Synthesizer Database


Roland Analog Synthesizer - the Roland SH Synthesizer Series
CMU810 + CMU800 - Computer Synth Module
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Roland Synthesizers
Roland History - the Roland SH series

Roland was founded in 1972 by Ikutaro Kakehasi, Japan (prior companies: Ace (drum machines: and electronic organs) and kakehashi musen), first synthesizer: 1972 - mr kakehashis biography is available as a book from robert olsen, sh1000 (and sh2000, a bit more advanced) preset synthesizer with ADSR env and some "unconventional" parameters, not to confuse with the real preset synth sh2000, Roland SH2 (did I mention this synth sh-2 ? 2VCOs, another 1 subosc, quite typical SH with 2 ENV,
the 1978 built SH-1 was some sort of prototype for a number of SH synths to come in the mid/late 70ies.. well, the sh3, sh5 and system 100 were earlier (1974-76), but the sh1 was more "compact"..

ROLAND SH1 same but less VCOs (1+sub) but still enough to "model" a good bass! quite rare over here in germany. this was the first roland synthesizer!! it's case is all plastic like the TR808, became rare here in europe..
it has 2 ENVs but the second one is AR-type only (VCO), most other smaller SH only have one ADSR, the VCO has PWM and the typical subOSC that can also work 2 octaves below the main OSC...
the filter is 24dB/oct LPF and a static hpf - thats what the SH and even the Jupiter and juno series kept in it's concept.. it has pink and white noise, later models had white noise only. (exept the sh5 / sys100) - the sh1 also has an envelope follower...

like the sh3 the SH7 also has a number of sliders from 2' to 32' (rectangular waves only) to get a nice mix of VCO1 "all star" octaves ;) more on sh-7 below..

Roland SH-1 - close up..

quite rare in europe: the Roland SH2
with 2 VCOs plus Subosc, the VCO2 can (of course) be detuned, PWM on both OSCs or saw, 50:50 square, tri, saw, LFO with delay and ADSR env (only one with gate for VCA and LFO retrigger), VCF as said 24dB/oct for big basses this is a good synth, still..
Roland SH-2
roland SH-2 synthesizer - click to enlarge..

it is a very fat and big bass capable synth!

SH2000 - Rolands first synth in 1972
roland sh2000 synthesizer
and the sh1000
Roland sh-1000
click sh-1000 to enlarge..

SH1 - click to enlarge..

roland sh1 synthesizer
Roland sh1 analog synthesizer - the first roland
Roland sh1 analog synthesizer - the first roland
above: Roland SH1 synthesizer 1978 - click to enlarge..

below: roland
SH2 synthesizer - click to enlarge..
Roland SH2 synthesizer

the Roland SH-09

was a smaller version of the SH2, only one VCO and small size. nice on stage. one VCO, ENV, subosc and PWM, one LFO, but still enough for basses and stuff, it's not really a monophonic juno 6 but sort of.. looks like the sh2 but one VCO lost .. see the pic on the right..

SH09 - a smaller sh2 but with one OSC and subosc "only":
roland sh09
roland sh09 synthesizer
Roland SH3 + SH-3a
the sh3 had 2 preset-like slimmed down versions: the sh2000 and sh1000, technically they have all aboard but the controls are "missing" replace by some global parameters and some presets..
AUDIO SH-3A : you hear all 5 OSC sliders first starting with 32" after that some "fooling around" with the sh3a sh3a_demo_final.mp3 DOWNLOAD

german/deutsch zum S/H: was macht dieser s/h nun hier? also: du hast ja 2 lfos, diese können mittels s/h als quellsignale verwendert werden.die s/h schaltung hat 3 wellenformen (sägen steigend und fallend und dreieck und random) diese kann in ihrer auslesegeschwindigkeit geregelt werden und auch das level kann eingestellt bekommst du natürlich bei kleinen schritten viele stufen (kleinere) und bei weniger steps (also mehr proben pro zeiteinheit) eben feine..
diese parameter sind bei aktuellen synthesizern oft garnicht mehr einstellbar,diese stufen sind also nix anderes als das,was ein arp'er machen würde, nur kann es auch "schräger" sein,weil es ja nicht quantisiert ist !! so isses.. die letzten teile im sh3a audioschnipsel sind so entstanden..

the (1974) SH3a is a real underestimated analogue monster that allows to mix in any OSC ": find a slider for 4",8" etc. and an additional chorus for 8", so it is a "subosc in a special way", env, nice routing,lfo,s/h.. quite sh5-style-student synth ;) imo underestimated fatness! there has been a model SH3 but it's only optical and very little technical changes that makes the difference b.tween sh3 an sh3a. 12dB/oct. filter (LPF). and 2 LFOs.

like the sh3 the SH7 also has a number of sliders from 2' to 32' (rectangular waves only) to get a nice mix of VCO1 "all star" octaves ;) more on SH7

Roland SH3A synthesizer made 1974
roland sh3A
click images to enlarge...
Roland sh3a synthesizer
Roland SH3A Synthesizer
click images to enlarge..
roland logo

Roland SH101 / MC202
btw: Review (deutsch) zum SH-101, MC202 und CMU810 hier!!!
CMU810 - a "computer controlled" sh101-kind of white box with sliders.. quite like the sh101 but no sequencer, lfo with delay but without retrigger for env. but it's almost the same circuitry as the sh-101

the sh101 has a little 256-step sequencer and it's LFO can trigger the env, 1 VCO but has SubOSC 1 or 2 Octaves below the main VCO. fat sounding..


