Zoë Blade's notebook


SH-101 tech specs

Roland SH-101
Roland SH-101

The SH-101 was a monophonic synthesiser released by Roland in 1983. It's the sibling of the MC-202, which has a better-featured sequencer (if harder to program) but worse keyboard.

Unlike most monosynths, the SH-101 has a microprocessor, allowing it to feature an arpeggiator and modest digital step sequencer. Sure, on the one hand, it lacks the MC-202 and TB-303's accents and multiple patterns (you'll need the "SH-1oh1" mod for those). On the other hand, it still supports rests, ties, and note-specific portamento (as in slides), and it can store far more than sixteen notes and rests in its single pattern — up to a hundred.[4] Perhaps most importantly, it's much more intuitive to program.

As with most synths that predate the use of tiny 16×2 character LCDs, the SH-101 is agreeably tactile, making it reasonably intuitive. There's a slider or switch for every parameter that affects the sound.

As with Roland's SH-1 and SH-09, it features a two-octave sub-oscillator.

In terms of the visual aesthetics, it's not a million miles away from Roland's System-100M, with its grey case offset by the controls' sparse yet bright colours. Its CV and gate outputs make it a fine substitute for the 100M's own controller keyboards — a combination employed by Chris and Cosey. The arpeggiator and sequencer don't hurt, either.

Notable users


  1. "Soho Soundhouse" Soho Soundhouse (Vendor), Electronics & Music Maker, Feb 1986, p. 70
  2. "SH-101 manual" Roland, 1982, pp. 37—38
  3. "SH-101 service notes" Roland, Nov 1982, p. 8
  4. "SH-101 service notes" Roland, Nov 1982, p. 1
  5. "The State of Technology" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Nov 1989, pp. 54—60
  6. "~~ rephlex ~~ aphex ~~ drn ~~" Ben Middleton, alt.rave, Oct 1992
  7. "The Aphex Effect" Dave Robinson, Future Music, Apr 1993, pp. 22—23
  8. "Aphex Twin SYROBONKERS! Interview Part 1" Dave Noyze, 2014
  9. "In the Studio With Biosphere" Headphone Commute, Jan 2021
  10. "Strange Changes" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Dec 1991, pp. 30—36
  11. "Matt Cox: MIDI Tech for The Chemical Brothers" David Greeves, Sound On Sound, Dec 2011
  12. "The Creative Technology Institute" Chris Heath, Electronics & Music Maker, Sep 1984, pp. 38—40
  13. "Home Taping" Tony Reed, International Musician & Recording World, May 1986, pp. 118—119
  14. "Faithless: Breaking Down Classic Tracks with Sister Bliss" Jamie Franklin, Jan 2021
  15. "In the Studio With Gimmik" Headphone Commute, Jul 2022
  16. "Calling Occupants" Maff Evans, Future Music, Mar 1995, pp. 61—63
  17. "Signal Path: Richie Hawtin on His Origins as F.U.S.E. and How He Made Techno in the Early '90s" Maya-Roisin Slater, Fact, May 2019
  18. "Machine Head" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jul 1991, pp. 56—62
  19. "Massive Attack's New Studio" Sue Sillitoe, Sound On Sound, Oct 2005
  20. "Turning Tides" Maff Evans, Future Music, Feb 1995, pp. 56—58
  21. "The Magic Circle" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Jun 1993, pp. 56—60
  22. "Music of Spheres" Nigel Humberstone, Sound On Sound, Apr 1994
  23. "The Lone Raver" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, May 1992, pp. 68—72
  24. "Liam Howlett: The Prodigy & Firestarter" Paul Nagle, Sound On Sound, Sep 1996
  25. "Warp Factor 8" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Nov 1993, pp. 32—33
  26. "Tales Of The Supernatural" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Dec 1990, pp. 48—52
  27. "Stereo Speakers" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Apr 1993, pp. 40—45





Digital step sequencers: MS-1 | RD-6 | SH-101 | TB-303 | TR-606 | TR-808

Monophonic synthesisers: MS-1 | SH-101 | TB-303

Roland: DCB | JV-1080 | Juno-6 | Juno-106 | MC-4 | MC-8 | MPU-101 | R-8 | SH-101 | System-100 | System-100M | TB-303 | TR-606 | TR-808 | TR-909 | U-110 | VP-330 | W-30