Technology: Sounds of The Roland Boutique Sh-01a Synthesizer
Written by Marsona B on December 7, 2017
The new Roland Boutique SH-01A Synthesizer is a faithful recreation of the classic Roland SH-101 from 1982, a synthesizer that helped shape the sound of countless genres of music including Pop, House, Techno, and Electro. It is a monophonic powerhouse that has one of the most recognizable sounds out there. Its ease of use makes it accessible to just about anyone. It features a single oscillator, a lowpass filter, and one envelope. It also has a sequencer and arpeggiator that are straightforward but allow for easy programming of complex patterns.
All of the SH-101’s beautiful simplicities have been preserved in the SH-01A to give the same end-user experience, however 3 exciting new modes have been added to take it to the next level of sonic capabilities. Here is a look at the 4 modes available in the SH-01A.
This mode is identical to the original except for some new LFO shapes for modulation (Available in all modes). With the single oscillator, you can mix waveforms together, using pulse, sawtooth, and a sub oscillator with some octave and pulsewidth options. The mix is then passed through a resonant lowpass filter and output through the VCA. There is a single envelope to control the filter and the VCA can be controlled by the envelope or by the keyboard gate. Combining this simple set up with the available LFO modulations and the ability to add noise in the mixer gives the user a large palette to work with to create deep bass sounds, leads, percussion and sound effects.
The first of the new modes is 4-voice unison. This stacks 4 full voices – oscillator, filter, and all – to create huge layered tones. A slight drifting quality is present due to small variances in the tuning of each voice. These types of sounds were very popular on synthesizers from the Juno and Jupiter series. This mode is a great way to add new flavour to an existing sound, to make it take up more space in a mix, and to add a 3D feel.
The second additional mode transforms the SH-01A into a true 4-voice polyphonic synth. This is something that has never been available before now. The rich sound of the SH-101 transformed into a poly synth will allow for the creation of lush pads. The snappy envelopes and tight filter can be used to create percussive stabs. The sequencer has also been updated to be polyphonic, so quickly getting ideas together for chord progressions and keyboard parts is extremely simple.
The last new mode is a Chord Memory function. This allows the playing of full chords by just pressing down one note on the keyboard. In this mode 1 to 4 voices are available and they can be tuned to play any interval related to a root note by simply holding down buttons 5-8 and playing the desired note on the keyboard. This can also be used to mimic functions of 2 oscillator synthesizers, like using 2 voices tuned to 5ths.
The SH-01A can provide the authentic sound and user experience as the SH-101 but is also able to reach new territories of sound with the additional modes. It is a modern classic, and with the addition of tone and sequence memory it will find itself at home on stage and in the studio with an ease of use and workflow that is welcoming to both beginners and seasoned professionals.