A few questions about the Jupiter 80

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macdev
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A few questions about the Jupiter 80

Post by macdev » Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:08 pm

Hi all,
This is my last resort because I've been researching the Jupiter 80 for months and there are a few things that forums and youtube videos can't answer, and there are none in stores in my area to play with.

I've been playing keyboards as a hobby for about 30 years. I figured it was time to get a little more serious about it, so I started looking for something that wasn't several generations old. I already have a D-50 (love it) and an ESQ-1 (eBay soon), so I wanted something that was modern, and sounded good with analog. I was going to get a Polysix and then a Juno-106 but I read stories about failing boards and batteries and decided to not put money into those. At first I was going to get the JP-08 but I read that there was no chorus and the sliders are teeny. Long story short, my search led me to the Jupiter-80. However, there are questions I have that nobody's given a satisfactory answer to, so here goes.

1) How good of an analog sound does it have? There are some OK videos out there, but nothing really shows how well the J80 sounds if you're going for a straight analog-type sound for a patch. I'm not buying the J80 just for that, but what brought me to the J80 was its mix of possible analog sound and the SuperNatural sounds.

2) Is the J80 really a "live session" instrument? That's what I hear about it, but the videos I see show otherwise. Does it work well as a studio instrument?

3) I realize the J80 doesn't have a sequencer, but can you at least program the arpeggiator if you want more of a specific sequence?

4) I read that the J80 uses a whole USB stick for backing up patches. That's fine (I have some old ones), but has anyone made a librarian?

5) Can the D-Beam be assigned to something other than volume for a patch?

Thanks, all!

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Re: A few questions about the Jupiter 80

Post by knolan » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:08 pm

Hi -

I have a JP80 a few years and haven't used it a lot. I must also come clean and say that I caused a bit of a ruckus over on the Rolandclan forum for flagging a fairly serious problem with the JP80 PWM wave - but I'll try to give you objective, speedy answers here. But it's only one view. Answers below your questions...

1) How good of an analog sound does it have? There are some OK videos out there, but nothing really shows how well the J80 sounds if you're going for a straight analog-type sound for a patch. I'm not buying the J80 just for that, but what brought me to the J80 was its mix of possible analog sound and the SuperNatural sounds.

analogue sounds are VERY good. The Supernatural Synth engine is a very good sounding engine. It had several filter types (Moog, Roland, Yamaha, ...) and they are honestly gorgeous. The JP80 sounds rich, deep and very smooth. The issue I flagged is that the PWM wave has some aliasing on higher notes - I hear it incredibly clearly and it would stop me from using it but it doesn't stop others. So overall, it is indeed a very good sounding virtual analogue synth.

The huge plus about the JP80 is that Roland provide 1900 preset "Tones" on board - covering an extraordinary range of sounds - so there's a massive inbuilt library of sounds right there. And - it really is overwhelming! Furthermore - you get 250 note polyphony and the capability to layer something like 27 tones if you really want to - so it can be gargantuan in scope and scale.

THE issue for me is the Operating System - I find it VERY confusing. There are three layers - Tones, Livesets and Registrations. A tone is made of 3 Partials (basic synth sound), a Liveset is made of 4 Tones and a Registration is made of 2 Livesets and 2 other Tones (Percussion and Solo).

So here's the rub - if you want to edit just one aspect of a given sound - you have to figure out where in all of that the parameter you want to edit lies. Furthermore - you can only realistically play the instrument from the Registration level - and they only provide 256 registrations.

So the instrument requires getting used to - and I have never incorporated it into my setup so I'm not used to it, and find it a labour to use. By contrast, the V-Synth GT - seemingly quite similar in OS design - is a breeze to nevigate at all times - I don't 'get' how I struggle so much to navigate the JP80, but find the V-Synth GT always totally intuative (and by the way - the V-Synth GT is an instrument you might like to check out too).

In any case - the potential in the Jp80 is enormous - it really is. If you put the time in to learn it, I'm sure you'll find it very rewarding.


Finally I'll say that the Supernatural Acoustic Sounds are simply stunning. They really are. Here's how good the Grand Piano is - I can't tell how good it is! By that I mean - I actually can't quite tell which is better - my dedicate sample libraries or the JP80 - all I can tell you is that the JP80 piano, played on a weighted keyboard, seems to have no upper bound on how expressive it can be. There are no sample points I can hear, and the delicacy of response to touch is jaw-dopping. the same goes for it's acoustic basses (as just one example) - each and every one of them give Spectrasonics Trillan a hiding in terms of performance capability, and sound too.

the JP80 was loathed because of its name - encroaching on Jupiter 8 territory - so it has never gotten a fair chance - and I believe, as with the Yamaha EX5 today, that in the long run the Jupiter 80 will be one of the most sought after "best kept secrets" in synthesis because of the depth, breath and sheer quality of the instrument, still largely unrecognised, but most definitely there.


Note also that the Supernatural Synth engine provides about 300 PCM Waves too - akin to the JD800 - so it's quite a good Rompler in the D50 / JD800 sense





2) Is the J80 really a "live session" instrument? That's what I hear about it, but the videos I see show otherwise. Does it work well as a studio instrument?


