How do you build a new flagship synthesizer — and how do you make it live up to a beloved past name?

That’s the question Roland has taken on once again with the Jupiter-80. Shown to a select few starting at NAMM, then (very) non-intentionally leaked in the past few days, there’s a good chance you’ve seen it. But here, I’ll try to provide some technical details you may not know – thanks to ongoing conversations with Roland and the help of our friends at Keyboard – and also look back to the original Jupiter-8. Whether the resulting keyboard is for you, I think that reveals something of the path of one of the world’s great synth makers, and perhaps explains some of the impassioned reactions (positive and negative) to a new Roland.

1981 to 2011: The First Jupiter’s Legacy

The Jupiter-80′s predecessor, the Jupiter-8. The Jupiter-80 isn’t this – note all those physical controls. But there are ways in which the two Jupiters promise to be related in more than name. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Ed Uthman.

Let’s get this out of the way: the Jupiter-80 isn’t directly based on the landmark 1981 Jupiter-8. And full disclosure: in the past, I’ve questioned whether Roland’s past monikers always fit the new models, as with their Juno-G.

But let’s consider the original Jupiter-8 for a moment. To most of us today, it’s the Jupiter as analog synth (technically, analog-digital hybrid synth) that we love. But that’s not the only story on the Jupiter. If it were, the Jupiter might be lost among other synths of the era.

Gordon Reid has written terrific histories of the Roland company and the Jupiter line. The opening section of his 1994 history of the company for Sound on Sound (“What have the Rolands ever done for us?”) is a must-read.

Reid in 1998 writes about the Jupiter-8 that its ability to sit transparently and clearly in a mix, and its all-around playability and feature set, are what set it apart. Ironically, part of what differentiated the Jupiter series was that it was a step toward the digital age. The JP8A was a precursor of MIDI and – more importantly – digital musical composition and polyphonic sequencing. You’ll see in coming days plenty of complaints that Roland isn’t doing an “analog” synth. But I agree to at least some extent with Roland’s leadership that analog alone is not the only essence of the Jupiter. (*See the endnote to this article below before you accuse me of a terrible heresy.) [1]

SynthMania has a wonderful selection of sounds, including the original factory patches and extensive patch sheets:
http://www.synthmania.com/jupiter-8.htm

Looking back through the original factory patch sheets, it’s also clear that the Jupiter-8 was intended as an device to simulate real instruments – a “synthesizer” in the truest sense. Remember that Roland’s history was intertwined with organ history. The Jupiter line was even designed in ways that could replace or augment organs, and certain features – attempting push-button access to the full range of acoustic instruments – owe their legacy to organs. They also were focused on economy and playability. Fortunately for us, the results – particularly Jupiter strings and brass – were idiomatic. Aiming for old sounds, Roland created new ones.

Below, Jupiter-8 demo videos — and notice the emphasis on the splits and layers. (More on that element and its relation to the JP-80 below.)

And that brings us to the Jupiter-80. The question is, what makes a Jupiter? Do you make a new synthesizer in the sense of synthesizing real instruments, or do you make something that’s a programmable electronic instrument in the sense of what analog synths mean to us now? The JP-80 does both, and that means the question of how well it meets those two goals will likely be high on the list as it is completed, shipped, and fully reviewed.

A Tale of Two Synths: The New Jupiter-80


The Jupiter-80 is really two instruments. It focuses on being two things:
1. A live performance synth, focused on live playing (not being a studio-style workstation)
2. A big pile of sounds

A comparison is way out of the scope of this first-look article, but the Jupiter-80 contrasts with Korg’s KRONOS. The KRONOS is sold as “nine” keyboards in one, and it really is as much full-blown workstation as live keyboard. The Jupiter-80 is more about playing live. The KRONOS is built on an Intel Atom architecture similar to the OASYS distinct from any other Korg product; the Jupiter-80 has more in common with other new Roland synths.

But – and this is where you’ll see some mixed reactions – the new JP is two synths in another way. It has tones that emulate real instruments and articulations, and then the sort of synth sounds that you’d expect for something that says Jupiter on it.

Roland tells CDM that they view the original mission of the Jupiter-8 as being expressive, so to them the SuperNATURAL engine is a perfect fit for the Jupiter – even as synth purists and programmers may feel otherwise.

But before you dismiss it, the interesting element is the way in which you can combine the two tones on keyboards. That isn’t hard to do on a computer, but if you prefer to play an all-in-one synth – or to do this on a single, integrated instrument – it’s compelling.

And what the Jupiter isn’t – whatever you may have heard on the forums – is a ROMpler. The derivative term “ROMpler” refers to instruments that more or less play stock sampled sounds from internal memory with little live control or synthesis. The Jupiter-80′s architecture isn’t that, on either the simulation or synthesis sides.

SuperNATURAL

The SuperNATURAL engine has already appeared on new Roland organs and the V-Piano. The basic model is to provide sound content that’s pre-programmed to emulate real instrumental articulations from a keyboard. That’s always been a challenge to sampler designers. In big computer sample libraries, you’ll find all sorts of tricks for key switching and sample variations and other ways of providing the full range of instrumental articulations on a keyboard. (The piano, after all, was never intended to do what a violin or erhu can.) The SuperNATURAL engine attempts to make those more immediately playable.

Unlike a conventional PCM synth, you also avoid issues like sample looping and phase issues. Vince LaDuca, Product Manager, Keyboards for Roland US, explains the concept:

What happens when a keyboardist is trying to reproduce sounds other than a traditional keyboard instrument on the synthesizer? This is where synthesizers today really fall short because the typical sound engine inside cannot truly “interpret” an expressive keyboard performance done on keys into an authentic guitar, trumpet, or violin performance – a guitarist plucks or strums strings, a trumpet player uses his breath, lips and trumpet valves, and a violinist plucks or uses a bow on strings. All the keyboardist can do is trigger a static digital sonic picture of sound he is trying to recreate, and each time a key is pressed, the same sonic picture is repeated, but at different pitches as played on the keyboard.

The Jupiter-80 solves this problem by using Roland’s newly developed Behavior Modeling technology. It takes care of the “interpretation” by constantly analyzing the keyboardist normal, natural keyboard performance, and instructs the ultra-realistic SuperNATURAL sound engines inside the Jupiter-80 to “play” and constantly “articulate” the reproduced sound just as the “real” performer would based on the keyboardists timing and interval between notes, the strength at which the various keys are struck, or if the keyboardist is pressing a pedal to sustain notes. These actions, among others available to the keyboardist, are translated by the behavior model for the selected sound being reproduced into an authentic plucked or strummed performance in the case of a guitar, aggressive or smooth bowing in the case of a violin, and the sharp or smooth pitch changes created by the valves on a trumpet and the pressure of the trumpet player’s breath. These are but a few of the articulations possible with Behavior Modeling.

Vince tells CDM that he likes the analogy of the keyboardist in this case as akin to the conductor of an orchestra. There is a certain suspension of disbelief.

