Softube Model 82: What is it?
When it comes to classic synthesizers we’re pretty familiar with the usual potent contenders, but what makes the original Roland SH-101 so interesting is that it was never really a classic of its time, but rather a cheap and cheerful replacement for the more expensive one Machinery.
Thankfully, time has been exceptionally kind with the humble 101, as it was quickly bought up as a second-hand bargain in the late ’80s before becoming a staple of production sound throughout the ’90s and beyond.
Softube’s iteration of the 101 sparks a smile as it loads; Granted, it doesn’t look as stone gray as the original we have in the corner of our studio at CM Towers, but you can switch the colorway to red or blue if you wish. (Contrary to urban myth, reds were never better for bass!)
The architecture is faithful to the original, with source faders for square/pulse, sawtooth, sub-oscillator and white noise. This feeds the frenzied 24dB filter, which also offers the modulation capabilities associated with the 101, and its ability to sound similar in some respects to the equally legendary TB-303. There’s only a single ADSR envelope, like the original, but it’s this overall simplicity that’s a big part of the 101’s character.
Softube Model 82: Performance and Verdict
Sonically, the similarities to our original are quite challenging. While 101s could provide plenty of bass to work with, they were never overdone in the lower ranks without equalization.
• Valley Bassline-101
A preset heavy 101 clone with an extensive onboard sequencer for easy 303-style programming.
• Roland Cloud SH-101 (opens in new tab)
Offering a variety of modern and legendary classics, with the SH-101 being part of the collective.
Here, Softube has taken a measure of artistic liberty by giving the overall sound a more substantial foundation. Purists may feel the need to ditch this, but the reality is you’ll just never know unless you’re lucky enough to have an original machine alongside the software, especially since the rest of the package is so impressive.
The heart and soul of the Model 82 remains intact, even right down to the onboard sequencer and arpeggiator. Why do you need these when working in a DAW you might ask? The original sequencer allowed certain notable programming eccentricities, such as the ability to use the random LFO up to the filter cutoff at the exact tempo with the sequencer. This was solely because the LFO clock rate fader doubled as a tempo control for the sequencer.
Anyhow, Softube has made some exceptionally useful additions and features that go beyond the original basics. The output section benefits from an overdrive that nicely saturates the upper harmonic content, while a doubling feature creates a beautifully textured stereo effect that reflects the patch in both the left and right channels. Velocity and aftertouch controls can also be added via a bank of faders, allowing these elements to be selected in a gradual and sympathetic manner.
The sequencer used in the SH-101 quickly became a hit thanks to its incredibly simple operation. The basic concept has always been to press the Load button, input whatever notes you want to play in a loop, including rests, and play immediately when you press the Play button. For some wonderful reason only known to Roland, the sequencer only had 127 note capacity!
Softube doesn’t provide any information on the sequencer’s upper note limit, but we’d guess it goes well beyond that, while still offering the ease and ability to not only sync with your DAW, but also select an appropriate note value for the steps you input. This offers an incredible level of immediacy, which was one of the things we loved about the original.
Additionally, just like the original, you can press the Transpose button on the 101 and shift your sequencer pattern with a single keystroke on the keyboard. Just add 808 or 909 for instant nostalgia.
Back on the block
The 101 has always been a hard-hitting workhorse, highly adaptable and usable in many different environments. What we like about Softube’s reimagining is that the company has given it a certain production-ready sheen, meaning it inspires from the moment you plug it in.
The architecture has always been a pleasure to work with, and that continues in this plugin. It’s packed with factory presets, the vast majority of which show off the newer features, but creating your own sound is so easy that we can’t see why you wouldn’t want to just get creative with it. Our only disappointment is not being able to strap on a guitar and leap across the room while playing a bass line.
MusicRadar’s verdict: Softube’s production-ready software creation is impressive both in terms of sound and user-friendliness. It’s a future classic.
Softube Model 82: Hands-On Demos
Softube Model 82 Specifications
- Mac OS X 10.13 to 12, Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 / Xeon / full Apple silicon support (M1 or higher).
- windows 10 and 11 64-bit, Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 / Xeon / AMD Quad-Core or newer.
- screen resolution larger than 1280×800.
- 8GB of RAM or more is recommended, and at least 8GB of disk space for installation (individual plug-ins require less disk space, while sample libraries may require additional disk space).
- soft tube Account.
- iLok Account.
- CONTACT: soft tube (opens in new tab)