10 Facts About The 3 New Roland Boutique Synthesizers… And 5 Questions Still To Be Answered


Over the weekend, full details leaked out about the new Roland Boutique synthesizer line – one of the most talked about introductions of the year.

The Boutique line will feature three new synths:

  • The Roland Boutique JX-03 Synthesizer Module;
  • The Roland Boutique JU-06 Synthesizer Module; and
  • The Roland Boutique JP-08 Synthesizer Module.

While no official announcement has yet been made for the Boutique line, the leaked details and images have been given coverage across the web, even getting attention at Engadget. The coverage thus far, though, has not gone much deeper than a copy and paste of the leaked material.

Here’s our take on some of the most interesting facts about the three new synths – along with some important questions about the new synths that remain unanswered. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

10 Facts About The 3 New Roland Boutique Synthesizers

  1. The Roland Boutique synthesizers are virtual analog synths that emulate classic Roland analog keyboards:
    • The Roland JX-03 module is based on the JX-3P synth;
    • The Roland JU-06 is a recreation of the iconic Juno-106 synthesizer; and
    • The Roland JP-08 Synthesizer Module recreates the sound of the legendary Jupiter-8 synth.
  2. Each of the Boutique synths expand on the capabilities of their vintage counterparts:
    1. The JX-03 adds extra waveforms for the LFO and both DCOs, along with extended DCO range;
    2. The JU-06 adds a faster LFO and continuously variable HPF; and
    3. The JP-08 adds extra waveforms and an expanded VCO range.
  3. With at least the JP-08, Roland is using the same virtual analog technology, Analog Circuit Behaviour (ACB), that it’s used with the Aira line. While most virtual analogs are based on software recreations of basic synthesizers functions, ACB is based on recreating the behavior of individual electronic components, with their associated quirks, that make up classic synth circuit designs.
  4. The Roland Boutique synths use a new ‘keyboard optional’ synth design. One of the most common criticisms of many of the recent entry-level synth designs is that they use mini-keys. While mini-keys allow manufactures to keep the size and cost of synths down, they signal ‘toy’ to many players. The Boutique design makes the keyboard an optional accessory, which means the synths are designed to be used independently as synth modules, or in combination with the Roland K-25M USB MIDI mini-keyboard as a synth keyboard.
  5. The Boutique line signals a renewed emphasis on hands-on usability. All of the members of the Roland Boutique line have hands-on user interfaces that are inspired by their classic keyboard counterparts. In some ways, though, the Boutique line improves on the user interface of the originals. For example, the original JX-3P had a minimal interface and required the optional PG-200 controller, if you wanted hands-on tweakability. The Boutique version, the JX-03, inherits all 24 knobs from the PG-200, and adds additional features. Each of the Boutique synths have similarly tweakable interfaces, but tailored to their individual synth’s architecture.
  6. Unlike the originals, the Boutique line is designed for portability and mobile use. Each of the synth modules is surprisingly small –  about 12″ wide x 5″ tall x 2″ deep – and weighs just over 2 lbs. And each Boutique synth can run on battery power. They even offer a built-in speaker for previewing sounds.
  7. The Boutique synths have limited polyphony, but can be chained together for more voices. Each of the Boutique synths is limited to four voices, like the Aira System-1, a voice count that Sound On Sound described as ‘miserly’ in their review. None of them match the polyphony of their vintage counterparts. But the Boutique synths are inexpensive, compared to vintage Roland synths, and are designed to be chained together for expanded polyphony.
  8. The Boutique synths are designed for modern workflows. Each of the new keyboards has a USB connector that double as both a power source for the keyboard and a 24 bit/ 44.1 kHz stereo IN/OUT interface for working with your DAW.
  9. The Boutique synths all feature ribbon controllers – ribbon controllers were relatively rare on vintage synths, but prized on the synths that offered them.  All of the synths in the Boutique line offer dual ribbon controllers – for pitch bend, modulation, and sound preview.
  10. Each Boutique synth offers a 16-stage step sequencer, with 16 pattern memories. The onboard sequencer is scratchpad that lets you try out new ideas without bringing lots of gear – it can even be used without a keyboard. And if there’s no keyboard connected, the ribbon controller lets you preview the sound, making it an ideal way to program patches quickly and easily.


5 Questions To Be Answered About The Roland Boutique Synthesizers

While photos and features for the Roland Boutique synths have leaked, the information that we do know raises several questions:

  1. What do they sound like, and how well do they recreate their vintage counterparts? The Boutique synths appear to use a very similar architecture to the Roland System-1, which offers similar connectivity, polyphony & ACB technology. The sound of Roland’s System-1 emulations has largely been well-received, which bodes well for the Boutique line.
  2. Are the Boutique synths based on the System-1 synth? The Boutique synths have a lot of similarities to the System-1, featuring the same polyphony, similar connectivity and the same Analog Circuit Behaviour technology. Has Roland re-purposed the System-1 design to created inexpensive single-purpose polysynths? And, if so, will the Boutique synths eventually be avaialble for the System-1?
  3. What exactly is ’boutique’ or ‘limited’ about these synths? Roland describes the synths in the Boutique line as ‘limited-edition’, but it’s not clear what’s limited about them. Is manufacturing really limited to a certain number – or just limited to however many they can sell?
  4. Will these work with the AIRA MX-1? The MX-1 is designed to work in an integrated way with the AIRA synth line. While the Boutique synths look like they may have a similar architecture to the System-1, there’s no mention of compatibility with the MX-1.
  5. Will plug-in versions of the three new synth designs be made available?  Roland has made each of the software synths designed for the System-1 platform available in several formats, including plug-in and plug-out versions.

Details on the Roland Boutique synths are still to be officially announced. In the meantime, though, let us know what you think of them – and what questions you have about them!

170 thoughts on “10 Facts About The 3 New Roland Boutique Synthesizers… And 5 Questions Still To Be Answered

    1. Zzounds had the Jupiter JP-08 listed at $399 and the other two at $299. The keyboard is supposedly $99.

      I wish that they’d create a full-sized 5 octave keybed that you could plug two JP-08s into. I fail to see why you’d buy the other two synths – they were both cut-down budget offerings.

  1. THe Facebook group I’m apart of snapshotted the info on these from the Dealer before they were taken down. The JX-03 and JU-06 are $299 USD while the JP-08 is $399 USD. They mini-keyboard add-on is $99 USD.