There’s a reason I mentioned organs earlier – it’s not derogatory. Whether you deem it entirely successful or not, the Jupiter-80 is an attempt in the modern, digital age to stun audiences the way organs once did.

But for Creative Sound Design Lovers…

Okay, so you can have a really “magical” experience and play a keyboard and have it sound like an instrument. But for creative sound designers and synth lovers, does that mean you’re completely left in the dark?

Well, the Jupiter-80 isn’t entirely focused on synthesis, to be sure. You don’t get the terrific physical controls for programming Roland has sometimes introduced over the years. A touchscreen takes its place, but as some of the screenshots show, it’s not as programmable as a virtual analog synth today can be. (See the almost ridiculous range of options on the Korg Kronos.)

But one promising element – still in active development as I’ve been talking to Roland over the past weeks – is very much in the spirit of the original Jupiter-8, and that’s an emphasis on combining tones.

The JP-80′s architecture allows the use of four tones, each with its own effects block, each with independent controls, on each of two layers – upper and lower – plus solo and percussion voices. That 2 x 4 + 1 + 1 in the architecture, which are then mixed together. The upper and lower voices each have reverb; solo and percussion have compressor, EQ, and delay. Touch-button access looks to make it very easy to mix sounds.

Starting with splits and layers, you’re already able to use the massive sound content on the JP to produce big hybrid textures. A Tone Blender function then allows you to work more with movement.

The best way to understand what I mean is to look at the screen shots – these are prototype shots, so the final version may differ, but they give you a sense of what’s going on. And there’s no lack of sound design possibilities here. The Tone Blender mode, top, gives you some of these morphing possibilities. Below that image, registration and effects routings make complex, layered, playable sounds.



Vince at Roland has sent some hands-on impressions. (Yes, he works for Roland and he’s getting hands-on time with it himself – welcome to the synth development process, something I’ve recently discovered first-hand!) This is effectively unofficial — Vince’s own personal reaction to playing the thing. He writes:

It will allow one controller in, then map it to parameters of all 4 tones in a Live Set. I’m not sure how that works when you stack an upper and lower (8 tones), but will dig in more tomorrow. Also there is some extensive controller routing for each MFX used in a live set, of which I think can be addressed with the tone blender.

Another cool thing is how you can stack 27 oscillators, each with independent filter, amp, and LFO. Each “synth” tone has 3 oscillators (called “partials” with independent filter, amp, and LFO), and if you use Upper, Lower, and Solo parts, that’s 9 tones. 9×3=27. We’ve also modeled the JUPITER-8s UNISON mode, so if that get’s dropped into the equation, you’re up in the 70s! Can you say thick?!

While Roland isn’t introducing the 21st Century polyphonic analog synth of our dreams, what they tell CDM they are doing is modeling a wide variety of classic synthesis sounds, meaning this should still provide plenty of sound content for those tastes. Exactly how they’re modeling it and how the architecture works is something I expect to learn in coming weeks.

You Might Still Hate or Love It

Based on comments I’ve seen and heard, this may not be your cup of tea. The visual look, borrowing heavily from the original, is more of an acquired taste when placed into a modern context. And yes, of course, from sampled instruments to flexible sound design, the JP-80 really does have to compete now with software. That, combined with the cost of any of these keyboards, may mean that for hardware purposes many will prefer more focused designs to these sorts of flagship monsters.

But different as those audiences may be, I do think everything from simple soft synths to big keyboards deserve to be compared on their merits, and compared to each other. So I look forward to seeing what the JP-80 has done, and playing a finished version.

And as for whether you’d still want a Jupiter-8, perhaps in place of this newer Jupiter-80? Well, that remains an interesting question. It’s not easy being Roland: they company has a legacy with which to compete, too.

Stay tuned, and let us know questions – Roland folk are standing by to deal with us harassing them answer our questions.

Videos, Notes

From Sonic State, a session with Howard Jones, who worked on sound design with this instrument.

Keyboard Magazine shoots some footage of the engineers from Japan; typically these folks don’t talk to English-language press, so I do find it interesting when we get to hear from them.

[1] People are saying they want more “analog,” but they’re also saying they want “cheap.” I suspect what people may really want is not a new Jupiter-8, but a new Jupiter 6 – or a new version of the Curtis CEM that powered it. These brilliant, economical, musical chips were the sound of a generation of instruments. It was the combination of inexpensive digital technology (which Roland helped promote) and this chip that made synthesis accessible. James Grahame, designer of our own MeeBlip synth, has even suggested this could be a DIY project, which would be very exciting, indeed. I would love to believe there’s a next Doug Curtis – the engineer for which the chip is named – out there somewhere.

The point is that it’s the economical analog synth that people are imagining. Right now, polyphonic analog just isn’t economical – and given the capabilities of digital synthesis, it’s tough to make that choice. But if someone wants to imagine a new replacement for the Curtis CEM, that could change.

Updated: Roland tells CDM tentative pricing is set at US$3999.

  • Jonah

    poly aftertouch?

  • Joerg

    The guy on Musikmesse is saying that the Jupiter 80 will be sold around September 2011 and cost around 3.000 Euros.

  • Tomio Ueda

    this is such a huge fail

  • dr w

    why not releasing the original jupiter 8 again?

    would have been soooo much better.

    fkkn church organ and choir sounds…..

  • Dajebus

    Home organ using a classic name.

    Roland is out of it. Has been for years.

    Next?

  • Juno

    If Roland don't want it compared to the Jupiter 8, then calling it the Jupiter 80 is weirdly ambivalent. It's as if they want very abstract goodwill, not based on a real comparison. What's the matter with Neptune? Maybe Uranus is asking for trouble.

    I owned a Jupiter. It wasn't that astounding. The nostalgia thing is a double edged sword…

  • Juno

    Oh yeah and (sorry for double post) getting Howard Jones to preview it. They have to make up their minds – what year is this? Retro or no retro? Weird. Ambivalent.

  • http://myspace.com/plurgid plurgid

    you know I'm sure it sounds great, it certainly does in the Howard Jones video.

    The reason I totally don't want one is form factor. It has a damn computer touch screen.

    I already have a computer, with more menus and checkbox options, and dialog boxes and yadda yadda than I can or ever will learn to use to their full potential in my lifetime … and truthfully I'm not hearing anything here that I can't make with the soft-synths I have already.

    When I look at buying a keyboard that's not just a midi controller, what I'm looking for (and I'd guess what a lot of people are looking for) is immediacy, and simplicity. It's not really a matter of "analog vs. digital" … it's a matter of "can I twist some knobs and make things happen". This is why (in my opionion) the microkorg is so successful … it's an analog simulator of course, but it's also dead simple … like 6 knobs and that's about it (and if you want to dig in, there's a not-too-bad patch editor for your computer).

  • Peter Kirn

    Roland (worldwide) is comparing it to a Jupiter-8 because I think, from the perspective of Roland in Japan, this is a continuation of the Jupiter-8. If you return to the Jupiter-8, you can see some of their points as valid. I think you could make some other points they miss, too – like the absence of programmable tactile controls, or some of the elegance and simplicity of the original analog synth architecture. And while I can't see them doing polyphonic analog at any earthbound price, those I believe are fairer criticisms than just dismissing it as an organ.

