Although this news will come as a surprise to very few, given their recent ‘leak’, Roland have now officially announced their latest synth offerings.

Following the now well-established Korg Volca series and the recently announced Yamaha Reface synths, all eyes have been on the last of the ‘big three’, with rumours rife that Roland were about to announced some compact, affordable and portable synths of their own. Now Roland have finally made it official, and their announcement of the forthcoming Boutique series of synth modules does not in any way disappoint.

Roland’s Boutique JU-06, based on the Juno-106 (minus optional K-25m keyboard). Roland have designed three new modules, all battery powered and toting a built-in speaker, each one based on a classic synth from the company’s storied past. The three compact modules are accompanied by the new K-25m mini controller keyboard, slotting into a tilting dock-style cradle to create a complete portable synth, but they’ll also happily function as desktop modules controlled via MIDI. Featuring Roland’s Analog Circuit Behaviour technology, the three modules promise to faithfully recreate a range of classic sounds while boasting dual ribbon controllers, abundant hands-on knobs, buttons and faders, and additional features not found on the originals.

The Roland Boutique JX-03 based on the JX-3P adds control originally only afforded by the additional PG-200 programmer unit. Top billing goes to the JP-08 module, which sets its sights on the iconic Jupiter-8. Front-panel controls give direct access to 36 of the original synth’s parameters and Roland have added new LFO and VCO waveforms and extended the range of the VCOs. Meanwhile, the JU-06 module is based on the Juno-106. Here you get 23 of the original controls, with faster LFO speeds and a continuously variable high-pass filter the notable additions. Finally, the JX-03 revisits Roland’s first MIDI-equipped synth, the JX-3P. Less celebrated than the other two keyboards in this trio, the JX-3P was a buttons-and-presets synth that required the optional PG-200 programmer unit if you wanted to really tinker with its sounds. For the JX-03 module, Roland have transplanted all 24 knobs from the PG-200 on top of the JX-3P’s presets, adding new LFO and DCO waveforms, extended DCO range and cross modulation options for good measure.

The K-25m keyboard base unit ($99/£75) is an optional extra. All three modules also feature a built-in 16-step sequencer and a pair of ribbon controllers. Flanked by glowing indictor strips, the ribbons can control pitch and modulation and also provide the means to preview sound when no keyboard is attached. Each module boasts four-voice polyphony, but you can chain two of each type together using the full-size MIDI in/out ports to create one 8-voice synth. Audio input and output mini jack sockets are joined by a headphone out and a level control. A USB port lets you power each module via USB instead of battery power, allows you to back up synth patches and sequences to a computer, and will even function as a 24-bit/44.1kHz audio interface, so you can record these synths direct to your DAW. The K-25m keyboard, meanwhile, features two octaves of velocity-sensitive mini keys. Like the modules themselves, it’s highly portable, measuring less than 12 inches across.

Both JU-06 and JX-03 modules come in at a reasonable $299, while the JP-08 carries a slightly higher price tag of $399. Meanwhile the K-25m keyboard costs $99. We’re first in line to get our hands on these exciting new mini modules — as soon as we do, we’ll bring you a full, in-depth review.

Via Sound On Sound

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