I've dreamed of owning this awesome keyboard ever since they were first made in 1983 when I was twelve years old and MIDI was still in its infancy. So when one came up at a good price I finally persuaded myself that the current economic climate does not favour keeping money saved up in the bank; an alternative investment would be wise. Or something.
This truly great synth surpasses all my expectations. It is a fabulous way to learn analogue synthesis, as everything is laid out clearly and simply on the front panel; just press the 'Manual' button and move the knobs and sliders at will. This machine is so tactile, and really invites tweaking and expressiveness in performance as well as while programming. After this, synth design largely went downhill; maybe this will change when manufacturers realise that people are perfectly willing to spend lots on old second-hand gear instead of the latest new toy, simply because of the superior design and user interface. I'm glad to be spending less time chained to computer and more time actually playing, which is how it should be.
A major factor in my acquiring this synth, which is amazing in its own right, is the Europa upgrade. This is a completely new operating system for the Jupiter 6 which adds an immensely powerful arpeggiator/sequencer as well as comprehensive MIDI spec, allowing import/export of continuous controllers and System Exclusive messages. Yes, this means real-time control of sound parameters via MIDI, as well as loading and saving sound data to a sequencer, not to mention using the Jupiter's many faders and knobs to remotely control other MIDI devices. This makes the Jupiter 6 as powerful as any modern synth, yet with classic analogue sounds and spaceship-like front panel. For those who care about these things, there are 14 knobs, 27 sliders, 24 illuminated switches and 38 buttons with LEDs, plus a pitch bender and modulation trigger button, not to mention LEDs which pulse in time with LFO1, LFO2 and Arpeggio rates.
This particular Jupiter also has a modification made by a previous owner, visible to the right of the keyboard: a knob which switches between two groups of patch memories, thus doubling the user memory from 48 sounds to 96. There are two LEDs which light up to signify whether you're using group 1 or 2. I'm not sure quite how this was done; I've yet to open it up and look under the hood. I'm going to get the Europa upgrade soon which obviously won't use this extra hack, and will revolutionise my use of this already awesome machine.
At present I'm revelling in the sublime sound of this beast, hooked up to an Eventide H949 Harmonizer for chorus and delay, the XLR outputs of which are fed directly into my Tascam DA-P1 portable DAT recorder, until I get a mixer and computer. I'm obsessed with a stunning lead sound I've come up with which is a joy to play in Polyphonic mode, but sheer heaven with six voices stacked in Unison, with subtle LFO and filter mods oozing through the delays. It's hard to want more, although a compressor would be handy to avoid clipping the Eventide's inputs when the filter resonance soars into the stratosphere. And yes, those filters are wild: not just low-pass, but band-pass and high-pass too, greatly extending the sonic palette. [UPDATE: I later bought a Roland JX-3P too. I'll eventually post more pictures of them...]
See also these other Roland Jupiter 6 articles at:
© copyright Malcolm Smith 2003-06-23 - last updated 2007-12-12 - links verified 2006-02-12