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
May 4, 2010 @ 1:42 am
I used a JP4 for the first time a few months ago during a session with a pop band. What a sound! It may seem limited at first glance, but once you put it to use, it delivers like few other synths. It blends and cuts through at the same time, and with a bit of delay and reverb it sounds downright glorious. IMO, it's a must have.
December 28, 2009 @ 10:52 am
I own the Jupiter-4 as well as the Jupiter-8. The Jupiter-4 has almost the same sound as its bigger brother, but it's far less versatile, and it's a bit more mellow-sounding, too. However, it has a few unique features including a warm analogue ensemble, LFO ramp up (the Jupiter-8 has LFO random instead) and the fastest LFO I have ever tried on any synth (analogue and digital). The LFO is so wild it can sound just like ring modulation. Another nice feature is that you can easily overdrive the VCA for a very nice sounding analogue overdrive effect (there's even a LED that indicates the overdrive).
Maison Vague
December 26, 2009 @ 5:31 am
The Jupiter-4 is by far the most interesting and unique Roland synth I've ever played. It is also the most temperamental and unpredictable. Some days, it sounds glorious. Other days, dreadful. In fact, it's downright moody! Fortunately, it's a relatively easy synth to maintain, even for technically challenged persons such as myself. On mine, the front panel screws are permanently off because I invariably need to get inside and tweak a poti or two before every session. I also like the fact that I have to tune the instrument, just like a bass or violin. Keeps my lazy keyboard player's ears sharp! I hope the editors at VSE will go back and give this synth another review. What's written here does not do justice to this classic synth... and rating it only three stars is entirely missing the point of its hauntingly beautiful sound.
Art Cool
December 2, 2009 @ 5:05 pm
great synth...i used one back in the 80's and still remember it's sound and particular keyboard feel with those piano like keys...and i used it allways in manual/panel mode...forgeting the presets :)
Big Chris
December 1, 2009 @ 8:38 am
AnalogRenaissance1: The chorus on the Jupiter 4 is stereo. It has no controls for rate or depth, but seems to sound great on anything. Hmm, I wonder if custom controls for the chorus could be added ...
VSE Rating

It’s Good

User Rating

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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