Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.
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Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by BlackGnosis » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:37 am

I totally wanna get one.... use it for heavy duty bass or for stuff to sample and toss in songs later, but I like both of these synths immensly and i'd get a similar sound out of them that I'd want to accomplish,

Things to consider in this shoot out Price, maintenance, portability, Sound flexibility, and availability.

I already like all of them.... I just wanna make sure its something I can take good care of [replacing parts as needed] and put to solid use.
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Ashe37 wrote:I find it funny that you're a guitar pedal snob and yet don't own a single analog synth.

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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by Solderman » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:51 pm

I assume by "both" you actually mean "all three". I can only speak for the SH-101 and Pro~One, the latter of which I no longer own.

Generally they don't require alot of regular maintenance, although the sliders of the 101 seem more resilient than the Pro~One's pots in my experience. The cutoff pot on my Pro~One was in need of replacement, as it would jiggle vertically a bit, and would not turn smoothly. The SH-101 doesn't have an onboard power supply, but the Pro~One's is generally of good build quality. Both are encased essentially in plastic, and the Pro~One's can be kind of flimsy. When I shipped it, the jacks sunk into their through-holes, but the new owner just popped them back into place.

The mod and pitch wheels on the Pro~One are of mediocre quality, and its pitch wheel isn't spring loaded. The traditional Roland pitch stick includes filter cutoff control, although Mod has no depth control. I prefer to do vibrato through CV/Gate(Kenton Pro-2000) and use the LFO for something else. The SH-101's pitch stick housing may break at some point. Mine is still unattached at its base, but as I said, I don't use it.
Switches and jacks on either are of acceptable quality, although the CV/Gate inputs of my SH-101 have some corrosion.
Alot of the Roland parts can be found from various ebay vendors. AFAIK, most Pro~One parts must be purchased from Wine Country Productions, and they all unfortunately are sold at a premium. Check their website for availability.

Much has been said about the Pro~One membrane keyboards, and none of it is positive. I don't have any experience with that, as mine had a recently replaced(before purchase) J-Wire keyboard with a great feel to it. You'll naturally want to ensure the keyboard is a J-wire in great condition. I never had to perform maintenance on mine. If you resort to CV/Gate inputs only, you at least lose Portamento, and there may be more, but I can't remember.

As you probably know, the Pro~One is the most flexible of the bunch, mostly due to the Polymod section, and the multi-waveform oscillators & LFO. Filter key tracking also extends beyond an octave, which I thought was a nice subtle addition. I never did care for high-resonance(just before self-oscillation) on the Pro~One, though. A bit too thin and fragile. The 101 also gets pretty plastic there, but maintains a nice amount of squelch. The SH-101 also has a better sequencer, and can remember 1 sequence with batteries in. The Pro~One's always forgets on power-off, and cannot tie notes.

The Pro~One's audio input is a little different, in that it is a TRS jack. The ring lead triggers the envelope gate(and the sequencer advance gate too!) at a threshold set by the input level pot. Therefore you have to bypass the ring lead to control the gate seperately. I used a stereo adapter for this, and simply did not connect anything to the ring lead.

There are mods that can be done for either synth, but there are more out there on the web for the SH-101. I've done 7 of them, and it really benefits for expanding its sonic palette:
  1. Audio In to filter
  2. Triangle waveform to the pre-filter Mixer
  3. Audio waveforms to Mod bus
  4. All LFO waveforms to Pulsewidth Mod bus (including sub-oscillator)
  5. Filter CV In
  6. VCA overdrive
  7. LFO rate switchable to Faster rate
I never truly enjoyed my SH-101 until I did the mods. Here is a video of me demonstrating my mods.

That's all I've got for now.
I am no longer in pursuit of vintage synths. The generally absurd inflation from demand versus practical use and maintenance costs is no longer viable. The internet has suffocated and vanquished yet another wonderful hobby. Too bad.
--Solderman no more.

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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by spookyman » Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:00 pm

When you consider these 3 things : maintenance, sound flexibility and availability

I would say that the Pro One wins.

SH-2 are quite rare and less flexible in therm of sound than a Pro One, but they are very reliable and sounds really good.

