Category Archives: Synthesizer

Roland JU-06A Sound Module: A Real-World Review

Our review team recently put the Roland JU-06A Sound Module to the test while in the Virgin Islands
Our review team recently put the Roland JU-06A Sound Module to the test while in the Virgin Islands.

Another perfect fit for the “compact” theme, the Roland JU-06A Sound Module was not only a pleasure but a problem-solver for quite a few of the cues we had to deliver. Essentially the sound and control of a Juno 106 in a four-voice compact package, it’s a perfect example of how certain limitations can make some things easier to achieve. Being familiar with the classic single OSC polysynths from the early ’80s, we depended on the Chorus effect that was so loved from those days for thickening and smoothing the different patch settings.

When taking it a step further, we used the pulse width modulation capability to make it sound like a slightly detuned two-OSC polysynth, offering up sweet strings and big pads with swirling filtering and spacey resonance.

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On one dramatic crime-like track, we actually used the JU-06A for every sound. We began with a kick drum, adding in a snare and hi-hat, crash cymbal and toms. Each of these sounds is achieved by blending the OSC with the noise source and simultaneous high- and lowpass filters to get a variety of small and light as well as huge and punchy sounds.

For bass, I used the pulse width modulation via the ENV rather than the LFO so as to mimic the pluck of a bass string that mellowed and got richer as it decayed. From there, we went for an electric piano sound similar to the “No Quarter” tone from Led Zeppelin’s classic song, so we set up the filter mod by the LFO, set the quivering LFO rate, and the vibe was just right. The sub OSC blend added the lower octave when we needed to get the super bottom bass sweeps and pulsing eighth notes that the tracks demanded. The Chord memory function, arpeggiator and hold were so much fun to pepper in and out while synced to MIDI clock that I simply forgot we were only dealing with four voices of polyphony.

The presets were great, but the Roland JU-06A Sound Module is so easy and quick to program, we didn’t need them on this trip. Aside from that, there’s quite a bit under the hood, with 23 parameters accessible via the front control panel. Additionally, the JU-06 will slide into an optional Roland K-25m keyboard unit for easy control.

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Behringer Model D Analog Synthesizer Review

Behringer Model D analog synthesizer

Behringer has started releasing classic true-analog synth designs at a rapid rate; the first one I encountered—and immediately purchased—was the Model D Analog Synthesizer. As an owner of an original Minimoog from the 1970s, I can attest that the Model D is for the most part a dead ringer, with some extra features above and beyond the original. It is, however, more like the Moog Minimoog reissue from 2016, with the inclusion of a low-frequency oscillator and a filter EG modulation source.

On a basic level, it features three voltage-controlled oscillators, filter selectable lowpass or highpass, classic 24 dB voltage-controlled filter with Emphasis, an overdrive circuit, USB-MIDI plus 5-pin DIN In and Thru, Low and High output 1/4-inch outs, and CV connectivity. The classic layout and simple signal path help make this the best bang for the buck I’ve encountered in this new era of inexpensive clones of the classic synths. The CV (control voltage) ins and outs that integrate with Eurorack and vintage synths is what really gives this compact unit a winning profile. Even the Minimoog sound charts book that was shipped with the old Moog Model Ds will fully translate and quickly allow you to get those classic sounds.

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The firmware updates that have been released throughout its short lifecycle have also been welcome. For me, pitch-bend range was the most useful, in order to closely emulate the original’s bend range. You can set the pitch bend range up to the amount of semitones you desire, including the common +2 default with most synths. True waveforms and noise sources, including the noise mod source, are fully implemented.

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The filter EG as a pitch modulation source is wonderful to see, and, of course, the ability to blend the sources simultaneously give this synth its incredible power. A High pass filter is included, as well as a hardwired “output to input” feedback circuit, which help adds cool harmonic distortion and saturation. The trusty, old A=440 sound source makes it easy to tune your three oscillators to unison with a slow, smooth phasing sound and big fat detuned unison, or to tune to intervals for parallel chords.

The Model D is a great educational tool that not only sounds great, but will give you a solid foundation for subtractive synthesis without breaking the bank.

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