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Roland Alpha Juno 1


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Roland Alpha Juno 1

Category:  Products / synthesisers / dco synthesisers

Added: 09-Apr-12  |  Author: admin

New price: discontinued vintage (RRP £579)  |   S/H price: £400 - £450

Roland Alpha Juno 1

The legendary Roland Alpha Juno is a 6 note polyphonic synth released in 1985. While offering only 2 digitally controlled oscillators (DCO's) per voice (main and a sub-oscillator) the single DCO supplies multiple waveforms at once: a Pulse wave and a Sawtooth wave can be mixed together with the addition of a Sub-Oscillator (with 6 different wave-shapes to choose from) and a Noise generator can also be added in; on top of this, the sawtooth wave can have PWM applied.

The filter is a real analog 24dB/octave low-pass and the Alpha Juno 1 also offers a 3-stage hi-pass filter which sits between the DCO & VCF main filter section & acts in effect as an EQ to treat the raw DCO output before it hits the main VCF filter section. One main criticism of the Low pass is that is cannot self resonate.

The Alpha Juno 1 has a single ADSR envelope which controls both the VCF & VCA.

The Alpha Juno 1 is fitted with a 49 note keyboard, but without velocity or after-touch, however you can control those parameters using MIDI.

Factory presets for the Alpha Juno were created by Eric Persing and Adrian Scott. Persing famously went on to create the factory patches for the flagship JX-8P & follow up JX-10 as well as the mega-selling Roland D-50 a few years later.

The Juno 1 uses membrane switches and an "alpha" dial for editing, and offers MIDI In/Out & Thru and is - The Roland MKS-50 is the rack equivalent.

The Alpha Juno 1 became a dance icon synth in the late 80's/early 90's due to it's famous 'Hoover' sound which became a mainstay techno & hard-floor sound until over-use killed it off into the 'retro-sounds' cupboard.




Alpha Juno architecture



1. DCO (Digitally Controlled Oscillator)
DCO is the digitally controlled oscillator that controls the pitch and generates the waveforms that are the sound source of the synthesizer.


2. HPF (High Pass Filter)
The HPF (High-Pass Filter) is a filter that passes high frequency harmonics and cuts off the lower ones. This changes the waveform and controls the tone color.


3. VCF (Voltage Controlled Filter)
Each VCF lets lower frequency harmonics of the input signal pass and cuts off the higher ones. In other words, it is a usual low pass filter. By controlling the cutoff point and resonance, the waveform changes, thereby the tone color alters.


4. VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier)
After filtered in the VCF, the signal is fed to the VCA where the volume (amplitude) of the sound is controlled.




6. LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator)
This oscillator generates extremely low frequency, so produces a vibrato or growl effect by controlling the DCO or VCF.


7. ENV (Envelope Generator)
This generates the control voltage (Envelope) which controls the DCO, VCF and VCA, therefore, alters the pitch, tone color and volume in each note.




Alpha Juno Oscillators


In this image charts below you can see the 3 choices of Oscillator Pulse waveform, the 5 choices of Sawtooth waveform & the 6 choices of waveform for the Sub-Oscillator - Noise is also an additional Oscillator choice. 


You can then see at the bottom of the chart the Pulse & Sawtooth variations that can be achieved by adjusting the amount of Pulse Width for the DCO's - This quite extensive choice of 14 waveforms which can then be further modified with Pulse Width that can also be modulated, gives the Alpha Juno's their wide pallette of sounds for just a single Oscillator synthesiser.










Roland MKS-50 rack version

The MKS-50 was released in 1987 - the same year the Alpha Juno 1 went out of production & one year after the updated Alpha Juno 2 was released in 1986.


The MKS-50 is basically the rack-mount version of the Alpha Juno 1 & 2. It has the same 6 DCO voice poly synth engine but with some added features including 16 programmable chord memories, and the ability to store velocity, volume, panning, de-tune, portamento and other similar parameters within each patch.





The SynthPlus 10 or HS-10 version


In 1986 Roland released a sort of home-keyboard version of the Alpha Juno 1 called the SynthPlus 10 or HS-10 - It's the same 6 DCO oscillator voice poly-synth & has the same extensive MIDI implementation as the Alpha Juno 1 & the ability to respond to aftertouch & dynamics/velocity via MIDI or pedal control as does the Alpha Juno 1.





The PG-300 programmer

Like all the Roland synths which dumped traditional control pots & sliders in favour of the 'new look'  membrane buttons, the editing and tweaking of parameters beyond those assigned to the basic controller options like the pitch/mod wheel was achieved by the labourious selection of a single parameter & then changing its value with the Alpha wheel. Roland therefore sold a handful of control / edit boxes. The PG-200 for the JX-3P & rack version MKS-30, the PG-800 for the JX-8P & JX-10 and for the Alpha Juno (1 & 2 models) they offered the PG-300.





The DTronics DT-300 programmer


There was also the 3rd party DTronics DT-300, which is still available to buy today brand new for around £299 from retailers like Thomann in Europe.


Often you'll find an Alpha Juno 1 or 2 model sold with an included DT-300 programmer or occasionally with a much more rare Roland PG-300 unit.





Just to add an interesting bit of history, this from a youtube discussion:



If interested in a bit of history, Joey Beltram did not come up with the idea of the hoover sound. It was Mundo Muzique who had an Alpha Juno and thought that he would make something out of the useless "What The" patch.
He was friend with Beltram who liked the idea.
The funny thing is they didn't use the Juno on the record.
Beltram sampled it in his Casio FZ-1 and what we hear on Mentasm is in fact the FZ-1.
Even the filter sweep around the 2min mark is the filter of the FZ-1, not the Juno...
Also, I seem to remember that the famous bass on Mr Fingers - Can you feel it was made on an Alpha Juno.


This was apparently revealed in a Red Bull Music Academy interview with Mundo Muzique.

Product Videos

Alpha Juno 1 Hoover sound recreation

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ROLAND ALPHA JUNO-1 Analog Synthesizer 1985

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Roland Alpha Juno-1 sounds

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Alpha Juno 1: the synthfreq's Juno 1 patches

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Human Resource - Dominator (1991) - Alpha Juno hoover sound

Oldschool dance track featuring Alpha Juno hoover sound....

Second Phase - Mentasm (hoover sound)

Second Phase (Joey Beltram) - Mentasm - R&S Records Classic - 1991 Belgium...

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User Comments

Product:  Roland - Alpha Juno 1
Name: MAS 2008
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: Professional
Date: 18-Apr-12

very good "bread and butter" synth. even if it just has one osc. from bass to pad and fx sounds - everything is possible.
the chord memory is the big thing if you are a detroit techno nerd!

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Last added comment

Product:  Roland - Alpha Juno 1
Name: Martyn Pole
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: part-timer
Date: 20-Sep-13

I have one of these which has been largely wasted by being used as a midi
master keyboard.......time to find out how to do more with it!

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