The Roland Jupiter-8 has always been one of my all time favorite synthesizers, and recently Roland introduced a boutique version of this iconic synth for all to enjoy. I’m not completely sure what is “boutique” about them, in that the word implies that they it’s only available in a limited supply, or a small run, but at $399 US it’s certainly within reach of most everyone.
Considering the average selling price for a well maintained Jupiter-8 is approaching (and occasionally passing) $10,000 USD unless you’re a precious collector or a museum curator that just doesn’t make any sense to try to accomplish one of these beasts for your touring situation or humble studio. I remember dragging my $1,200 Jupiter-8 out on tour in the early 90’s and destroying it – absolutely heartbreaking. The JP-8 is heavy, and it’s huge, and it is a very sensitive device. She doesn’t like cold or hot, doesn’t like any humidity or moisture, and the air can’t be dry either. So it wants to be in a studio or a museum (even if it sounds best in a filthy warehouse.) Since then I’ve owned a Jupiter-6, JP-8000, JP-8080, MKS-80 (with and without the programmer) and purchased the Arturia Jupiter-8 V1 and V2. Always chasing that deliciously hollow and warm distant planet. Rarely holding it in my hands.
Last week Roland released the JP-08, the JU-06 and the JX-03. These little tiny book sized modules are digitally modeled reproductions of the Jupiter-8, the Juno-106 and the JX3P (respectively) and they sound great. they look great. They are very small. They are extremely affordable.
• Small, cheap, and new
• They sound pretty good
• There’s a step sequencer with many charming attributes
• There is a secret delay feature where you can add digital delay, and adjust the feedback, time and level to any patch and save these setting with your patch
• The dual mode splits the sound and you get a dual layer patch – upper pans left, and lower pans right
• They work well and will travel well
• Audio input (at first I didn’t have two 1/8″ to 1/4″ cables and you can jack the JU into the JP and have them both play out the mains of the JP. Handy and compact. I like it.
• You can link two of them together for 8 voice polyphony
• You can chain them all together and sync the internal clocks and have a JP/JU/JX party
• Only 4 voices (not so bad on the Juno, and JX, but really bad on the JP)
• Limited control with the ribbon controller and modulation sliders (this was fundamental to the Jupiter/Juno experience and is missing from the performance features)
• Midi input clocks the internal sequencer (whether you want it to or not)
After about a week with the JP-08 and the JU-06 I am delighted. I seriously love them. There’s nowhere near enough polyphony on the JP – I need 8 voices to pad my head off like I want to) but the point is that these things are seriously tiny (see the picture) like a new puppy, they fit right into my hand. I can lug these around with me all over the world and if they break – for $299/$399 I can replace them (for now.) and they do justice to the past in that these devices come with the factory presets of the devices they are reproducing built into them (for the most part.)
Searching for my favorite sounds I noticed some missing voices. So I pulled out my old Jupiter-8 manual and I started looking at the patches and how they were programmed. I started working on the choir and vocal sounds – because I am playing my amazing remix of Dagonette’s ‘Run, Run, Run’ in my live set and I need a choir for the backing pads. The preset isn’t included in the selections for the JP-08 and so I started moving the sliders and flipping the knobs until voila! there is was in front of me. Not exactly exactly right, but pretty good.
I am thrilled and delighted with these little tiny replicas of the originals. I hope it does a few things:
1. I hope this introduces new people to the beauty and joy of synthesizers
2. I hope this knocks the wind out of the greed fetishism of second hand synthesizers ($10,000 for a Jupiter-8 is absurd, and so is $1,800 for a Juno 106.)
3. I hope this inspires Roland to keep going – I’d like to see a boutique TR-909, or a boutique CR-78, or SH-101 or anything else. Possibly even modular. Smaller and smaller, tighter, and more precise. I love it.
If you’re with me here and want to do some of this experimentation on your own, please see below. I’ve included a blank Jupiter-8 patch sheet for you to print and mark up, so you can learn all you can about synthesis and remember your amazing patches. And I’ve also included the full patch sheets for the original factory settings for the Jupiter-8 so that you can compare and contrast to your heart’s content.
Download the Blank Patch Note Template taken from the original Roland JP-8 manual.
Download the patch sheets for the original Jupiter-8 factory presets and recreate them yourself.
I hope this helps with whatever you’re working on.