    I absolutely hear some of the criticisms here, but they also describe reasons why a lot of us don't buy big workstation-style or (in this case, arguably "live workstation") keyboards – any of them. So we have to keep that in mind. I like what Roland did with recent keyboards like the GAIA; it'd be nice to see more products at that end of the pond, too.

    Another thing we're forgetting is the massive cost of the originals. I was trying to look up how much a Jupiter-8 cost new, and on the UK side we're talking GBP4000. That's in *1981*. Adjusted for inflation, this is way out of affordability. (As it happens, making a new polyphonic analog synth as people keep imagining right now wouldn't be cheap – especially with no replacement for the Curtis CEM, as I said.)

  • Peter Kirn

    I'll say this, too: so, you don't want a workstation. No problem! Lots of us don't and/or don't get paid enough to afford one to gig with and/or gig on easyJet, a backpack, and hostels. ;)

    But if I wanted a keyboard to go on tour with, I think the Jupiter-80 just became the one to beat. The new Korg looks amazing in that it's a keyboard that gives you pretty much everything Korg's ever done, but it just looks an order of magnitude easier to actually set up the Jupiter-80 to go out and play. 

    And the thing that makes it not an organ or ROMpler is what I've started delving into with Roland, the ability to create these tone matrices and splits and layers and indeed do more than a fair share of sound and timbre editing.

  • Uh?

    Uh, having many sound shaping possibilities (which it really doesn't) doesn't mean it's not a ROMpler but thanks for redefining the term for us, Peter.

  • Peter Kirn

    The fact that it stores waveforms doesn't make it a ROMpler, either, or just about every modern instrument would be. It has modeled sound circuitry. It has – in that screenshot – PWM waveforms with adjustable duty cycles. Or are we now just dumping on this thing because it's digital?

  • http://noisepages.com/members/jamesmcn/ jamesmcn

    Peter – it would be very interesting to hear how the Jupiter-80 and Kronos stack up against the Yamaha EX5 and Korg Z1/Prophecy.

    Analog synthesis is plenty of fun, as are the controls that you often get on an analog-style synth. Analog isn't everything, though, and the synth market seems to cycle through analog, then romplers, then exotic synthesis, and back again. It seems like we are hitting a particularly rich time where synthesis options go radically far beyond classical analog architecture once again.

    Unless Roland has decided that trolling is the most effective form of marketing (it may be), the Jupiter name may have been a poor choice. Would anyone be happy if Roland decided to introduce a new TB303, but this time make sure that it does a really great job of emulating a bassist?

  • http://noisepages.com/members/jamesmcn/ jamesmcn

    > I would love to believe there’s a next Doug Curtis – the engineer for which the chip is named – out there somewhere.

    There probably is – and he or she probably lives in Shenzhen. There is shockingly little information available on the web about PRC electronic music. There must be some amazingly interesting things happening over there.

  • huge fail

    this is such a fail, it should be called a super v-synth

    it sounds dry and harsh, compared to the lush layering on the original's video

    only 4 sliders, 4 knobs 

    a not very bright touchscreen with extremely small v-knobs and v-sliders? 

    did they use plastic to cover the screen? that wont last more than 18 months. Touch reactive glass would have been a much wiser choice, like an iPad…

    it's a Giant VST in an unwieldy box with a terrible menu diving interface – Roland Stupider-80

    Why would I gig with this? it looks like it weighs a ton, and has way too many keys. Sure the layering is cool, but playing in a band situation, layering is the last thing you want from a keyboard, since it will step on the guitarists and bassists frequencies, they get pissed and you get kicked out of the band. What you want in a gig keyboard is a warm pure tone that lets you support the themes, and with enough juice to have a slicing lead when you're solo comes around. This keyboard is not it.

    for everyone saying you can't make a poly-analog keyboard, Dave Smith's Prophet 08 is $1500-2000, completely affordable for a studio flagship

    so glad I just found a MKS-80 on craigslist, it sounds so thick, my rule lately has been only buy analog, and my past 5 synth purchases all have been. Until I find an FS1R for cheap;)

    There is no reason to waste $$$$ money on a VA synth when a (free) VST can do the exact same thing.

    Buy Used, Buy Analog.

  • Peter Kirn

    You don't need analog circuitry to get great sound. Period. End of story. Anyone who claims as much should be considered as mis-informed and short-sighted as the people who assumed, as new digital synths came out, that we wouldn't want the analog ones any more.

    Great hardware design is great hardware design. The Jupiter-8 was full of digital circuitry. So is the Prophet-08. 

  • Random Chance

    Enough with the touch screen interfaces. If one goes to all the trouble of designing a hardware synth why not build a solid hardware user interface? I wonder how many more workstation type keyboards we'll see over the next few years (or even this year alone). And where have the ribbon controllers gone? It's such a great device for playing certain kinds of sounds. I wouldn't call a keyboard that does not have one performance oriented. Anyway, have you already pre-ordered one, Peter, or have Roland promise you one for free? ;-)

  • Peter Kirn

    @Random Chance: Oh, don't worry. If I were to move to a new apartment to be able to fit a larger keyboard, it wouldn't be this – it'd be my Baldwin grand, currently marooned with my parents. I might temporarily eliminate my entire workspace to give this one a test. 

    As a friend of mine who will go unnamed, if Peter Gabriel calls and asks me to tour with him, I'll buy the JP-80 for myself. And any big tour like that, my guess is that this will wind up being easy to recommend.

  • Peter Kirn

    Seriously, I'm going to give gear a fair shake whether it's my style or not, and whether or not it's immediately popular with everyone else – *especially* when the thing isn't even finished yet.

  • Bridge

    At the end of the day Roland just doesn't get it. They should spend their time re-releasing the 303,808,909, sh-101 or even jupiter 8 or juno 106 instead of tarnishing their legacy with workstations with classic names thrown on .

  • http://nickkent.net nick

    >How do you build a new flagship synthesizer

    Lots of touchscreens in the year or two before tablet dockable units change things

    >— and how do you make it live up to a beloved past name?

    Give it early 80s rainbow colors

  • Peter Kirn

    @Bridge: Here's where I agree — I'd like to see an instrument that really does fit the name of some of the 303/808/909 or SH-101. I think they do have an opportunity to do something a bit retro there that could actually make sense. It's easier to do with a simpler device than a more complex one – even without going to Korg Monotron extremes.

    But, you know, it's also okay for vendors who *aren't* Roland to take on that challenge, so let's see it.

    @Nick: I'm sorry, sticking my iPad into a synth really doesn't make sense to me, have to differ with you there, but you go.

  • LeMel

    The name Jupiter was just flat-out an unfortunate choice. It's like Chevy coming out with a new sporty hatchback and calling it "Corvette" because small and sporty was the Corvette's "original intention." When will companies learn that your brand is what others think of your product, not what you say it means. Jupiter came to mean something to us all, and they've taken the risky path of challenging that.