  2. Would you consider Ribbons as a mechanical part and if they are easier to repair compared to a modulation/pitch wheel in years to come.

  3. “Boutique” synth………. worst name ever…..
    I hope they are aware that “boutique” is like a “store” in english… -_- that’s really a weird name for a synth….

    1. I guess you don’t understand what “Boutique” means when it’s referred to Synths either , so just so you know…”boutique” synths are those not sold in the mass market, they are usually expensive, well built and purchased from the manufacturer
      So even though Im sure they will sound great, there is nothing “boutique” about them.

      1. in current marketing language the term ’boutique’ is often used for something that looks more expensive than it actually is. just google ’boutique hotel’.

        1. Boutique , in reference to “Boutique Hotel” often just means SMALL niche hotel , in Europe anyway. I don’t see how calling these Boutique is in anyway misleasing or a misnomer.

        1. All product names are coming directly from the marketing department when it comes to the larger manufacturers. The same is true of Roland’s classic synths from the 70s and 80s, Juno, Jupiter etc.

      2. you’re right and i did knew that. i still think that’s not a good name… kinda same concept as naming a synth “best synth” … and the “boutique” concept doesn’t even apply on this one so… anyway hehe

  4. My primary question, aside from, “Will these be available as a plugout for the System-1/1M,” is…
    With the chainability to expand past the 4-voice limitation, combined with the “based on ACB technology” concept… will this mean the System-1/1m will get a firmware update to give the native synth engine chainability as well?
    Would I be able to use my System-1M to act as a chain/polyphony expander for the Boutique Series modules? That would be awesome if this were the case.

  5. I had a keyboard with ribbon controls for mod & pitch and liked them very much. Makes some things possible (like trills) that you can’t do with wheels. Not sure how durable they are in the long hall.

    The mini-keyboard-as-option is pretty smart since most people seemed pretty pissy about the mini-keys.

    I won’t be surprised if they blow off the use of velocity to control parameters, but it is a disappointment. Using velocity to control filter cutoff and amplitude are pretty basic and should be included in any recreation of a non-velocity synth, IMHO. It just makes a synth more of a musical musical instrument.

  6. Sure about the JU-06 is a JUNO-106 emulation ?
    It could as well be the JUNO-60/6 since the lack of portamento and the black color !

    The other question would be if it’s compatible with the MX-1 it properly will…..

    Will it get a dedicated editor for iOS and OSX and my last question would be if the controllers are 24 bit as with the AIRA’s ?

    1. An iPad editor? For something with 1 knob per function on the front panel? Why would anyone need a touch screen editor for something that has all of the features accessible right on the front?

      1. Sometimes space limitations prohibit putting everything within arms reach. Yes, I’d generally prefer to do my editing with the knobs, sliders and switches but if the module is sitting on the other side of the room and I’m in front of my master controller and computer, I like having a software editor/librarian. It’s not a necessity but a nice addition.

  7. Thank you, Roland, for not forcing us to buy a keyboard we do not want. If only Novation (bass station 2, Ultranova), Arturia (minibrute), Korg (microkorg), etc. would do the same. Are modules really so unpopular that manufacturers avoid them?

  8. Can anyone chime in on why it is that they have to limit them to 4 voices? From the perspective of someone who doesn’t really know much about designing synths, it seems strange that these only have 4 voice polyphony, while there are countless softsynths out there that can have massively higher amounts. Is it to do with the CPU of the machine, or something else?

    1. The short answer is that their “Analogue Circuit Behaviour” / component modeling (likely) chews up some CPU. The larger CPU you need, the more power it’ll need. You very quickly get to a point where batteries are not a sensible option, and they’ve opted for the lower power / less polyphony route.

      The same is true on your computer – Urs Heckmann’s plugins will give even the newest computers a bit of a workout. They sound great, but it’s at a cost.

      My guess is that these are all very similar (if not identical) inside from a main processor standpoint, with maybe some slight changes or additions for the Jupiter version, due to being a more complex synth. It would also be interesting to see if there’s a polychain function.

      1. Thanks for the response! That is unfortunate, but it does make sense. If they were full on emulations of the originals, I would gladly cough up an extra 150-200 for one of them. Still, I think these are interesting products and am curious to hear them in action!

        1. They are definitely not exact copies. The 06 and 8 have step sequencers not present in the original (though cloned from the 3P), and they all have stereo 24 bit audio inputs and 24 bit digital audio outputs over USB, plus USB MIDI which runs at 16 times faster than original MIDI which the Jupiter didn’t even have.

          Definitely not exact copies.

          Fortunately though the originals are all available through ebay, so those who need an instrument that is much larger, uses more watts, has more noise, and has fewer features than these, can certainly acquire them rather than being all dissatisfied and unhappy in their life.

          I hope you will purchase originals on ebay and let us know how it goes by posting a review link to your review.

          I have a Jupiter 8 and a Juno 106, both with some problems, and will be comparing them against the 08 and 06. I recommend others do the same. This should be a lot of fun for our community to compare and contrast and I look forward to the exercise. If it’s not too much trouble when you compare the old and new instruments in your studio, please pay particular attention to the latency and jitter using empirical replicable methodology. I think these might be the factors in which the digital emulations fall flat, as the older instruments do not use sample buffers and as such are very responsive, tight, and punchy, something simply not possible during real time performance for any modern digital synth using DSP algorithms to write to buffers.

      1. I disagree. The MS-2000 has it’s plugs on the “top” (when racked) and it has never been a huge problem for me… but I do have a lot of L-shaped audio cables which helps. Midi cables can be a bitch but really it just forces you to do something good for most rack gear: leave some space for airflow/cooling.

  9. Both Korg and Arturia use the simulated discrete component algorithm for their software synthesizers to well received but sometimes mixed opinion. Doubtless some will state these new Rolands are exact reproductions and others will see them as new targets for purist ire. How come nobody seems to notice that it is the same old same old over and over again, any time something is released? Everything changes, but nothing changes. (I am referring to the public reaction, not necessarily the product under scrutiny.)

    1. Except that now manufacturers do seem to listen. Once not too long ago we were screaming at them to make analogue (remember pre volca?) now we hear screams for mo mini keys, Lo and behold, keyless modules. We screamed for remakes of old favourites, now we have ms-20s, Odysseys, Tb-3s and tr-9s.

