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Roland Juno 60

May 20th, 2011 by Fitz, Music Synths, Gear, & Tips, 0 Comments

Roland Juno 60 - 2

I bought my Roland Juno 60 years ago in a pawn shop for a mere $150. It was the early 90s and analog synths were so yesterday. Everyone wanted the latest Roland or Ensoniq rompler (cuz, you know, they sounded “better” and were destined to become classics). Anyway, I’ve always liked this little board. It sounds more murky and indistinct than my Jupiter 8 and certainly has far fewer sonic options. In fact, all the patches on the Juno 60 somehow sound the same. Basses, brass, strings, whatever – they all sound like variations of the core Juno 60 tone not wholly new timbers. This gives the instrument a definite sound which I consider a sizable plus. From my all-time favorite synth books, Keyfax:

The Juno’s strengths lies in classic “synth” patches like organs, strings, brass, and simple sound effects like muted bells, wind, and whole plethora of whooshy and whizzy notes…It is not so good for rich bell-like sounds, gongs, and complex patches which need cross mod, or ring mod parameters, nor for really “fat” patches that need two oscillators per voice.

Polyphonic synthesis was never made so easy, either before or after.

– Julian Colbeck from Keyfax (1985 version)

It is simple to use – refreshingly so. This zen-like ease of use and its sonic signature have placed it high on many “greatest of all time” synthesizer lists. Accolades that, in my opinion, are well deserved.

Sounds

Here’s an MP3 collage of Juno 60 sounds. No effects or eq.

Specifications

  • 61-Keys (no velocity or aftertouch)
  • 6-voice polyphonic
Oscillators
  • 1 DCO with sub oscillator offering pulse (with width modulation), sawtooth, or both pulse and sawtooth waves.
  • 1 DCO Sub oscillator (square wave) with adjustable level. The sub oscillator isn’t tunable and is always 1 octave below the main oscillator.
  • 1 White Noise generator with level
  • 1 LFO (triangle wave only) with rate, delay, and trigger mode

Interestingly the pitch for the oscillator is located down by the keyboard controls and is labeled “Octave Transpose”.

Filters
  • 1 High-pass filter with adjustable frequency. It’s 12db I’m guessing but I don’t know for sure.
  • 1 Low-pass filter (24db) with adjustable frequency and resonance. Unlike my Jupiter 8 this filter will self oscillator for some nice trashy effects.
Amplifier
  • 1 voltage controlled amplifier with level and gate or envelope generator control option
Envelope Generator
  • 1 Four-stage ADSR EG. Very snappy and great sounding. Voltage controlled I’m guessing.
Effects / Features
  • Chorus effect with four selectable settings (off, I, II, or I&II). Simply a fantastic sounding chorus that really makes the sound of the synth.
  • Arpeggiator with rate, range (up to 3 octaves), and three modes (up, down, up&down)
  • Key Transpose
  • Hold – works as a “latch” feature for the arpeggiator and is also useful for programming
Memory
  • 56 patches organized into 7 banks of 8 (to get to banks 6&7 you have to hold down the “5″ and then hit the “1″ or the “2″).
  • Tape save, load, and verify.

I love the way the old Rolands organize their patches. One or two quick button pushes and you’re right where you need to be. No horrible scrolling. It’s also nice to group similar sounds into 8-patch banks. One of strings, one of basses, etc.

Of course you don’t get as many patches, but who really needs more than 50-60 patches on this older, simpler machines? Keep it simple I say.

Recommended Listening

The Juno 60 was a staple of early 80s bands but if there’s any quintessential example of its use it has to be the Eurythmics’s Sweet Dreams which is covered in the unit’s sound.