SH-101, cool synth, very available, reliable, but the sound flexibility is also limited when you compare with a Pro-One, even a SH-2 has more possibilities. But the sequencer is really a useful goodies.

If your priority is sound flexibility, go for the Pro One. If you are more the live player, that loves synth that are very straight-ward and easy to use, go for a Roland.
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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by Z » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:41 pm

Although I'll never part with my SH-2, I agree with Solder & Spooky that the ProOne wins for sound flexibility. A "stock" 101 is rather boring in my opinion except for the sequencer - I LOVE THE SEQUENCER! I did mess around with Solder's modded 101 last year and it's a little more interesting.

Here are a couple of SH-2 vids I made last summer:


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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by BlackGnosis » Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:37 pm

spookyman wrote:When you consider these 3 things : maintenance, sound flexibility and availability

I would say that the Pro One wins.

SH-2 are quite rare and less flexible in therm of sound than a Pro One, but they are very reliable and sounds really good.

SH-101, cool synth, very available, reliable, but the sound flexibility is also limited when you compare with a Pro-One, even a SH-2 has more possibilities. But the sequencer is really a useful goodies.

If your priority is sound flexibility, go for the Pro One. If you are more the live player, that loves synth that are very straight-ward and easy to use, go for a Roland.
sound flexibility is nicve, but I'm a live player half the time when I'm recording. so maybe a roland shall suffice, but the pro one has such a robust repute and solderman did bring up some attractive features about the pro one.,.... hmm I'll just have to start saving and see what oppertunities come up.


Also z, thanks for the vids <3 I love a lot of the sounds you can get out of the SH-2 its so agressive and "in-your-face" epic synth :D
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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by clusterchord » Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:07 am

most has been said about the flexibility and build quality.


i'd like to offer a quick rather-generalizing look at their respective sound characters. this is something that would, together with first two characteristics, interest me the most, when making a choice..



SH101 - simple, thin, cutting, 90s acidic, techno. screamin dry Roland filter. not a warm machine. suprislngly useful in almost any arrangement. great for fast XoX sequneces, high BPM basses and lines..

Pro One - punchy sizzley brassy early 80s synth pop sound. phenomenal analog drums due to polymod flexibility, biting basses. sequences. considering the variety of retor-id styles of todays electonica, it would definetely find its place.


SH2 - only one of the three that is not a Curtis chip based machine. big warm bass that is so thick and punchy. organic discrete VCOs. it can do 70s leads, as well as 90s PWM fat sequences. phenomenal filter. most liquid of the three. beautiful self oscillation. can be modded to add oscillator sync.



my situation is: i have SH2 for several yrs, and i had a frined's SH101 for a few months to use. these two work fantastic together. i was seduced wth 101 simplicity, and its sequencer/arpeggiator which is great since i run analog clock thruout my system. i didnt use it for leads or big thunderous bass, but there was always something in the arrangement that this little gem did so great. not all sounds need or can be fat. so i'd really like to get one.

but, that being said, Pro One is just a legendary mono in its own right. the beauty of Curtis sound at its finest incarnation. im thinking i wanna pick one up first, while they are still available.. all you gotta do is hear the "Don't Go" by Yazzo, and you already want it. bad.
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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by Malik » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:34 am

clusterchord wrote:

but, that being said, Pro One is just a legendary mono in its own right. the beauty of Curtis sound at its finest incarnation. im thinking i wanna pick one up first, while they are still available.. all you gotta do is hear the "Don't Go" by Yazzo, and you already want it. bad.
I just watched two live youtubes with yazoo, and it looks like "the keyboardist" is playing an SH-2 in one and a Jupiter-4 in the other. (for the basslines) Was the Pro-One doing the arpeggiation? Ahh Vinnie Clarke...such a gear w***e.

More on-topic- I'd recommend the SH-2. I've owned all three synths at different points, and enjoyed the SH-101 for its simplicity, the Pro-One for its tormented modular-ocity and the SH-2 for the liquidy, discrete analog sound you don't get from chip-based synths. The SH-2 is still my go-to for bass and leads that sound thick and woody...or elastic.

