Sonic LAB: Roland Juno Gi - A Juno For All?

Synth, recording interface and 8 Track.      21/10/10

No flash plug


   QuickTime (MP4)  | iOS MP4
11:34 mins

 

Juno What? 
Every time Roland release another Juno, there’s an outcry - “its not a true analog” etc.
Get over it, the Juno name has long been associated with bringing the high-end tech down to a more affordable level - Juno 106 - cheaper version of their extremely pricey Jupiters etc.
 
Anyhow, enough of that, we’re looking at the Juno Gi here, I think its going to supersede the Juno G - at least several stores appear to have put the discontinued label on it already.
 
Gi Ju 
The Juno Gi is a 128 voice, performance synth with 128mb of wave ROM, some pretty capable effects - MFX1 and MFX2 for use on the Live Sets (the Gi patch), plus a live input processor for your mic/line/instrument/USB inputs. Oh yeah, and it has an 8 track digital recorder too - and a USB Audio/MIDI interface.
 
The 1300 patches are  generally pretty good stuff, highlights are the pianos, the strings, pads and moving synthy pad stuff -  the sort of thing you should expect from the latest batch of Junos. Its fair to say is probably not going to set the synth buts afire with awe, but good  for the needs of a keyboard player with plenty of effects to tweak. In fact it is pretty editable all round, with the Pro Edit pages for getting at the building blocks of the sounds, albeit in an oldschool button pokey kind of way.
 
Structure 
Patches are made up of four Tones, split 2 Upper and 2 Lower with  effects processors (MFX1 and 2)  plus reverb and chorus to spread amongst them. Can be split, layered (inc velocity switch/faded) and also addressed externally on 2 MIDI channels (upper, lower). For 16-part multi-timbral operation, its over to the DAW to access, mix and manipulate the parts, there is no front panel interface for this mode - you flip the MIDI control button and the front panel becomes an assignable MIDI control interface, all level pan and program changes happen from outside the Gi.
 
 
As with previous Junos, there’s a USB slot for playback of Standard MIDI Files, MP3, AIFF and WAV files with centre cancel. There are dedicated song list and play/stop buttons next to the pitch bender if you need to have quick access.

8-Track
The big news is the inclusion of the 8 Track Digital Recorder which can record from the keyboard, mic/instrument, stereo line inputs and USB stick and USB audio return.
What's also cool about this is that you have a dedicated effects processor for the recorder too.
So plug a guitar in and you have a bunch of pretty decent amp and stomp sims, also presets for the Mic and line inputs. You can also insert these effects across tracks and also the master fader for final mix.

Only two tracks can be recorded at any one time, so you wont be able to do your live recordings for mixdown later, but you have bounce and copy and move features for constructing the arrangement you want - though its not quite the same  as working on a  dedicated DAW, it could prove useful. In addition to the 8 tracks, you have a rhythm part made of chains preset or user patterns. These use the rhythm sounds in the Juno which are okay, but not  - how you say - dope?

There is a song/click output on the Juno which had me all excited for a bit - imagine dropping your album stems - or whatever - you can easily import files from the SD card  to tracks and having a  separate click to feed the drummer  - hell yeah!
Unfortunately, thats not the case - click is for SMF playback only or output the USB song or full Digital Recorder output.
I live in hope that Roland can fix this in a software update - I have lobbied for it, so fingers crossed.

Juno IO
The USB interface gives you MIDI connectivity with the host computer and also a simple stereo 44.1kHz 24-bit IO. The Juno allows you to set this to take the synth output, external input - eg record an effected guitar or vocal part into your DAW with or without effects or a mix of everything. Its a nice addition and gives you a self contained recording system  - just ad headphones and a lappy and your good to go.

Finally
I was pretty impressed by the features in the Gi, the effects are of sufficient quality to enhance the basic waves in the machine - which ain’t too bad in themselves, the live input and audio routing options give you numerous ways in which to work with the machine, and the 8-track is perfectly serviceable if not let down by the lack of click.
Inevitably, there is some complexity to editing this embaressment of riches via the front panel and will take a little while to get fluent. The lack of editor will frustrate some budding synth programmers, it is possible to deep edit,  but you’ll need patience.

