We saw some glimpses of this synth before the show so we knew it was completely stunning although with its deep dark tones it’s quite hard to see when placed on a dark tablecloth. The SB-1/Space Bee is a tribute to the classic Roland SH-101 with a modern twist, updates and improvements to try to craft out its own bit of space in a crowded monosynth market.
The first key innovation is that it’s rechargeable. They claim that it’s the first ever rechargeable analogue synthesizer and will last 10 hours on one charge. You can even replace the battery if needs be. They also say it’s the thinnest analogue synth ever made. To do this they’ve had to develop their own soft keyboard action which lends itself to synth playing and sequencing.
The controls and layout are very familiar and the sound is based upon those same 3340 chips and classic 4-pole filter. I notice that they haven’t pulled out the triangle waveform as Behringer has with the MS-101.
You have the ability to save sequences, cue them up, jump between them or chain them. You have control over sequencer direction and even a random mode. You can also run a second sequence alongside to control an external instrument over CV or MIDI.
It looks great, sounds great and has some nice additional features. The MS-101 does loom large over anything that approaches the SH-101 and so Superlative has a tough job to make this stand out. The physicality and design are excellent when compared to the rather clunky Behringer but it will probably all hinge on the price. They say that they’ll make an announcement soon which they hope “people are going to be pretty happy with” to which he added “should be cheaper than a used SH-101” – yikes! So that’s probably 2-3 times the price of the MS-101. It will be interesting to see what people think of that.
- Superlative website.