Roland Alpha Juno 2 – An Underrated Classic?

In this video, Espen Kraft shares his take on the Roland Alpha Juno 2:

In 1985, Roland released the last of their analog Juno synths, the Alpha Juno 1 and 2. Excellent synths that failed to impress the world at the time where everyone wanted digital synths and samplers.

The 5 octave Alpha Juno 2, with velocity and after touch is still my fav master keyboard and I love it dearly.

Sound examples start at 16:57.

The lush pads/strings, warm basses perfect for synth-pop, solo leads smooth as butter and a very slow LFO all contributes to my addiction to this synth.

22 thoughts on “Roland Alpha Juno 2 – An Underrated Classic?

    1. Couldn’t agree more on the DW-8000. Don’t currently own one, but I think I’ve owned a total of four at various times over the years. Alpha Juno 1 was my first proper synth though, and I have fond memories.

    2. Agreed. I have both and find myself using the DW far more. I just wish you could map the controls to cc like you can with the Juno.With the Alpha Juno, I picked up the rack version, the MKS 50 and stacked it with the Alpha to thicken it up. The MKS 50 has a detune feature that was added for this very purpose, I think.

    3. That’s funny, I have both and for me it’s the other way around. The DW8000 is unique and sounds amazing, but I find the juno 2 usually ends up being a better fit for whatever I’m working on. The key to these old synths though is having a controller for them. If I didn’t have the midiclub junoctrl, I would have hated and sold my juno 2 by now.

      1. I have a DW-6000 and to me, the filter, which is the same as the DW-8000 is one of the best filters I’ve ever heard. The way it bends and warps the basic waveforms is truly amazing.

        Not sure if it can be done, but I’m wanting to get a DW-8000 or the rack version and then send my DW-6000 in to be moded so that it has external audio input for the filter and maybe some CV control too would be nice. Or just yank it out and put into a Eurorack module.

  1. I’d say yes. I’d buy a Juno-2 TODAY for that solid keybed and aftertouch. It’d be worth it if they’d add a slightly larger LCD, a 2nd oscillator, a USB port over the dated cartridge slot and a smidge of reverb. Yeah, that starts to sound like a DS model, but I’d just ask for those small gains, because the core synth is a superior module in use. It has some nice sounds of its own, but it made my old DW8000 and Akai sampler shine a lot brighter. It added subtle depth to everything. Every version responds to velocity, too. A Juno-1 is still one of the best almost-a-modules around.

  2. I think the JX-8P is the most underrated. This, not so much…the Alpha Juno 1 and 2 actually have digital oscillators but there is so much analog in the synth that most believe it is….but its not, just like the Korg Poly 800.

      1. Yes – it’s a pet peeve of mine to see people dissing ‘digital’ DCOs.

        Modern DCO’s are better in many ways than VCOs – they just get a bad rap because early DCOs didn’t offer enough ability to modulate the tuning of the oscillators, so early designs can sound too sterile.

        The Juno doesn’t have that problem because of its chorus, so it’s stable and still lush and 8ntersting sounding.

      2. Roland Juno 106 has analog DCOs, Roland JX-8P has analog DCOs, Roland Alpha Juno (1 and 2) have digital DCOs. I have no problem with digital, and in fact, most of my synths are. I just have a pet peeve of the Alpha Junos and Korg Poly 800 being called analog when they are not (the waveforms themselves, most everything else there is analog…so misconception is easy)

    1. I actually feel like the the JX-8P doesn’t sound that great next to an Alpha Juno despite them having similar internals. It’s a little too soft in the wrong ways (no presence). It does have its own tricks though. I’ve also never tried one with the Kiwi mods.

      1. The JX-8P was Rolands synth trying compete against the DX7. They did not have FM, so tried to get those sounds and feel with analog.

  3. What I can’t figure out is why Alpha Juno’s go for half the price of the single-oscillator per voice Sequential SixTrak.

    The Juno is a much better sounding synth, that holds its own against modern synths pretty well, while the SixTrak tends to sound thin and out-of-tune.

    Rolands of that era are also built like tanks, same as Yamahas.

  4. I´m happy owner of the Roland MKS-50.

    You really need a good midi controller to get the full benefit, just a shame that most of the controllers cost the same as the unit itself.

    Cheap alternative:
    • Ipad [ with apps as mentioned above]
    • Behringer BCR2000 [with example a panel overlay]

    More expensive controllers:

  5. I have a Juno 2, however, it looks like it has a dodgy chip. ie not all keys work at various times.
    I found out how to test the voices and it’s chip #2. IR3R05 I found some on Ebay for $79.99 US Any advice before I look like taking the plunge? I saw another Juno 2 cheap @ $400 AU but I didn’t have the cash at the time.
    I’ll keep trawling.
    Works great as a Midi Controller.

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