SH101 panel .. see the arpeggiator & sequencer?
btw: Review zum Sh101 hier!!!

here you can see the sh101 panel...
LFO can trigger the ENV!!

thats the SH101 's mod section: quite big! the bender and portamento and switch for "auto portamento", transposition and mod amounts of the bender (vcf, vco can be modulated by the bender and of course the LFO mod. amount itself)


nice simple sequencer can hold up to 256 notes. very simple but helpful, even for live purpose.

choose gate or the envelope to be the env form, mix independently saw, pulse and the subosc: the sub osc can also be set to 2 octaves below the main VCO!

the filter is a 24dB/oct roland type LPF, since it can be used with batteries and was "small" it was a great instrument for live gigs and techno sets.. well it still is..

MC202 - is nearly the same sound "engine".
so imagine the mc 202 as SH 101 but no noise generator, the lfo can't mod the VCA and the LFO waves random and square are gone.

the sequencer is a quantizing real time and/or step by step sequencer that offers 2 channels (CV) to be controlled.. not bad but it is always quantized (steps!).

Rolands head, mr kakehashi was always quite innovative, so roland made a compusynth that featured the sound engine of the SH101 .. or to be exact: the mc202: the CMU810 has sliders but no keyboard in a white case to be controlled externally or by computer via CV.. it is quite exotic today..

roland mc202
<-- thx for
MC202 pic mikesonic

Roland sh101
Roland sh101
Roland sh101
Roland sh101
1982 - the SH101 was born..
modded heavily with 7segment LED:
roland sh101 modded

to be used with an Apple II Computer or a Commodore C64
or less know computers: Sharp MZ80K, NEC PC 8001.

very very new thing at that time, since 8bit computers were still used and Roland had the Vision to do all the music with a sound module that was brought out by Roland digital DG

there are melody, bass and rhythm sections (8 sections in total) with at least an (gate) LED to show it's status, most had to be edited via the computer.

note: midi was close to come but not yet ready, 1982 the CMU-800 was available through 1986. rare these days..

it has 8 CV and Gates outs, clock etc..
a 50 pin cable connects the CMU-800 to the computer host.

there are some synths in it quite like the sh101 and smaller.. for each section..
you could even attach a plotter for printing your score (!!)
we design the future! Roland did..

Roland CMU-800 Sound Module
CMU 800 + Apple II Computer

on the pic (upper right) you can see the addition available sync box..
Roland SH5
the ROLAND SH5 has a special BPF resonant filter that is not voltage controlled and a 2pole resonant multimode filter, in the mixer you can route the output of vco 1 , vco 2 ,ringmod, ext, input into the VCF, the BPF, both or directly to the VCA.. in case of the noise (white and pink) you got the chance to filter it using the fixed filter (parallel with the VCF multi). there are 2 ENVs (AR,ADSR) and 2 LFOs that range to 20hz. the good thing on this synth: it has a lot of "non-usual"-circuitry.. so its sounds are quite unique,too

the sh5 is very close to the system 100:
but of course has no "check points" or semi modular patching capabilities, but it has a great manual BPF.. it's not CV-controllable, but it sounds great.. the sys100 has 2 real ADSR whilst the Sh5 has only ADSR and AR (no AR unfortunately, so it needs to run ADSR for VCA and VCF for big basses)..

LFO speed 0,1-20Hz (both LFOs) see right below

schematics of the Roland SH5 here..

a nice little SH5 song called "KliniK Room 5" (check my music site MoogulatoR .de under audio to listen to it..), roland sh-5 only directly to the mac, encoded in 128bps mp3 and no more than just playing it, no overdubs, etc.. just one take and thats it!

some schematics of the roland modulars 100 and 700 also here

Modification Ideas/Plans Roland SH-5:
1) BPF controllable via CV (ext)
2) AR also available on VCO1
3) LFO1 (discrete with transistors) speedup to 100hz (normally 20hz max)
4)same with LFO2, it's made of Op-Amps!
5) the "preset env" may be exchanged by knobs?
6) make the AR a AD or/and R sets D,too, sustain? (add switch)
7) keytrack BPF
8) BPF level CVable (AR/ADSR/LFOs)

HERE IS A NICE TRICK TO MAKE THE LFOs VERY VERY FAST (like the jupiter 4's LFOs)! (audio speed) with NO MODIFICATION AT ALL:
or: a third LFO on the SH5 with variable waveform shaper!:
1) set the ADSR to s/h trigger
2) turn filter to ADSR and the amount knob (sens.) up!
3) turn the s/h speed to maximum
4)set A,D and R tu a very small amount and experiment: this is your LFO shape!!
now you got a very fast filter FM like on the jupiter 4! without any chance, the secret is the faster s/h speed that the sample and hold clock needs to produce to "sample" the LFO1s waveposition. (of course the lag does not mean something in this case: I just use the clock to trigger the ENVs!: works with AR,too..
THIS SHOULD WORK on other Synths, especially the SYSTEM 100 too.. if not: it's not too difficult to use s/h clock as trigger for envelopes.. maybe useing OSCs for triggering is possible,too? (I doubt the speed will not be enough on the ADSR.. but it may work.. or is an interesting basis for mods? anyone? please email, if you did something with this..)

please email me, if some1 ever did a mod to the sh5!! tell me!! and how you did??

