Roland Juno-60
– a classic with lots of charme

It’s getting a little embarrassing talking about another “unbelievable” classic synth, another “must-have”. Nevertheless – the Juno-60 synthesizer is no ordinary cheap polysynth, we rather think it’s a real substitute for the sought-after flagship Jupiter-8. At least in many ways …

Roland-Juno60-01

Sure, the timeless and extremely balanced design of a Jupiter-8 IS unbeatable. And there will be NO FX-soundtracks produced on a Juno-60. But still, basic sound on both instruments is very similar. Considering sonic warmth and earthy richness, the Juno-60 is on the same level as the nice Jupiter-8, maybe it’s even a little above (!) the Jupiter.

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In 1982 Roland’s marketing …

… was a dead failure – at least considering their introduction of the Juno-series. When the Juno-6 hit the market, it was sort of an innovation – true classic and quite powerful synth with six voices, sounding very similar to the expensive Jupiter-8, but at a much lower price level. The Juno-6 was a sensation, but as technical development went on, Roland released the Juno-60 within one year! The successor not only had the “brand new” DCB-port, but also memories as well … all together at practically the same price as the original Juno!

Bad news for those musicians who needed the Juno-6 immediately and who should have been waiting for a couple of months.

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Despite massive competition on the synth market (Korg’s Polysix was the most successful keyboard at that time, breaking the 50.000 unit mark), the Juno-60 still was a well-selling instrument for Roland: 30.000 instruments were sold.

Good news for those musicians who didn’t need the Juno-60 immediately and who look out for it on the vintage market now.

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Synth architecture – reduction to the minimum (?)

Compliment to those engineers who developed this cut-down classic that sounds so good! There are not many features on the Juno-60, it’s really sort of a “reduction to the minimum”. There’s only one …

DCO

per voice. Quite interesting, why the instrument sounds that powerful. The Juno-60 is no restrictive sounding synth, not at all! Those engineers simply found a perfect solution for the scaled-down (but still strong) DCO: the waveforms may be used at the same time, along with the sub-oscillator’s signal …

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Further, there’s noise. Not really innovative, but useful in any way.

What a shame the waveforms can’t be controlled individually in their level. However, this specific DCO is a perfect sounding module that gives you the feeling of a multi-osc-instrument. It sounds powerful, warm and rich. The …

VCF

is of the same high quality. Especially the filter’s resonance sounds brilliant, giving you a lot of colourful musical textures and helps the Juno-60 being very flexible. But the Juno wouldn’t be a true classic without some nice …

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Extras

First of all: the typical Roland stereo chorus. Quite noisy, it gives you a lovely true-stereo sound image. But it’s really noisy, to be honest – just compare it with the great chorus of Elka’s Synthex – what a difference! However, the Juno-60 chorus effect produces rich and expansive sounds.

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Further, you find those equally classic controllers. First, you can select whether to operate the LFO automatically (switchable in the LFO section) or manually … the huge LFO TRIG button is a fantastic tool, easy to operate and a joy to use. The BENDER allows adjustment of pitch and filter frequency. Classic Roland.

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Last but not least there’s a small arpeggiator. Let’s call it a pseudo-sequencer of great musical value. A wide variation of the arpeggio patterns is available by changing the MODE and RANGE switches. Sadly, there’s no random mode. We really miss it.

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Sound

The Juno’s brasses and strings as well as organs are quite famous in any way. These are lovely analog-sounding, warm and powerful patches. Short and snappy basses along with similar arpeggio-like sounds are other highlights. Mostly the brilliant DCO is responsible for those earthy, rich sounds. On the Juno-60 you can easily create patches for massive musical textures and ideas.

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Well, and the filter is just brilliant as well. For those who want crazy FX-sounds, the Juno-60 shouldn’t be a disappointment too much – with some little help. Use the filter-in port and connect external LFOs, ENVs or sequencers. Sure, the general scaled-down architecture lets the Juno-60 always stay behind the Jupiter-8, at least considering crazy FX-sounds and earth-shattering sync-sounds. There’s only one oscillator per voice, no crossmodulation, no osc synchronization. We know that.

Roland-Juno60-08

Roland’s famous stereo chorus – another source of that distinctive Juno character – needs to be used with care. It’s noisy … but it’s so beautiful. And, finally, we have to point out once more the brilliant filter resonance. It’s extremely colourful. Listen to the attached sound files … music says more than 1000 words.