      It’s worth whining long and loud it seems.

  10. Whilst these are basically software in a hardware jacket, the price point (if they truey are 299) is only that of software and a controler, if they sound good, you have something with a dedicated controler with no cpu drain (that’s also portable for live gigs or playing in the garden) so all in all, a pretty cool product. I suspect they will be followed by a big brother at some point, if the sound is right, a full sized board with all 3 modules built in could work…..

  11. Why are Roland and Yamaha creating these caricatures of themselves?
    At least Korg recreate stuff close enough to the original.

    Especially the design of the JX03 looks a lot like the UVI plug-in.
    It’s a bit like Vincent van Gogh trying to replicate a copy of his own self portrait.

    1. I guess they are all dipping their feet in the watch like Korg also did before committing to something larger and more expensive. I have to reserve judgement on these as I have a modular rack full of analogue and digital modules, the analogue vs digital things makes not sense to me at all.

    2. As you have not heard the sound of these synths, what do you mean with “close enough”? Analog is intrinsic value to you?

      Ms-20 mini is analog, but does not sound excactly the same as original and has mini keys. JP-08 will probably be very close, but cheaper, than a mono synth.

      There are no other fully knobby poly synths on the same price range. This level of control seems to be Rolands speciality, and because Roland is unique in this respect, there is room for it in the market.

      Because of their inevitably high prices and peoples demands for cheap gear, poly analogs are MUCH more difficult to make as products and Roland at least has an analog poly on market(Jd-Xa has clean analog out put, that you can mix with digital if you want). Korg is behind in this respect.

      Actually, even though I don’t want to give any ideas to Roland, I might buy Jp-08 sooner, than KingKorg, even if Jp-08 costed same as KingKorg.

      1. the analog section on the JD-Xa sounds like garbage. people forget that analog does not equal good, there is an art to circuit design and making parameters digitally controllable immensely complicates matters. there are many bad analog synths out there, mostly forgotten.

        also, digital synthesis is fundamentally different than analog synthesis (even with “component modeling”) and things like the converters used (so you can hear the synth) make a huge difference on the sound.

        and from the samples I’ve heard anyone that thinks the system-1m sounds like an analog modular is either deaf or has never used one.

        but whatever, if you can make music with it….

    3. If Vincent Van Gogh was getting ripped off left and right by third party commercial product referencing his work, he’d be dumb not to join in. Don’t hang Roland for finally trying to capture a piece of the revenue stream based on nostalgia for their previous works.

  12. Putting aside the sound of these units for now, from a marketing perspective, I think Roland have played a blinder.

    Firstly, they have listened to us all moan about minikeys and made them optional. Secondly, they have tapped into peoples nostalgia centre in the brain and produced synths that hark back to “those days”.
    Nostalgia is a powerful drug. I find myself wanting them all regardless of their sound (which will be good – we know that).

    Well done Roland. You got me….

  13. I’m pretty sure that you could find a JX-3P or a Juno-106 for not much more…
    And $400 for half a Jupiter-8 with no keyboard. I don’t know. I’m skeptical…
    Without mention of those mini-sliders…!

      1. Plus the alpha juno is impossible to edit w/o the 300-400 dollar editor, or an iPad which is like 800 dollars so that’s not really compairable

        1. There are free Alpha Juno VST plugin editors for PC. I have a couple. They’re great. The JX-3P is the one that’s difficult (not impossible) to edit without the editor.

        2. I agree, it’s not comparable. 800 bucks (average price for a 106 or jx3p with pg200 actually on ebay) for 6 voices of real analog in a vintage instrument beside 300 bucks for 4 voices of virtual analog in a plastic case toy without keyboard… You convinced me…

    1. > I’m pretty sure that you could find a JX-3P or a Juno-106

      This is not accurate for the 106. Current prices for working models are $1000-$1500 on ebay, for models that have not verifiably had their voice chips replaced by ones that work, the price is $300 to $900.

      The 3P is significantly less desirable, although ones which come with the PG programmer can still sell.

      In every case though these new instruments are being sold for less than the used resale price of even broken versions of the classics they emulate.

      1. “these new instruments” ! Are you kidding me ?
        There is absolutely nothing new !
        And these are not musical instruments…! If you want an analaog poly with modern reliability it will cost you ten times more (e.g. Prophet-6) ! So, where’s the hook ?

    1. Dimensions: (W x D x H) 11-13/16 x 5-1/16 x 1-3/4″ (300 x 128 x 45 mm)

      You’re right, the photos make them look deceptively larger than they are. In Roland’s defense however, they are describing them as “Ultra-compact recreations” and “no bigger than a book.”

    1. > I never sell my old good Juno 6

      Will you contractually agree to buy my 106 then for $1422 so I can purchase 2 or 4 of these reissues? Unlike the 6 my 106 has patch memory and MIDI and is universally reported to sound better so this should be a no-brainer.

  14. Why does each virtual analog need a plastic wrapper with a seperate computer? Especially considering Aira. I get digital and analog, but virtual analog seems like it might as well be itb or part of the Aira-lineup – or am i missing something?
    I’d love an actual analog remake of these!

    1. Yeah I was really waiting for vcos here…..
      Boutique seemed like a good word for vintage style expensive ‘done right’ units… Instead we get stuff no different than the blodorf and whatnot…

  15. Sceptical at first….being that I have analog in my studio…but I bought the System 1/M and I’m impressed with how it integrated into my Euro rack system….I’m sold….Ill probably drop 399.00 on the JP-08….based on my ears the ACB technology does come close enough in emulating analog and its quirks….

    I think Roland is on the road to doing ingenious design…..and making it affordable for us…..for most of us are working folks m-f with bills and family maybe….

  16. TAL-U-NO-LX with proper mapping on a mini key controller would sound the same and offers the same workflow much cheaper

    I’m starting to hate all kind of semantic tricks to pass off analog when it’s digital…

  17. The benefit of real hardware parameter control is to just reach the knob or slider, turn it , slide it, press it, whatever … and hear the result immediately. How on earth can we do this in a satisfactory way on those super tiny knobs and sliders? They are too small to be useful! Detailed adjustments with those tiny sliders? Forget it! Come on Roland, make them bigger and with 3 octaves (at least) of full size keys!

