Roland SH-4d

LPF83

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Roland SH-4d
« on: February 23, 2023, 04:05:25 AM »
This is probably a must-buy for me.  Sonically I'm more a fan of Roland's ACB products (System8, JU-06a) than their ZenCore stuff, but I appreciate the polyphony and features ZenCore offers.  I haven't acquired any of it, simply because an inexpensive, compact module with a great UI has not been available (the JupiterXM has been the closest offering to this, and the usability of it rubbed me wrong as did the price).  It looks like this time, however, they have more directly addressed what I wanted, and at a reasonable price point.

https://www.musicradar.com/reviews/roland-sh-4d

https://www.roland.com/global/products/sh-4d/

Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC

Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2023, 06:22:46 AM »
This looks fantastic. I have no interest in the analog emulations but the digital sounds (FM, PCM), 4 part multitimbrality, Sequencer and the fact itís a desktop module are all huge selling points for me.

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2023, 07:42:04 AM »
This looks fantastic. I have no interest in the analog emulations but the digital sounds (FM, PCM), 4 part multitimbrality, Sequencer and the fact itís a desktop module are all huge selling points for me.

Even if the synth models and drum samples were stripped away and the thing were used only as a multi-FX unit, the price of admission still seems reasonable.  Look at the list of FX in Starsky's review about 11.5 mins in:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhfFg2SUpZw
Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC

Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2023, 11:13:13 AM »
This looks fantastic. I have no interest in the analog emulations but the digital sounds (FM, PCM), 4 part multitimbrality, Sequencer and the fact itís a desktop module are all huge selling points for me.

Even if the synth models and drum samples were stripped away and the thing were used only as a multi-FX unit, the price of admission still seems reasonable.  Look at the list of FX in Starsky's review about 11.5 mins in:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhfFg2SUpZw

For sure the effects sound incredible but I wouldnít expect less from Roland/Boss.

The more I read up and listen to some demos...the more Iím sold. None of them are really my style but there is a lot of potential there. Would be nice to see a list of the on-board samples. Hoping for some Orchestral type sounds in addition to the D50/JD8000 La synth and FM sounds.

Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2023, 01:48:21 PM »
Well I saw the PCM sample list....incredibly poor selection. To the point I think I may skip this.

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2023, 03:37:22 PM »
Well I saw the PCM sample list....incredibly poor selection. To the point I think I may skip this.

Mind to share the link to the sample list?   I'm more interested in the multi-timbral synth capabilities (and primarily for my compact setup rather than my main studio)...It would probably stay connected to the MPC most of the time, where I have more drum samples loaded than I know what to do with, and where things that matter little to others (like power via USB) would be huge for my use case....  But I would like to have a look at the list just the same.
Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC

Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2023, 09:14:15 PM »
Well I saw the PCM sample list....incredibly poor selection. To the point I think I may skip this.

Mind to share the link to the sample list?   I'm more interested in the multi-timbral synth capabilities (and primarily for my compact setup rather than my main studio)...It would probably stay connected to the MPC most of the time, where I have more drum samples loaded than I know what to do with, and where things that matter little to others (like power via USB) would be huge for my use case....  But I would like to have a look at the list just the same.

Itís in the user manual on the Roland website.

LPF83

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2023, 09:08:22 AM »
Well I saw the PCM sample list....incredibly poor selection. To the point I think I may skip this.

Mind to share the link to the sample list?   I'm more interested in the multi-timbral synth capabilities (and primarily for my compact setup rather than my main studio)...It would probably stay connected to the MPC most of the time, where I have more drum samples loaded than I know what to do with, and where things that matter little to others (like power via USB) would be huge for my use case....  But I would like to have a look at the list just the same.

Itís in the user manual on the Roland website.

Thanks... and agreed, it doesn't look competitive with something like the Integra-7 in terms of variety of onboard sounds, mostly drum sounds and single cycle waveforms (although the latter can blossom into a lot of sound design possibilities with the wavetable model I'm guessing).  But for my intended use and the price, I'm definitely keeping an eye on the SH-4d.
Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC

LPF83

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2023, 08:55:27 AM »
Another video from Starsky focusing on oscillators (he also specifically corrects a headscratcher from his first video, where he mistakenly reported no fine tuning of the oscillators..  I felt that had to be wrong at the time).