HERE IS A NICE TRICK TO MAKE THE system 100 & sh5 LFOs VERY VERY FAST (like the jupiter 4's LFOs)! (audio speed)
see above (sh5)

somewhat near that sound... the Roland System 100 (not 100m!) typischer Roland sound: das 100er System..

quite close to the SH5 sound. but "a bit" modular.. but,well you cannot really call it modular.. same filter and OSC sound (so have a look/ear on my SH5 track: a nice little song "KliniK Room 5", sh5 only directly to the mac, encoded in 128bps mp3 and no more than just playing it, no overdubs, etc.. just one take and thats it!)

Roland SH5 synthesizer
Roland SH5 synthesizer
Roland SH5 synthesizer
Roland SH5 synthesizer

"born in 1975" - the SH-5 synthesizer.


why the hell did they never made something like MC404 or SH404 or SH4?

did you know that number 4 is quite similar to "death" in china / asia? if you ever visited asia and especially china or taiwan: you will not see number 4.. even houses do not have room 4 or the 4th floor!.. roland is from japan, they simply know it.. and even apples 4400 sold for another name over there.. no1 will buy "death" ;)

hmm, maybe cool for goth wave bands? ;)

modifications LFO: The trick is to replace the original opamp with a FET type. If I remember correctly, it was a 1458 and was replaced with a TL082. This allows a wider range of speeds available by replacing certain resistors and/or caps. I *did* document the changes, but have never scanned them in. I'm sure a decent tech can do the same. Here's the results from the unit I modded below (this URL).

btw: you can do something that need no modification:
take a short patchcord and connect the out to the ext. in! now you have some control over the sh5, when you switch the ringmod to ext (via BPF), nice sounds!

the sh line and system 100..
roland sh line

Roland SH7

The SH7 is the flag ship of the SH Series, it is basically more like the sh5 than the others..

it has 2 complete ADSR envelopes, VCO or noise can mod the 24dB/oct. LPF filter. it has no BPF like the SH-5 but it's filter has 24 instead of 12dB/oct like the sh5 has. but it is not a multimode filter!.. the sh7 has 2 VCOs with hard sync (soft sync got lost over thos 3 years between the 1975 made sh5 and the sh-7 (1978). it was the latest model ,even after the system 100 which was the "most modular" one of the sh series (in fact the system 100 is a member of the sh-series family dynasty ;). back to the sh7: it's VCO1 has 5 Slides to control 32',16',8',4' and 2' Square Waves (quite sh-3a like..) , hardsync with autobend, sort of a mini envelope with time adjustment ("decay"). each VCO can be modulated by s/h, autobend or the LFO. yes! it's one LFO (20hz max still as the sh5, but the sh5 has 2 of them) the sample and hold is cool, like the whole sh series and sys100 it has some waves and random input, sample time and lag! so it is what s/h should be! complete! comparable to that of the arp2600..
the LFO sine wave can be fade in and the lfo can be triggered by Keyboard.
like the sh5 both VCOs offer tri,sq, saw and pw (manually and modulated by lfo or env1)
only vco2 has a fine tune as an offset to vco1. of course both VCOs have still their octave switch.

both Envs can be triggered by LFO, keyboard or both, the vcf can be modulated by 5 sources switchable to another alternative, so it's 10 but not at the same time: env1 (pos and neg polarity), lfo, or s/h, keytrack or pedal, vco2 or noise, env follow (pos, neg polarity)

there is an envelope follower and like most sh and later rolands there is a static hpf (non vc controllable). and a ringmod. it allows vco1 and vco2 to be ringmodded or vco1 with ext. signal.

there's a noise generator with white and pink noise available ,too..
all can be mixed separately: vco1,2,the "drawbaw of vco1 section",ringmod, noise / ext (alternatively)
VCa can be modded by one of the envs..

---click to enlarge most of these pics..-->

Roland SH 7

Roland SH7 Synthesizer Roland SH7 Synthesizer
Roland SH7 Synthesizer
Roland SH-7 Synthesizer
Roland SH7 Synthesizer
Roland SH-7 Synthesizer
Roland SH7 Synthesizer

ROLAND SYSTEM100 - made in 1976

very similar to the SH5, + SH7 but it hasn't got the nice manual controllable BPF - but semimodular patchable modules MORE SYSTEM 100 facts on:


roland system 100 - 101 & 102

infos pics and more on the system 100 here MODULAR

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