My only real beef is with the price, at £999 /$1199, thats a big chunk o change. In the UK its almost twice the price of the DI and it still does not have a keyboard with aftertouch.
You do get a shed-load of features of course, for which I commend Roland, but you may want to consider which Juno you need if you are on a tight budget.

Available now (ish)
£999/ $1199

 

More From: ROLAND
Even more news...

36 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Rubén    Said...

:(

So i´ll have to wait for an update of the song/click output isn´t it?

I don´t know why the engineers do not realize what are the basics live needs nowadays...

Thank you very much, it´s great to have professional like you that test an instrument before avoiding to have a "bad surprise" to the costumer!

Rubén.

21-Oct-10 10:34 AM


jxsbebop    Said...

Good review...bummer about song/click output.

21-Oct-10 10:52 AM


Art    Said...

thanks, very good review Nick, as always

21-Oct-10 10:54 AM


Marc JX8P    Said...

Great review Nick. And for what it's worth from another not-guitar player, that sounded like a pretty cool guitar riff to me. The Gi seems like a pretty decent live synth, or second synth though the lack of aftertouch is a pity. On another note, I see that you still have the Prophecy, albeit leaning against the wall... :-)

21-Oct-10 06:08 PM


selercs    Said...

Roland is not doing good in terms of design in my book. It was my favorite brand for decades. Why did they make a worse interface than Juno-G? (i.e. no MIDI sequencer/arpeggio editor, no waveform editor, the knobs now only support EQ and cutoff/res...why no multi-func knob).

And a 'full blown audio recorder' without click/metronome is a laugh and a half.

Roland is going the way of Lady Gaga and mainstream music...dumbing down...its very frustrating to see this. Ppl are literally laughing at Roland now.

I thought we will see a Juno-G with same level of sampling, MIDI recording, synth waveform editing, knobs, but with better converters/hardware.

And the new commercial featuring a teenage girl caters to the whims of gaga wannabes.

I won't buy this unless there is a 2.0 that addresses these issues.

21-Oct-10 07:37 PM


selercs    Said...

Nick, you give a much better response than Roland US support did when it comes to questions of metronome or MIDI, haha...Roland please get your s*** together.

21-Oct-10 07:59 PM


selercs    Said...

Questions to Roland:

Are you going to charge us $100.00 for sound editor or will you give it free to download? Or better still, will you give the MIDI features and waveform editor onboard given the hardware resources?

21-Oct-10 08:01 PM


Benedict Johnson    Said...

HOW MUCH!!?!?

I was going to say that the Microstation doesn't even begin to compete with the Juno GI but now I've seen the price, I'm not so sure.

Loops: one of the appeals of the Gaia was it's 8 loop record/trigger slots. Regarding the GI's sequencer, I'm curious whether it plays back looped audio or midi clips in any practical way? That'd be especially useful on a device that can save to SD card.

PS it seems Nick will be leaving us soon to join the White Stripes ;)

21-Oct-10 08:55 PM


Nick B    Said...

I dont think the lack of sequencer is that big a deal, there is an arpegiator which can be used with imported midi patterns too.

The sequencer plays linear tracks, but it is entirely possible to import loops and repeat them along the timeline and mute/unmute/balance as required.

22-Oct-10 04:49 AM


Bruce Low    Said...

Another flop from Roland.People love only their old gear from 70's and 80's because of the organic and fat analog sounds but since 20 years roland tries to sell us piece of junk mit GM-sounds ! Shame on you !

22-Oct-10 05:21 AM


rut5c    Said...

I have recently received my Gi and I'm busy running it through its paces while I'm still within the 30-day return window. I am a guitar playing keyboardist/singer and I am thinking the Gi will be just the thing I've been looking for. Since the going rate is actually $999 USD, not $1199, this keyboard is on the verge of being an excellent deal, IMHO.

An interesting little detail is the inclusion of the VK-7 rotary as an insert effect. There are 4-5 organ Live Sets that I think are very good, due to the excellent Leslie effect. There are quite a few I'm not too keen on, but, as I dig deeper, I may find that editing the VK-7 rotary into the Tones, or changing the speed parameters of the tweeter/woofer, especially the ramp-up time of the woofer, will really bring the organs to life and serve well in a live situation. Many Hammond enthusiasts have praised the VK-7 rotary as one of the best Leslie emulations ever.