    I am in the camp that found the original Jupiter to be a tool for exploration, and so feel the V-Synth to be a better continuation of that legacy. I'd always thought of V-Synth as the new jupiter. And PLEASE let's not throw V-Synth under the bus in the rush to deride the JP80.

    Regarding touchscreens, I like them but Roland's UI's are the ugliest (Blofeld and OP-1 being gold standards to me). At least let us skin them!!

    All that said, can't wait to at least try out the JP80.

  • http://www.ghmetcalfe.com Graham

    I dunno…I think it sounds quite musical to me. I wouldn't be replacing my M3 anytime soon, but if I were in the market for this sort of thing it would definitely be in the running. A sightly larger touch screen would be nice, but I like the more accessible interface for managing programming (the M3 interface can be a bit daunting sometimes).

    For those who think that VSTs are the be all-end all, I have to beg to differ. There is something to be said about the inspiration and immediacy derived from sitting down in front of a keyboard/workstation and just playing (and recording) without all the setup and selection inherent in using a computer and vsts. A less than perfect example…something I recorded live in one pass on an M3 without the use of a computer –

    [soundcloud width="100%" height="81" params="" url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1133633" Whorls of Barsoom by GHMetcalfe

  • http://www.authenticfilms.com Charles

    It's Roland's product and Roland's product name, so they can do whatever they want with it. But this is a good example of how out of touch the company is with its potential customers: they may have originally intended the Jupiter to recreate the sounds of "real" instruments, and to offer splits and layers, but that's not what it was recognized or remembered for. You're really bending over backwards to rationalize their name choice here, Peter. It's the equivalent of Roland releasing a TB-3030 that offers physical modeling of bass guitar sounds, with controls for "articulation" and "mwah" and "slap", and claiming that it's a continuation of the original vision for the TB-303. That vision failed, just as the vision of analog synths as replacements for kinetic instruments failed. Roland clearly doesn't get it, and maybe they don't have to – their target market is probably church organists, music teachers, and jingle writers, rather than the synth enthusiasts who fetishize their discontinued products.

    Personally I've never had any interest in efforts to make a keyboard sound like a guitar or a trumpet – it's like trying to make carrots taste like chocolate or screwdriver work like a saw. And I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with digital, but digital doesn't have to mean boring, either. What I'd really like to see is u-he's ACE in a dedicated hardware box with tons of DSP on tap and the ability to interface smoothly with a computer or operate completely on its own. But corporations like Roland just don't have the imagination for things like that. Too much design-by-committee, not enough design-by-visionary.

    And speaking of which, that interface looks like shit. It's full of gratuitous textures, like the "brushed metal" backgrounds or the highlights on the Tone Blender screen that make it impossible to read the column headings. Even as a prototype it's just bad.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Charles: There's a difference between explaining and rationalizing. I'm only explaining.

    Like I (tried) to say, it seems to me that the Roland of 1981, and the product of 1981, represented a dual personality, too. I'm on team synth, too, but you know the fundamental issue with all the higher-end workstation synths it that they tend to a range of things. That was true of the V-Synth, too, and I'm not certain why its parallel attempt to simulate real instruments is also being forgotten. 

  • Jonah

    I think the jp80 would be amazing if it had sampling and rudimentary sequencing. It would be satisfying to the sound designers and people gigging could play a backing drum track or whatever. And sampling is THE sound of (post)modern music. 

    I mean you're going to let me play all these great expressive SuperNATURAL sounds, but then I have to go into my DAW to mangle them and get creative (and layer samples of good music from the past) :) :p. For me that's  a bummer workflow and I might as well stay on the computer. 

    Price is kinda scary, especially if it means the vsynth3 will be more.

  • prepper

    It seems to me that JP-80 is actually a V-Synth GT with a Gaia functionality and UI borrowed from their previous set of instruments.

    It was a make or break situation: Roland had to rebrand the abandoned instrument line (V-Synth), probably because the original V line had a strange tone to it; they actually never knew what to do with it – or rather, the marketing department didn't. Because of its legacy, they couldn't keep the original title, instead they chose a more "sellable" brand; Jupiter.

    However, the original explanation of a certain Roland representative (whoever was the Japanese person, don't remember) stated Jupiter has always been "the most forward-thinking of synths". That probably is true, but unfortunately there's NOTHING forward-thinking in Jupiter-80. It is old technology, no matter how it's rebranded as "Supernatural". It is a frankenkeyboard, a best-of collection of Roland's technology – but it's not going to be a legend we all caveat after four to five years. It is ending up in the same pile with Fantoms and V-Synths – probably due to same reasons they did. 

    Besides, I bet it's just as full of bugs as Fantoms and V-Synth GT were, GT being the "most forward-thinking in bug technologies". Owned it, fed up with bugs, I know what I'm talking about.

    And, as a matter of fact, I still own a Jupiter-8. Roland should've used a different brand for this… this… abomination.

  • http://www.authenticfilms.com Charles

    @Peter: Fair enough. I think in some ways the Roland of 1981 was successful by accident (and didn't always benefit – binned 303's going for silly money raised their name recognition years later, but they didn't really see that money), but it's not only possible but likely that Team Synth is just a loud but tiny blip on their customer radar, and they'd really be happy just selling workstations (increase the specs by a tick or two every couple years, draw uphill graphs, profit!). A lot of the griping about Roland probably is due to people discovering that Roland never intended to get them as customers, combined with Roland hoping to get some money out of them anyway.

    The V-Synth does try to simulate real instruments, but I think that's the least interesting thing about it – live sample mangling is far more exciting, IMO, and is the only reason I was tempted to get one. I just don't think synthesis means simulation, but it seems most of the bigger musical instrument companies still disagree. Electronic music didn't really come to life until users stopped trying to use instruments the way companies imagined them being used. It's too bad more companies don't recognize that.

  • prepper

    Oh, I forgot. If they fail, what are they going dig out of the grave next? Have they thought of this carefully?

    No. They just need to fix the curves before the next financial period, that's what it's about, not about "a legacy" or "a continuation".

    I do have to give props for their marketing dept., though. It's a bold move – but IF they had named it "Promars-80" or even "SH-9000", people would've probably accepted it without hesitation and anticipated for more.

    I wish they'd gone for "Callisto", it being a moon taking hits all the time, and it also happens to be circling around Jupiter itself…

  • http://wingo.la/ wi_ngo

    @huge fail: "Why would I gig with this? it looks like it weighs a ton, and has way too many keys. Sure the layering is cool, but playing in a band situation, layering is the last thing you want from a keyboard, since it will step on the guitarists and bassists frequencies, they get pissed and you get kicked out of the band."

    I couldn't agree more! I've seen a couple of naive (i.e. not synthesis savvy) keyboard players fall for this trap. They sit in their studio with a nice pair of headphones marveling over the 'expressiveness' and 'lushness' and 'great stereo movement' of their fancy new digital workstation, and then realize all of those sounds that were so great on their own are utterly useless in a live environment, unless you are completely by yourself. All of the nuance is lost, and your sound is just completely buried or it steps on everything. And the relative lack of assignable panel controls that are not touchscreen related is kind of baffling on this. It's not that it's digital, that's fine, but I just don't see what the intended market is.