    1. Well it would cost considerably more, so what you’re describing is something you can just buy on eBay currently for around 800 bucks ( a juno-106)

      1. Been there, done that. No more. NEVER going back to paying for OLD analog synths which ALWAYS present one problem or another to distract me from making music and make me pay even more for servicing them. Here the discussion is for NEW models, more stable and problem free.

    2. Ever actually used a PG-200? Knobs are very small, but I will say that they have room around them to get my fat fingers in there…..

  18. Synth makers need to stop making hardware as if computers are still x86 or older. With cheap ram, powerful gpu, and i7 cpu, you don’t need that much to run VSTs. Except that the software isn’t (always) coded to support said hardware.

    I’ll take plugout versions gladly, but would’ve paid more for a new analog 106.

          1. “may as well buy a P08 rack, for better sound and same size same price”

            The going price of P08 rack is $1549 not the $600 of two of these.

  19. I measured the photos: 3/8″ slider throw on the JP08. For comparison, the original had 1 1/4″ slider throw (as did the Juno-106).

    These things are really really really tiny. Great for portability and desk space. Remains to be seen how it affects programming.

  20. It looks like they took the system-1 electronics and are repackaging them as single-purpose keyboards for half the price.

    Not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

    1. The standard rule is it will be £399. Plus VAT, natch.

      And you know what? Still a good deal for you guys. Sure you’re subsidizing the cost of the rest of the world, but isn’t that the least that could be done considering the history of violent colonialism? Pay a little back. A tiny bit. A trifling amount.

  21. Like the no-keyboard option. Shame they don’t match the Euro-friendly dimensions of the System 1-m but I guess you can’t have everything! Of course, there’s the sound force controllers too, for TAL’s plug-ins.

    I suppose it does feel a bit strange, to be paying a few hundred for a dedicated app-in-a-box, but I suppose if the sound is “there” like System 1 users have said with the plug-outs, then it’s oddly “good value” for the results you get. I imagine System 1 owners would be pretty annoyed if these new ones don’t materialise as plug-outs before too long.

    1. As a system 1m owner I definitely would be annoyed if these don’t become available for the system 1m considering the 1m is also a 4 voice synth. Obviously it could not incorporate the sequencer, but I could live with that.

  22. now this is really something. perfect form factor, sadly VA but the engine sounds reportedly very good.
    roland doing it right. hope the aira designer was sacked.

  23. i’m thinking that these babies may be *too* small… 12″ across & those ju08 mini sliders? hmmm… i’m on the fence until i get my grubby mitts on them.


  24. the pics on some other sites show the full list of controls on the panels.

    The JX3 actually has the best amount of features… with better FM implementation like the Jupiter6 had. Remember the Jup8 had the most voices but was not at all the newest or best-implemented Jupiter. The JX3 unit might be the best out of them, considering they will all sound VA anyway i guess. If any of Roland’s VA has ever proven yet, they just can’t seem to make a digital filter model that works right at all.

    1. You do realize what these actually are, right? 4 note polyphonic, “analog circuit modeling”, etc. There are really nothing more than the “free” “plug-outs”, that were promised for the System-1 plug-out synth. (but never delivered) Instead, Roland will sell each “plug-out” for $500, as individual synths. I can’t say I blame Roland, nor did I ever expect more than 1 or 2 System-1 “plug-outs” to be released. Roland figured it was more profitable to use the existing System-1 technology, & package/sell each “plug-out” individually, (in a different synth) as opposed to giving them to System-1 owners for free, as promised. Not that I care though.

      I think they’re cool & will be buying at least one, maybe 2, & possibly all 3. Besides, I’d rather have 3-4 separate synths, than 1 synth full of “plug-outs”. (the System-1 allows you to use only 1 “plug-out” at a time, anyway)

      1. I have been following the whole AIRA release from the beginning spoken with Roland reps, I own both the 1 and the 1M and I have NO idea where you got that idea. The only plug-out that was free was the SH01 and the was only for the first year, and they announced it would be a limited offer. Now as to your assertions that they are doing it to make money.. yes I suppose they are guilty of that.

  25. As a JX3P owner, this makes me puke. To see the shriveled tiny battery toy of what Roland once was. First they imitated digitally in cartoon regalia their own TB while Cyclone Analogic and acidlab were making real money on their designs. Now they imitate my precious JX3P with her brilliant F1 racing stripes and mirror sunglasses buttons. Please as a final plea, sell the Roland name to that group of investors that approached you earlier. Let them make real synths again as they told you they wanted to do.

    1. I wonder what the problem would be to do both those battery synths as well as “real” synths? But I suppose that small minds and no touring/traveling experience makes one exclude the other option… Jikes!

