make quality clone stuff for which there is obviously demand

  8. If you havent been playing synth for 10+ years you just havent developed an ear for it yet. Its a tricky instrument to master since its sound is always changing, therefore hard to train the ear for. Sorry, but if you never spend time with a room iconic synths you have no place saying if the 101 sucks or if the bass station 2 is better (uhh, not even close to the same synth). Also if any of you think for a second that this recording and the speakers you are listening to it on are giving you a good representation of it in person, you are delusional.

    1. lol – so only you with your ‘golden ears’ can hear a difference!

      Be real – anybody could clone this simple synth. Behringer is probably the only company that could do it so cheaply, though.

      Even for $300, though, not that interested because it’s such a limited synth.

  9. It’s interesting how Synthtopia makes a post about Behringer and hundreds of comments flood the site, but if you talk about anything else, no one seems to care.

    1. I can remember when iOS synthesizers got the same reaction, and before that it was Apple versus Windows. And VSTs vs hardware. And before that it was analog versus digital!

      It has always struck me as weird that electronic musicians are such Luddites!

  10. The one osc sits in the mix nicely if you record tracks with it. The reason the 101 is so popular is the super tight sounding envelopes for sculpting the sound. They’re perfect for dance music and other mono synths can’t replicate those envelopes. The filter has a nice bite too

  11. To the haters: Just saw a interview with Sphongle’s Simon Posford. He says that he uses the 101 in (almost) every single track he has made. It is his favorite. I have played with one or two for many years. And it IS one of the most musical machines i have come across. Effects fit its simple sound really well

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