Roland Juno-60

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Roland Juno-60The Roland Juno-60 is a popular analogue 61-key polyphonic synthesizer produced by Roland Corporation in the early 1980s and a successor to the slightly earlier Juno-6. Like its predecessor, the Juno-60 has some digital enhancements, used only for clocking the oscillators and for saving/loading patches. This instrument was succeeded by the Roland Juno-106 in 1984.

Roland was losing market share with the Juno-6 in competition against the Korg Polysix. Related in features and price-class, the Polysix featured external control and patch memory, which the Juno-6 lacked. These features were quickly added to the Juno-6's design, which sonically and architecturally did not change notably between the two versions, and then released as the Juno-60.

The Juno-60 synthesizer is a six-voice polyphonic synthesizer. The single digitally-controlled oscillator (or DCO for short) per voice gave the Juno-60 a high degree of stability in maintaining tune; most analogue voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) of the time would tend to drift in pitch and require re-tuning of the oscillator. The DCO provides sawtooth and square/pulse waveforms as a sound source, in addition to white noise and a square-wave suboscillator pitched one octave beneath the key played. Both of these additional sources can be mixed in with dedicated sliders.

The filters and envelope on the Juno-60 rely on control voltages sent by depressing the keys on the keyboard and were thus analogue. The Juno-60 features a rather distinctive-sounding 24 dB/octave lowpass filter with resonance. Unlike other VCF's of the day, the Juno-60's is capable of self-oscillation and thus could be used to some degree as a tone generator in and of itself. The filter section also features controls for envelope amount and polarity, LFO modulation, and keyboard tracking. In addition, a three-position non-resonant highpass filter is provided to thin out lower frequencies.

The signal is then sent through a voltage-controlled amplifier (or VCA) and a simple four-stage ADSR filter envelope.

The Juno-60 provides limited options for modulating the audio signal. A single triangle-wave variable-rate LFO is provided as a modulation source; this can be mixed into the DCO to create vibrato or into the lowpass filter to generate a tremolo effect. The LFO can either be triggered manually by the left hand using a large button above the pitch bend lever or set to engage automatically whenever a key was pressed.

The Juno-60, like the other Juno synthesizers, carries an on-board stereo chorus effect which, while noticeably noisy, adds a rather distinctive character to the sound of the instrument.

In addition, the Juno-60, like the Juno 6 but not the Juno 106, features an on-board up/down/up-down arpeggiator capable of spanning three octaves. The arpeggio speed can be controlled by either using a slider or an external trigger source. It is possible to improvise a trigger for the arpeggio by sending a short duration loud audio signal (for example a Roland TR-808 Rimshot sound) into this input.

The Juno-60 also contains 56 memory slots to retain and instantly recall patch settings. The Juno-60's memory can be dumped to (or loaded from) a magnetic cassette tape simply by plugging a tape recorder into the appropriate jack in the instrument's rear. Patch information is being transmitted as an audio signal similar in quality to that produced by a computer modem.

The Juno-60 is controllable with sequencers using proprietary DCB protocol, similar to MIDI. Roland produced several DCB-enabled sequencers, or, alternatively, MIDI-to-DCB converters can be used to drive DCB-enabled synths. In the Juno-106, DCB support was dropped in favor of MIDI.

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