After some time of lusting after a Roland System-8 (I blame Elf) I started to think about, and read about, a synth I had in my ‘to sell’ pile, and realised that the SH-201 is a kind of poor man’s, 16-year-old technology, System-8.
It wouldn’t win in any head-to-head, but it occupies a similar retrospective territory. Nick Magnus’s SOS review https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/roland-sh201
If the SH-201 could be said to have a 'signature' sound, it may be due in part to the 24dB/octave filter, which is similar in character to that of the JP8000. The overall sound is fresh, bright and typically 'Roland' — though that's not to say that it lacks warmth. Back in the analogue era of the 1980s, American synths were commonly considered 'fat', in contrast to their 'thin'-sounding Japanese counterparts. The original (and mighty) Jupiter 8 proved the exception to this rule, and I would venture to say that the SH201 carries on this tradition.
There is more. I won’t quote the whole review, but I would say that, despite its many detractors, and its obvious deficiencies, it can make some very worthwhile noises. Would not want it as my only synth, but as something that brings a specific character to the collection, it can hold its own.
However, two things that I don’t like about it could potentially be fixed with a makeover. The first is its paint job, which was not Roland’s finest hour.
The second is that, despite the hands-on front panel, there are many useful but hidden parameters which need combined button/button or knob/button presses. Many of these could be shown on the front panel, at the expense of losing some graphic simplicity.
Something like this, white on black
but with more detailed info.
I am already working on the artwork, lifted from a PDF manual, with the aim of creating a unique overlay. But it would be shame to spoil it with some dodgy laser printing. So finally the question.
Does anyone know of UK company who could take PDF artwork and print - I presume to thin vinyl with light-tack adhesive back? It would also be helpful if they could laser-cut the cut-outs (buttons, knobs, LEDs), although not essential as I could use a scalpel if needs be. I could just Google of course, but though I would ask here first.