There are not many "controversial" synths, as I call them, but
in my mind the Juno-106 is one for sure. I can't really decide if it has more
pros or more cons, whether it's inspiring or boring - whether its
cost fairly represents its value to me.
If anybody describes the Juno-60 as "bland / samey", then I'm not sure
what stronger words should be used to describe the Juno-106. Because the 106 is
limiting & samey. If there's anything I'm certain of, it's
the fact that the 106 is relatively unreliable technically - my first
unit was faulty, and my friend's 106 lost 3 of its voices across the
span of 6 years. But is
it really the synth's fault? Maybe it breaks down quicker because it
is so loved and inspiring to people that it's actually used much more often than
other synths. The owners, during their hour-long sessions, tweak the
shit out of the potentiometers and fry the voice chips. Whatever the
story, based on my observations of the market and my individual units,
the Juno-60 seems to be a much, much more reliable product.
To explain myself more clearly and to give you a more serious & useful hint
about this instrument: Juno-106 has its own character - yeah, a cliche about every synth.
But here this word character is more of a downside, since this
character, this specific timbre of the 106 is evident in every
subsequent patch you create, you cannot escape it. The synth is very
monoaural. What follows is the feeling that all sounds are as
if descendants of one basic sound. And you cannot say exactly the same
about e.g. the JU-60 or JX-3p. Evaluating the sound of the 106 I have
to put it right in the middle between the stiffer, metallic tone of
the JX-3p, and the juicy analog tone of the Juno-60. There's just
something about the oscillators or the envelopes that make the 106
sound less agile and natural (am I right in thinking that 106
envelopes are digital whereas 60 are analog, hence the difference?).
Of course the synth still radiates this innocent, tantalizing
Juno-ness; come on, it's a proper Juno. Women adore big houses
into which they can fit all their outrageously large quantities of
men just want to fuck / all people and animals love the sound of the Juno,
haha - just another "law". Yet
for the proper vintage synth experience that retains the same sonic
vibe, I'd guide you to the
Juno-6/60, which I view to be a more
fulfilling and sensual model, and the JX3p or
JX8p if you
want more fun with parameters and a deeper feeling of liberation
But if you always
wanted to buy yourself a Juno, or you have a golden opportunity to
grab one just now, don't worry and grab whichever, even if it means
grabbing the 106. I personally harbor a perverted sentiment towards the JU-60 so don't let yourself be in two minds
about it for too long. In the end, they are all just fucking Junos.
Plus it all depends what you're after. For example, if you're after
some crisp & punchy
brass, the 106 will create these sounds in a more appealing manner than the 60.
There's still one thing I missed which might add in big part to the
appeal of the 106 - it has MIDI, whereas the JU-60 does not. And
buying the additional MIDI-to-DCB converter that costs several hundred
bucks for your Ju-60 is an obvious pain in the ass.
And the craze around the 106, together with its price growth, seems to
have stagnated recently. I might be a proper opportunity
for some of you to finally lay your hands on one.
One day I decided to
restore my dusty Juno, and the minute I began my research on how to do
problems and doubts started to mount. The sliders have inside them a
thin conducive layer made of carbon. The movable stick that you grab
when you tweak is actually moving back and forth (up & down) on top of that layer
(eureka!). If you have any problems with editing your sounds (noise,
crackling, silence), there could be 2 reasons for this:
1. The synth has been used so often that the carbon layer has worn
out. You need to replace the entire sliders. Ouch & fuck.
2. The synth was not used at all, or has been kept in a dusty
environment. You need to clean the sliders. Doable but still a PITA.
number 1 means replacement. Fortunately, my Juno suffered from option number 2. The $
64'000 question was: HOW TO CLEAN THIS CRAP? After talking with countless
"professionals", half of whom wholeheartedly
recommended stuff like "contact cleaners" and "WD-40", while the other
half vehemently opposed those things because "they give great
results at first, but actually later make things even worse", here's
the version of truth I find most conclusive and practical.
Don't use any oily
contact cleaners, fancy-lubes, or WD-40. They will attract dirt / can
cause short-circuits / can
damage some electrical elements in certain conditions / whatever. When you open your Juno and
get to the sliders, first blow off the dirt that can be blown off with
compressed air. Just don't make it too forceful. Then spray the
pots with isopropyl alcohol and use a little paintbrush or a
foam-q-tip to soak in and remove the alcohol together with dirt
particles. Just don't scratch the fucking carbon strip. Finally, when your
pot is clean & dry, take a small amount of silicone grease
and spread it around the slider casing and its movable
joystick-thingie, but not necessarily on the carbon strip. You'll probably also
need to replace the black, weathered, spongy covers that had been
installed over the potentiometer slots by Roland - after such a long
time (30 years) they disintegrate and
fall apart. Without this decorative / protective
element, your Juno will look ugly from the outside and dust will fall
easily into the pots. I used a carefully-tailored strap of textile
kept in place by scotch tape.
Voila. Only 6 hours of work. I'm going to bed and don't
get up tomorrow.