In Roman myth, Jupiter and Juno were king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera being the ancient Greek equivalents. Among now-mythic synths, both names are now synonymous with “retro” and “analog.” Unlike today, though, keyboardists in the heyday of analog weren’t concerned with how analog any synth sounded. It was about how closely synths could emulate real instruments, plus their ability to create as-yet-unimagined sounds. With Jupiter ascendant again (preview the new Jupiter-80), let’s revisit what these names really meant—and still do.
Roland’s Vince LaDuca says, “The Jupiter-8 was built to create the most realistic acoustic sounds possible using the latest technology Roland had developed at the time of its release. Of course, artists took to the Jupiter and were excited about the nonacoustic possibilities as well. The new Jupiter-80 follows in the footsteps of the Jupiter-8 as Roland originally intended: It aims to create the most realistic and expressive acoustic sounds possible.”
The Junos brought as much of the Jupiter sound as possible to a lower price—one that weekend warriors and teenagers with summer jobs could realistically afford. Whereas the Jupiter-8 listed for $5,295 (in 1981 dollars!) a Juno-6 could be had under $1,500. You gave up the Jupiter’s second oscillator and split keyboard, but the Juno6 compensated with a chorus and suboscillator that fattened things up nicely. Later, the Juno-60 would add patch memory. “Juno” plays much the same role today: If a Fantom-G, V-Synth GT, or Jupiter-80 is a pipe dream, you can grab a Juno-Gi—a 128-voice ROM-based synth with an eight-track audio recorder—for an approachable thousand bucks.