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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69 Visitor comments
Andrew Kirkby
June 5, 2011 @ 3:09 am
A fantastic sounding synthesizer and still relatively affordable... Great for chunky basses and of course cheesy 80s sounds if that is your taste.
Generally Jupiter 4s will need a full recap as most are in original condition and are probably not working properly. It's surprising that these synths have performed so well for 30 years - a true testament to the original Roland engineers. Once all the electrolytics are replaced and the synth is calibrated it should be good for another 20+ years.
April 28, 2011 @ 11:58 am
I've had mine for 23+ years (cost £160), but it's only been in that last few months that it's really become King of Synths in my studio. It is pure bliss! I got a Kenton retro fit done way back :D and it's NEVER EVER skipped a beat or gone out of tune!
Erotic Cabaret
October 4, 2010 @ 12:16 am
This is THE synth Phil Oakey swears by.
August 22, 2010 @ 3:48 pm
astonishing piece of kit.
there is stuff available here that I struggle to get from any other synth. oily, multi-layered, trippy.
August 19, 2010 @ 9:37 am
Eric: I rarely have to tune my JP4, and it stays in tune once warmed up, although I have had the machine extensively recapped.

It's worth mentioning the "Io" upgrade kit, which can be found on the message board. It increases the 8 memories of the standard JP4 to a much more useful 64, as well as adding the ability to edit patches. The kit consists of both a MIDI upgrade and replacement programmer, although the latter can be added without the MIDI upgrade if you already have one installed (the CHD kit in my case).
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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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