More Synth Work Chronicles

This weekend I’ll be doing minor repairs to the Roland JX-3P and Realistic/Moog MG-1 synthesizers, as well as some modifications to the Marantz PMD-221 cassette deck and Intellijel Eurorack 2HP passive Mult module.

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More Synth Maintenance Completed

It’s been a busy week behind the scenes at Studio Nebula. Not a lot of creative stuff going on at the moment, but I’ve taken the time to give much-needed TLC to some vintage gear.

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Quick guide: MIDI Sysex Automation on Roland Boutique JX-03

Roland JX03 front PanelI bought a JX-03 on the night of Oct. 22. Today I finally had a chance to test this. Here’s what I found:

The knobs send MIDI System Exclusive data (sysex) only while the unit is in chain mode. The device will respond to sysex regardless of whether it is in chain mode.

Unfortunately, MIDI data coming in on the Roland’s input seems to always be repeated at the output. So to set this unit up with your DAW, you must: Continue reading

Roland “Boutique” Line Looks Like Another Winner

Roland JX03 front Panel

Does this look familiar? It's a 2015 realization of the iconic JX-3P user interface. All they need to do is make it sound good.

A week ago Roland teased us with their new “Boutique” line, which appeared to be miniature recreations of their Jupiter-8, Juno-106, and JX-3P.

A major American instrument reseller recently posted photos of the new products on their site, and then promptly took them down – not promptly enough it would seem, as images of the new Roland JP08, JU06 and JX03 (pictured here) are now circulating around the synth community like crabs.

They look good. Really, really tantalizingly good. The Juno and JX modules were listed for Continue reading

An Observation: Synths With Revised Filters.

Some of the world’s most respected, coveted synthesizers went through production revisions that audibly impacted the instruments’ sonic character. Here are four such synths that come to mind:

  • Korg MS-20
    Korg MS-20 (from Synthgear.com)(to quote Korg’s MS-20 Kit press release: The original MS-20 used different VCF circuits depending on the date of production. Units produced in the earlier period used a filter noted for its distinctive distortion and self-oscillation, while the filter used in later units was a low-noise design with a more mellow character.) The earlier filter is known as the “Korg 35″, while the later revision is a more conventional OTA-based filter.
  • ARP Odyssey
    ARP Odyssey (from Matrixsynth)(The Odyssey is notorious for bearing three different filters in its lifetime. The first Odysseys shipped with a Moog-style ladder filter. ARP was threatened with legal action so they quickly replaced it with a buzzy 2-pole filter, which was quickly replaced by a unique, aggressive sounding 4-pole filter.
  • Sequential Prophet-5 (rev. 2)Sequential Prophet-5
    Rev. 1 and Rev. 2 Prophet 5s used SSM ICs for their VCOs and VCFs, while the Rev. 3 Prophet 5 used CEM ICs. Some say the Rev. 3 Prophet 5 sounds weaker as a result.
  • Roland MKS-80 Super Jupiter
    The infamous Supe Jupe rack’s filter had an agressive, high-resonance character (IR3109, same filter as the Jupiter-6).MKS-80 Super Jupiter with MPG-80 Programmer But Rev. 5 units (serial number 511800 and up) used Roland’s new IR3R05, the same silky smooth filter that would find its way into the JX-8P, Super JX, and MKS-70.