As for the click out, maybe a simple "Click left, track right" mod would do the trick? But, at least there IS a click out, right? Not what I'd call a deal breaker. You CAN adjust the volume (0-127) of the click to ride higher over the track, so all is not lost.

I've been checking the Internet every day since the unboxing for your full review and, as usual, an excellent job! Keep up the good work.

I would love to do a gig with you handling the vocoder duties, man. Totally comic!

22-Oct-10 11:11 AM


Musicman    Said...

Just a few comments:

Korg Microstation as a viable comparison? Really? Pleez. Ever played minikeys? The Microstation is what's way overpriced, mate.

Audio recorder "without click/metronome" ? Is a built-in editable drum machine a bit like what you were looking for?

Waveform editor? I would much rather do such things on a computer. Or a Fantom G8. But, at $3500, we're not talking apples to apples now, are we?

This is a feature-packed WYSIWYG keyboard. If you can't make music with all this, you're too much the tweaker, IMHO. It's a gigging and songwriting board, not a $3000 flagship workstation.

I wonder: given the feature set the Gi has, without nattering on about every little item on your wishlist, where can you find a keyboard that has everything the Gi has for $999?

22-Oct-10 11:54 AM


Nick B    Said...

True you could do the pan click hard left, everything else hard right - but you also have to program that into all of your synth voices too. if you could just output the rhythm track to the click out, that would be fine - I'm sure it must be possible.

22-Oct-10 12:01 PM


selercs    Said...

Nick, The lack of sequencer is a big deal, and especially since as you said yourself, its a tricky way of MIDIing the internal 4-part performances from computer.

With the Juno-G, I can just take that (and only that) to any gig.etc. Lack of aftertouch was the only complaint I had (not a big deal though).

With this thing, the whole portable studio thing takes a backstage and we are instead given battery power (lol). I appreciate roland for including digital audio from usb (which was a big drawback on juno-g). But my point is: why is it so hard to implement internal sequencing and oscillator switching and graphical waveform editing.

Why is it so hard to realize for roland that juno-gi should be better than juno-g and not go 2 steps forward and 3 steps back...its called evolution.

22-Oct-10 01:39 PM


karkakarka    Said...

Roland!! We need Juno-G level features at least INCLUDING knobs that can control adsr envelopes!!!

24-Oct-10 08:27 PM


karkakarka    Said...

Roland!! We need Juno-G level features at least INCLUDING knobs that can control adsr envelopes!!!

24-Oct-10 08:27 PM


Ruben    Said...

Nick say: "True you could do the pan click hard left, everything else hard right - but you also have to program that into all of your synth voices too. if you could just output the rhythm track to the click out, that would be fine - I'm sure it must be possible"

100% agree, no comment for the pan stuff...

25-Oct-10 03:38 AM


moss    Said...

This keyboard would be reall y interesting if they would not have just removed the performance mode...

25-Oct-10 05:56 AM


selercs    Said...

Moss...you didn't complete your sentence:

This keyboard would be reall y interesting if they would not have just removed the performance mode, the MIDI sequencer, the sampler, the arpeggiator, the ADSR control, the envelope graphics, the computer sound editor...

26-Oct-10 03:10 AM


Rubén    Said...

Nick, no idea about the possible "update" date isn´t it?

27-Oct-10 09:46 AM


Gustavo    Said...

Great review Nick, as always. But I gotta admit I do not like the Juno Gi

I think that for the level of programming and R&D seemingly gone into it, it should be about 100-200 USD less, then it would be great. But competing with the rather mighty sounding M50 (sounds the same as M3 and has a great MIDI Sequencer), this falls quite short.

Getting a B-Stock M50 and with it some kind of sampler (which roland/boss does) would be a better idea

Still it has some plus: Audio interface and vocoder.

IMHO the Audio interface while nice is more of a gimmick, as anyone seriously looking for stuff like that would rather look for the USB-equipped mixers, such as Peavys rather cheap ones.