Once you configure it to oyur desire - moving from Registration to Registration is very powerful via the registration buttons below the keyboard - and indeed the keyboard is fabulous - 6 1/ octaves, Roland modulation lever, knobs, faders, D-beam, Pedals - so yes - it can be configured to be a performers dream machine - but - you will need to learn the Operating System, and spend time setting it up. I found the factory registrations to be largely useless to my needs - and as said above - am still only now learning it because I find it tricky. Again the point being that this is a serious instrument that demands time - it's not going to deliver instant gratification out of the box.




3) I realize the J80 doesn't have a sequencer, but can you at least program the arpeggiator if you want more of a specific sequence?

Haven't used the arpeggiator on it so sorry can't answer this off the cuff

4) I read that the J80 uses a whole USB stick for backing up patches. That's fine (I have some old ones), but has anyone made a librarian?

One backup per USB stick - so you need to create an archive on your computer. There is no librarian (from what I know) - but note that an iPad can be used to edit the synth (but it's not a librarian).


5) Can the D-Beam be assigned to something other than volume for a patch?


Yes - it has an "Assign" option and you can configure it to affect many synth parameters. That said - the modulation assignment options on the JP80 definitely let it down. You can only assign a few parameters to aftertouch - this has been a real bug-bearer for many JP80 owners - and it's synth architecture, while adequate, is very similar to the GAIA in terms of LFO capability - so this isn't going to challenge modular synths any day soon. But it doesn have two LFOs per Partial - and with up to 27 layered sounds - there really is no limit to what you can derive from it sonically given al the parameters you can vary per partial.



Overall the JP80 is, in my opinion, a flawed masterpiece. I feel it needs a simpler OS similar to the V-Synth GT; there should be a proper 'single synth sound' play mode, there should be more options available for aftertouch in particular and they should fix the aliasing problem with the PWM wave - but - none of that stops it from being the most extraordinarily expressive supernatural acoustic instrument (with no less than 77 separate acoustic "behavioural models" on board), a gorgeous sounding virtual analogue synth engine, vast polyphony and layering potential, built like a tank but with the finesse of a swiss watch, and truly excellent "flagship" performance features from keyboard to registration buttons to pedal options (but all needing work to put in to configure to your desires).


I love it and hate it all at once. It's the only synthesiser of the many I own that I say that about. But I'm slowly configuring it to my needs - I'm stripping out about 1000 Tones and Livesets I don't need to create vast space to "roll and store" my own, I'm clearing out the effects from the factory presets for the supernatural acoustic tones (to make them ultra pure for usage in my projects) and I'm setting up a set of template Registrations that activate only one, two or thee partials in only one active Tone in one active Liveset so that even at the Registration level I can use the instrument as a 'single synth sound' instrument if I so need.

It's taking me a while (on and off) to get all that done - but I know once it's optimised to my needs, it will deliver in spades. By then 2nd hand prices will be even cheaper and I'll buy a second one (configured identically that will constitute a dual-manual 6 octave polysynth setup with 500 voice polyphony and layering of over 50 voices :-) ).



Sorry for going on so long - the JP80 isn't an instrument that prompts one line answers :-)

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Re: A few questions about the Jupiter 80

Post by vladimotor » Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:47 am

1) How good of an analog sound does it have? There are some OK videos out there, but nothing really shows how well the J80 sounds if you're going for a straight analog-type sound for a patch. I'm not buying the J80 just for that, but what brought me to the J80 was its mix of possible analog sound and the SuperNatural sounds.
If you're looking for a keyboard to cover analog and realistic instruments sounds, do check Korg Kronos, may be even Kurzweil PC3 series can work for you. Kronos in my opinion offers better synth engines then Jupiter-80, you get a good rom of realistic sounds, virtual Polysix, ms-20, AL1(a more modern VA), FM synthesis engine and a couple of physical modeling engines for pluck string and organs.
Kurzweil can be a cheaper option, worth checking perhaps too, it offers nice pianos, orchestral strings and can do convincing vintage-analog sounds with its analog modeled oscillators.

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Re: A few questions about the Jupiter 80

Post by gcoudert » Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:52 pm

3. I had a JP50 so I assume the arpeggiator is similar. You have to create the arpeggio as a MIDI sequence in a sequencer or DAW, save it as a type 0 MIDI file with an 8-ASCII-character file name, import it into the JP using a USB memory stick and it will stay there. In the arpeggio, the key you play corresponds to the first note in the MIDI sequence.
The arpeggiator is polyphonic, by the way (unlike the Fantom's), so you can play rhythmic chords.
GC

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Re: A few questions about the Jupiter 80

Post by macdev » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:56 am

Thanks for the replies, everyone. In the last few days since I posted that question, I've almost decided to get the J80. I'm now teetering between that and an Integra-7, but these questions answered a lot of what I needed to know about both, even though I'd need a D-Beam keyboard. I found that the Cream arpeggiator is superior to the one in Logic Pro X so I don't have to worry about that.

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