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Rear connections and MIDI

There are not too many things missing here. Certainly – MIDI would have been a real bonus, but in 1982? No way. Although the Juno-106 offers quite comprehensive MIDI, it’s no substitute for the Juno-60 (in our opinion). Well, what you’ve got on the Juno-60 is a DCB-port. Not a bad solution, not at all! Simply connect a MIDI-DCB converter, and that’s it. Kenton and CHD Elektroservis offer powerful modules, and they are not too expensive.

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“You can control the Juno-60 using its DCB port connected to a Kenton Pro-DCB mk3. This method of control does not offer quite as much control as the retrofit kit, it is in fact notes only as far as the DCB port itself is concerned. Although both the DCB specification and the Pro-DCB mk3 support program change via DCB, the Juno-60 itself does not.

In addition, there is a VCF input on the Juno-60 which allows you to control the filter cutoff frequency. Link this to the Pro-DCB auxiliary output using a 3.5mm to 6.35mm jack cable to control the filter cutoff point.

You can also modulate the filter using the MIDI-syncable LFO built into the Pro-DCB mk3, using the mod wheel.

You can also link the clock input of the Juno-60 to the Clock output of the Pro-DCB mk3, again using a 3.5mm to 6.35mm jack cable. This will allow you to clock the arpeggiator in time with MIDI clock. You can vary the relationship between MIDI clock and the clock pulse going to the Juno-60 allowing you to clock 1/4, 1/8 & 1/16th notes, as well as triplets.”

(Source: http://www.kentonuk.com/synthselector/synths/roland/juno-60.shtml)

Roland-Juno60-10

There are Juno-60s with Kenton Midi-Kits around as well. But we’re not sure if there’s a real big difference to a regular Juno-60 with one of those fantastic MIDI-DCB interfaces. A MIDI retrofit kit is very, very expensive and you have to drill holes in your Juno … so, we’d prefer a Juno-60 with MIDI-DCB interface. That’s all you need.

All in all …

Besides its truly classic and powerful analog sound, there’s one simple fact that might put the Juno-60 well above the Jupiter-8: reliability. There’s a lot less going on in the smaller instrument, and therefore you might feel better with the Juno-60. Making music on a reliable instrument simply is a lot easier, and in general financial charges for repairing are low.

Admittedly, the Jupiter-8 is a highly professional instrument. One of the TOP 3 analog polysynths ever. But it’s too expensive … 5000+ Euros! And it misses the classic Roland Chorus (alright, you could simply connect it with the RE-501 chorus/echo or something similar). And it misses the Juno-60’s earthy richness. So we’re not sure if the Jupiter-8 is worth the collector’s prices people ask for it.

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To sum it up: the Juno-60 can be highly recommended to all musicians looking out for that warm “classic” Roland analog polysynth sound.

A sound with lots of charme.

14 thoughts on “Roland Juno-60
– a classic with lots of charme

  1. Hello, this is a wonderful post. You did an excellent job explaining the juno, and provided some wonderful sound demos. I have a juno 60 too, I was wondering how you controlled the vcf externally. I though you could only use a pedal. Also, how did you create the random arpegiator sound in the sample Mix 4 you uploaded? I would appreciate your help. Great job with the arcticle,

    Thanks …

    PS: Also how did you get the drum-like sound in the sample ext. vcf 1? thanks again.

  2. Hello Ron. Regarding (external) VCF control, you can use “any” CV source. This is why I recommend a (at least small) modular system to all users of monophonic and /or polyphonic analog synths with VCF IN ports. Wide-range LFO, VC decay, step-sequencer, an additional ADSR, a MIDI interface (to get the correct gate / clock signals according to your MIDI setup) … I’d recommend a small Doepfer system (because of the useful A-155 sequencer), but any modular system is suitable, of course. Or other analog gear, such as the KORG SQ-10 sequencer, which I used a lot in the above Juno-60 demos. It’s very simple to clock the Juno arpeggiator via the SQ-10 and – at the same time – use one of the sequencer’s CV-tracks for VCF control … If the arpeggio you play is a 4-note arpeggio, and the external sequencer runs with 9 steps (the SQ-10 row length can be set to any number between 1 and 12), then you end up with interesting minimal music styles in which the two patterns (4-note melody and 9-note VCF control) merge to an endless random-like pattern. Further, I used an external high-frequ LFO to generate those drum-like sounds (VCF frequ control in audio range, at very high resonance settings) … “If” you use 2 external LFOs which control each other (LFO2 modulates – at a low frequ rate – LFO1 speed, which itself runs in audio frequ range and which is used to feed the Juno-60 VCF), then you end up with ringmod-like sounds that drop down to standard-FM modulation effects each time LFO1 speed reaches the lowest frequency, then raising again back up to audio-range, back to that ringmod-like effect. To sum it up: with the help of external modules (LFOs, VC ADSRs, step sequencers) for VCF control, you bring the best out the Juno-60 …

