Around 2013 Roland has embarked on a new technology called « A.C.B. (Analog Circuit Behavior) » which allows the analog technology to be emulated almost perfectly. They have already released several products based on this specific technology (Aira, …), and more recently Roland has launched the « Boutique » series composed of three mythical synths: Roland JX-3P (JX-03 ), Juno-106 (JU-06) and Jupiter-8 (JP-08).
After a very convincing demonstration, I decided to get a JP-08, and here are my remarks… Therefore several sites have already done so and admirably besides and that’s why I will rather give a quick overview of this little module and talk on my impressions about the sound.
First of all, those who have a Jupiter-8 (or had one) will find themselves bluffed by the realism of this little sound module. If we just close our eyes and let our ears analyze the sound, we could swear, a hand on the bible, that we are in the presence of a real Jupiter-8. The level of realism achieved is really very impressive. We have instantly the so characteristic sound of the oscillator waveforms like sawtooth and square. There are even a few additions in relation to the waveforms of the true Jupiter-8 (for instance a sine wave was added to the VCO1 which is now also the noise generator instead of the VCO2 that used to do the job on the Jupiter- 8). In addition to conventional waveforms (sine / pulse / sawtooth), the VCO2 now contains the three same but in « low frequency », which will make it possible to obtain particularly interesting effects using the « Sync » mode (sync vco1- Vco2) and the cross-mod parameter.
The LFO was slightly updated with the addition of two new waveforms: Triangle and Noise. No longer having my Jupiter-8 to check this up, but it would be interesting to compare the minimum and maximum values ??of the JP-08 and Jupiter-8 whether the time scales are also respected.
To conclude the chapter about the oscillators, there’s therefore a little more possibilities than on the original model.
Let’s move on to the filters:
Here too, Roland did an absolutely phenomenal job. At the bottom of scale, without resonance we find ourselves in front of the very bright crystalline sound typical of the Jupiter-8. By testing the behavior of the cutoff frequency and applying resonance realism is still present, having even the same artefacts as the original.
All parameters are present, namely the HPF filter, then the LPF with its 12-24dB / oct mode, lfo-mod, env-mod with its assignment to env1 or env2.
I didn’t notice any aliasing phenomena on the sounds, the frequency curves and resonances seem perfectly smoothed.
Let’s go to the VCA section: Not much to say, here we have the same possibilities as on the original model. An output level and a 4-position selector that allows the volume to be affected by the LFO.
Speaking about the volume, what comes out of this little sound module has no complex to have … the output level of the sound is to say the least … pronounced.
The JP-08 allows 4 styles of reproduction: « solo » mode, « poly » mode, « unison » mode, and finally « dual » mode (two layered sounds). The Jupiter-8 had a 5th one -> the split mode (2 different sounds on the keyboard). So we lose the split mode on the JP-08.
A word on the memory organization of the JP-08:
The JP-08’s memory has 64 factory sounds (8×8) which will be replaced by the user’s sounds. There is no notion of « factory sounds » and « user memories ». It will therefore be necessary to remember to save the initial sounds before replacing them. By holding down a key when the module is started, and if the module is connected via a USB cable to a computer, a « JP-08 » storage unit will appear on the computer containing the 64 sounds in memory. It is then enough to make a copy / paste to save them on its hard disk, or to replace it if one has sounds on the computer.
There are also 8 available slots (called « Patch Presets ») to store combinations in dual mode. It is very little … unfortunately. Once the « dual » mode is selected, the « lower » sound will output to the left output and the « upper » sound will output through the right output. In other words, the 2 sounds will output in mono individually (including the delay if some sounds have it).
Nevertheless, it is possible to create very stereophonic effects using two almost identical sounds.
Pros / Cons ?
At the pros side: we now have a small 16 steps rudimentary sequencer that can possibly have a convenient usage. Personally I am not a big fan of it, but it is only me. On the other hand we gain a (limited) delay effect. Unfortunately it is not possible to synchronize it on a midi tempo and there is only a choice of 16 values ??for speed, volume and feedback. Very rudimentary, but nevertheless it’s there.
The most important thing for me, and which justifies my purchase, is obviously to have a Jupiter-8 sound (or at least extremely close) and able to be driven by a midi sequencer. Of course it is possible to « midify » the Jupiter-8 but then the costs are extremely expensive.
At the cons side: polyphony with 4 notes (instead of 8), one loses the arpeggiator and mode « split » (2 different sounds on the keyboard). For some, those restrictions will be a real insurmountable constraint, for others not really … Everybody will individually appreciate. Personnaly I just regret the lack of the arpeggiator… but I would have been equally frustrated if Roland had integrated the arpeggiator without having the ability to synchronize it via midi, as is the case for the delay effect (and also the LFO). All temporal effects should now be (this is a minimum) synchronizable with midi clock … We can only hope that an update of the firmware of the machine would bring us this option...
[EDIT 08/08/2016]: Roland has just released a new firmware 1.10 which now allows to send and receive the cc data to/from the JP-08. A big cons has just been fixed. It was indeed quite complicated to use the SysEx mode to control the parameters of the JP-08. We can also hope that a future version of the firmware may fix the lack of delay sync …]
What uses to make of it ?
This sound module has only one ambition: to propose a sound as faithful as possible to that of his illustrious big brother. The use is therefore identical, namely to have (almost) the typical Jupiter-8 sound, which is distinct especially in the lead-brass-pads and even the basses. The polyphony is smaller and will have to be taken into account for certain way to play.
This kind of sounds can be used for a variety of uses. Personally I will use it for sequenced basses, some leads, and also for very « sizzling » sounds.
Removing the hood:
On the embedded electronics, we’ve here what’s the best in terms of optimization and integration. The heart of the system is a kind of DSP named « ESC2 » that Roland now uses in all its « Aira » products (and possibly others). This circuit seems to be a « SoC » (System On Chip) that includes a CPU, a DSP, a firmware, some Ram memory … and probably other types of I/O circuits (usb bus management, etc …). ).
Finaly there is a Dynamic Ram circuit (256mb): ESMT M12L2561616A as well as another Roland chip (reference R5170036692) and an ARM STM32F100 controller. The onboard D / A converter is an AKM AK4385ET surrounded by some JRC 4556A amplifier circuits, but otherwise there is nothing else. It is really all about this ESC2 chip that does all the work. I suppose it’s exactly the same electronic circuit (obviously excepted the front pannel pcb) used on the other Boutique models (JX-03 and JU-06).