Moog might be the first name that comes to mind when you think analog synths, but there’s a good chance that the first sound that comes to mind is a Roland.
Roland’s Juno and Jupiter lines of polysynths were immortalized in the ‘80s with dozens of pop hits by the likes of Duran Duran, Eurythmics, and A-Ha. They’re a big part of the reason musicians today are chasing lush pads, punchy basslines, and pulsing arpeggios that are the lusher of the decade’s sonic hallmarks.
The Juno line just so happened to be one of the first lines of synthesizers ever aimed at a consumer market, with digitally controlled analog oscillators making these polysynths both stable enough and cheap enough to play at home. That means that models like the Juno–60 and the Juno–106 have remained cheap and accessible on the used market forever.
That’s a big part of the reason those classics have never really gone out of style. Daft Punk used a Juno–106 on “One More Time,” and they can be found all over records by indie rock bands like Tame Impala and the Bleachers.
But the Jupiter 8 is not a consumer-grade synth by any stretch. In fact, the Jupiter 8 was hands–down the most opulent synthesizer Roland made for musicians, usually with very cushy studio budgets. The Jupiter 8 is the analog synth equivalent of a seven course dinner served on a yacht coasting along the Lesser Antilles. It’s an exquisite synth, as decadent as it is refined.
For one, the Jupiter 8 hosts a total of 16 analog oscillators, which dedicates two oscillators per voice. To put this in perspective, Minimoog Model D has just a single voice, meaning it can only play one note at a time. The Jupiter 8 is effectively as powerful as 8 Minimoogs put into a single enclosure.
Considering that a vintage Minimoog Model D goes for about $5000, a $9000 Jupiter 8 starts to look like a steal, even if it only has two oscillators per voice versus the Minimoog’s three oscillators for a single voice.
The Jupiter 8 is a fully featured synth with direct control over every bit of the signal path via a series of knobs and faders, but Roland’s innovative digital integration is what makes this a golden goose.
Like all of the Juno and the Jupiter series, the Jupiter 8 has the ability to save presets and run an arpeggiator. But unlike any other synths in the line, the Jupiter 8 allows the user to run multiple programs at once, meaning that the left hand can play a bass line while the right plays a string setting, or even better, that multiple analog sounds can be layered at once.
This is where those 16 oscillators really get out of hand. They give the user the ability to layer different synth programs into dense, intricate textures. But the undersung beauty of Roland’s synthesizers is their airy quality when programmed just so, meaning that a big stack of oscillators running off different programs doesn’t have to sound dense and overbearing, but can actually sound quite subtle.
View the Roland Jupiter 8 here.
*Found on Reverb is a regular column from the team at Reverb.com, the online marketplace for buying and selling music gear. In each installment, Reverb.com will dive into a drool-worthy classic, vintage, or rare piece of gear found on the site. For more, click here.