It began as a plastic toy, only to become one of the most widely regarded analogue monosynths of all time. We’re looking at Roland SH-101 alternatives for creating acid house and techno sounds.
Introduced in 1982 in various colours and priced just under $500, the SH-101 was an attempt by Roland to market the idea of synthesizers to a younger audience.
Although it never reached the same level of stardom as the Minimoog or Prophet-5, the 101 instead became known in electronic music circles for its nifty onboard sequencer and the fluency of its interface for live sound shaping.
Roland SH-101 Alternatives
The idea of a battery-powered single-oscillator monosynth with a waveform mixer certainly resonated with some artists. What’s more, the fact that you could easily move from pure and emotive to nasty and obnoxious sounds was impressive without patch memory.
Luckily, there is a range of options available today for creating these sounds in with a similar approach. Let’s have a closer look at some of the best SH-101 alternatives in the form of modern hardware synths:
Closely modelled on the SH-101 design, the Behringer MS-1 brings the classic back affordably with a few additional tweaks here and there.
Most of the circuitry and controls are identical to the original, but features like the LFO rate have been expanded with more range with a switch to access high, medium, and low frequency rates.
In addition, the MS-1 also offers filter frequency modulation with a range of sources including sawtooth, pulse-width, square, and noise.
- More from Behringer
The Roland Boutique SH-01A is a more compact desktop version of the SH-101, powered by Roland’s digital ACB engine. With features like unison, chord mode, and 4-voice polyphony, as well as patch memory, it expands on the original’s capabilities.
In addition, the SH-01A has a 64-step pattern sequencer and features connectivity options like CV and gate outputs, clock input, USB, and MIDI I/O to link with the rest of your hardware.
The metal casing makes the SH-01A road-ready, and it can be powered via USB or AA batteries and expanded with the K-25m keyboard.
- The History of Roland Synthesizers
Novation Bass Station II
That’s no Moog? The Bass Station II is a versatile analogue monosynth with two oscillators and a sub-oscillator for building leads and basses. It can produce a similar sonic spectrum to the SH-101 and you have analogue distortion and osc filter mod to add expression and texture.
One of the unique aspects of the Bass Station II is that its filter section has 2 modes: a classic Moog-style ladder filter and an acid filter inspired by the TB-303 and SH-101 synthesizers.
In addition, it has a step sequencer, which adds a different creative approach and it can be powered using the DC power adapter or USB.
- More about Novation
The Korg Minilogue gets its name from the Swedish techno duo formed by Sebastian Mullaert and Marcus Henriksson. This is certainly no coincidence, as most of their leads and basslines came from the Roland SH-101.
Korg created the Minilogue with the same minimalistic dance music sensibility. A 4-voice polyphonic analogue synth with a 16-step pattern sequencer and an intuitive interface that allows for fluent sound shaping.
In addition, the Minilogue has eight different voice modes, a built-in delay section, and a motion sequencer for controlling its parameters to animate your sound sequences.
- The History of KORG Synthesizers
Superlative Space Bee SB-01
The futuristic-looking Space Bee SB-01 was created by Superlative in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It captures the essence of the original perfectly and takes it to a new level with a completely sustainable design.
From the stately metal construction to the replaceable 16-hour lithium-ion battery, the SB-01 has been crafted to perfection with synth enthusiasts and touring musicians in mind.
Additional features are subtle but well-executed, like the expanded sequencer with 64 memory slots for saving patterns or the neat modulation joystick for adding expression while playing.
- More from Superlative
For Eurorack modular users:
- Check out the Intellijel Atlantis
More about Roland SH-101 Alternatives:
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- Behringer MS-1: Behringer
- Roland SH-01a: Roland
- Novation Bass Station II: Novation
- Korg Minilogue: Korg
- Superlative SB01: Superlative