My Roland Gaia SH-01 Synthesizer Review


About Roland

Co​​​​mpany Details

Roland Corporation is a leading manufacturer and distributor of electronic musical instruments.

Roland is known for keyboards and synthesizers, guitar products, electronic percussion, digital recording equipment, amplifiers, and audio processing devices.

Roland Website


My Initial Thoughts

As we all know, Roland is already one of the most iconic manufacturers.

They have already given us some of the most popular products on the market.

Like their TR-808 drum machine, the linear synthesizer D-50 and many others.

And, as a part of their legacy, they also have the Gaia SH-01, a virtual analog synth for the new age.

When it comes to designing synthesizers, the hardest part would be balancing between innovations and keeping it “old-school”.

After all, people do enjoy the analog sound, but the hardware they require to make it is rather expensive.

That is why companies, in general, are producing synthesizers modeled after analogs.

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Roland GAIA SH-01 Synthesizer
22 Reviews
Roland GAIA SH-01 Synthesizer
  • 3 virtual analog engines onboard, each with a...
  • Layer up to 5 simultaneous effects, including...
  • 64-voice polyphony. Hands-on control panel....

Feel, Specifications, Dimensions, and Integrations

This synthesizer is yet another shout out to the older days of music by Roland.

It is simple, clean and doesn’t even have an LCD screen since there are no menus.

However, you will be able to simulate a powerful analog sound.

It is rather compact with the width of 27-3/16 inches and depth of 3-15/16 inches and only weighing in at 9 pounds.

And, even as light as it is, this 37-key synthesizer still feels robust.

The black and white design was a smart choice since it allows the use of modern aesthetics with the classical feel. 

While some dislike the fact that it uses buttons instead of switches for feedback reasons, the backlight will keep you informed.

In fact, one of the things that people love about this synth is that it is very intuitive to use.

The patch creation is simple and you will probably not even have to read the manual.

Advanced Features and Performance

A lot of people will find themselves disappointed if they purchase this model expecting the perfect analog sound.

However, if you look at this synthesizer as what it is – a digital synthesizer, you will be pleasantly surprised.

It works by digitally modeling analog synths via a big oscillator that provides several waveforms for you to use.

The waveforms you can use include triangle, sine, square saw, and an exciting addition – super saw.

This waveform comes as a surprise to some who are not used to playing Roland synthesizers.

It is powerful and gives a very fat, wide and buzzy feel.

Another impressive feature comes in the form of filters.

The cut off and resonance move perfectly and it shows the benefit of playing on a digital device.

Another advantage that comes from this digital synthesizer is the fact it boasts a 64 note polyphony.

Even die-hard analog fans have to admit that is impressive.


Pros & Cons of Gaia SH-01

Benefits

Compact and robust

Great value

Intuitive patch creation

64 note polyphony

Drawbacks

Filters respond slowly

No panel knobs for stereo or LFO pans

Headphones cut the master outs

Some presets could be better


My Final Thoughts

Overall Roland Gaia SH-01 is one of the best synthesizers out there for anyone looking for an affordable virtual analog synth.

It does have some flaws, but the playability it offers is almost unparalleled and you will find yourself making new music instantly.


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