Jupiter-8 - how does it stack up against the JXs?

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Jupiter-8 - how does it stack up against the JXs?

Postby commodorejohn » Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:02 am

I'm just kind of curious about this. I finally got the JX-10 I'd had lined up since April at the beginning of August, and I've been absolutely loving it - it's easily the biggest, lushest thing I own (only my DX7 comes anywhere close to giving it a run for its money, but digital FM and analog subtractive are apples and oranges as far as I'm concerned. Both great, but in completely different ways.) I can get lost in it for hours.

But I've always been curious about the Jupiter-8, which I've never played and which I'm nowhere close to being able to afford at today's prices - but that never stopped a guy from fantasizing ;) Especially since I'd like to believe that at some point Roland will finally take a lesson from the analog revival that's been picking up steam since the early 2000s at least, and most especially the crazy demand for Korg's MS-20 Mini (I'm finally getting mine tomorrow! And only almost fifteen weeks after I ordered it!) and do a real re-release...

(Everybody with an MS-20 Mini should take a picture of themselves with it and mail it to Roland with demands for real analogue gear - but I digress...)

So I'd be interested to hear from people who own both, or who just own a Jupiter-8 and have an opinion on it. (I'd be open to doing a shootout proper with my JX-10, as well.) Here's my thoughts, speaking strictly from looking at the feature list in the manual:
  • Obviously the polyphony is more limited, but not too terribly. Eight voices is plenty for most monotimbral purposes, though four-voice layered is a bit less room.
  • It has a few advantages with the oscillators; triangle and sine waveforms, adjustable cross-mod depth, and real PWM, as opposed to having to fake it with oscillator sync. (Though it always irritates me when they provide PWM but make it mutually exclusive with manual adjustment...) On the other hand, it doesn't seem to have envelope control over oscillator pitch, which is a shame (it's a great trick for sync sounds.)
  • Modulation overall looks almost the same, though the JX-10 doesn't have a sawtooth wave for the LFO, and I don't know how the rate ranges for the LFOs compare (the JX-10's LFO can get into the audio range, but its lowest speed isn't terribly low.)
  • The JX-10 has a bit of an advantage in that it has freely-adjustable oscillator mixing as opposed to a simple balance control, and can modulate the amount of DCO 2 by one of the envelopes, which is useful.
  • The filter on the Jupiter looks better overall, with a 24db/oct. mode for the low-pass filter and a real variable cutoff for the high-pass filter (the JX-10 has a ridiculous three-setting high-pass filter - it's not a bad filter, but it's irritating to have such a pointlessly small amount of control over it.) No idea how the range for cutoff and resonance compares.
  • I've heard the people rave about the snappiness of the envelopes. Are they proper analogue EGs? The JX-10's are digital, I'm pretty sure - they're not bad themselves, but they're not especially great either. The JX-10 does have some advantages, though: it can use inverted and normal versions of both envelopes for everything except the VCA, whereas the Jupiter is limited to simply inverting or not inverting Env-1 as a whole, and the JX-10 has slightly better control over keyboard scaling for the envelopes (a whopping three settings as opposed to one.)
  • Finally, the JX-10 has a built-in chorus unit where the Jupiter doesn't. I've heard better things about the chorus units in the Juno-6/60 and the JX-8p, but the JX-10's is pretty nice all the same...

Of course, the JX-10 has a few other things the Jupiter doesn't - but plenty of great synths haven't had velocity sensitivity or aftertouch, so I certainly wouldn't hold that against it, and the Jupiter is perfectly capable of doing layered sounds even if it's not designed around it the way the JX-10 is. The lack of MIDI is a crying shame for those of us who are better at sequencing than playing, but whaddya gonna do...at least there's retrofits. I'd also like to know to what extent it suffers from quantization, in the modulation or the patch parameters. (Is the LFO digital, or does it use an analog LFO like the Prophet 5?)

But most of all I'm curious about the sound, because that's one thing you'll never get a clue about looking at spec sheets and manuals. I like some of the demos I've heard; it's a very good-sounding synth, but I have yet to hear something that (in my mind) fully justifies its über-legendary status. But then, I'd never heard anything from JX-10 demos that captivated me in the same way that I was entranced by getting to sit down and play it, so I'm not going to jump to conclusions based on that. Anybody want to enlighten me further?
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Re: Jupiter-8 - how does it stack up against the JXs?

Postby Solderman » Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:23 am

I had a JP8 for about 3 years and a JX8P for a short time many years before.
The short form is that the JP8 was Roland's breakout product, to prove to professional studios worldwide they had the skills to create a top-of-the-line durable, versatile and well laid-out performance instrument, with no compromises in design.
The JX10, although advertised as their flagship, was already admittedly a competitor of the Yamaha DX with technology inferior to cutting edge at its core, was significantly cheaper to make, and naturally needed an auxiliary programmer to allow real-time tweaking.

