Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Classic Analog

Well today was all about analog synths for me. I am all of a sudden, once again, totally interested in learning about old skool synths like the Roland Jupiter-8, Roland Juno-6, Arp 2600 and MiniMoog, etc. Roland's owner's manuals are available online, and there are plenty of websites dedicated to vintage analog synthesizers.

From vintagesynth.com:

"The Jupiter 8 was Roland's first truly professional analog synthesizer. The Jupiter 8 features 16 rich analog oscillators at 2 per voice, eight voice polyphony and easy programming! At eight voices you can get some pretty thick analog sounds. Easy and intuitive programming via front panel sliders, knobs and buttons for all your tweaking needs. The legacy of the Jupiter synthesizers is due to their unique voice architecture and design, creating sounds that were so unreal and amazing that they have to be heard! No other synths in the world can create analog sounds as cool and authentic as these.

The Jupiter 8 was the biggest and fattest of them all (Jupiters and Junos)! It was one of the first synths to allow its keyboard to be split and layered - it's eight voices of trance heaven! Cross-mod, oscillator sync, a great LFO and a classic arpeggiator are also on-board. (The arpeggiator can be heard all over the Duran Duran classic, "Rio".) There's also two killer resonant analog 24dB/oct filters with 2-pole and 4-pole settings as well as low- and high-pass filtering methods. Unfortunately for the earlier models, tuning was very unstable but that seemed to be resolved in later models. Unlike its smaller counterpart, the Jupiter 6, the Jup 8 does not feature MIDI, only Roland's DCB sync can be found on some models. However, MIDI retro-kit's are available from various companies. Patch presets can store keyboard splits, arpeggiator settings, voice assign mode, hold, portamento and modulation settings.

The Jupiter 8 has been used by Tangerine Dream, Orbital, Future Sound of London, Moby, Duran Duran, Underworld, Vince Clarke, √úberzone, Jean Michel Jarre, Roxy Music, OMD, A Flock Of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, Rush, Meat Beat Manifesto, Banco De Gaia, Josh Wink, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, The Cars, Prince, Gary Wright, Jan Hammer, BT, Adrian Lee, Heaven 17, Kitaro, Elvis Costello, Tears for Fears, Huey Lewis and the News, Journey, Moog Cookbook, Toto, Yes, Devo, Freddy Fresh, George Duke, Greg Phillanganes, Jonathan Cain of Journey, Greg Johnson & Kevin Kendrick of Cameo, Stevie Wonder and Simple Minds."

Obviously, there is no way I'd ever be able to afford to collect actual vintage synths like these, so I will content myself with VSTs and emulators. Arturia makes some pretty nice Jupiter-8, Arp 2600 and Moog VSTs. You can download some demos here.

Since I've been reading about these old synthesizers, I have decided to school myself in the roots of synth pop, by researching 80s bands like the Human League. Of course, it's impossible not to have heard their huge hit "Don't You Want Me", but their album Dare! is supposed to be a synth pop classic. You can download it here (password: tmi).


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