    Honest question: When exactly are these huge multi-layered/split-keyboard sounds useful? Your Yanni tribute album? Composing the score to ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’? Even Howard Jones said ‘Well, you wouldn’t drop that on a track’ or something to that effect. In what context IS it appropriate? Fun to mess around with, sure… but playing in a group – it seems kind of pointless to have something like this. And that whole layer balancing section with dedicated sliders… what is that for? Seems like a real weird use of real estate.

    Surely, to each his own, but for me the acquisition of a used Micron improved my gigging effectiveness more than anything. Ultra-portable, deep (enough) sound design capabilities, ASSIGNABLE ROTARY KNOBS AND SLIDERS, and capable of good, fairly ‘fat’ lead sounds that would cut through steel when it’s solo time. THAT is a ‘performance’ synth.

    This seems like it's for family sing-a-longs in the living room or something.

  • http://redvoidmuic.net redvoid

    ok its not just the fact that its not analog. yes there has been a trend from other manufacturers to recapture their classics in modern form like the Prophet-08, Oberheim rerelease of the SEM & Son of 4-Voice the latter of which is analog polyphonic and cheaper than this. I would not have expected that level of purity from Roland but if it could have been a closer analogy like a Moog Music Voyager XL to a Minimoog that would have been much better. Not the same thing, something new, but something that learns the lessons from now and back then. First of all user interface. Why even bother making hardware these days if your interface looks like a software plugin? That alone dooms it from ever becoming a classic and whatever machine you decide to slap the Jupiter label on SHOULD be a future classic. The reason for "flagship synths" is it is supposed to be the company's best foot forward. Virtual synthesis could have not been such a big knock with a proper hardware interface. The Nord Electro-3 would have been a better model to follow for live performance, good UI, both synthesized & real instruments. If you check those demos, there is a lot more "expressiveness" going on than in any of the Jupiter-80 videos. If you just can't help yourself, and just have to force a big screen on the user, make it something more understated like an Arturia Origin at least. Its the UI that kills it.

  • Peter Kirn

    I wouldn't judge the videos necessarily; we're talking a prototype synth, so you almost certainly aren't going to get a good video out of it, because there simply isn't time

    I had a lot of the same initial reaction – and predicted a reaction just like this. And it's nothing against the SuperNATURAL features, per se. I'm biased personally toward interest in some of these other things, even if I can respect what's done in the other areas. I've also had a few weeks now to talk to Roland about the functionality, though, and so I'm conveying what I understand as their intentions.

    But I do think this it what it is, and I don't think the assessments here are far off. (This is a well-educated comment thread, at least in part, and not just random kneejerk reactions.) It just isn't a keyboard focused on synth programming and sound design even in the way the V-Synth was, and so that means there is some discontinuity with what we liked about the Jupiter line. So, yes, they have a brand on it that appeals to the electronic crowd (myself included) even though the instrument itself isn't directly aimed at that crowd.

    Honestly, though, if the JP fits this niche, maybe the next V-Synth would be focused on being a synth first and foremost. (SuperGAIA, anyone?)

  • http://www.ghostfact.com Russell McClellan

    I'm way more interested in your little sidenote – do you really think a DIY CEM/SSM style chip is a possibility?  This has been a dream of mine for years.  I got scared off when I saw the large up-front cost to get masks fabbed.  Not a lot of places do analog ICs anymore.  I'd love to hear more information on how this could be done practically!  Feel free to contact off-list if you want.

  • anusideral

    That whole thing is exactly what upsets me:

    On one side: the angry "analog synth enthusiasts" who over idealize an era when things were far from perfect (the irony being that most of them weren't even born).

    On the other side: synth companies that try to surf on the never ending vintage trend and never deliver, because guess what? Roland today isn't what it was 30 years ago, SHOCKER!!

    It feels like we're stuck by both side in an era with boring hardware and software synths that completely fail to innovate, and fail to recreate what they used to be.

    Seriously, if I see another VST synth interface that tries to recreate a 80ies synth interface, I think I might go insane. And let's not talk about the interface only but the synths engines themselves. If you want something different than another ad nauseam "7RU3 ANAL0G 3MUL4710N" you have to walk through and endless desert, where with a lot of luck, you might encounter very smart reaktor or max patches oasis.

    And the same goes for hardware synths, I'm glad there are companies like Elektron or Teenage Engineering, and the many small companies doing innovative stuff in the modular synths area.

    The rest is ad nauseam "analog emulation", "legacy synth rehash with a touch screen", whatever, this is getting aggravating.

    But all of this is disregarding the only responsible for this: YOU, the consumer constantly crying "we need more analog". Why don't you buy a true analog synth from very respected manufacturers like Mac Beth or even DSI if you are short on money? Why don't you buy a modular synth?

    You don't. You don't because what you want is carbon copy of very specific famous synths: minimoog, Jupiter 8, arp2900, TB303, etc. This is a freaking pose, if you wanted analog sound you would go for any of the solution I posted above, for a similar or inferior price to any cheese legacy synth. You would support the analog of today. And I wouldn't mind you if you weren't turning the whole industry into a ridiculous retro contest because they're trying to please you. Stop it already.

    Rant over.

  • http://www.ghmetcalfe.com Graham

    @anusideral…Besides most of the whining over "we want analog" is made by a bunch of prople who never lived through the days of oscillator drift, constant retuning, bad pots etc etc etc.

    I cut my teeth on early analog (Electrocomp 101, Synthi, Putney, Moog Model III, Arp Omni, Odyssey and Quadra. I don't really miss it much. Yes there was THE SOUND, but you sure paid for it over and over again with poor reliability and shear bulk). And as you said, there are plenty of great true analog synths out there now (including the Mopho and the Tetra for those who don't want to lay out a lot of bucks). Get over it an move on.

  • http://www.valhalladsp.com Sean Costello

    A few questions/observations:

    - A touchscreen is probably far cheaper to put into a product in 2011 than a whole bunch of knobs and pots.

    - What is the lifespan of this touchscreen? Seriously, I'm typing on a 4.5 yo computer, and check my email and attempt to make phone calls on a touch screen phone that is about 3 yo, and I feel like both are living on borrowed time.

    - As far as CEM/SSM revivals, the late Keith Barr wrote an excellent book on designing ASIC chips. His discussion of the costs of the chips seriously scared me off of the idea of pursuing this idea any further.

    - Meanwhile, surface mount components are dirt cheap today. The Korg Monotron has shown that you can make an excellent (if dirty) synth with cheap surface mount components. Most of the "classic" analog synths used discrete components – nothing fancier in an old Minimoog other than matched transistors and a few tempo resistors. It would be interesting to see if the tolerances of existing SMD transistors are tight enough to create VCFs, VCAs, and exponential convertors without testing each component to match tolerances.

