|Oscillator||1 DCO per voice
(pulse, saw, square and noise)
|Synthesis type||Analog Subtractive|
|Filter||Analog 24dB/oct resonant
low-pass, non-resonant high-pass
|Attenuator||ADSR envelope generator|
The Roland Juno-106 was a hybrid digital/analogue polyphonic synth manufactured by Roland Corporation in 1984. It featured Digitally controlled oscillators (DCOs) for tuning stability and digital envelope generation along with analog filters and signal path.
Features and Architecture
The Roland Juno-106 was relatively simple in terms of its synthesis architecture. It lacked many capabilities and features present in other instruments of its time, such as multiple oscillators, dynamics, complex envelopes, and more extensive modulation sources and routings. Nevertheless, the Juno-106 was quite popular and was able to produce rich basses, pads, and other tones.
The central tone-generating component of the instrument is a set of 6 digitally controlled oscillators capable of producing sawtooth and square/pulse waveforms. The Juno is well known for its -24dB/octave analog lowpass filter with adjustable resonance, which has been said to provide the Juno 106 with its distinctive rich sound, when combined with the tone of the MC5534 wave generation modules.
The instrument's VCA can be switched between simple note gating or envelope-controlled loudness with a switch. The same envelope can also modulate the filter's cutoff frequency, in normal or inverted polarity. The filter cutoff can also track the keyboard to allow high harmonics to be heard on higher-pitched notes.
The Juno-106 featured an onboard analog stereo chorus effect which, while rather noisy, was also a fairly distinctive aspect of the instrument's sound. The Juno-106's chorus was based on a set of bucket brigade delay (BBD) lines similar to other Roland products of the time including guitar pedals. The Juno-106 also contained 128 internal memory slots for patch storage as well as surprisingly complete MIDI implementation - a rarity for any synthesizers of the time, let alone analogue ones. Almost all control surfaces on the synthesizer were capable of transmitting and receiving MIDI SysEx commands, allowing complete control of the instrument via a sequencer or computer.
Furthermore, this synthesizer featured polyphonic portamento, also rather rare for a 1984 analog instrument (Kawai SX-210 -1982- and SX-240 -1983- had already portamento).
The Juno-106 was the third in the Juno series of digital/analog synthesizers. Its predecessors, the Roland Juno-6 and Roland Juno-60, were somewhat different in appearance than their later sibling, but shared most of the internal components and features in common with the exception of a tradeoff between a simple up/down arpeggiator on the earlier models and a portamento feature on the Juno-106. The Juno-106 also featured MIDI connectivity, rather than the proprietary Roland Digital Control Bus (DCB) found on the Juno-60.
Roland also produced a Juno-106 variant with built-in speakers and a slightly redesigned enclosure, intended for the consumer market rather than professional users. In Japan, this version was called the "Juno-106S", and elsewhere in the world it was called the HS-60.
The Juno-106 is a unique synthesizer in a large part because it came at a time period when digital synthesizer components were just being introduced, MIDI being the most important, yet it featured the best of the analogue and digital worlds. The Juno-106 was one of the last synthesizers to feature all of its controls as buttons and sliders on the faceplate which allowed for quick programming. The Juno-106 also featured DCOs with an analog signal path including VCFs. This allowed for perfectly tuned pitch with the warmth of analogue waveshaping and filters, along with the drive provided by the VCA. It is because of this balance of analogue and digital that there really is no other synth quite like the Juno-106 and it is still a staple in many studios today.
The Juno-106 today
||This article is written like a manual or guidebook. (July 2010)|
Despite being decades old, the Juno-106 and its predecessors are traded among synthesizer aficionados with relative frequency and thus are more easily obtainable and less expensive than a number of other synthesizers. Furthermore, the instrument has proven generally reliable and long-lived if well cared for.
A common problem nowadays is a "dead voice chip", in which every sixth note played is silent, quiet, or crackly. The Juno-106 contains a custom hybrid integrated circuit for each of its six voices, the Roland 80017A VCF/VCA IC. Over time these ICs tend to become intermittent or fail outright. Because they are no longer manufactured, third-party substitutes have become available. In recent years people have successfully repaired these hybrid ICs by removing the conformal coating believed to be the cause of their failure. Numerous videos demonstrating this can be found on the internet.
Due to their enduring popularity and despite their overall simplicity and limited range of sonic possibilities, Juno-series synthesizers still make appearances with a number of bands, including The Black Eyed Peas, Blue Nile, Steve Adey, Franz Ferdinand, Covenant, Clarence Jey, Daft Punk, Dosh, Georg Immanuel Nagel, Moby, The Chemical Brothers, Justice, Mutemath, Sigur Rós, Solemn Camel Crew, Doll Factory, Islands, the Unicorns, Pet Shop Boys, Mansun, a-ha, Laserdance, Uzi and Ari, Late of the Pier, the Automatic, Tame Impala, Four Tet, Pivot, the New Deal (band), Andy Kuncl, Howlermonkey, Winter Palace, Passion Pit and scores of other electronic and dance music projects.
- Profile on Vintage Synth Explorer
- Juno-106 owner's manual
- The Juno-106 Connection
- Photo of a Juno-106 in its natural environment
- VST-AU JUNO-106 Editor (Mac and Win) from reKon audio
- Juno-106 Librarian for all platforms supporting Java
- Juno-106 pics and more
- 100% clone of the 80017A voice IC
- SynthParts.com usually has original tested working 80017As and other Juno-106 parts in stock
- Juno-106 mini-version (21⁄2 octave) modification
- You Tube demo of Juno 106