TAL Bassline 101 Review – Better Than Roland’s Own Emulation?



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TAL Bassline 101

$60/£44.90

Sound Quality
Presets
User Interface
Support
Value for Money

Verdict

A stellar emulation of the original Roland Hardware classic, the SH-101 – a synth that has shaped dance music for decades. Bassline 101 sounds like the real thing & brings some more to the table, for an incredibly low price.

4.8

Pros

✅Clean, crisp GUI.

✅Snappy envelope controls

✅Great support from developer (communication and updates).

✅One of the best SH-101 emulations out there

✅96 Step sequences and arpeggiator (sync-able to DAW)).

✅Self resonating zero feedback delay filter

✅ De-Clicker mode for slower envelopes

Togu Audio Line (TAL) have proved that their products and plugins are top-notch. And, regardless of a lot of the TAL plugins being free, the premium plugins that they offer, stand out above the rest.

For instance, the incredible TAL-MOD is a super powerful semi-modular “analog” type of synth, and, the definitive Juno-60 emulation, the TAL-U-NO-LX is one of the best analogue emulations on the market.

Coming out with banger after banger, the swiss based company has been under the radar for a while, but with their outstanding eye for design & development – they’re hard not to notice anymore.

One of our favourite products from TAL, is the TAL-BASSLINE-101 plugin. And we liked it so much we included it in our best VST plugins list.

But is it really that good? We’re gonna find that out together in this TAL-Bassline 101 review.

Btw here’s our YouTube video review 🙂

What is the TAL-BASSLINE-101?

tal bassline 101 synth vst plugin

If you’re a house music efficionado, you might have already drawn the parallels with the legendary Roland SH-101 monophonic synth.

And you’re right on the mark, Bucko. The TAL-BASSLINE-101 is a near-perfect emulation of the house music staple, that is the SH-101.

Released way back in 1982, this was one of the last great monophonic synths of the analogue era.

roland sh-101 hardware synth
Credit: Reverb.com

The 101 offered a simple sequencer, a single oscillator (with a sub- oscillator) and just a single envelope generator, shared between the amplifier and filter.

And it sounded fabulous.

While limiting, the simplicity was it’s biggest strength. You literally couldn’t make a bad sounding patch.

That, combined with the low price, should’ve been incredible during it’s release in 1982.

However, the SH-101 was a commercial failure, and was mostly kept for niche industrial artists and electro heads.

When the 1990’s came around though, the SH-101 was taken under the wing of the growing electronic music culture, particularly house music.

Cut to a more contemporary time, and the SH-101 is almost synonymous with the house sound of the time.

If you’ve ever listened to Aphex Twin, Tangerine Dream or The Prodigy, I’m willing to bet you’re well acquainted with it’s signature rough sound.

Why Is It So Good?

Even the most grizzled rave veterans love the TAL-BASSLINE-101

Remember when I said it’s a near perfect emulation?

That is because, in addition to everything you expect to see on an SH-101, the TAL emulation goes a few steps further to include functionality that was never present on the original machine.

The layout is also noticeably more complex than it’s counterpart. This is mostly due to the fact, you can actually see what’s going on in the sequencer/arpeggiator.

Another welcome addition is the fact that the TAL emulation is now Polyphonic. Which is pretty awesome if you want to make more chord/pad based sounds that need poly mode to work. We definitely found the poly mode on TAL Bassline 101 to be a great addition.

It’s particularly good at producing beautiful pad sounds with a distinctly Roland character.

Combine that with their smooth Juno-60 emulation, add on their free reverb and you’ve got some real, classic electronic music vibes going on.

While polyphonic playing is a great addition to an already stellar bass machine, if you’d rather stick to authentic purity, there is a mono mode for this synth, for you to live out your 90’s rockstar dreams. And the basses you can make are just incredible.

Which brings us on to:

How Does It Sound?

The TAL-Bassline-101 is staggeringly similar sounding, to the original SH-101 synth.

Having had experience with numerous SH-101 emulations, over the years, as well as the actual analog synth, this emulation is as close as anyone has gotten to perfect.

Just running through a couple presets, the TAL-BASSLINE-101 perfectly shows off it’s versatility and amazing sound. But, we want you to make that decision for yourself.

So, below you’ll hear 4 random presets playing a simple monophonic melody.

Word of warning about Nr.4 however, while it is my favourite sound of the bunch, the high end might be a bit much if you’re wearing headphones.

Preset 1
Preset 2
Preset 3
Preset 4 (might want to turn your headphones down)

TAL-BASSLINE-101 Features And UI

So it sounds great, but how useable is it & are the features good enough to handle your production needs?

Let’s dive into what you’re given with the TAL-Bassline 101.

As on the original unit, you’re provided with individual level sliders for saw, pulse, noise and sub-oscillator waves, with control of your oscillator pitch.

The sub-oscillator is, restricted to two pulse widths, one or two octaves below the pitch of the main oscillator.

The oscillator setup may not sound like much, but with clever mixing, you can actually create some quite interesting waveforms with it. In general, it is an analog emulation, so you should be expecting a lot of the quirks of analog gear of the time, to apply to your patches & sound.

The filter is a 24dB self-oscillating resonant low-pass filter.

You can modulate it with the envelope generator, LFO or keyboard, and it’s a zero-feedback delay design, as we’d probably expect to be the case these days.

While a lot of the technicality goes over our head, it’s suffice to say that achieving zero feedback delay in the filter model is a considerable part of accurately modeling the behavior of a real analog filter. And it definitely adds a much more authentic feeling to the sound of the Bassline 101.

