Roland SH-101 back from the dead as ARIA add-on

Jul 26, 2014
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Roland SH-101 back from the dead as ARIA add-on

Roland is finally reviving the much-loved SH-101 synthesizer, delivering its iconic eighties sounds to a new audience, though not quite in the way many enthusiasts were hoping. Instead of a standalone analog synth as the original, it's a free addition to the ARIA collection's SYSTEM-1.

ARIA was announced to great fanfare earlier this year, Roland's take on the analog revival. Although the four launch components of ARIA - the SYSTEM-1 synth, TR-8 sequencer, TB-3 drum machine, and VT-3 voice transformer - were all designed to replicate the familiar sounds of models like the TR-808 and TB-303, they did so by digitally modeling the original analog circuits, rather than reproducing them.

That left some enthusiasts disappointed, though the relatively low price of the ARIA kit versus current-gen analog rivals (not to mention the cost of the original hardware they mimicked) helped assuage much of the pain.

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Building on digital also means Roland can push out updates like this new SH-101 PLUG-OUT software synth. Running on the SYSTEM-1 - either in connection with a computer, or as a standalone instrument for performance - it delivers not only the sounds of the original SH-101 but its unexpected glitches and quirks.

Roland calls the modeling "Analog Circuit Behavior" (ACB), involving recreating the analog circuits only in a digital environment. That means players get the same one-VCO > one-VCF > one-VCA > one-LFO structure as before, but also benefit from 21st century niceties like better tone-shaping, and AU/VSTi plugin interfaces for DAW integration.

You'll obviously need a SYSTEM-1 first - that'll run to $599 - but Roland is offering the SH-101 PLUG-OUT as a free download.

Meanwhile, there's also a new set of updates for the whole ARIA line, including better MIDI support, easier settings and preset backup, tuning control for the TB-3, instrument gain control for the TR-8, and more.

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