    2. I’m also a bit queasy as I type this comment, as I’ve auditioned many of the analog ‘plug-ins’ out there recreating analog synths, many do a passable job recreating ‘analog-like’ waveforms, (but seemingly, only when rendered out to 24 bit), but it says here that the i/o is 24/44 via USB, this does not suggest to me that the emulation utilizes that full bandwidth. My Korg Wavestation EX, and many ‘romplers’ of the same era were based on 16 bit sample waveforms of 44.1 (and often 22khz) sample rates, and yet the internal signal path through the effects chain was often 24 bit, and sometimes up to 32 bits (and that’s what went into the marketing…) If this is the case with the Boutique, it means we have been duped again by the ‘big three’ that have attempted to capture the analog as well as acoustic world inside the digital age, to ensnare the broadest consumer base, and highest profit. Meanwhile Soft-synth makers earnestly trying to somehow ‘re-birth’ those analog circuits through creative programming and high availability of 24/192 capable components that have been in the modern PC and Mac, as well as most home DVD players since the DVD-Audio standard was set in the 90’s. (Sony was also recording albums with DSD and trying to sell an even greater audio vision at the time to consumers with SACD content) The ‘big three’ though are still merely pandering to hearts of the greedy who want ‘tangible’ tech in their hands, no matter how mediocre it sounds. They are not making great, and memorable musical instruments anymore. To my ear, the new modules, do not come close enough to analog, and should not bear the moniker of “Analog”, no matter how many super-euphemisms or acronyms Roland can create. I highly recommend passing on these ‘toys’ and supporting real innovation of sound creation, such as impOscar, or the Arturia plug-ins (most notably the Moog emulations consulted by Bob Moog himself, who knew a thing or two about the “behavior of analog circuits”. Although too young to catch all but the tail end of the last analog synth wave, this somewhat reminds me of one of the biggest joys of my life, when Yamaha re-introduced the DX7 as the DX7II, and I happily plunked down over two grand to own the flag-ship DX7II-FD. It was new and improved 16 bit (instead of 12), 6 operator, 16 note polyphonic, and then many years after that I also discovered that Yamaha had gone further with FM into 8 operator territory with their Electone Organs, and for some reason they failed to mention this to anyone at the time, and instead proceeded to use chips designed for game consoles and arcade machines, creating a line of 4 Op ‘DX’ synths it was implied would sound just a like the ‘real thing’. Roland seems to be following suit with the mini keyboard craze, after Yamaha has again gone retro, and re-introduced their mini line of keyboards too, the flagship of these, a mini ‘DX7’ that is sadly, still only a 4-Operator synth, when previously there was a whole legacy line of ‘6 op’ and an FM rack that was ‘8 Op’ and did formant synthesis to boot, and then add the DX200, (every bit as small as these new mini boxes) and does anyone recall the acoustic modeling phase that Yamaha also delved into that had so much potential. Now we’re back to market-driven products that deliver what ‘they’ think musicians want, or that would-be musicians think they want, and once again it’s “analog” fever. It boils down to the fact that the really innovative instruments, especially the vintage analog synths used very costly components to make the very unique and sought after sounds that people know and crave, partly out of nostalgia. Here is where the real instrument makers parted company with Roland, Yamaha, Korg long ago, they have turned the R&D inside out and made the consumer the guinea pigs testing new concepts that often fail, and they have steadily refused to keep up with the times, by not adding more RAM, storage, better audio converters and other features that would allow the average instrument to really ‘sing’. It’s now possible to buy a 64 GB USB 3.0 flash drive with a storage chip smaller than a dime, that can transfer over 100MB per second, for roughly $17. You can fit a sample library equivalent to a full symphonic orchestra, (with choir), a Steinway, Bosendorfer, Kawai, Fazioli, Yamaha, Bechstein, Baldwin, Kimball, Ravenscroft, et al, onto that same chip at 24 bits of resolution, (all 88 keys at multi/velocities) with room to spare, and yet most modern music workstations have less than 1GB of samples, at a mere 16 bit resolution?! (Some of the most popular digital pianos only sample at 22 Khz to save space, utilizing the natural cut-off frequency of an acoustic piano tone.) I was initially excited to see these products by Roland, for obvious reasons, thinking perhaps they had finally one-upped Yamaha, or some such thing as competition that used to often involve innovation and one-ups-man-ship, but that is not as it turned out. If these mini ’boutique’ boxes had somehow been shrunk down replicas of previous analog circuitry, it would be a modern miracle, not unlike Korg’s more literal interpretation shrinking the MS-20 to a mini-size, nearly identical looking, (and sounding) product, albeit with “gasp” some minor improvements over the original model (and Korg even found a way to get customers to do the final assembly!). Indeed this is what I thought was happening with Roland, yet my hopes were dashed quickly afterwards, and it almost seems as if that has been Roland’s intention all along, or maybe they thought enough people wouldn’t notice, but the next thought that came to me, is aside from my beloved DX7II, I also had a huge crush on a particular Roland keyboard at the time, a luscious looking and sounding, and still sought after creature, the Super JX, (or JX 10). I had to decide which company and synth would get my love/loyalty, and/or my money. I wanted both. Okay, Roland, if you can pull that one off in miniature (because I know you can) you can have my money, (after all these years), but I jumped ship shortly after that, seeing the end of truly unique era go down like the maiden voyage of the Titanic, after building the ‘unsinkable’ products of their time. Try again, Roland, you may almost be there someday…

      1. Look man, you’re talking about paying 2000 bucks (in the eighties no less) to get dx7 and complaining about a slight decrease in sample rate from what you’ve come to expect, you clearly aren’t the market these are being sold to. If you have a ton of cash to blow on an instrument or software that nobody will be able to tell the difference once recorded then that’s awesome for you. I’m broke and producing on a budget, you and the other synth purists need to stop complaining about stuff that was never meant to be for you, I’m happy I have something cheap that I can make decent tracks with (sorry to break it to you, but it’s definitely the composition that determines a great song, not how expensive your synth is)

    3. I see your point and I share the same sentiment.
      However, wasn’t the original JX3P also an attempt to make synths more portable, compared to the monoliths that came before it?

    4. Something happen to your JX-3P? Mine is every bit as awesome as ever, regardless of the limitations/features found with this modern incarnation.

  26. This is more like it Roland! First the JD-XA, and then the System 1M and the soon to be released System 500 modules, and now these Boutique synths. Roland has really picked up its game after a few disappointing years, and it will be interesting to see how Korg respond. But to these synths…

    I like the small form factor – without the need to rely on a small keyboard with mini keys. It cuts the Gordian knot – you can have a small but powerful synth and not be crippled by a useless keyboard. Plug it into a good 61 or 88 note MIDI controller via your DAW and away you go. I love the fact that these reintroduce all the features of the originals and add a few new features for each one, without costing a ridiculous amount of money. There is a Roland Jupiter 8 on ebay at the moment for $12,605 AUD. Compare that with the likely price of these – I’d say $399 USD will probably mean about $699 AUD. Admittedly getting a JP08 is NOT getting a Jupiter 8 – but if sonically it is very close, and has essentially the same functions and a usable user interface, then I think its a good deal. Its not a VST either – its a hardware synth, so that suits me fine. I can have two JP08s and a JU06 and a JX03 all connected into a good MIDI controller via my DAW, and still not pay out anywhere what I’d pay for a real Jupiter 8. If sonically it brings back those synths as close as possible to the originals without a cumbersome VST interface, I’m sold. Maybe Roland could add rack ears or a desktop stand to complete the picture.

    Looking forward to trying these, and adding them in to my studio at some point.

    1. I just got a JP-08. It is awesome,,,,, nothing more needs to be said.

      I have a original Juno-106 which I do love- but age is taking a toll on its reliability. I also have Poly-800, and DX. I have true modern analog synths also.

