Thursday, April 7, 2011
Short Review and Reflection on the Jupiter 80
It seems that what is old is new again. Certainly Roland's new Jupiter 80 is no exception. Roland seems to be trying to take advantage of some of the programming they have already done for the V-Synth and their new "super natural" pianos (whatever that means). I sense that they are using something likened to the V-Synth "AP Synthesis" and combined it with the new "Super Natural" modelling. It's hard to tell. This synth seems is strong in two areas: Layering (massive layering) Instrument Sounds OK, nice, but in a way the two are contradictions. If you want to do arranging then sure, having a lot of layers is a plus but then get one of the "Vianna" packages or another set of instrument samples and let loose. Yes, but you might respond: "It's a performance instrument!". OK, sure, but then don't layer. I see the two as a contradiction. This is like having a symphony orchestra with every instrument trying to be the soloist. Perhaps I am wrong here but just saying. I do like the touch screen. Some have a problem with it but having a Korg M3, I can tell you that I prefer the way Roland creates screens that look more like a massive collection on knobs and sliders. By the way, that is what it would take and why this instrument does not have them. The preset keys are nice for performance and after all, that is what this instrument is about except if you really used all the layers it would drown every other member of the band with its wall of sound approach. Nice collection of ins and outs including digital. A slight improvement over an M3. Effects - yawn, clearly imported from other keyboards, nothing new here. Might I also point out that Korg M3 effects let you modulate many of the parameters which can be very powerful. I don't see that here but this is a cursury review. Corrections welcome. D-Beam - old Roland tech - yawn Stereo recorder - why bother when lots of nice little portable units are available - Icing on the cake - lots of sugar. OK, I don't mean to be so harsh here and if someone dropped one of these in studio for free I would have lots of fun with it but I have come to the following conclusion. That synthesis is about modulation and expression. I am thinking particulary about the Eigenharp. Not really an instrument per say but much more than a MIDI controller. Find a more integrated way to combine a controller like that and an expressive model like AP synthesis or whatver is in the Jupiter 80 and it would peak my interest. That also said, the new Korg Kronos is far more of a heavy weight (an OASYS for the poor). So what does the JP 80 add to the mix of lack luster offerings in the synth word. Nothing much other than what is old is new again. Perhaps one day, something that is new will in fact truly be new but until then. P.S. Roland - still waiting for you to come out with new expansion cards for the V-Synth. Or did you ever intend to do that? Sure, packaging old tech is a lot cheaper when you can sell it for the cost of a workstation.