Roland, a company whose early products perhaps didn’t set the world alight in comparison with Moog and ARP synths but the early SH synths were very competent and much more reasonably priced in Europe than their American counterparts.
Their first Polysynth, the Jupiter 4 is a great sounding machine but still betrayed signs of being designed for the home organ market, all the preset buttons being under the keyboard as opposed to the front panel where they live today on all synths.
Roland’s quantum leap and hammer blow was the mighty Jupiter 8, an out and out professional Polysynth the match of anything available in the world. With its smooth filters, split and layer facilities, sleek looks and solid build quality it became the darling of the synth-pop generation. It is still regarded as the most reliable of all the first generation programmable Polysynths.
The rest is history, a stripped down JP8 with 6 voices and the first digitally controlled oscillators was the Juno 6, a world wide best seller and followed up 6 months later by the Juno 60 with programmable memories. An onboard Chorus unit helped fatten up the Juno’s sounds to disguise their single oscillator architecture. The tremendous sales of the Juno’s worldwide launched Roland into the big time.
Since that time, Roland have done almost no wrong, the early Juno legacy was followed by the Juno 106, a modernised and repackaged MIDI version of the Juno 60 with a quite astonishing MIDI spec for the time.
More to follow…