Synth Site: roland: SH-32: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.1 out of 5
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cromlek a hobbyist user from australia writes:
Personally...i think this lil unit is an absolute bastard of a thing. Some awesome squeals and big ass rumblings aside its a fidgety and tiresome prick to play with. Mine recently stopped dead and if anyone wants to buy it drop me a line.

Rating: 1 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jul-25-2007 at 23:50
Scott a professional user from United States writes:
There's so much I'd like to say about this unit, but I could easily get very verbose, so I'll try to sum up the pros and cons as concisely as possible. I gave the unit a 4 out of 5 for it's bang-for-the-buck factor. Pros: 4 parts multitimbral with 8 voices each (32 voices total, ergo the 32 in SH-32), decent effects and the ability to control effect send levels per part, decent array of (sampled) waveforms grouped into categories making it easy to come up with a sound from scratch, extensive MIDI control of most important parameters and just about all knobs and sliders transmit MIDI out, great for the money: you'll not find 4 separate 8 voice synths which you can pick up for less than $200 USD total Cons: MIDI SysEx quite routinely fails its checksum which makes it very unreliable for live use as a multitimbral unit, locks up when you have too much going on via MIDI at once-- see previous comment about live use, standard filter section is disabled when using oscillator sync That having been said, I still have to defend this unit for its ease-of-use, outstanding array of MIDI control via the tactile surface and ability to disable the rhythm part in favor of a 4th synth part in multitimbral. The problems I've had via MIDI with SysEx were easily worked around by saving all of my patches to the user banks and creating new performance sets in the performance user banks instead of relying on SysEx: problem solved. Also, Roland thought ahead with the filter problem and at least added a simple filter to the insert effect section which *is* usable with the oscillators in sync mode. My SH-32 cost me less than $150 USD and has been gigged live with great success for the past few years. So, if you need a somewhat flexible synth to get you by and aren't yet in the market for a Nord Lead or Virus, check out the SH-32.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Sunday-Nov-05-2006 at 12:14
benjamin9999 a hobbyist user from New York writes:
[my sh32 has the 1.06 firmware]

one of my first "VA"s, and very fun

programming a VA with a mouse is not my idea of fun, and i would argue that it's not a good way for a beginner to learn either.

i bought this unit because it's cheep, has great polyphony, 4 part multitimberal, and plenty of controls.

you may have already read the available indepth reviews, like i did, so here is my take on the most common negatives.

yes sync&ring are limited, but if you care that much about those sounds, this box probably isn't for you anyway.

it's very easy to program, and the shared LFO & OSC controls are not a big problem at all.

the LED screen isn't even a big deal - the effects have funny names but you can quickly flip through them and choose with your ears, not with the codes !

the cutoff does make "zipper" noise. i assume it operates on values 0-127, and there is no glide between values as you turn it. if the movements are slow, it's no problem, but fast movement in the higher frequencies makes a clear stepping sound, perhaps undesierable but still, unique. i should add that it has only been apparent with hand-tweaking, and i havn't noticed it when modulated from the Envelope or the LFO.

the programming process (esp with Perforamnces) is like other roland boxes i have used. the terminology is the same as my JV-1080 and took about the same amount of time to learn to setup a performance on 4 different midi channels. sysex "bulk" dumps are the same, and so is the concept of the "temporary" patch/performance area.

a great value at <$250, but you do need a keyboard to control it.

4 of 5. if it had a data-wheel for values and 4-stereo outputs, i'd give 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Tuesday-May-16-2006 at 11:06
rich a part-time user from uk writes:
Never got on particularly well with this synth. It sounds unique and the hands on control is good but it has a few limitations. The pads sound particularly nice though and its easy to program. The drums sounds on there? I doubt you will use one but you never know. Could really have done with multiple outputs too but thats easy enough to work round.

My advice would be get the extra money together and get a jp8000. The sound creation possibilities are multiplied many times even though the spec is similar. I certainly can't say that the sh32 is a cut down version of the jp synth as it has its own unique characteristics. The filter sounds superior to that of the JP in my opinion although it suffered with some nasty clicks at times. I ended up selling mine to get a nord rack 2, I didn't miss it particularly.

