Zoë Blade's notebook

Roland Juno-106

Juno-106 tech specs

Roland Juno-106
Roland Juno-106

  • Released: 1984[1]
  • Company: Roland
  • Type: Polyphonic synthesiser
  • Polyphony: 6 voices
  • Timbrality: Monotimbral
  • Oscillators: 1 DCO per voice
  • Control: MIDI
  • Features: Chorus

The Juno-106 was a polyphonic synthesiser released by Roland in 1984. It was essentially a Juno-60 with an important addition: MIDI.

As with the previous two Junos, in theory it was a compromise: a more affordable alternative to a Jupiter, having a single DCO instead of two VCOs per voice. To compensate for the thinner sound this creates, they have a sub-oscillator and a lush chorus.

In practice, its thinner sound sits well in a mix — a necessity for polyphonic synths in particular — and its streamlined parameters are easier to memorise. The balance is perfect, versatile enough to give you a wide variety of sounds, yet simple enough to be intuitive. You only need to play on one for a few minutes before dialing in, say, some nice pads reminiscent of early Autechre...

In my opinion, it would have benefitted from velocity sensitivity, with a pair of sliders to say how much the velocity affects the VCA and VCF. If not via its internal keyboard, then at least via MIDI, to show off the then-new protocol.

It doesn't quite have a rackmounted equivalent, although the MKS-7 gets pretty close, as long as you don't mind the polyphony being shared over two timbres.

It's one of the last synthesisers of its era to have a separate, dedicated control for each parameter, as MIDI enabled people to make remote controllers, leaving the synths themselves with the cheaper option of a small LCD and a handful of cheap buttons, as with the later Alpha Junos. As such, the Juno-106 is pretty much the pinnacle of this era of synthesisers: recent enough to have MIDI, yet traditional enough to have dedicated controls.

The Juno-106 is an iconic synthesiser, and a key sound of '90s UK dance music.

Quotes

I use the Juno-106 a lot. In fact, I used it on the session last night. It's very easy to program, and I like the way you can mess with the frequencies. There's only so much you can do with it, but it has great sounds, you can really get some futuristic sounds out of it.

Kevin Saunderson, 1988[2]

I'm glad people are beginning to make all the old analogue so much, and I use my Juno-106 more than any other keyboard. It hasn't got velocity sensitivity or anything, but it gets used like crazy because the sounds are so good.

— Bluey Maunick, Incognito, 1991[3]

I just love the 106. Its bass sounds are so low and pure. They're little more than sinewaves. I think that those kinds of bass sounds are the best and I use them a lot.

William Orbit, 1991[4]

I like the 106 because it's so easy to use. I program it for basslines, but it's better for string sounds.

— Liam Howlett, The Prodigy, 1992[5]

I always develop my bass sounds in it. I think it's a really great synthesiser because it sounds so warm. I use it every day, I couldn't live without it! If I had to make a choice between my sampler and the Juno, I would throw away the sampler!

— Rene van der Weyde, 1993[6]

Notable users

References

  1. The A-Z of Analogue Synthesisers, Part Two: N-Z Peter Forrest, 2003, ISBN 0-952437-73-2
  2. "The Techno Wave" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Sep 1988
  3. "Breaking Cover" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Sep 1991
  4. "William Orbit" Paul Tingen, Sound On Sound, Oct 1991
  5. "[Unknown]" David Robinson, Future Music, Sep 1992
  6. "Growing Together" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Sep 1993
  7. "Teenage Kicks" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Oct 1993
  8. "[Unknown]" Simon Trask, Future Music, Sep 1994
  9. "Autechre: Techno-logical" Christopher Holder, Sound On Sound, Nov 1997
  10. "Bass Studies" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Oct 1988
  11. "From Beat Dis Boy To Mega-Blast Man" Tim Goodyer, Phaze 1, Nov 1988
  12. "Beat Dis" Mike Collins, Sound On Sound, Jun 1991
  13. "Beats Working" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Jul 1991
  14. "Emotional Impact" Richard Buskin, Sound On Sound, Dec 2001
  15. "Curve dare!" Andy Cowan, The Mix, Jul 1994
  16. Faithless: Breaking Down Classic Tracks with Sister Bliss Jamie Franklin, Jan 2021
  17. "Age of Chance" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jun 1990
  18. "Force Majeure" David Bradwell, Music Technology, May 1989
  19. "Voodoo Chile" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Apr 1990
  20. "Inner Space" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jun 1992
  21. Re: What instruments were used on Leftfield's Leftism? Entropy, Nov 2007
  22. Tripping the Alternative Light Fantastic — the Leftfield interview Malcolm Wyatt, Jun 2015
  23. "Machine Head" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jul 1991
  24. Everything Is Wrong, Moby, 1995
  25. "Recording Moby's 'Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?'" Tom Flint, Sound On Sound, Feb 2000
  26. "Under New Orders" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Apr 1994
  27. "The Heart Of The Bass" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Nov 1990
  28. "Pet Sounds" Ian Masterson, Music Technology, Dec 1993
  29. "The Lone Raver" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, May 1992
  30. "Liam Howlett: The Prodigy & Firestarter" Paul Nagle, Sound On Sound, Sep 1996
  31. "SNAP! to tomorrow" Roger Brown, The Mix, Nov 1994
  32. "Sub Culture" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Jul 1993
  33. How We Made Sub Sub's Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use) Andy Welch, Jun 2019
  34. Underworld Interview Roland

Reviews

Downloads

Documentation

Polyphonic synthesisers: Roland Juno-106