Best option to get "the Roland SH sound"

Judging on many songs and demos the raw Roland SH Sound is one of my, if not the most favorite synth sound for bass and leads. I’m asking myself what would be the “smartest” option to get this sound.
This is a vs. vs. vs. thread, and quite questionable if such a thread is needed at all :slight_smile:
Anyway, the options I can think of are:

The originals:
Pros: original Sound
Cons: Far too expensive for me

Roland Sh01a:
Pros: Cheap, small (I like it’s form factor), polyphonic, sequencer
Cons: I owned it. Maybe my ears are fooled, cause I know it’s digital. But I’m not sure if it really nails the sound. I thought something is missing. I know A/B tests come really close to the real deal. Maybe it was also that I used the Audio via USB and there were a lot of glitches. Maybe the minijack sounds better.

Roland System 1/1m:
Pros: A lot of options especially in the Oscillator section. Many waveforms, crossmod, plugouts, fx
Cons: Looks ugly as hell. Digital. Some say the ACB is not as close as in the boutique

Roland System 500 modules:
Pros: Awesome sound
Cons: Very expensive option, need of a case

Malekko Manther:
Pros: Seems to sound great, don’t know how close to Roland, sequencer, delay
Cons: People complain that it’s extremely buggy

Intellijel Atlantis:
Pros: Different but similar and also great sound. Nice crossmod/fm options, second VCO
Cons: Expensive, case needed

Novation Bass Station 2/ Mono station
Pros: cheap, many features, awesome sequencer (Mono Station)
Cons: Different sound, I don’t know how close. Maybe not close at all.

Any opinions, insights, experiences? Other options?


I’m in a similar boat. Right now I’m holding out for the Behringer MS-101. Lush-101 is pretty good on the software front, there might be a better one but I haven’t searched too deep.

I’m sure there are numerous plugins


TAL Bassline is great


I‘m talking about Hardware btw

I don’t think you can go any other way then to buy an original SH-101. Not that other hardware doesn’t sound good and similar to the real deal but since you LOVE the sh sound I don’t think there’s any other options really.

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If you really want that sound, and the SH-01a didn’t do it for you (I felt the same about it), I’d look for a good deal on an MC-202, ideally with the CV bypass mods. The sequencer is really cool, but I just got mine fitted with the Kenton CV kit which makes it much more useful for me in the studio.

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It’s a bit older, but if you don’t need the built-in sequencer, you might look for a secondhand Roland SH-09. They go for far less than the SH-101. I had one back int he 1980s and carried it with me for decades, performing many gigs with it. It never failed me. I gave it to a friend to help him learn synthesis. Now, 18 years later, he’s sending it back to me, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Awesome little synth with pretty much the same architecture as the SH-101, sans sequencer. There’s CV/Gate around the back, so you can sequence it with something more modern and capable.


I always thought the system 1/8 and the Sh01a are basically the same technology (ACB). I don’t expect that the plugout for the system1/8/1m will sound very different from as the Sh01a, but that’s just a guess.
I own a Sh01a too, it’s fun for small mobile setups, but since i got a Virus ti2 the Sh01a is basically meaningless, the Virus can sound like a SH101 if you want that. I would sell the sh01a and get a Virus ti1 second hand.
Or you wait for the Behringer clone.
Be aware that the Atlantis is actually really small and probably the gateway drug for eurocrack.
The Roland SH-2 is a great sounding analog mono synth some similarities to the SH101.

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Yeah, it doesn’t have to be the SH101, I mean, there are many other SH’s that I guess have that kind of sound (judging on youtube demos).
I just don’t think it’s worth for me to invest in vintage hardware, as much I I’d like to :slight_smile:
Aren’t they heavy overpriced in general? and quite delicate

Edit: Ok. SH9 and MC202 seem to be in an affordable price range

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Have already been there :wink:

hmm. I doubt that. Sure you can do basses and leads with many synths. But there is something special to that “Roland sound”. Don’t what I like so much about it

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Yes i mean it can get close, i tried it, but the sh01a i much closer of course. The cool thing about the virus is that you can do so much with it, compared to a real SH101, and that for the same price. I think the bass station has some kind of own character, i like it but i don’t think it’s close enough, seems like you really want ten original authentic 101 sound.

doesn’t have to be the 101.
I think the Rolands (at least the SH family) are quite close to each other.? Something about the filter sound. Can’t really describe it. Some people called it “rubbery” :slight_smile:

behringer neutron have cem3340 vco like the sh 101, and if you don’t like the filter (like me) you can output the osc and buy a SMR filter (roland filter) and put back into the vca , i think you have the cheapest and closest sound you’re looking for.

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Here’s a very good example for the SH-2sound. You might like this one:

Scroll to „KLANGBEISPIELE“ :wink:

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I got given a Roland SH101 a couple of years ago (I know! Lucky me!) but before that I had (and still have) a Novation bass station 2. The Novation is cheap, gets pretty close to SH101 realms, and with reverb, distortion etc in a mix… perhaps only the most monocled of connoisseur would know the difference. The deal breaker for me on the Novation is no filter keyboard tracking knob, it is fixed at 50%. Also my first BS2 blew up in a recording session, it was under warranty so I got a replacement. My 30 odd year old SH101 works just fine, I dont ever think about its reliability… its solid.

The TAL bassline is bloody brilliant if you are happy with a free plug in. The Boutique version… not quite there to my ears, and tiny nobs.

All the other Sh101 soundalikes that I have tried don’t do that Roland Sh101 ‘‘thing’’ in my opinion. And no other synth has the layout, the SH101 is so amazingly easy to use! this aspect is not to be undervalued.

My advise would be if that sound is your favourite sound, and sound is important to you, save up and buy a vintage. My novation BS2 got boxed up and stored ever since getting the SH101. I thought the OT was a big spend when I bought it, but I love it, and would buy one again if it ever dies.

I have bought loads of cheap synths over the years, most of them end up being sold on again. Basically I have learned that I am passionate enough about my music to know what I want, and I am happy to save up to get the expensive stuff (so long as I know it is worth saving for)

Put it into perspective, people spend way more on mountain bikes that we do on synths…

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I have Atlantis and the System-1/m emulation. They are both awesome with System-1 bringing a very close (to my ears) sound to the vast majority of patches. Yes System 1/m don’t look great, but they are brilliantly laid out (especially System-1), fun to patch, and capable of a lot more than Sh type sounds. It’s a real boon having patch memory for those patches where dialling in the right filter setting and envelope is really critical.

Atlantis sounds great, is perhaps a little more flexible than the original, but perhaps at the expense of complete accuracy. It’s partly ‘inspired by’, not a reissue. While it can mew or growl brilliantly, I don’t think the resonance sounds exactly the same.

Basically it’s great there’s so many choices! Good luck choosing.

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I don’t find the SH09 prices to be out of range, personally, nor the 202. I’ve never owned a 202, but the 09s I’ve owned have been very solid performers. I wouldn’t normally trust a vintage synth onstage, but did my SH-09.

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Really? Did it just stop working or did it catch on fire or something? Haha

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