Superlative’s SB01 synth looks like a Roland SH-101 from the future

While some companies are happy to create slavish emulations of classic synths, Superlative is taking a rather different approach. Previewed at Superbooth, the SB01 - pronounced Space Bee, apparently - might be inspired by Roland’s SH-101, but it’s also a forward-thinking analogue instrument in its own right.

That said, sounds are generated with a 3340 voltage-controlled oscillator and 4-pole OTA filter for that distinctive SH sound. There are also analogue envelopes, modulation features and portamento. 

Things start to get a little more interesting when you consider the step sequencer, a new design that’s been optimised for “fluid live performance”. Patterns can be created by entering notes in order, along with rests or slides. You can create patterns with up to 256 notes and save them in 64 different locations.

What’s more, there are various ways to switch between sequences. They can be chained together or you can jump instantly from one to another, while a Modulo mode enables you to interleave them. And, because this is a dual sequencer, you can run two different independent sequences simultaneously, either internal or external (your other gear can be driven using CV or MIDI).

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Then we come to power, which is supplied by a replaceable rechargeable battery that can run for up to 16 hours, ensuring that the SB01 is truly portable. It’s designed to be robust, too; the synth is machined out of a single block of aluminium, and the full-size keyboard is based on a fast-action rubber dome switch. There's an optional handgrip for those who want to play the synth as as keytar.

Of course, this isn’t the only SH-emulating game in town. Roland has its SH-01A, and Behringer is undercutting everyone with the MS-1-RD. The SB01, though, is something a bit different, though you will have to pay significantly more for it. The synth is on Kickstarter right now, with pledge prices starting at $949.

Superlative SB01

(Image credit: Superlative)
Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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