pico 08/31/2016

Roland JU-06 : pico's user review

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Value For Money : Excellent Audience: Anyone
The JU-06 is an expander-format synth that adapts to a dedicated mini-keyboard.

It is well-designed and built, with a metal-made upper casing and faders well into their rail that respond very well to being moved – very smooth and agreeable.

The JU-06 can be used as a direct mixer using a mini jack audio input, which can’t be modulated through the synth section (a real pity).

It features 4-note polyphony with 64 recordable presets.

The headphone out is powerful enough and delivers a well-defined, ample sound.

The 2 Ribbon controllers work well, but I would have preferred real, classic knobs which I find easier to manipulate.

The JU-06 is totally autonomous using batteries or an auto-power supply through the micro-USB input and its small (and weak-sounding) integrated speakers.

Audio drivers are stable, still I noticed a small latency on the midi in which forces to readjust recorded sequences.

As for programming, it’s very easy to use and it always sounds good, the sound is always pleasant, the entire modelling seems perfect, the sound seems lively – not frozen compared with other Vas that I have. I found real analog feelings with the JU-06, it’s really impressive especially for such a price.

Even if it features a single oscillator (but which can be combined with a SQUARE, SAW, NOISE and SUB wave), you can dose the volume of the NOISE and SUB but not those of the SQUARE and SAW, which is a pity – you can only turn them on or off. Still, you can modulate the SQUARE’s PWM through the LFO, which is a lot of fun. I found the direct access to octave sounds (16/8/4) through 3 tiny buttons very practical.

The chorus is just huge, all by itself it justifies buying the synth. It fattens the sound in a very musical way, so it’s all the more a pity that it can’t be used through the audio in…

The UNISON seems to me very unpleasant, it sounds metallic so I won’t use it, but it’s not a real problem considering the quality of the Chorus.

In the end, the 4-note polyphony suits me a,d its sound really brings something positive to my current prods, this mini synth is not a gadget but a real musical instrument and on some aspects it can even take on my flagship Nord Lead4!

It is particularly good at delivering fat bass sounds (with the addition of the SUB and CHORUS), very soft pad sounds, and 80s-style leads – all this very easily thanks to a great ergonomy and well-dimensioned fader course.

The JU-06 features a 16-bar sequencer which can be saved into 16 preset banks.

you can also add (or not) a delay effect, so far I don’t intend to use it but it can be useful for programming sequencesindependently. I personally would have preferred an arpeggiator instead.

Pros :
1/ the modeling’s overall sound rendition
2/ Chorus quality, which induces a slight hiss but which i finally like
3/ building quality
4/the mini expander format which can be adapted to a dedicated keyboard to turn it into a 100% independant synth.

Cons :
1/ i noticed a slight latency in the midi in, which induces problems to program sequences through my DAW (Ableton Live 9)
2/ the ribbon controller isn’t much fun to replace a real pitch bend, it often causes mistakes
3/ rather metallic-sounding Unison mode

The JU-06 is neither a futile or impulsive purchase, but a unique tool very useful for producers or live performers, as it’s easy to find it a place.

I gave it the highest grade for its value-for-money.