Roland’s browser-based synth studio now includes a third classic instrument. The company has updated its Roland 50 Studio web app with a simplified version of the iconic SH-101 synth. As with the virtual TR-808 drum and TB-303 synths, you can control the SH-101 side-by-side with another model on your PC or mobile device, and you can record, download and share your creations.
The real-world SH-101 launched in 1982 as a relatively low-cost and portable alternative to rival synths like the Yamaha DX7, particularly to keytar fans. It struggled to compete and was phased out in 1986. Many electronic artists latched on to its monophonic sound, however, and it helped define the sounds of more than a few well-known performers in the 1990s and 2000s. Dance legends like The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and Orbital have relied on the SH-101, but it has also been useful to IDM pioneers like Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and Squarepusher.
There are physical equivalents to the SH-101. Behringer’s MS-101 is a clone, while Superlative’s yet-to-ship SB01 Super Bee takes some inspiration from the Roland original. The official web version is clearly more accessible, though, and gives you a chance to try that signature sound for yourself before buying any real-world hardware.