This tutorial shows you how to recreate the core of the Roland SH-101 in Ableton Live using the instruments from Liveschool’s free Roland SH-101 multisample synth pack.

The result will be a template preset you can use to start designing your own SH-101 style sounds in Ableton Live.

If you haven’t downloaded the free synth pack already, grab via the link above and let’s get into it…


The SH-101’s Core

The audio signal on the Roland SH-101 starts with the Source Mixer panel, which is what we’ll be recreating:

Screenshot 2014-11-17 17.01.20

In the above picture, you can see the Roland SH-101’s source mixer has (L to R):

  • Square (or pulse) waveform volume
  • Sawtooth waveform volume
  • Sub bass oscillator volume
  • A switch to controls the pitch of the sub bass (whether it’s 1 octave below, or 2 octaves below the main oscillator).
  • White noise volume 

In the sample pack you’ll find we included instruments for the SH-101’s sawtooth, square and sub bass (recorded at 2 octaves below), which were recorded as raw waveforms. By raw, I mean that all modifiers such as filters and envelopes were deactivated on the synth to capture just the pure waveform sound. We didn’t include white noise in the SH-101 pack, so click here to download a white noise instrument recorded from our Minimoog to use in this tutorial.

These raw waveform instruments are perfect for designing your own sounds from scratch, but when combined, we can use them to easily create a template preset which emulates the Source Mixer of the SH-101 in Ableton Live.


Recreating the SH-101’s Source Mixer in Live

I’ve broken this down into seven quick steps for you (also shown in the video below):

  1. Drop the SH-101 Sawtooth instrument onto a new MIDI track.
  2. Right click on the instrument name in the device view and select Group, which turns it into an Instrument Rack.
  3. Click to show the chain list & the macros.
  4. In the chain list where it says “Drop an instrument of Sample Here”, drop in the Square, Sub Bass & White Noise instruments. (see extra download above).
  5. Right click on each of the volume levels in the chain list and assign them to macro controls. Rename these as you go by right clicking on the macro and selecting rename.
  6. Drop the Pitch MIDI effect on to the Sub Bass chain and set it to +12 st, then right click the Device Activator and map this to a macro control. This macro control now easily switches your sub bass between 1 or 2 octaves below – just like the switch in the SH-101’s source mixer.
  7. Lastly, make sure you save this as a preset – it’s the perfect template to start designing your own SH-101 style sounds in Ableton Live.

This quick video takes you through the steps outlined above, so you can easily follow along to set-up the Sh-101’s Source Mixer as a preset in Live:

From there, you can recreate almost every parameter from the SH-101 in Ableton Live – for example to add a filter, just drop Live’s Auto Filter after the rack – then all four instruments will now pass through the same filter just like on the SH-101. Beyond this, your imagination’s the limit.

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with our latest free tutorials, samples, video interviews and more.

Learn more about Sound Design & Synthesis.

how to produce music liveschool