Synth Site: Roland: SH-201: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 3.5 out of 5
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neal a part-time user from ireland writes:
for the price i dont think you can go wrong with this machine, the sounds are cool and compliment my prophecy, AN1x and X station. the fact i can shuttle midi and audio back and forth is reason i bought. anybody who cant find use should give up sending there demos into future music etc and concentrate on something else.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Apr-20-2007 at 17:54
portohead a professional user from Sweden writes:
It seems that Roland makes again a big mistake like SH 32 .the price is falling. you can buy a new SH 201 for 499 Euro!.no wonder. this toy is a joke !.Nothing is professional on this toy.very limited Potamento,lack of LCD, only 32 user-programms,very slow USB for audio and forget the software.for professional producers is the editor-software waste of time. I'm sure Roland will stop to produce this piece of junk this year and i hope they create a much better VA-synth. peace

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Apr-10-2007 at 13:16
Ted a part-time user from USA writes:
When I saw the pics of this retro-looking analog-modeler, I thought Roland had finally got it right. It's very well laid out - and the lack of a backlit LCD is a plus - after all, who likes nested menus? Bring on the Juno-era sliders and knobs!

Then I read that this keyboard was using the SH-32 "Wave Accelleration" scheme - essentially, the raw waveforms are sample playback, not modeled. A ROMpler, pretending to be analog modeling. I was curious if that would make the tone flat and lifeless. Worth a peek at the music store at the low price.

In real life the plastic construction does not feel too cheap, and it looks great. Another shock was the raw waveforms - they sound clear, punchy, and as good as most virtual-analog synths.

But here's the dealbreaker. The filter. No effort was put into this crucial sound shaping element. This is the same cheap, digital filter that Roalnd has stuck into everything from the MC-303 Groovebox onward. Really!

Alesis and Creamware (and other compaines) have not only managed to solve the low-res "stairstep" zipper problem, they've actually created digital lowpass filters that sound nearly identical to analog Moog, ARP, and Korg filters.

Here's the deal. Crank up the resonance, and slowly turn the cutoff. Instead of self-oscillation, the filter gets very quiet and thin. Any traces of filter tone can be heard stepping in very sharp, digital eigth-tones. Wow! Is this a tribute to 1990s gear?

How can a company market a synth like this in the late 00s? Ah, to beginners and other people who can't tell 10-year-old technology apart from the new Sharc-chip-era stuff. Seriously, even the Alesis Ion, which itself is 5 years old, is SPOOKILLY ANALOG. (Subtly drifitng oscillators, squeaky, smooth filters, modular-style signal routings, pseudo FM, etc.)

If Roland had bothered to take the encoder resolution up to industry standard and made the filter behave just a little more like, well, the fitlers on vintage SH keyboards, this would be a Must-Buy, a true modern classic. Think about it: This 2007 Roland SH sounds worse than the 1970s-1980s SH line.

The 201 will be leaking toxic metals into future landfills. No one professional would ever use it.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Saturday-Apr-07-2007 at 14:43
Larry Gidell a hobbyist user from usa writes:
I'm not sure if the people who wrote some of the reviews here had any buisness doing so. Their complaints about things like the 32 patch saves being limited is kind of ridiculous when it comes with patch library software. I backup and load patches easier than loading pictures from a digital camera. They must have never took the cd-rom out of the box.

I used to have your standard Roland based techno studio of vintage x0x gear but I ended up shifting my focus to software simply because I was much more prolific in that environment. Not many people seem to realize that you can interface this synth with your favorite software as an au or vsti. That makes the SH-201 the perfect synth for me. The patch editor works well enough but the arpeggio editor is what i really like. It's a lot like the Matrix step-sequencer in Reason with ployphonic capabilities.

As far as the synth value is concerned, i'm totally happy. The saw, square, and pulse width, oscilators are just as punchy as an SH-101 that's something i haven't been able to replace with soft synths. The filter isn't perfect but it's great. it doesnt respond to the lfo quite the way you would expect if you were used to juonos and SH-101s. Cloning a TB-303 is easy but tweaking can be a pain, the env. amt. slider can drop your acid line into a stupid flat moan if you step outside the actual parameters of the original synth. The polyphonic side of the synth seems to lean towards trance. I guess that means I'll have something to talk about with people who listen to trance if I ever meet any. But I am admitedly still trying to forget about the factory presets. It is a very capable polyphonic synth.

when you connect the SH-201 to a computer, the audio and midi is all handled by the usb connection. you can even rout software based tracks through an external audio filter on the SH-201. A nice option in the right circumstance.

The synth itself isn't ugly but it lacks a notable aesthetic that could be easily achieved. I've seen a roland-made custom all white version that looked amazing. They should produce it.

The SH-201 has appeal due to the fact that its only a synthesizer. that gives it a vintage feel. Its ability to interface with computer software made any workstation ideas seem useless in the design of the product. That makes it one of the least dissapointing of the roland "remakes" in a long time.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Mar-31-2007 at 03:00
JuZa a professional user from Finland writes:
SH-201 is a great sounding simple-to-use synth. I really like the ease of use, speed of tweaking and the great sound. It doesn't have a real analog sound, but very good modern modelled-analog sound like in JP8000.

Some comments about other reviews: "no Chorus" -> it has chorus on delay-effect presets 7 and 8, look from manual. "32 user programs" -> doesn't concern me, because vst-applications saves presets used per project. "If your system involves many MIDI modules and you want to sync everything throughout the SH201, then think again." -> I use this as a master keyboard for VSTi:s, Novation Supernova and Yamaha Motif Rack. Everything work as supposed, after you change some parameters like told in manual....

If you are looking for easy to use keyboard with good sounding analog-modelling technology and you don't need lots of multimbrality, I'd suggest you buy this one.

Only negative thing is the lack of display. Doesn't bother on programming, but changing some "hidden" parameter-values is impossible without manual. Manual is clear and good though.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Mar-15-2007 at 07:05
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