If you are a noob to this synthesizer lark I don't think you could go far wrong with this one for your first bit of kit. For the more discerning synthesist I reccomend you have a good tweak with it first before you buy.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Wednesday-May-03-2006 at 18:43
Bjoern Larsen from Norway writes:
The SH-32 is at first a very nice looking piece of equipment. Mostly logical arranged slider and knobs for instant sound creation in an old fashioned way. This synth also reminded me of how fun I had making own sounds back in the early eighties when I had a small SH-09 and did a lot of private home recordings with only that little bugger and an ARP Omni. To have a synthesizer with the specs of the SH-32 back then, would be beyond my wildest imagination. Unfortunately at the time there was no such synth available on the market, crammed with so many goodies. Also the nearest best alternatives did certainly not fit my budget at the time either.

Unfortunately, specs are only half the truth. When it comes to pure sound quality, it’s pretty obvious that the SH-32 after all is an analogue wannabe. Pure Oscillator output is somewhat static (but adding modulation, or/and detune between OSC 1 & 2 or/and “analog feel� will help. The filter section, or more precisely the resonance functions is nothing else than awful. When brought up to what should act as (near) self-oscillation, the output is totally unpredictable (in a very bad way) and is unusable. However, at low settings it can still be used to emphasing the cut-off frequency to a certain degree. Deep filter sweeps and resonance effects are definitive not the type of sounds that this synth does best. (Maybe I’m wrong, but I seem to remember that the older JP-8000 did this much better and could mimic self-oscillation in a much more musical manner.) In addition, some system/ MIDI functions can be difficult to get a grip on at first. Also the programming of the arpeggiator requires some studying of the user manual.

If you are out for more analogue authenticity sound wise, you will probably do better with Arturia’s Minimoog V (and probably most other soft synths), laptop and a midi keyboard. ( I am planning to do this myself for the band) Or of course best with the real things (if you dare).

Don’t get me wrong; I love the SH-32, despite its limitations. My first synthesizer, the Roland SH-09 also had lots of limitations (only 1 osc, 1 env, no memories, no effects, no MIDI), but I loved that as well. I have used and owned most of the Roland synth models from the 70’ and 80’, including SH-09, SH-101, SH-5, Jupiter 4 and 6, Juno 60/ 106, VP-330, RS-202 so I have some experience with analogue Roland gear. So when I had the opportunity to by one (SH-32- Second hand for approxx. 400USD, virtually un-used) two years ago, I could not resist it. Currently I play in a band, which does mainly 70’ prog rock. Obviously the need for analogue synthesizer sound is present, but instead of lugging my beloved analogue relics to the rehearsal room and stages, I use the SH-32 with a dedicated controller keyboard. For additional analogue synth sounds I also use my favourite workhorse, the Yamaha EX-5.

I will absolutely recommend the SH-32 to those who are in need for analogue types of sound, but can not afford to buy much more expensive VA’s or real analogue gear.

Some subjective highs and lows for the Roland SH-32: Making analogue synth sounds is very fast and easy It’s pretty and neat programmable arpeggiator, convincing electronic drum sounds (Tr-808/ Tr-909 types) can act both as a standalone synthesizer or a 4 part polysynth/ electronic drum-machine lots of digital effects good PWM imitation 2 independent oscillators and sub-oscillator, it has all the basic OSC waveforms you would expect, including noise and the super-saw seen on the JP-8000/8080 (with an array of variations of each, which can be useful to mimic different synth models) 2 LFO’s with all necessary waveforms and modulation possibilities, only seen on the most advanced and expensive monsters from the past (As on the great SH-5). Absolutely necessary in making those weird noises and effects. (Remember the simple sinus-waveform LFO on the Juno range) Unbelievable low price -----

The filter resonance is almost unusable The sliders and knobs are too small (for my fingers anyway. I think the box altogether is too small to give any impression of a serious synthesizer) The display is too simple for showing system messages. Barely useful for showing patch-numbers. Although I must admit that I like the way Roland has managed to put so many features on such small space, i.e the same slider are used for both osc 1 & 2, LFO 1& 2 etc, but I must also admit that It can sometimes be confusing. The effects are many, but in general I feel that they are of standard to low quality. Especially I would have liked delay times up to 1000ms instead of the max 500ms. A little low on polyphony (voices) for multi-timbral use. Depends on how patches are programmed. Too much limitation when it comes too using the sync functions. Better avoid it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Tuesday-May-02-2006 at 06:55
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