    • Thank you for the reply, I’ll have to toy around with it and eventually get a sequencer or another synth with vcf out. That is a great explanation of the possibilities of a juno, I never knew you could use it in so many more ways like that. It is one of my favorite synths, and I use it along with my moog taurus ii pedals. Thanks again, and great article and sound demos.

      • … Midipolis looks interesting … and there’s a Jupiter-4 and Mono/Poly MIDI Kit, too …!

  3. Hello,

    Thanks for your wonderful post! Since I see you know a lot about this synth, I’ve got a question for you: I have saved enough money and now I am planning to buy a Jupiter 8. In addition, I want just one more synth that I can play along the Jupiter 8. I’ve found a Juno 60 in mint condition. Together with a Kenton Retrofit it will cost me around 1500 euro. I need ultimate control from within Cubase.

    The question: Does the Juno 60 complements the Jupiter 8? Or does the Jupiter 8 produces everything the Juno 60 can produce? In that case, I am going to get a Juno 106 alongside the Jupiter 8.. It will be 1000 euro less.. I hope you can answer the question; I’ve reserved the Juno 60 until december the 12th 18:00.

    Thanks in advance!

    Emiel Hadderingh

    • Hello Emiel … Well, I was busy, so this answer might be a little late. Anyway. What I personally don’t understand is the pure concentration on Roland synthesizers. The Jupiter-8 is very powerful, with lots of possibilities (double and layer sounds, crossmodulation, …) and a warm, deep analog sound. The Juno-60 is different. Its voice architecture is limited, but is has got – more or less – all you need for standard, good analog (polysynth) sounds. And it has the Roland chorus, which gives it a character that the Jupiter-8 does “not” have. So, theoretically the Jup-8 is much better than a Juno-60, but the latter might be more useful for your purposes. I have more fun playing the Juno-60 than the Jupiter-8. The Ju-60 sound gives me more inspiration. And yes, the Juno-106 is also very different. Its sound is more “electronic” and less “natural”. Whether you like it or not (or need it or not) depends on the sort of music you’re producing. However, the Juno-106 is the only one with standard MIDI. A Kenton MIDI Interface for the Juno-60 (is it an external box for MIDI-DCB or a full internal MIDI kit?) gives you “basic” control over MIDI notes, pitch bend, velocity, etc. You won’t get ultimate control from within Cubase with any of the above mentioned Roland synthesizers. If that’s what you’re looking for, you have to go for a Roland MKS-80 (with programmer) …

      Again, from a musical point of view it’s the Juno-60 that convinces me most. Maybe pure technical data (MIDI yes/no, what sort of MIDI, how many oscillators, etc) is not all about a synth. It also needs to give you inspiration …

  4. Whilst this site is dedicated to analog and vintage dare I suggest checking out the fantastic TAL-U-NO-LX plug in, website is:-
    http://kunz.corrupt.ch/products/tal-u-no-lx
    This will give you a flavour of what the Juno 60 is capable of. I have lots of softsynths and 5 vintage synths, both analog and digital and I can honestly say is one of my favourite synths ever. If I do come across a JUNO 60 at a reasonable price I would be very tempted, I’m just waiting for my Yamaha CS30 to turn up, but I wonder if you could possibly get hold of a CS30 to review? Cheers Phil

    • … that’s possible, sure (the CS-30 is part of our synth collection). It’s a wonderful – but also quite confusing – synthesizer. Great for experimental electronic sounds. However, it’s something “completely” different than the Juno-60 … If you’re a synth PLAYER rather than a knob TWEAKER, then look out for the Juno …! To be honest, 800 – 1000 Euros is not “that much” for a six-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer (with stereo chorus and a great vintage sound) …

  5. I’m having a similar problem but can’t fix it.

    I have the juno 60, the kenton DCB-midi Mk3 and ableton 9.
    (my audio interface is the presonus with midi in/out and i have a Virus TI synth with midi in/out/thru)

    When i first connected the kenton box to the juno and to the presonus (both midi in and out) i got the crazy feedback loop and hanging notes.