    2. I just sold a mint JP8 for $9500.00. I will miss it, but all of those old analog synths are just a broken component away from being a doorstop. You cannot get parts for them anymore, not to mention find someone who is capable of working on them. Sad but true. At least these things are cheap and sound really close.

  27. Plastic, tacky virtual nonsense. Roland used to build quality. Just like Akai have plumbed the depths with their ‘Wolf’ range, Roland are building to the lowest common denominator. Bedroom DJ inspired disposable tat. What a firkin shame. Most of these things are just VST instruments disguised in an outer veneer of loud paint and xmas lights..

    1. And yet it is Roland’s shit bedroom tat instruments that have defined much of modern music, rather than their flagship expensive models.

      Go figure.

        1. Yes. TB-303, SH101, Boss DR55/110. These are instruments that were embraced because they were inexpensive and largely discarded, but went on to define genres.

      1. Yeah, but that was 30 years ago…
        Today it looks like they jumped on the bandwagon like most corps : build Chinese shit for people with a 30 seconds attention span. The real goal here is to make quick bucks to please the investors, not to innovate or please “real” synths heads.
        This is no 303 !

        1. Yeah I agree Roland is one of the worst offenders for making half baked technology since the XV5080. Lots of bugs and setbacks since those days. But it is getting better. They have too. Korg has leveled them in the under $500 market. Look at the new Yamaha boutique synths, great sound, but insane price, what fool is going to pay that for another FM synth?? At least the JP08 is very close to the real thing, especially in a mix, and its sturdy, well built and not dependent on a computer running ever changing OS’s. I’m keeping my JP08.

          BTW, I’m looking for a Wavestation SR or Wavestation AD. Had both long time ago but sold them when the Korg software came out. But hearing about Windows 10, and deciding I’m finished upgrading Miceoaoft, I’m thinking it’s a good idea to get me that hardware again. I have digital hardware now that’s over 30 years old and it still 100%

    2. You guys are being ridiculous, I bet you have a room full of analog synths and don’t actively make any music at all. A lot of the innovative electronic acts of today are using cheaper VA synths and still making amazing records (Crystal castles – MS2000, Grimes – MIcrokorg, etc.) Sorry to sound dismissive, but I’m positive that most of you have never made anything close to being as good with all your expensive toys : – )

  28. If they can do this with the Jp-08, Ju-06 and JX-03 why could they not do the same for a System 100? It would be relatively easy to use the System 1 Plugout ACB engine and engineer a replica System 100 rather than having customers having to have a System 1 and use a plugout. What else…

    Roland SH-5 or SH-7 maybe?

    I’d love a System 700 in Eurorack. System 500 may fill that slot, but having a mini System 700 would be very cool. Maybe asking too much there..

      1. Its not the same – your front end is still a System 1 – not a System 100. I know the controls relevant to the System 100 remain active whilst the other’s de-activate, but that’s not the same as having a dedicated controller that looks EXACTLY like a full System 100 setup. So my point still stands – if they can do a Jupiter 8 in miniature as the JP-08, why not a System 100 in the same way?

        1. they could pretty easily do it now since they have the plugout…. but the question is: are there enough people that would purchase it? if Roland thinks so, I am sure they will do it.

  29. I’m done getting emotional about teasers for things I haven’t heard yet. Yamaha and Akai cured me of that (thanks guys, by the way the Rhythm Wolf makes a great stand for an electribe). However, if these actually sound halfway decent and the leaked price is correct I’ll be getting all 3. Its cheaper than getting my Jupiter 6 fixed… again. Whether they are or are not paying adequate homage to the emulated machines strays too far into the field of religion for me to have any meaningful comment.

  30. I predict a wave of cynicism – and it wont be entirely unjustified.

    Objectively, that new range of synths may sound quite nice and will of course offer said “nice” sounds at an affordable price. What I suspect is sticking in the throat of many a synth-fan, is the fact that those synths don’t represent an alternative to a full-fat range of analogue poly-synths.

    If Roland had given us a legitimate reissue or re imagining of just one of those original product lines (NO THE JUPITER 80 DOESN’T COUNT!) then I expect that they would be applauded for bringing these new, toy-like versions to a wider audience. But without any genuine flagships backing this move up, to anyone that owns or has memory of the original models, it just looks like product debasement .

    To a new kid on the block, I can see how the prospect of making a 6-8 voice analogue poly and bringing it to market would be a terrifying prospect. But Roland clearly understands the power of their own heritage and how that relates to easy marketing. So why don’t they understand that they could indeed release a batch of full fat analogue poly-synths, price them appropriately and not go bankrupt in the process?

    1. I think Roland made a huge error with the Jupiter 80. Not because I think its necessarily a bad synth – I quite like it the few times I’ve had a chance to play it. But because they wrongly claimed it was a logical successor to the Jupiter 8, which it very clearly is not. I think if they had ditched the word ‘Jupiter’ and called it something else, but kept the basic design and configuration the same, it would have been much more accepted. But Roland just pissed people off because it sent the signal that they were not taking their customers seriously.

  31. I want to see and hear one of these ‘in the flesh’ so to speak before judging. I don’t care for the keyboard, but if the sound of these is even remotely true to their original, and the controls feel okay, I think I’m in to buy one of these, especially the JP-08. Beats the price of the original. But then again, it’s too early to judge based the information at hand.

  32. acb seems like a hardware version of what fxpansion did with dcam(which sounds pretty good to me) I think the component modelling is giving excellent results.
    What is interesting now is to think about acb synth that model more exotic components or what will happen when you throw in wavetable sources or samples with acb
    What would happen if they tried to model components from a novachord?
    Being able to use the touchstrips as an alternate to the small faders could solve any issue arising from the micro travel sliders. Hopefully that will be a possibility. Have the touchstrip value be assigned to whatever slider was moved most revently.

  33. Tr-8 is 24bit/96kHz !!!!!!!
    Jp-08 is 24bit/44.1kHz ???

    That looks like as a DESIGN FAILURE, if the SAMPLINGRATE is fixed like the TR-8 or TB-3

    A option to choose the Samplingrate would be more logical and the Devices would be more compatible.
    So Roland please give us the Option to let us choose the Samplingrate.