Overall it seems quite good for my use case of a cheap, multi-timbral, Juno module for my compact setup, even if not for everyone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrUzXs3y9vo

Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC

chysn

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2023, 06:43:03 PM »
This is damn tempting. I'm considering getting a polysynth (I have four monos right now...) and this sort of pops up near the top of the list.
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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2023, 01:06:02 PM »
Starsky's latest video explores the real-world polyphony, which is one area I was trying to find info on but to date had not been able to.  Usually on multi-timbral VA synths, there is the "on paper" voice polyphony, but then in actual use you find that voice stealing happens more quickly than expected on all but the simplest of sounds.

But, again for the price, this seems more than capable of 3 to 4 synth parts at a time with a decent voice count.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zoa7s_E8VQ
Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2023, 01:59:09 PM »
I've been keeping my ears on the various YT feedback out there for this one. 

I believe folks in Europe/Asia started getting theirs a couple of weeks back, and now they are shipping in the US.  So far everyone that has one seems to love it, that it meets or exceeds their expectations, it appears Roland may have a real winer on their hands here.

Mine should be here soon, I will give it some time before I post feedback here.  Anyone here have one yet?  Thoughts?
Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2023, 08:38:40 AM »
Well I saw the PCM sample list....incredibly poor selection. To the point I think I may skip this.

I'm going to wait until I really know this synth reasonably well before posting an opinion, other than to say first impressions are great and what I had hoped it would be... but I did want to comment on the PCM model and and the samples available.  While there isn't a huge number of them, it may be less of an issue than it may seem on paper, because a PCM part consists of up to 4 oscillators, and with a sample loaded in each one, you quickly find yourself using the 4 mixer sliders to combine those sounds in different ways to come up with new tones.

This, of course, isn't going to satisfy if looking for it to be a heavy duty ROMpler or provide a good selection of acoustic samples... but it does mean that the variety of tones you can get out of the PCM model is much more vast than might be portrayed just by looking at the sample list, because of all the tone combination possibilities, which are multiplied using the mix levels... and that doesn't even take into consideration the bewildering number of FX which can modify the tone further.
Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC

LPF83

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2023, 03:31:51 PM »
So the verdict is this little box is a keeper for me.  To understand where I'm coming from, it's worthwhile to consider my use case.

I wanted an inexpensive desktop synth with good sound & UI/workflow, decent polyphony, multi-timbrality (at least 2 sounds, this of course has more) and good hands-on tweakability, good FX, preferably with a vintage (and very immediate) feel and sound profile that would work well with the Akai MPC.

I already had the JU-06A which is great, but not multi-timbral.  Then there is the Virus which is multi-timbral, but it is not generally vintage sounding, and the feature set is such that it is best used in conjunction with an editor on the computer.  I have the P12 desktop but that's in my studio and not going to be a travel box for me, and while it has great delay lines and modulation (build your own fx), I prefer to use it with outboard fx.  There's the JP-8080 which is great but large for a travel setup and it is vintage in age at this point, so I wouldn't want to take it on the go, and like the P12 and Virus I like to keep it in the studio for more refined work, while this need was for "idea scratchpad" work.

The "idea scratchpad" is an important reason why I like the SH-4d.  In terms of sound quality, as expected, it is not in the same league as my analog gear.  When I watch YT videos, I always hear a certain shortcoming (or maybe limitation) of the ZenCore based Roland synths, whether it's the JupiterX/Xm or JunoX or the VSTs... I feel ZenCore in general has a very "in the box" mudiness or lack of fidelity to the sound, which is just the unfortunate tradeoff that one inevitably faces when balancing DSP power with high polyphony and multi-timbrality.  The Roland ACB based synths (System-8, JU-06A) are better for overall sound.

All of that said, the SH-4D is a MUCH deeper sound design playground than I expected in a little box like this, and for that reason at the pricepoint I think this is going to be a big seller for Roland.  In many ways the depth of experimentation possibilities reminds me of the Hydrasynth.  It is not as deep/complex as that, but it does encourage exploration, and it tends to reward the time invested with some very nice sounds. 

That last sentence may be key --  what I want to say in parallel there is that this is not a synth where everything is a sweet spot.  You have to find the sweet spots to get amazing sounds out of it, and when you do find those sounds (trust me they are not in the presets), you will realize not only what a great value it is but how much fun you just had crafting that sound.  And then you realize you were only working on a single part, you have three more synth slots left and a drum track if you want it!   That's the real news here.

So, a few caveats....