The vocoder I admit, is a very nice inclusion. But I wont buy a keyboard just cuz it implements vocoder, when probably the Microkorg´s vocoder is much better and flexible.

28-Oct-10 07:48 PM


russ    Said...

does it respond to aftertouch (from another kb)?

13-Nov-10 11:16 AM


sam rex    Said...

when are roland going to start listening? people don't want 8-track recorders in their junos - you can pick up a vs880 on ebay for 75 quid to do that! They do actually want real analogue. its only a matter of time - rolnd will continue to loose money in the mean time...

13-Nov-10 11:21 AM


rob hilton    Said...

'for some reason....' what the hell are you on about mate??? Juno = ANALOGUE. end of story.

13-Nov-10 11:23 AM


mr riff    Said...

same screen off the w30 lol - same font too... Back to '89 :-)

13-Nov-10 11:29 AM


DOCTOR DOMAIN    Said...

i bounced off my DAW the onther night when i came back from thhe pub. i ended up playing guitar like that.

13-Nov-10 11:33 AM


SteveFromBerlin    Said...

Shame on the Clicktrack-thing!!!

I've been searching for a playback device for a long time and can't believe that even in those overpriced SD-Recorders there is not a separate output for the drummer - I mean it's the most important thing to have.

I personally have made bad experiences with a laptop on stage so I'm searching for a good old hardware device and the thing I'm using right now is an old Fostex D-108 which is so damn weighty and has no realtime controls!!!

Please keep us updated if you get any response from Roland!

I love your reviews, as always very good and I'm very thankful for that!

28-Nov-10 09:02 AM


Rubén    Said...

Hello Steve.

I´m waiting for the click-track update too.

Right now, I have a Tascam DP-02CF with a midi click send that is conected to an old&small drum module, and works great.

Hope Roland keep us informed..

29-Nov-10 06:28 AM


SteveFromBerlin    Said...

Hi Ruben,

thanks for your answer!

That Tascam sounds like a good idea. The only thing I miss is that I'm giving the drummer special cues during the whole track, so he does not miss a thing in the arrangement. This is especially important when there is a song with a loose rubato feel intro and then he has to coun't in the band. Also he can have exactly the right sound for the click.

Hmmm... I think it woun't fit for me and I have to carry the old Fostex a little longer.

01-Dec-10 03:11 PM


sunny    Said...

no ADSR knobs,how to use gi ADSR?

29-Dec-10 03:10 AM


Jimmy Truesynth    Said...

It is not an analogue at all. It is a cheap rompler and the synth sounds are garbage. This synth is nothing like the juno G and they gave it the name JUNO GI to misslead people to think it was an UPGRADE. It makes me sick that roland a once great company has to resort to this decietful tactic to sell a 12lb frisbee

08-Jan-11 11:57 AM


Jimmy Truesynth    Said...

It is not an analogue at all. It is a cheap rompler and the synth sounds are garbage. This synth is nothing like the juno G and they gave it the name JUNO GI to misslead people to think it was an UPGRADE. It makes me sick that roland a once great company has to resort to this decietful tactic to sell a 12lb frisbee

08-Jan-11 11:58 AM


Morris    Said...

Why does the system section have setting for click and click level and also a click sound with a setting for 4 different types of click sounds. Juno Gi was made to have a click out but was not completed or it has a bug.

07-May-11 06:13 PM


Mick Seven    Said...

I for one love having a digital recorder built in and not having to use line ins and line outs when i have an idea

04-Jun-11 10:40 AM


help    Said...

can i record a diffrent synth to the 8track recorder??

29-Jun-11 11:47 PM


jais    Said...

does it have inbuilt rhythm styles and variations ?

12-Dec-12 07:48 AM


Post a comment 
 


More Videos

System-1 Review Part 2 Plug-Out And SH-101 Compared 

Out with the scope


Sonic Touch 35: Focusrite ITrack Dock, Loopy, KMI Softstep 2 

Gaz jams some loops too


Video: New AIRA Firmware And SH-101 Plug-out 

Many fixes and tweaks to the range, official release of SH-101 plug out


Modular Review: STG Sound Labs .MIX Module 

3 channels with bi-polar output