  34. Someone just told me that this synths are already in some stores around the world waiting for Roland official announcement. Hopefully will test them today..

  35. The best way to consider them (perhaps) is as modules that can be midi-ed (I’ve just discovered that the word midi as an adjective doesn’t exist!!! ) connected by midi to a larger controller keyboard etc… Nobody mocked the Waldorf modules or the Roland SonicCell module or the Roland SC, JV or VX or E-mu proteus modules or other brand modules… Think of them as what they simply are. Virtual Analogue modules which emulate the real 80’s analogue dream machines (now they have become dream machines for a lot of us as nostalgia creeps in when we remember that we were in our teens and early 20’s in the 80’s) but by the actual manufacturers themselves. Roland, Yamaha and perhaps others soon, have made / are making virtual analogue modules of THEIR OWN CLASSIC SYNTHS!!!! Who could be better at it than the actual manufacturers themselves… Forget the Mini keys if you like!! Think of them as modules but with the ability to play them when not connected to a controller keyboard! You can get a Roland and a Yamaha that emulate 80’s classics with the same actual emulated controllers etc… What more could we ask for? Now try buying a CS80 or a Jupiter 8 for that price! Thanks and best regards

  36. OK. This might get taken off. If it does get taken off, then I do understand. But why don’t we be a bit more positive about these new synths and keyboards that have come out recently! The best way to consider them (perhaps) is as modules that can be midi-ed (I’ve just discovered that the word midi as an adjective doesn’t exist!!! ) connected by midi to a larger controller keyboard etc… Nobody mocked the Waldorf modules or the Roland SonicCell module or the Roland SC, JV or VX or E-mu proteus modules or other brand modules… Think of them as what they simply are. Virtual Analogue modules which emulate the real 80’s analogue dream machines (now they have become dream machines for a lot of us as nostalgia creeps in when we remember that we were in our teens and early 20’s in the 80’s) but by the actual manufacturers themselves. Roland, Yamaha and perhaps others soon, have made / are making virtual analogue modules of THEIR OWN CLASSIC SYNTHS!!!! Who could be better at it than the actual manufacturers themselves… Forget the Mini keys if you like!! Think of them as modules but with the ability to play them when not connected to a controller keyboard! (Did get a bit carried away I suppose, so please think twice about taking this one off Ed!!! But if you do, no hard feelings!!!) You can get a Roland and a Yamaha that emulate 80’s classics with the same actual emulated controllers etc… What more could we ask for? Now try buying a CS80 or a Jupiter 8 for that price! Thanks and best regards

  37. Having had the pleasure of playing on the real things, I have to say that listening to them on you tube they dont sound that bad actually, and remember that no synth from the past sounded perfect when ‘raw’ they all sounded big and powerful when effects were added, just listening to the demo’s now on youtube, and to be honest if I can run to it I’ll be buying all three, also add into the mix the price, come on can you really complain? for god sake your getting damn near identical copies of the originals for no where near the price, dont be so ungracious, you try buying a halfway decent VA for the price of just one of these.
    And before you all jump on me saying i must work for Roland, I dont, but I’d love it if Roland Released a Jupiter 4 in this range, and a SH2, (my own all time fave synths)
    Thanks for reading my rant.

  38. I’m super excited about these new Roland Boutique synthesizers. I already pre-ordered them. I have the original Juno 106 and JX-3P, so I’m looking forward to comparing them and making new songs with them as well. This is some great news. I wish they would’ve done these instead of the System 1 plug-outs. This is an exciting time to be into synthesizers!

  39. I was 14 years old when I got my first synth – the Roland Juno 106. I read magazines and watched videos of Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes on his Roland Jupiter 8 and CMI Fairlight. I wanted them – until I found out at the time the Jupiter 8 was about $8000 and the Fairlight was about $30,000. I had a Sequential Circuits SixTrak as well. My synths had one oscillator per voice. I could not afford a sampler.

    All has changed for the better. I now write-record synth pop music, learned guitar, and play the drums so I can program my Roland R-8 better. I really know synthesizers now. I eventually grew up and bought a Roland Jupiter 8 and Jupiter 6.

    The Roland JP 08 sounds very much like the Jupiter 8 – at least when I hear the JP 08 on YouTube review videos. I have not purchased one yet. The constraints of older analog single oscillator synthesizers are no longer that big of a deal. With DAW software, one can take a Roland Juno 106 and record on 1 channel, detune it, and record on another channel (synced via MIDI sequencer). Now you have a dual oscillator per voice synth that sounds “fat”. Then you can run it through a chorus effect, or perhaps phaser/phlanger effects. You can even layer as many times as you want.

    I think the JP 08 sounds as good as the MKS 80, Jupiter 8, and Jupiter 6. The lack of an arpeggiator is no big deal these days as one can take a synth that outputs arpeggiator notes (i.e. Yamaha Motif) and MIDI into the analog synth (i.e. Juno 106, maybe JP 08). Now you can get those random 2 octave arpeggiation patterns. Add multi delay (delay on delay) and you get the sounds of Rio or Hungry Like the Wolf.

    I think the digital reproduction of each analog component with its nuances is what probably makes the JP 08 sound better than the Arturia Jupiter 8. Yes, I was an aerospace engineer major before med school, and my hobby is digital electronics and building robots (Arduino/Parallax).

    Buying a JP 08 and as DSI Prophet 6 gets you to about the same place as having a Jupiter 8 and Prophet 5 – maybe not exactly – but close. I plan on getting 2 JP 08s, chaining them together, and running them through external Roland digital effects. I am going to utilize my Motif external arpeggiator signal to make the JP 08 do “arpeggiations”. I was going to buy an MKS 80 used, but those units cost about $2000 without the controller. The JP 08 is good enough for me.

    The limit of 4 voices might not be that big of a deal if you want to create unique music. Human League came out with their songs when a lot of their synths were limited to being monophonic. They made really fat and interesting sounds and did not rely on chords. They did have some chords, but they mastered layering, note pulsations, and portamento to establish their unique sound. They triggered a synth with a guitar trigger input. That sound was 1/16th notes. In the studio, the machine made an error and slightly delayed the 16th note sounds. They found out how to reproduce the error on demand and it is the background 16th note sound on the track Don’t You Want Me.