A handy Volume Comp mode can also be activated to compensate for drops in level at high resonance settings.

Envelope

tal bassline 101 filter, amp & envelope
The filter, amp and envelope section.

The envelope is a standard ADSR one, and even though you’re only getting one envelope, any SH-101 user will know that you can modulate the amp separately by switching it to Gate mode.

This enables the envelope to be dedicated to the filter. It’s far from a perfect solution, but it’s exactly what you would do on an original SH-101.

Authenticity baby

The envelope is very snappy as per the original 101.

So much so in fact that there is a little button under the envelope controls which removes the tiny click from the attack/release segments that you can get with super fast envelopes.

Again, as found in the original, one of the options for triggering the envelope is the LFO clock. And, for what seems a small detail this does give a lot of options for interesting synced rhythmic modulation, especially if you add the arpeggiator into the mix.

Which takes us neatly into the Sequencer & Arp sections.

Sequencer and Arpeggiator

tal bassline 101 arpeggiator
Arpeggiator/Sequencer section

The TAL emulation pretty much perfectly replicates almost every aspect of the SH-101, including the ‘Transpose’ and ‘Portamento’ switches.

This is actually a pretty big deal, because they’re very useful on the real 101.

Not so useful on your screen, or mapped to a knob, but still…

In comparison to Roland’s own SH-101 emulation, the difference is worrying.

The Roland emulation doesn’t even attempt to include these features.

In addition to choosing to make the filter controls, knobs, rather than the iconic sliders, it even misses out on one of the best features the SH-101 was known for, it’s sequencer.

Another notable difference between these two very different plugins are the arpeggiator.

The TAL emulation has great arp modes, random, as played etc.

Whereas the Roland one, has these scatter settings, that in our opinion are pretty useless.

When using the Roland arpeggiator, it pretty much disables the amp envelope (at least severely limits it) and uses the gate settings of the Scatter controls.

The TAL arpeggiator seems to disable the Release as well, but the Sustain still works and the Attack slider has a much more pleasing effect that on the Roland.

Overall, the TAL arpeggiator feels a great deal more musical than the Roland version.

Additionally, being able to utilize the ADSR envelope, while the arpeggiator is running, makes the TAL emulation a FAR better package than Roland’s own.

Presets

I get it, there’s a lot of times where you just cant be assed to make a new patch.

If that’s the case for you, you’ll be pleased to hear that the TAL-BASSLINE-101 comes with around 300 factory presets, a lot of which are perfectly usable. And you can hear some of them above.

But backing away from presets a little, the most FUN you’ll have with this synth is while designing your own sounds.

If you share our mindset, and sound design is one of your favourite things to do, then you’re going to have a load of fun with this impeccable emulation.

Pricing and where to buy

The price of the TAL-BASSLINE-101 is 59$.

For an emulation that’s this good and powerful, that price tag is almost criminally low. (Which we’re not complaining about)

But if that’s not enough to get you to take the plunge and buy this amazing emulation, there is a DEMO version, you can try out.

But, be prepared to deal with intermittent bursts of white-noise as well as no patch saving, or loading during your DEMO phase.

TAL-BASSLINE-101 is available in VST, AAX and AU formats.

How CPU Hungry Is Bassline 101?

With greater efforts in accuracy, the TAL-BASSLINE-101 takes a greater CPU hit for what looks like a fairly simple synth. We found Bassline 101 quite CPU hungry.

While not close to the level of the U-he DIVA, or Arturia’s Pigments, there is still a noticeable amount of CPU being used for this emulation.

Probably not a deal-breaker for most people, but for those of you who’re making music on your mum’s old 2008 Macbook Pro, this might be something you might need to consider.

The Verdict

TAL Bassline 101

$60/£44.90

Sound Quality
Presets
User Interface
Support
Value for Money

Verdict

A stellar emulation of the original Roland Hardware classic, the SH-101 – a synth that has shaped dance music for decades. Bassline 101 sounds like the real thing & brings some more to the table, for an incredibly low price.

4.8

On a scale of 1-5, the TAL-BASSLINE-101 gets an unapologetic 4.8/5.

It hit’s all the marks of a great software emulation of an analog synthesizer, and it does all that, at half the cost of similar plugins.

TAL BASSLINE 101 is a near-perfect emulation of the legendary SH-101 Roland monosynth.

The Zero Feedback delay filter as well as the easy to use 96 sequencer and beautiful arpeggiator is something that every producer must have in their arsenal.

In addition to the incredibly authentic sound of the TAL emulation, the addition of poly mode

It’s perfect for anyone who digs rhythmic bass lines and all the other goodies this plugin can produce.

Once you’ve built up the perfect patch with the TAL-BASSLINE-101, make sure to look at our guide to bass compression, to perfect that bass mix.

Also check out our list of the top 50 VST plugins of 2020 (we included Bassline 101 it’s so good).

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Toms is a music producer & DJ, born and raised in Post Soviet Latvia. Currently based in Brighton, Toms has had over 6 years of experience with all things production and in that time, he's done a tonne of cool stuff! He's played multiple festivals, had experience in the field with mixing & mastering and even become a freelance journalist in the music industry. Toms currently creates music under the alias Sovereign. Producing music that's intimate and subtle, while full of edge and energy, the young producer combines the artistic sounds of Trip Hop artists like Massive Attack, with the energy and youthfulness of producers like Flume, Jamie XX and Yaeji. You can check his stuff on Soundcloud.