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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by Scories » Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:04 pm

...and when you really dislike Yazoo and most 80's electronic bands, does that mean that you might not like the Pro-one?? :)

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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by pflosi » Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:50 am

certainly not

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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by mc202 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:50 am

I'd consider the sh2 and sh101 maintenance free. Mine are wonderful. sh101 is very fun, good mods available and sequencer is a real part of the instrument.

sh2 sounds so beautiful. exactly what you'd expect.

pro-one - still wanting one despite many stories about cheap build quality.

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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by plikestechno » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:22 am

For phat sounds and bass in this arena it's the SH2. Period.

But a lot of people say the SH2 is overrated for its price, that the second oscillator doesn't add much and you're better off just buying an SH-09 than paying double it's price for a sine wave and a second oscillator.

I lusted after an SH-2 for a long time and a well respected synth friend of mine just told me to just go get a SH-09 instead. An SH-09 came in the mail yesterday, perfect shape for $399 USD and it is wonderful. Everything I hoped for and more. Yet I think it makes me want an SH2 more but only for $600 or less in great shape so I'll have to fluke into a deal. I just wish you could do more with the second oscillator and it had more modulation possibilities like my Octave Cat SRM.

I have an SH-101 and I don't know what to think about it yet. I got it in a trade a few months ago. I've played with it twice. I traded a Nord Modular G1 keys, I got the SH-101 and $200 USD cash. People talk about phatness and my f**k Prophet T8 sounds phatter and it's a CEM machine anyway and it has a polyphonic sequencer and 900 other things going for it. Maybe I need someone to Novamod it...

I mean if I instantly liked the SH-09 and am whatever about the SH-101 that's probably not a good sign. I probably will sell the 101 evetually but the prices of them of dipped recently. Will wait for them to go up a bit more. Or until I really need to sell something.

The only thing going for it IMHO is the extra features and that quintessential sound that's been used on about 9 trillion dance records.

And finally Pro-One does not equal fat and its price is completely nuts for used ones. Great for leads and effects and synthesis but phat bass lines? No senor, my Octave Cat SRM kicks the piss out of a friend's Pro One I was playing with recently.
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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by alspacka » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:49 pm

get an Octave Cat!

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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by plikestechno » Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:59 am

Ah, my Cat SRM. Still in the shop since September. Apparently it's the guy's weekend hobby now. No audio out of OSC1 even though it can still modulate the other osc and filter is why I brought it in. Also, he said he could mod the SSM filter for HP/LP/BP/NP and put a 12/24 switch in it. Didn't think it would take six f'in months or more. But if they actually do it the time will be worth it. They are getting expensive too. One just went for almost 1200 on Ebay.

Wish we had some real techs in my city.

Anyhow staying on track I sold my 101 the other night and bought some euro modules with the proceeds. Gave it a run through before I put it on Ebay and won't miss it. The SH-09 is not as ravey and thin but I could probably do my fave 101 things on my MKS-50.
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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by wiss » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:23 am

I've owned all three.....

I love that Roland sound.......

I'm not a fan of the SH-101, I love SH-2, and the pro-one is maybe the 2nd greatest mono synth to my ears....It's much deeper than either one of them.
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Re: Roland SH-2 vs Roland SH 101 vs SCI Pro-One

Post by snod_donkey » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:31 pm

I have at the moment a Pro one and the SH-101 as well as a Minimoog. Having rebuilt all of these as they were in nead of restoration i would say the SH-101 is the werst for build quality. Roland use a very low cost circuit board like in cheap old hifi, single sided pcb with no plated through holes. The pro one althogh known for bad build quality is based of a very high quality fibre glass pcb and double sided tracks. This makes it far more realiable and very rare to find any that suffer from bad solder joints or lifted tracks. The only poor side to the pro one is the plastic case which is a bit flexy. The keyboard on the pro one is also very simple to fix and service compared to the roland as long as you get the j-wire type, easy to clean, takes about 2 mins to remove from the main synth as you dont have to strip it down. Also the rubber bushings are a very simple fix too. As for sound....... what can i say..... the pro one is amazing and blows the sh-101 away for bass and lead sounds. I would say for electronic type dance music its far better than the minimoog too due to all the routing and modulation possibilities. I too would say the pro one is one of the best 2 mono synths you can buy.......... I have had 3 sh-101s and 5 Pro ones in the last year and i can most definatly say you will want to keep a pro.... period ;)

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