    - Having said that, it seems like many of the analog parts that were used for discrete-ish synths have gone by the wayside. I don't know how many OTAs and transistor arrays still exist.

  • mag

    When Apple will release their touchscreen mac pro, things will get interesting. The ground work is being done with the ipad stuff at the moment. Great comment by anusideral. Roland and Korg are caught in the middle. Not quite the past, not quite the future. And that is going to hurt them big time. I would prefer them not to chase technology, producing orphan products, and work with apple to create the next revolution of great products.

  • huge fail

    people use analog because it has a louder gain structure than any digital synth 

    why do vst/va wanna-be's continue to deny that their gear is quieter than an analog rig

    analog can destroy speakers, if cranked

    (thats a good thing) 

    digital gives people headaches, then they turn off your mp3

    (thats a bad thing)

     seems like someone was promised a free JP-80 and they are trying to ride the PR Waves…

  • Peter Kirn

    @huge fail: If someone is giving me a free JP-80, it's news to me. Believe it or not, I actually take some care to talk to people who build stuff, whether they work for a big, decades-old manufacturer or they're doing a couple of one-off synths. And I try to understand where they're coming from, independent of my own perspective and criticisms, and I think I'm pretty frank with my criticisms. I've gotten very little for free from anyone, and that's okay by me, though it'd certainly be cheaper for me if I lived in the fantasy world inside your mind.

  • Aaron

    You did basically rehash their promo material though into a very long article. They try and say they used the Jupiter name because it was about expression and thats what they're re-creating.

    Fact of matter is they're just bastardizing their own brand to push sales. The real pity is that moves like this won't make them go Bankrupt because they have too many successful non-synth instruments, studio equipment, etc. However, when they don't do well in sales they say its because they aren't providing the future market what it wants.. and then continue to proceed to misunderstand what the market actually wants.

  • Aaron

    mag: Your comments are exactly why so many people hate Apple users.

  • Aaron

    BTW, has it occurred to any serious music journalist that Roland proceeds to do this sort of crap year after year because no one ever holds them to the wall for it? Sure commenters and bloggers go ape shit on them, but all the mags and respectable websites just continue to suck their nuts.. with maybe 1 or 2 lines in a sidenote about the "few" (majority) that are disappointed. I for one would like to see Keyboard, FM, SoS, etc. SKEWER Roland for once, instead of being afraid of the Workstation audience that will give them crap for it. There is a breaking point and surely with the JP-80, Roland has crossed the line.

    GROW A PAIR PLS.

  • http://shaneking.com redgreenblue

    Wow, the acrimony in some of the remarks is just a little over the top. 

    When there was whisperings of Roland releasing something with the Jupiter name I was hoping for something analog, but not expecting it. Roland is very invested in their technology and seems unlikely to turn their back in modeling and VS stuff. So no, this isn't the all singing, all dancing new Jupiter 8 that many of us want, even if we weren't actually going to buy the thing. 

    I'm not crazy about them calling this a Jupiter but I'd like to hear the thing before I get all upset about it. I do wonder how many they actually expect to sell at $4000. That seems a bit much. 

    But people, lighten up. And Peter has quite a good track record of fairness and candor. Don't shoot the messenger.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Aaron: I stand by what I wrote here. I tried to write an even-handed explanation of the two sides of this story. I also give the engineers here some benefit of the doubt because I'm describing a product that's still in active development. And since this is CDM and I'm editor-in-chief, I really am the final word on this – there's no one else touching these words, which of course there is any time my byline is in print.

    I absolutely hear your frustration, that big manufacturers pursue these narrow (and often, to be fair, profitable) product directions and some things we care about – things we love about products they made in the past – get lost.

    There's a place to talk about that, but I don't think a preview of an unfinished product is it. And I can tell you the reason it often doesn't wind up in a review is, a review isn't really always a place to talk about the product you wish someone made. You have to review each tool on its own terms. I can only speak for my own reviews of Roland gear in (cough) Keyboard, but that's more or less how I try to approach every review.

    Now, maybe there's another story to be told. To me, it's bigger – it's about changes in the industry, the economics of synths. But I agree, it is worth engaging those issues, and if we haven't done that adequately, then yes, we should find an appropriate time and place to do that.

  • Guido

    I don't know…there's something about this Roland marketing that bugs me.

    As a professional keyboard player, can somebody explain why going through the trouble to spend $4000+ in any currency would be more practical than calling in some real musicians to do the trick? To what extent should we try to simulate things instead of going straitght to the real deal? It's like buying the latest generation flat tv to to appreciate just how beautiful and detailed a sunset can be within its frames. No matter how much companies try, synths will always fail short to the infinite possibilities found on real acoustic instruments. Of course, they do not want any of us to think that way. I just hope this whatever-natural Roland technology is developinh for the JP80 provide us with some new tools for fresh and "unnatural" sound design nowhere to be found on other synths to this day.

  • huge fail

    it sounds about on par with my E-Mu Proteus 1 ROMpler from 1990 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1DM_jPLHlc&fe

    this Roland crap is such a joke, such a fail
    http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2011/04/06/messe11

  • Genjutsushi

    I'm confused by all the vitriol against Roland. But then some people just like to flame large targets.. Reminds me a lot of the James Blake discussion. Even tho a lot of people hadn't heard his album, it was already widely judged to be sell out nonsense. 

    I think Peter's articles are very balanced. Making salient points about what this product offers for inuitive performance.

  • http://none the wonder son

    I wonder how many of the people complaining can actually afford a JP-8 now, they go for as much as 8k.  A new revolutionary poly-analog as the JP8 was in todays market will cost just as much. I don't get why people complaint when if such was the case and indeed roland released a poly-analog synth most of us would not be able to afford it.  Lets see, SO4V ( 4voice) $4K, Studio Electronics Omega 8 (8 voices) $5k, SunSyn MKII (discontinued- 8 voices) $7, Mungo State Zero (8 voices) $12k, the new Schmidt 8 voice rumor is $20K.  The reality is that if you like the sound of the JP8 buy one. What is the point on companies making a new poly analogue that sounds just like the previous one anyways ? Get over, embrace the future and play with the instrument before you conclude is worthless !

  • prepper

    @huge fail: 1) no, it doesn't sound like Proteus, 2) it's not a joke, it just has a totally wrong name. And concerning your previous comment: digital can break loudspeakers just as well, it's not the source, it's the signal itself. It's a common audio myth to think "analog can do everything better, digital just suxx", because it's just audio after all. What matters is the end result. Most of the "analog" stuff on the radio and on the cds are basically one happy result of some plugin chain. Analog is about saturation – hey, add a saturator after your digisynth.

    @Mag: there will never be a touch screen Mac Pro, wanna bet? a MacBook, even a MacBook Pro might be reality, but not in a near future. iPad has a strong future ahead and will develop as is as a standalone device. What _I_ wish is that Apple would put a touch screen into their laptops instead of a touchpad. However, that would retract one's attention from the main screen, unless there was some electrically activated tactile surface. Not near future, then.

    @Guido: Obviously, they're thinking about touring musicians with modest budgets. $4000 doesn't pay that many professional sessions, after all.

