The New Synth With No Home: Roland Jupiter 80

I really wasn’t sure what to think when I saw the mincingly lame Guitar Center ad come in my mailbox with this weird cover artwork, quasi-patriotic, somewhat propaganda-like attack squadron ala 1940’s poster art, with guys in long hair and mohawks attacking with guitars rather than guns. Further in, I see a spread on the new Roland Jupiter 80.

Everyone knows I’m famous for reviewing synths without actually playing them, because I haven’t had the time to go to a proper music store and play one, nor the cash to faithfully plop down almost $4,000 for something to really whisper sweet nothings into its ear in my own home.  Synthesizers are a unique musical instrument for at least one reason:  sitting down and playing one in a store is not always the best way to really get to know something about them.   Largely, the staff won’t know a damn thing about them, and if you have to figure them out yourself, are you going to read a 300 page manual and jump right in?  Not unless they start charging you rent.  Nope, synths are not like a guitar, bass or drums:  they are not all intrinsically the same, and no, you can’t just sit around playing five minutes of Sammy Hagar licks and nod at the store, buy the thing, go fire up your bong at home, and continue playing Sammy Hagar licks.

After some research on the trusty World Wide Web,  people are pissed at this here Roland Jupiter 80.  Why?  Well, let’s check out this promo video and I’ll go into further detail as to why:

Besides the narrator’s voice making me want to hollow out my ears with an icepick (synth ad narrators are notoriously bad), it’s quite obvious to me why this machine, as cool as it could be, is making other people upset.  Let’s have a proposed list:

A)  Using the “Jupiter” name.   Old Jupiter 8 (6,4)’s are big, impressive, expensive and rare.  Those out there with them are very proud of them, proud of themselves, and a poseur coming along, Roland or not, cheapening their image or their ego, will not sit well.  Then there’s the issue of everything on the planet being a re-run or a re-make of something in the past, because we’re in the End Times and have finally run out of real ideas—-okay, that was a bit dramatic, but really.

B)  The thing is almost $4,000.  What did I say about the Kronos?  Korg was there, did that, and as much as I bitch about the fact with our current technology we can certainly make a reasonably affordable synthesizer that isn’t a toy for $800 or less, here Roland is flopping its synth-dick on the table next to Korg with a proud grin.  Meanwhile, you could get an original Jupiter,  mint, for about this much money.

C)  It looks super cool.   Don’t get me wrong, it really does look cool.  Why would anyone hate something that looks cool?  Because they styled it after the old one.  The old one also looked pretty cool.  A rainbow of synthy fun!  See “A” above if this isn’t making any sense.

D)  It is a lot of things, but it ain’t analog.  Referring back to “A” again, and I have to kind of side with the naysayers on this one, the old Jupiter line was a tour-de-force of what made synthesizers cool.   Now, this new one could easily do the same thing—-from what I can see, there’s literally options for everyone.  Presets to complex programming.   It has something reminiscent of a virtual-analog programming structure.  It still ain’t analog.

This is the main list of what I can tell is irritating people, and things I myself was wondering finding information on this beast.  Here’s what I think:

*  Roland, as well as other companies, are desperate to reinvent themselves, but are refusing, like other companies, to listen to the public.  They are used to being worshiped on any pedestal they lay down, and the public isn’t buying it.

*  The Jupiter 80 looks fucking awesome.  Potentially, with all the specs I’ve looked up on it, it should SOUND awesome.

*  The Jupiter 80 has a screen:  a screen that IS NOT dedicated to being a workstation, and we all know how I feel about workstations:  I don’t like them.

*  Contrary to “A” above, people kind of did want a new Jupiter—-or at least to bring back the old one the right way.   This attempt pleases me, even if it may be misguided.

*  This “superNatural,” thing is perplexing me, and I hope spirits and phantoms burst out of it like the failed storage machine in the fire station in the original “Ghostbusters” movie.

*  Everyone’s brash hate will cause them to fall out of favor.  Which means I can get one,  because everyone is too worried about soiling their precious image.  That, and they’ll hopefully bottom out in price.

*  It’s just too fucking big—-but I shall forgive it.

* I finally hope it is more like a V-Synth than anything.  The V-Synth was cool.  Real cool.

See?  I don’t hate everything synth that’s new and coming out now.  I also think this thing is a future flop and synth buyers are going to cross their arms, pout, bitch and moan about it all the live long day.  It isn’t exactly what people want.  It is, however, closer to a synthesizer and the thing that I, Kyle Weiss, wants in an instrument, and am willing to go give it a more serious look.

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3 responses to “The New Synth With No Home: Roland Jupiter 80”

  1. Ken Manz says:

    “Everybody else hates it! I’ll take three.”
    — Kyle Weiss

  2. Kyle Weiss says:

    Totally true quote. :)

  3. Jack says:

    I think many people don’t understand it. I was amazed to
    see the REG buttons on the front under the keys. Easy to
    get to with your thumb. Other keyboards should have them.
    I know Roland has them on their Highend organs. I think
    the control you have over sounds can’t be beat and so easy
    to do. You will spend more time playing and not trying to
    make new sounds, but if your want to you can do that too.

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