    I unplugged the midi cables and have tried the following –

    midi out kenton – to – midi in interface – nothing
    midi out kenton – to – midi in virus – nothing
    midi out interface – to – midi in kenton – nothing
    midi out virus – to – midi in kenton – nothing

    I just don’t get it. I can’t even recreate the feedback loop now it seems.

    I want to use it via midi so i can use some of able tons midi devices such as the scale and chord plugins (as you can see in the pic)

    Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

    Thanks

  6. Sold my Juno 60 for £800 to Stereo MCs, along with my SH-5 and Yamaha CS-15… Then I got a Juno 6 for £650 and I am MIDI-fying it! It will stay here forever…

  7. Good day!

    Theo, how would you describe keyboard feel? Perhaps, there is a chance that it is nice to play (not only nice to listen).

    Thank you!

    • iT WAS VERY NICE to play. I always get a soft cloth & spray funiture polish on it then rub down the keys to may them slippery so i can do all those ”slides” like Jerry Lee Lewis. Hope that helps.

  8. 2-21-17
    Hi, B-4 I left here I just had to thank you for your detailed article that just took me down memory lane circa 1983. I got my J-60 delivered to the Holiday Inn, Point Pleasant, NJ. on a cold winter’s day & IT BLEW MY MIND AS IT’S SOUNDS JUST WARMED ME UP & allowed me to supplement my top-40 lounge gig w/expanse of sound & imagination. I teamed my Juno60 (“her”) w/ my Hammond & twin Leslie 925s & rocked the Cazbar. LoL. “Running With the Nite” & other disco & top40 songs took on a personality of their own and I was smiling from ear to ear w/ my new TOY. I think we’ll all agree we all have different view of what’s ‘warmth’ etc. I can simply say my J-60 added “balls” to my solo act. Yet, I must confess i feel victim to the hype about MiDi and ‘she’ didn’t have it. So I think it was in ’85 I traded ‘her’ for the Juno 106. BIG MISTAKE as I could never get the same easily programed PUNCH my 60 gave me. Of course that could have been me & my 1st grade abilities @ sound creations, yet, I knew something was missing. Those were the days of 6-nighter hotel gigs w/comp rooms & 1/2 off food & FREE local calls. I played quite a few years of those and LOVED IT. Yes, I miss those days. karaoke (non capped for a reason) came along & screwed up LIVE MUSIC in lounges. Why hire a Professional who can sing, read music, put on a show socialize w/ the people etc. EASY, those ‘k-hosts’ were local & worked cheap ! So how can anyone afford any NEW or OLD synths unless you won the lotto or have rich relatives. Hey, I’m not complaining, just stating facts as I was exposed to them. My Juno-60 will always hold an extra special place in my heart & memories. While I’m at this may I mention I invested in TASCA’S Porta Studios 144 &244 so I could multi-track my own background vocals & extra instruments (i was never a sequencer guy). That was 1980 for the tascam 144 then traded my Leslie for a 244 lol, I thought i was in recording heaven. I was a real life novelty until that bloody ‘chroki’ for people thought they were being wiseguys and saying I wasn’t singing at all it was just store bought ‘chroky songs.
    I’ve since learned to ignore the ignorant and went back to making good DANCE music only this time instead of my homemade tapes I was using a TC-helicon Voice Live 2 harmonizer…triggered by my midi keyboard’s left hand. So you see MiDi IS needed. Presently, I’m recouping from throat cancer treatments (42 radiations + chemo). I’m happy to report I’m in remission so be sure to tell anyone you know “c” can be beaten. I can’t sing as yet…but I know I will. Heck, I survived stage IV so I feel confident the Good Lord let me survive to make more LIVE MUSIC. To tell you the truth, once I do & I can afford it–I’ll get another JUNO 60 and reunite my “band.”
    Regards, Don Taylor Jr.

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