Roland Jupiter-4

Roland Jupiter-4 Image

The first Jupiter synth. It was among one of the first poly synthesizers (4 individual voices which could be synced together for one fat monophonic lead), it had a pitch wheel that could be assigned to the VCA, VCF, VCO or all together, there are 8 memory locations and a cool arpeggiator - the arpeggiator can be heard in the Duran Duran classic, "Rio". It also has a very slow LFO for those ever-so-long filter sweeps. Pretty good for 1978!

Not so cool however, are the 10 preset sounds which sound nothing like the piano, brass or strings they claim to be. The placement of all the preset buttons below the keyboard can be inconvenient, especially while playing it. And as with most old analog synths, the Jupiter-4's tuning can go out often. Still it is a nice analog synth for creating weird trippy analog sounds. It's used by Meat Beat Manifesto, Gary Numan, Thomas Dolby, Saint Etienne, the Cars, BT, Simple Minds, Moog Cookbook, Vangelis, The Human League, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Heaven 17, and film-maker Satyajit Ray.

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72 Visitor comments
September 4, 2012 @ 4:42 am
@"The placement of all the preset buttons below the keyboard can be inconvenient, especially while playing it."

I highly doubt anyone with the head properly attached to the neck will even consider using the presets on a JP4. the whole point of this thing is to put it in "manual" and lay the hands on 20kg of knobs and sliders.

very musical synthesizer. on top of whats been said already, its worth mentioning that the low end is particularly staggering - add a good sub to your monitor speakers. there is solid, powerful output available even at the low limits of human ear audible range.
Big Chris
August 2, 2012 @ 5:36 pm
nigel: No wonder you were in a covers band - if you wanted a keyboard for playing piano and brass back in the 80s, then you should have got a cheap Casio. The Jupiter 4 is not some pale imitation of an acoustic instrument, it's a synthesiser that's capable of sounds unique to the world of subtractive synthesis. Go listen to the first two Human League albums, or "Empires and Dance", "Sons and Fascinations" and "Sister Feelings Call" by Simple Minds. These showcase what sounds people could produce when using a Jupiter 4 and their imagination.
July 21, 2012 @ 11:26 am
People who say the JP-4 is "pretty useless" like nigel have no clue about programming synthesizers from a creative standpoint, or even the technical details about how electronics work. The JP-4's oscillators & BA662 filter are so rich there's really no modern digital substitute. As for the so-called unstable tuning, this is a sign that the electrolytic capacitors need to be changed. JP-4s can stay in tune perfectly if they're serviced and calibrated properly. It easily beats the JP-8 and minimoog in terms of sonics and uniqueness. Yup, I just said that.
July 7, 2012 @ 5:40 pm
I had one of these for a few years in the 80s, and as a musician working in covers bands the sounds you really needed like piano, brass etc were found sadly wanting. It had one major breakdown which got fixed but eventually it went irreversibly out of tune - the four oscillators would not stay in tune with each other despite hours of messing with the Phillips screw heads on the back.
I think a lot of people look back fondly to those 80s sweeping noises but compared to what us keyboard players have available to us now the Jupiter 4 was pretty useless to be honest.
June 25, 2012 @ 6:08 pm
The person giving it a rate of 3/5 probably doesn't know what an analog synthesizer is! This is the fattest synth Roland ever made ! Fatter than JP8+JP6 all together ! It's 4 oscillators in unison mode can produce the fattest lead ever. Oscillators are so round, arpeggiator in random mode is very musical, and can maybe only compete with the one in the JP8. Extensively used by Human League (check out the lead part in "Don't you want me") and Duran Duran ("Rio" arpeggios).
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Rated 4.2 (563 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 4 voices
  • Oscillators - 1 VCO per voice (triangle, square, square with PWM) and a switchable on\off sub osc
  • LFO - 1 LFO (sine, square, ramp up and ramp down)
  • Filter - HP filter, LP rez filter
  • VCA - 2 env (ADSR) one for the filter which you can invert, one for the VCA
  • Effects - Ensemble/Chorus
  • Arpeg/Seq - Arpeggiator
  • Keyboard - 49 keys
  • Memory - None
  • Control - TRIG IN to control the arpeggiator
  • Date Produced - 1978/79

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