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Roland Alpha Juno 2


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Roland Alpha Juno 2

Category:  Products / synthesisers / dco synthesisers

Added: 12-Nov-23  |  Author: admin

New price: discontinued vintage  |   S/H price: £500

Roland Alpha Juno 2

The upgraded 1985 Alpha Juno 2 offered a bigger 61 note velocity sensitive keyboard & cartridge storage for user patches. Both the Alpha Junos were quite advanced 6 note poly synths designed to be very low cost solutions to take on the likes of Korg & Casio who Roland had seen undercut their own previous offerings with much lower prices.


The Alpha Juno's Digitally Controlled Oscillators (DCO's) able to deliver a choice of 14 different waveforms including noise for the single oscillator & the sub oscillator, and both the Sawtooth & Pulse waves could have Pulse-Width Modulation applied. This allowed the Alpha Junos to deliver a wide range of timbres and tones even though it is only a single oscillator synth.


Both Alpha Juno's have a real analog 24dB/octave low-pass and an additional 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.




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 80 or H-80 version


Like the Alpha Juno 1 & the Juno-106 which had the SynthPlus 10 (H-10) & SynthPlus 60 (H-60) home keyboard variants respectively, the Alpha Juno 2 was available as the home-keyboard version SynthPlus 80 (H-80).


The SynthPlus 80 or H-80 as it is also known is identical to the Alpha Juno 2 but has built-in speakers & a completely different front-panel appearance; otherwise it is the same synth with full MIDI spec.






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.

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