-  Since I bought it as a SONG scratch pad to be used in conjunction with the MPC, I will probably rarely invest the time to get amazing sounds out of it, because my ultimate goal is to just quickly throw down ideas, and if I think the idea is good enough I will export it later (and potentially replace with higher-end hardware sounds).  Just the same, the deep sound design capability might be important to some.
-  I probably won't use the rhythm track or sequencer at all!   So, this review only discusses the unit in the context of the use case I mentioned above.  The MPC is the brain of drums and sequencing in my compact setup, so I have no real need for the little button keyboard, the pattern sequencing, and the other niceties.  For some, using this as the only music portable making machine available, these could be compelling features.

So for me it fits the bill and is worth the ~$650, but depending on your use case your mileage may vary.  I think once more folks realize the depth of sound design capabilities, it's going to be one of those popular underdog synths like the Hydrasynth that reaches a lot of folk's shopping list.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2023, 03:35:19 PM by LPF83 »
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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2023, 12:47:02 PM »
The FM and Wavetable engines are strong selling points for me. I do hope they will do some expansions with additional engines though such as the XV 5080 or D50 (which oddly is a synth that despite being iconic, isnít really revisited at all in Rolandís newer synths or workstations. Iím shocked Digital Native Dance isnít a baked in preset for the company.

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2023, 01:41:03 PM »
The FM and Wavetable engines are strong selling points for me. I do hope they will do some expansions with additional engines though such as the XV 5080 or D50 (which oddly is a synth that despite being iconic, isnít really revisited at all in Rolandís newer synths or workstations. Iím shocked Digital Native Dance isnít a baked in preset for the company.

The FM and Wavetable models are great, and also the Drawing one is instant fun, and results in all sorts of PPG Wave-like sounds that you've never heard before.  Those "cut through the mix" thinner sounds was always Rolands forte, and this box does them well.  But at the same time you can definitely get warm Rolandesque Juno pads out of it (not just with the Juno and SH101 models but with the 4D and 3D models).  The polyphony and multi-timbrality of it will impress, its a powerful box.

And I do think there is a high probability of some interesting updates coming for this.. the UI is such that it scales nicely, they could add a few more models via firmware update, and it would in no way feel overencumbered.  They found a nice balance between immediacy / knob control for the important stuff, but tons of depth with a small amount of menu diving.

Personally I'd really like to see them add a vocoder, they have a habit of tacking these onto their other VA synths, but they tend to be very good vocodors at that.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2023, 01:43:25 PM by LPF83 »
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chysn

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2023, 08:12:10 AM »
What is the Mix In jack?
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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2023, 08:25:45 AM »
What is the Mix In jack?

It's just mini stereo audio in, the only existing purpose that I'm aware of would be to run an external signal through the FX (which is interesting in itself, given the absurd number of FX available), but could prove useful for future models.
Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2023, 10:36:14 AM »
What is the Mix In jack?

It's just mini stereo audio in, the only existing purpose that I'm aware of would be to run an external signal through the FX (which is interesting in itself, given the absurd number of FX available), but could prove useful for future models.

The signal flow diagram (here https://static.roland.com/manuals/sh-4d/eng/50791073.html) shows Mix In going straight through to output, without passing through the effects processors. This seems like a missed opportunity. I don't even see a level control for that input.
Pro 3 #1640 ∙ Prophet 5 Rev 4 #2711

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LPF83

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Re: Roland SH-4d
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2023, 04:33:21 PM »
What is the Mix In jack?

It's just mini stereo audio in, the only existing purpose that I'm aware of would be to run an external signal through the FX (which is interesting in itself, given the absurd number of FX available), but could prove useful for future models.

The signal flow diagram (here https://static.roland.com/manuals/sh-4d/eng/50791073.html) shows Mix In going straight through to output, without passing through the effects processors. This seems like a missed opportunity. I don't even see a level control for that input.

I think you're right on the missed opportunity.  I didn't even look at the signal flow, I just assumed that's what it was for.  Not sure why they made that decision aside from the fact that every feature comes with some support cost, and clearly they set out to make an attractrive msrp a high priority.  Soo... it doesn't appear it will be getting a vocoder, after all, does it? ;)
Prophet 10, OB-X8m, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Pro 2, Virus TI2, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland JP-8080, Roland System-8, Roland SPD-SX SE / Octapad, Maschine, Cubase/Ableton/Akai MPC