Behringer’s meandering through the history of synthesizers arrives at the Roland SH-5 as they post photos of their MS-5 prototype.
Whatever you feel about Behringer’s reworking of our synthesizer heritage each new announcement helps me increase my general synth knowledge about machines I’ve not thought about in a long time.
The Roland SH-5 comes from an era when Roland had the looks that defined a decade of sci-fi and futuristic design. Everything about them from the knobs, to the rake of the front panel and even the font was just brilliantly ’70s. It was a dual-oscillator monosynth with two LFOs with multiple shapes and a separate Sample & Hold circuit, a multi-mode and bandpass filter, and two VCAs. Both the filter and VCAs could use the AR and ADSR envelopes which could be triggered by the keyboard or by the S/H, LFO 2 or and external trigger. One key feature was the mixer section found on all SH synthesizers which let you balance the oscillators and introduce noise, ring modulation and an external signal. You could then choose how they were routed through the rest of the synth. The output was unusually in stereo with panning.
Check out the sounds in the video from YouTuber synth4ever below.
The proposed MS-5, which is currently a prototype, does a decent job of emulating the look although the knobs, slider caps and switches are not quite up to scratch in my view. It’s following the same format as the MonoPoly and Poly D which obviously saves on tooling costs but does lose some of their individuality. I wonder if at some point Behringer will release a version of the keyboard with interchangeable synthesizers you could plugin or stack up. Are we going to see the recently announced Polivoks collaboration in the same form?
The one thing the MS-5 misses is the rugged case that the SH-5 came in. It was built into a flight case which is the sort of thing that will massively increase the life of a synthesizer.
Don’t get me wrong, the MS-5 looks good, but the SH-5 looks fantastic!