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Roland  Alpha Juno 2

 



 


The Alpha Juno is a decent synth, because it covers all the traditional patch domains and does it backed up with proper technology - snappy envelopes, depth and warmth of the tone, etc. The biggest downside, as you can judge from the picture, is the interface. The main gateway to the engine is an endless encoder called the alpha-dial (that wheel thingie in the upper-left corner). You know the deal: click a button - twist the wheel - repeat. The solution that would take this synth to the next level would be to implement switches that correspond to all the engine functions, just like in the vintage Kawais. However, if you're okay with the click-rotate methodology, the Alpha Dial fits the hand extremely comfortably, works relatively nice and lets you edit precise values without much hassle. Rotate it quick and it will instantly take you to the end of the value list; rotate it slowly and it will change the values one by one. I've had three Alpha-Junos and each time the encoder worked fine, however, one of my friends said that "the knob is terrible, like playing roulette in Vegas; take your chances after the spin and see where it lands". So the behavior of the Alpha Dial may depend on the wear of your particular unit. Bear in mind that you can always hook your Juno up to the virtual PG-200 programmer via MIDI (if you can't buy the real one) or map its parameters to a generic external controller.

Apart from being a must-have in specific genres of electronic music, this is a very good choice for a starter / basic synth that serves you a staple of punchy basses, lush pads, mellow strings, and some super-liquid stuff. It's inexpensive and sounds fantastic when regarded in the context of low-price gear. It has that crystalline, sparkling Nordlead-ish high-end, proper vintage meaty low-end, plus - of course - the sound of the Roland chorus. However, there is a certain quality of the sound that you could find undesirable, if you happen to be a fastidious and sensitive sound creator. To be more precise: it's not the most agile analog tone - JX8p suffers from that too. Combine this with a crippled interface, and you can soon find yourself looking for something of the higher level, and what I mean here is obviously the different & relatively more organic sound of the Juno 6 / 60 / 106 series plus their gratifying interface. Although if I were to stay with only two Junos, I would pick the 60 and the Alpha - in terms of technical design all Junos are very similar, but once you begin to delve into details and explore each model, the simple Juno matter becomes quite broad, and answers to any Juno questions will be very individual. The 106 has great interface but low plasticity / versatility, the Alpha has unexciting interface but has much more to offer in versatility, etc. So even if there is a noticeable difference in sound compared to its older brothers and sisters, the Alpha sound, in spite of its kinda juvenile character, is sensual and lovable and this synth has enough balls to stand on its own (give it a slightly better interface and I give it a "proper" mark at once). We could also say that the Alpha sound is the epitome and definition of meaty / meatiness. The bass is pure & muscular meat, if that's what you're after. All in all I think it's the nice PWM on the thick oscillators that make this synth. It's a sweet thing.

 

 

Watch the video demo:

Or listen to the audio demo:
 [ mp3 demo - my patches ]

 


 

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