  • The first thing that strikes me as significant is the contrast from discrete VCO's to DCO's controlled by a single clock. The latter uses a noisy chorus that degrades the signal to create a stereo image. The former simply uses free-running VCO's mapped to left or right channel and yet has a wider and more disparate characteristic. Layering multiple JP8 voices with the same patch creates a huge and varying quality on every keypress, both for Layer and Unison. It reminds me of the effect of multi-tracking the same line by hand or several players in an orchestra, only instantaneous. Layering DCO's this way creates an ugly mess.
  • Just my opinion, but JP8 pulsewidth modulation is very special. Unlike any other I've ever heard. Quite breathtaking strings are possible because of it, if you can sacrifice vibrato at an alternate rate.
  • The oscillator and filter of a JP8 voice paired up also creates a glassy sheen when bright, with a pleasant buzzy edge using 2 pole filtering, and a smooth, organic tone when lower in cutoff. The JX oscillator/filter characteristic was far less bright at full brightness with none of that lovely sheen(more harsh and flat really), and while still smooth, not nearly as organic/natural at lower cutoff.(Nicer than the MKS-80 though)
  • The JX line's filter is a state-variable design that actually utilized a bandpass filter in series with lowpass, just like the Alpha Junos. The lowest static highpass setting is a bass-boost to compensate, but this still makes for a less full, more mid-range heavy sound at higher cutoff settings.
  • JP8 envelopes are unrivaled in their "snappiness" imo. No contest there. Only 80's synth I ever heard come close was the SCI Pro~One. It was actually annoying sometimes to dial in a sound without any snap, if you needed one.
  • I have nothing to say about the JP8 arpeggiator, other than it sucks.
  • It's true that the JX series has alot more to offer in terms of digital control, modulation and a great control of crossmod, the latter due no doubt to ultra stable DCO's. An advantage of that series, for sure. A fully Midi retrofitted JP8 is at least more competitive, in this regard. The extra modulation features you mentioned for the JX are only significant if the sound you want calls for it, though.

There's a VST called PG8X that sounded so close to what I remembered the JX series sounding like, I never considered re-acquiring one by the time I could afford one. That Arturia monstrosity attempting to emulate the JP8 however, while quite capable of sounding nice, sounds like nails on chalkboard compared to its inspiration.

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analogue. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." - Brian Eno
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Re: Jupiter-8 - how does it stack up against the JXs?

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:03 am

Very interesting. Since you mention it, how does the MKS-80 compare to the JP8?
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Re: Jupiter-8 - how does it stack up against the JXs?

Postby Solderman » Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:13 am

Only played someone else's for a bit, but it struck me as having that harsh, brittle early 80's curtis oscillator top-end, like the JP6, only without the multi-mode filtering. Certainly capable of some nice sounds, and some great bass, but generally too grating for me. Someone with long-term experience should answer at length.

Also, don't count on the JP8 revival. Not gonna happen. Do a search on VSE in General Synthesizers. Lots of more knowledgeable types have thoroughly answered why.

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analogue. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." - Brian Eno
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Re: Jupiter-8 - how does it stack up against the JXs?

Postby max badwan » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:23 am

I love the Jupiter sound, but I never liked the key action. The keyboard is essentially an unweighted organ manual, but you can add dynamics to your playing with the CV inputs for both the VCA and the VCF (but it takes practice).
The MKS 80 is more akin to an eight voice JP 6, rather than a racked JP 8.
The one feature the Super JX has that takes it to a higher plane is the ability to dynamically mix between the two tone blocks.
So as a keyboardist, I'd rate a JX 10 over a JP 6/8, but as a synthesist, I'd rate a JP over a JX - but, the JXs come in a close second.
On a side note, have you looked at the KiwiTechnics 3P?
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Re: Jupiter-8 - how does it stack up against the JXs?

Postby commodorejohn » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:28 am

I've run across the KiwiTechnics mod, but as I don't have a JX-3P it's not going to do much for me. Looks impressive, though.
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Re: Jupiter-8 - how does it stack up against the JXs?

Postby Bitexion » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:09 am

There's something about the JP8 that makes it sound "buzzy" in a way other synths don't.
Like there is an extra sprinkle of bzzzzzzzzzzzz on top of the sound when the filter is open.
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Re: Jupiter-8 - how does it stack up against the JXs?

Postby 8bit9bot » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:27 am

here's my controversial opinion - (soundwise):
JP8 > JX8P/10 > MKS80

and... if you factor in some of the other possibilities:
JP8 > JU60/106 > JX3P > JX8P/10 > JP6 > MKS80

and when you wanna get REALLY controversial:
alpha juno > MKS80

JP8 is king... JU60 the only thing i can say is similar - i do like the JX's much better than the MKS80... once roland went "state variable" the only way to make up for the lack of warm resonance is the warm chorus - i just wish the JX's had real PWM... oh well... that's why i dont own any rolands anymore - if i went back i'd get a JU60 and use fx plugins (like harmonizer for a detuned 2nd oscillator) - JP8 prices are INSANE now - i'm still interested in their monos tho... SH series FTW
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