    What Roland does next is give every touring AAA musical director one Jupiter-80 and within a year they're on every stage all over the world, probably their backside facing right at the crowd – and nobody will pay attention that there are also real analog stuff on stage, probably doing the majority of the coolest sounds (or they're being played from a hard disk). Easy.

    Next thing after that: every homeboy, even Huge Fail (sorry, man) must have one, because THAT guy did THAT sound with THAT piece. The next year will show the capabilities of Roland Marketing Department at their very best, at least they should be running like dogs after such a warm, well, furious welcome.

    I bet Rihanna's keyb dude will have one. And Black Eyed Peas. Maybe even Scissor Sisters (which I doubt). But Shakira will have one. And if Madge's ever gonna do another failure remix tour, there will be Jupiters. You know the score, they will be all over the Top 20 people, even if they used just one pad (well, Madge's gonna use probably a fiddle and some bamboleo crap).

    And yes, I still think choosing "Jupiter" was a bad failure from Roland's side. Judging a machine by its cover/brand can be ours.

  • http://none the wonder son

    @guido, are you talking about a recording session or a live gig ? If you are talking recording it makes sense and there may be far better options on the software arena than even real performers.

    As far as live shows go, well, say you have a set that involves violin, trumpet, piano and synths. In few shows you ate the 4k of the synth cost. Not adding, hotel, food and transportation into the equation. 

    My 4k are put on another synth that is finally in production; otherwise, I will not hesitate on getting this new synth. 

    The reality is that the original JP8 tried to emulate real sounds.  Granted, different times and sounds, but that just shows how far synthesis has evolved even if is not in the analogue domain.

  • http://www.heimlicher.net Matt

    Blablabla. I just ordered one :-)

  • msefk

    What kind of stand is that in the first image?

  • Jack Handy

    Way to jerk off Roland Peter! Did Vince at least give you a reach-around when you were writing this Advertorial?

  • huge fail

    @ prepper 

    all of my analog synths in the my studio have a much hotter output than any of my digital ones, its true, analog synths can redline my mixing desk at vol 3, digital synths red lines at vol 10, end of argument 

    I'm not going to buy one of these craptastic roland vst boxes, sorry, I'm not you're homeboy either, and who the hell cares about Rihanna, she cant even sell out her own tour. she's as washed up as Roland
    http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/slow_going_for_ri

  • Randy

    Why is everyone complaining about this thing, are you all so bored you have nothing else to do? If you don't like it, don't buy it. Roland is a mature organization, they are not going to listen to the rants of children. It looks cool, probably sounds good in its own way and enough will sell that Roland can continue moving forward. When you have an opportunity to sit down and really evaluate one of these, report back so we can get some useful discussion going.

  • Aaron

    Most of you counter-argument guys are missing the point: No one is upset about the Synth itself, just the pointless use and waste of the Jupiter brand. It signals they have no interest in using the original names (Juno/Jupiter/SH-101/etc) in the true spirit of what they were, but rather slapping the names and designs on products they already make instead of just using a new name altogether. The other big 2 workstation/multipurpose digital synth companies (Korg/Yamaha) have no problem coming up with new names for their products and they still sell well. Roland's canabilizing behavior is insulting. Instead of evolving their product lines and coming up with new ones, they just re-use the names and think of them cosmetically, nothing else. Tomorrow if Korg came out with a MS-30 and it was a workstation/softsynth/modeller, people would be screaming just as loudly. It's not specifically Roland as it is the action.

  • Prepper

    @huge fail: didn't want to insult, but your stuff will end into a computer sooner or later. Probably thru an audio interface. After which it really makes no difference and still digithingies can outweigh analogue stuff. 

    @Randy: Jupiter-80 is obviously found its target audience: people like you. :-)

    @aaron: Korg had an ms-2000. I screamed, not exactly filled with enthusiasm, though. I agree with your point.

  • Kaden

    So the crux of this biscuit is that Roland kinda re-used the name of a synth 99% of you don't own on a synth 99% of you won't buy?

    And I thought guitarists were weird…

  • Shane

    It is like going into a toy shop and buying a Casio keyboard with heaps of pathetic sounds, they should have made an analogue Jupiter 80, with 80 voices! (you could probably make it just shy of 200kg lol) They clearly are a different breed of people, they are into guitar sounds on a keyboard, pianos, flutes, real instruments when we liked their instruments because they didn't sound like those things. It reminds me of the MC303, completely worthless, haven't these people used a computer recently?

  • Randy

    Prepper, you don't know anything about me, and the Jupiter 80 is not my ideal synth. A really good acoustic grand piano maybe, or a Nord G2X. I was neither for or against the synth, just the people like you who are making generalizations about others based on obviously limited life experience.

  • Prepper

    Randy, you probably didn't read my rant carefully enough. Obviously you're a younger fella, and my 40+ sense of humour is quite harsh, I admit. I just want you to think about the basis of your generalizations. Peace. :-)

  • Randy

    Prepper, you might want to have a look at this, seems to reflect you fairly well:
    http://www.zenspider.com/RWD/Thoughts/Inept.html
    Oh, and I've been playing keyboards longer than your 40+ years.

  • EN76

    Oh well, analog or digilog, its just the right keyboard to transition to the next generation of players.  If we can DJ on a I-pad, why not the with keyboards.  The only thing I would suggest is for them to have a wider touch screen or better like in some of the Digital mixers of now days, Three 15" size screen on their boards. yes baby!!!! I guess, I'm way ahead of myself LOL!

    JP-80 is awesome and its about time roland again dare to move forward.  Just gotta keep up with the changes LOL! 

  • Peter Kirn

    Bonus feature of JP-80: large, sturdy, bulky, aluminum sides, space-age, evidently bullet-proof stand.

    It's unquestionably the keyboard you want to hide under when a comment flame war breaks out.

    If things heat up, gather more Roland SuperNATURAL gear in a fortress around you and cower.

  • Peter Kirn

    And yeah, try *that* with a Monotribe. Pffft.

  • Aaron

    lol. Peter comes up with a WIN. ;]

  • Marniks

    When I forget that it's named Jupiter and try to look at it objectively….. I really like the fact that it has 76 keys! Only for that reason I would buy it, there's too little 76-key synths. And if it has all my Fantom X sound capabilities with VA and a decent rotary organ added it's just what I need to sell my X8. Roland's marketing department has lost it. They should give Rick Wakeman one of these for a month and then go there with cam. And they would do it more justice to call this the Roland D80 or U80. Because I see more links to a D70 (which should've been named a U50) than to a Jupiter. Then bring out a big brother of the Gaia. A JD800 like VA synth. And call that a Jupiter.

  • Joko

    Great article, but I'm still left a bit cold by this unit.

