Roland SH-01A Bass Line Synthesizer

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There is a lot posted about the SH-01A and how it compares (or doesn't compare) to the original. I personally find these comparisons useless because a) The original costs twice as much—used b) The original is 25+ years old, which will most likely present problems c) The new version has functionality the original does not, which expands it's possibilities.

So this review will simply come from the standpoint as if it was a new synth that just came out. If that was the case, this thing, in my opinion, is almost perfect considering the price.

Here's why:

1) Simplicity: Often times you need a mono bass line that just does the job. This thing does that. It can sound smooth, gritty, aggressive, tame, interesting, normal, etc. in seconds. It's got a sub OSC that always keeps it sounding somewhat beefy. I've never had a synth that is so easy to program without eventually feeling bored.

2) Filters: Not sure how, but they just sound great. It's got a character to it that I find exciting. I never get tired of filter sweeping this thing and finding interesting sweet spots. Unlike other synths that may have only one sweet spot, move a couple faders and you'll find several. There is a slight "VA quality" you hear from time to time that alerts you that it is not analog. But in a mix, I doubt you'd notice it.

3) Sound: Similar to the above, I just think it really sounds "good." Can you get monstrous Moog leads out of thing? Probably not—at least not easily. But that's not what it was designed for. It's really great at just getting usuable, solid sounding stuff very quickly. However, don't underestimate it. With the new features, I've gotten everything from SFX weirdness to evolving, blippy pads. It just takes a smidgeon more time.

4) Live Use: This thing is begging to be used live. Despite the small faders, I rarely have a problem working them live. It has patch memory and sends and receives CC. Get the keyboard version or use a MIDI keyboard and you can program live sequences in seconds. What more could you ask for in a mono synth? Wait ... forgot this is Gearslutz. Don't answer that.

5) Downsides: Since this is a review, there are only a few minor things that annoy me about it. a) USB power supply with micro USB (maybe I'm just old) b) 1/8" mono out (Seriously? Not a single piece of gear I own uses this connection).

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