    Bottom line for me: The JP 08 sounds good enough for my analog needs. It has the Roland sounds that I need for my synth pop music. I also am planning on taking it to work to work out song ideas. I was going to buy a Presonus iOne, a MIDI keyboard, use Garage Band, and my iPhone as a scratch pad, but Roland just solved my problem with the JP 08. With it’s built in sequencer and speaker, I can use it as a scratch pad in my car or at work during my breaks.

    As for size – that is a plus for me. I have my 3 big keyboards. Anything else takes up too much room for my studio. So I love the little desk top and rack mounted gear. Take the Korg MicroKorg, for example. My wife says it looks like a toy and laughs at it. But I know it is capable of very professional sounds. In fact, though it is a VA, it sounds as “fat” to me as my Sequential Circuits SixTrak when I stacked all 6 voices into a monophonic voice. Sequential Circuits and the new DSI synths make those really cool stacked analog sounds with portamento (like on Berlin’s Tell Me Why – that lead synth with portamento and delayed LFO is a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5).

    So yes, with the JP 08 and new DSI Prophet 6, I will have updated versions of the Roland Jupiter 8 and Prophet 5. No, not exactly the same, but good enough for me – and I have money left over to produce professional music videos to my original tracks. Thanks Roland and Dave Smith 🙂

  40. Here’s the thing: My first board was a JX-3P (still have it) and it’s a monster. Great sounds, easy to program, etc. Problem is the MIDI. Yes, there are mods around, but the truth is, I go to one of many other synths in my arsenal before I go to the JX, simply because of it’s woefully limited MIDI implementation.

    Also, not everyone has a full rack/patch system in their home studio or room for two or three full-size vintage synths. Collectors, like myself, have dedicated space, but there’s a generation out there who doesn’t WANT a bunch of full-size synths cluttering their space; it is the age of soft-syths, after all. I have always wanted a racked Juno-106 myself (I have a 106 as well), as my board really only serves as a large sound module. The compact nature of these reproductions is brilliant, especially with the swap-out keyboard dock. Speaking of which, the battery supply and size make these perfect for portable play; I look forward to hanging out at the beach or on camping trip or on a plane tweaking sounds and playing with the sequencer. For that matter, I can hang out on the couch watching TV while I fiddle with the sounds. Brilliant.

    Oh, and as far as rack ears, I like the idea on the surface, and if I find that I am not using these synths on the go at all, I can see the value. Realistically, though, I’d rather have them on my desktop where I can get at the knobs and sliders (heeeeelllloooo….software editor, please).

    Let’s talk price for a minute….is it better to spend $400 on an original JX-3P ($600 with the PG-200 which can go for $400 on it’s own) or $300 on a fully MIDI capable module that has the PG-200 built in on the front face? I have an MKS-30, and yes, I use it (it sounds fantastic), but we all know that outboard gear is it’s own thing due to MIDI lag, and the MKS-30 isn’t actually a JX-3P due to sharing the voice chips with the Juno-106 rather than the JX. Replacing the voice chips can be a process as well; I’ve replaced 3 of the 6 voices in my Juno (another needs replacing as I type this) and the Chorus circuit is out right now, rendering it useless until I dump another $200 into it, and expect that the MKS-30 chips will start to hiccup soon as well. Vintage synth require upkeep and can drain the wallet, for sure.

    And then there’s the cost of acquiring an actual working Jupiter-8. The fact that I’m going to be able to add the Jupiter sound to my rig for $400 is a gift. The fact that it won’t take much room in my studio and has the same portability due to the dock keys as the JX and Juno is also a gift.

    So…the major negative is the polyphony. And it’s a big neg, no lie. These synths should carry the same polyphony as the originals. Period. The Jupiter-8 and Juno-106 are named what they are for a reason, and 4 is not in the name. This is a decision that surely will haunt the marketing team, and does justify harping on the reasoning and motives of Roland’s executive team. I think that they’ll wish they chose differently over time.

    Perhaps we’ll get lucky and Roland will free up voices with a software patch, but seeing as they are marketing the system as expandable with a second unit (another dismal idea, as I assume that very few people will do that), I’m not holding my breath.

    I will offer this, though, and it may be what swayed powers-that-be…I use my JX, MKS-30 and Juno mainly for Bass runs and simple melodies that cut through the mix; I rarely use them for full keyboard parts. The target market here is for users of the mini-keys, which no one in their right mind will play Mozart on, so it’s possible that they figured it wouldn’t be a deal killer (unfortunately, I think it will be, especially for pro users).

    Personally, my plan is to pick up the JX and dock first, then the Jupiter, and will fix my Juno rather than buying the Boutique Juno, at least not until the price drops. It will be an absolute pleasure to wire the JX into my system and to tweak away with having to CV trigger the step sequencer off of my HR-16B in order to tweak the sounds in real time.

    Yes, I own two of the original analogue synths. Yes, they sound amazing. Yes, Roland, you screwed up by limiting the polyphony (the 6 in the 106 is for 6, not 4, voices). But these synths are cool, no doubt, and by all accounts sounds pretty darn close to the originals. The docking system is a great idea (more modules, please), the battery power is going to create great fun on the run, and I finally will have a Jupiter-8 (of sorts) in my rig.

  41. These things are priced $299 – $399 (depending on model) WITHOUT the keyboard… guess what? That’s ANOTHER $99! So, at minimum, essentially $400 just to have a book-sized VIRTUAL analog version of some old synth. Is getting CLOSE to a “classic” sound THAT important to people or is Roland just trying to push out old crap before the Christmas buying season dries up? Has electronic music gear devolved into an era of primarily emulating “old” sounds? Is there no forward progress to be had in the world of synths?

    1. Have you been under a rock?

      If you can’t find an innovative synth that makes you happy in either the world of software, mobile apps, modular synths or new hardware synths, you are not trying too hard.

      These babies are selling like hotcakes precisely because they are small and great sounding. Do you really need a $2,000 vintage synth to get you chuffed, or can you figure out how to make music without the ego boost?

  42. Hello guys,
    Well, this is not about who owns what anymore.
    It’s about having the sound and doing some records with it. If you like collecting vintage synths that’s a different thing. But, i can only be happy to see inexpensive alternatives for my setup – even though i own a JP6 and other analogs. I wouldn’t carry and gig my real vintage stuff anyways.
    Peace out guys and make music!

Leave a Reply