  • Christiankeyboards

    Great article. I've been playing Roland keyboards since 1983 (RS-09) and have played most of what they have produced at one time or another (still use a Fantom, V-Combo and V-Synth GT regularly from Roland). The JP-80 makes sense to me. I think if they had given the JP-8000 another octave and a few new twists and re-named it, that may have been what a lot of people may have wanted, but after playing for so long on so many synths from so many manufacturers, I can see what Roland is doing with the JP-80. I don't have an opinion on it one way or another until I play it, because at the end of the day, putting your hands on the instrument is really the only way for me to form an informed opinion. I am looking forward to a side by side with the JP-80 and Kronos at my regular dealer, knowing they are two different instruments with two different philosophies behind them.

    We're lucky we have the opportunity to be able to try out instruments like these. My poor little Minitmoog (yes, with a "t" in it) I fear feels a little old next to my v-synths.

    We are never all going to agree on things like this, but at the very least, let's try to stay respectful of each other, and the work that goes into creating these keyboards, or anything at all worth our attention.

  • TheZombieHolocaust

    Wow people are suprisingly rabid about this – the bottom line is the sounds I hear in that video seemed pretty cool – I wish it didnt have a computer screen too and was all faders and buttons like the A6

    SOUND

    I agree they should just reissue the Jupiter 8 exactly replica and I would pay $$$ for that

    Peter are you a fan of the A6? 

  • TheZombieHolocaust

    that video made me partially erect so Roland might be onto something here with this

  • TheZombieHolocaust

    Would it be better to just save more money and buy an original Jupiter 8 in good condition with a service history or the new Jupiter 80?

    Or should I buy an Arp 2600?  

    I am SO CONFUSED!

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/fortunedsouls james hopkins

    i'd rather arturia's version- ridiculously cheap, portable and endlessly customizable.

  • http://www.thetrux.com Ross Kendall

    Ouch, Ouch, and more Ouch! Hey Roland, are you listening? I think you have a lot of digruntled "fans" out in the keyboard world. Yeah, I'm the same guy that recently wrote to you about making a Roland AX-1 for left handed keyboardists so that we could bass with our left hand instead using our right hand, which is only natural and makes sense. Yet, you wrote back to me saying that you never have and never would make a left-handed AX-1. So, it is quite obvious that you are NOT listening to the keyboard polulace or you would put more time and thought into your products! However, this keyboardist will take a closer look at you Jupiter 80, even if you don't consider my comments!

  • Christian

    Eveyone keeps talking how today a replica of Jupiter 8 would be north of $10K based on the value of a dollar. Let me tell you from experience. In 80's a transistor was a dollar, today we stuff millions of them on a chip and sell them for 30 bucks or less. Components are cheaper wether they are active or passive, they cost much less than in 80's so the argument of what would it cost today and no one would buy it are misguided. If one wanted an exact copy of Jupiter 8 today in parts it would cost under 300 dollars for components, throw in the keys and chassis, and you got it. I have one and I service it from time to time and if these components were mass produced like everything else is, it would be really inexpensive to reproduce Jupiter for under 300 dollars in circuit boards and components. Plus in these days the PCB technology was expensive, today many layers boards are super cheap where in 80's it was a huge cost of electronics.

    As far as this being a Jupiter, Roland has really let people down. I would not buy this, and if it was given to me, I would sell it on ebay to some idiot.

    Cheers

  • http://jock@munsonandassociates.com Jock Muson

    Just played it for an hour. Sounds huge. Great to play. Loads of fun. I've owned two Jupiter-8s and still own an MKS-80. Its not either of those (they all have brass, organ and string patches in them too I might add – comedy patches in 2011 though). Why does Roland owe the market what it supposedly demands? If they followed market forces we would never have seen the TB-303. As far as I recall Roland is not a government owned company and they have been going strong for nearly 40 years. Give them some credit. The Jupiter-80 is a bold move in todays market of softsynth, everything for free retro wannabes. It's not an 8 voice poly analogue. It was never meant to be. It is what it is. If you want a JP-6 or JP-8 – buy one – at $6000 USD it's cheaper than it was in 1984 by a long shot. Open your ears and minds people. Its a keyboard with a lot of power, scope and sonic potential – just like the Jupiter-8 only a hell of a lot more for a lot less money.

  • JC

    Just buy all three Jupiter 80,Kronos and

    a

    V-synth GT and you will have it all. OH you might want to add the new Liontracs Groove X-R to the Kronos to play VST stuff. The you will have it all covered.

  • His Davidness

    This synth would be good if you only want one piece of music gear. It has zero character to impose on your tunes – so it would be ok as an only keyboard. As I look around my "studio" the Jupiter 80 has made me realise that all my equipment comprises items that do one job well and don't try to fake it as a saxophone or whatever. I am an analogue hugger so I'm talking about things like my SH-101 – totally essential! – no Roland synth post mks-50 is getting through my door. It's nothing to do with age though – spanking new Doepfer stuff works well for me. BUT I want my tunes to sound like synthesizers so I'm biased. I want to get a chinese company to make chips like the CEM family and sell them cheaply to synth manufacturers. 

  • John Hendry

    I have to agree with Jock. Forget the past. I had a Juno 106 and it was fun but sonically most that would mess with it and then do the same with a Korg M1 would just say it sounds bad. Of course it could sound great and do things unlike an M1 but when weighed in with modern gear it's outdated equipment and longing for the past instead of using what today has available is a bit of a cop out as the potential is so much greater with modern equipment…such as the VAX77 midi controller that would make little difference hooked up to an old Juno 106, but connected to a Korg Kronos opens opens up new sonic potential with poly AT, etc. in the instrument. I think the Jupiter 80 is needed in today's market and commend Roland for a job well done and taking a risk as everyone has a different opinion on what they like. I want one! It can sit next to my JD800 I'll never get rid of. In the end keyboards are a lot like women and they are all different with good points and bad points except you are allowed as many as you can afford. I always hate to get rid of any of them so I generally keep them….and they never seem to complain so maybe there's no comparison in reality.

    John^^

  • Unknown name

    all you asses need to get out of these forums and actually try it out for youself. i know i have. it is a great synth. TIMES ARE CHANGING. Yes the JP8 was a great synth but dont all you people understand that we can keep brining things back for the past. ROLAND said themself that they are not trying to recreate the past!

  • http://none KeyBoardist

    ROLAND CALL IT A PERFORMANCE MACHINE –  OKAY, SO WHERE IS THE POLYPHONIC PRESSURE/AFTER-TOUCH???  THIS SALES PITCH BY ROLAND IS EXACTLY AS THEY SAY ABOUT THEIR KEYBOARD "HYPER- REAL" with the emphasis on HYPE.

  • http://www.swindonsilicon.co.uk/applications/industrial/ Asic Chip Design

    Great post. Keep me updated with your progress!

  • synthartist

    I played it and I am not impressed at all. I also owned a Jupiter 8 and currently own a JP4 and JP6. I am not looking at it for the acoustic sounds at all, but for the synth side of it. It has some Neat sounds as just about any other synth on the market may have, but nothing much in the presets to remind me of the Jupiter 8. It sounds like every other synth that Roland has produced over the last 15 years or so. It blows my mind that Roland can't figure out how to reproduce the original but can figure out how to reproduce a JP8000 over and over…lol