Roland Alpha-Juno-1

Neither absolutely stunning nor an absolute dog, this is a nice little synth which has one main thing going for it - bass. Lots of it. It does anything from solid, meaty house basses to huge subs (either clean or snarling). The presets bite, by and large, but then again, can you name a synth from the mid '80s whose presets didn't?

Architecture is basic. Six oscillators. Each goes through a filter and an amplifier before appearing at the outputs via a stereo chorus (would it be a Roland hybrid synth without a stereo chorus?). Not many surprises, really, apart from the fact that pulse width modulation can be applied to the sawtooth wave (bizarre!). This tends to sound quite interesting until you've heard it for the millionth time. The filters are quite weak when compared with those on the Juno-106 but are still not to be sneezed at.

The biggest bonus is the programmer, which is a dinky little tool. It makes editing much easier than the push-the-button-and-twirl-the-data-entry-dial method which gets more than a little tiresome after about five minutes. Another bonus is the fact that you can do some real-time tweaking and therefore not look like a complete gooseberry when you're standing on stage wondering what to do while the sequencer is taking care of most of the music.

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