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Alpha Juno and JX3P - which? Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 13th September 2011
  #1
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shadowfac's Avatar
 

Alpha Juno and JX3P - which?

I'm planning to sell my Prophet 08 rack. I like it a lot but I'm getting rid of all rack synths and cannot replace it with the keyboard version right now - mainly because I'm planning to use that money to buy more modular gear.

But I would like to keep some analog(ish) polysynth since my other poly is a Nord Lead 3 which is great but far from analog sounding. I've come across an Alpha Juno 1 for $225 and a JX3P for $290, but I know little about them. I don't mind the button-based interface too much (used to have a Poly-800 and ESQ-1 and thought both were easy to program). I also owned a Juno-106 and liked the sound a lot although the architecture was a bit limited.

Anyone has experience with both?

I can buy either of them but not both due to physical space constraints.

I plan to use it mainly for pads and strings and EP sounds, maybe some woodwind-like sounds. Not too much into organs or brassy stuff.
Old 13th September 2011
  #2
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Rogue Ai's Avatar
I have experience with both. I own a JX-3P which I love though it is limited. It can create great strings. However the Alpha Juno is better at creating pads IMO. It has greater Pulse Width Modulation than the JX-3P (yes PWM is possible on a JX-3P.) Also the Alpha Juno has better Midi implementation. The JX-3P only receives note on/off and pitch bend data. If you want to record filter sweeps, etc. on the JX-3P you would have to do it by hand.
Old 13th September 2011
  #3
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Thanks. Although the MIDI implementation is not crucial, it may be an issue.

I've been listening to Jexus' demos of both synths, and although the JX3P seems to be more flexible, it also sounds very 80's to me. I don't usually write off synths based on this kind of criteria - maybe Jexus just felt like doing 80's stuff with it, but I dug the sounds from the Alpha Juno quite a bit more.
Old 13th September 2011
  #4
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For what you want, the JX3P will get you further, namely because of the dual oscillators and their cross-mod, sync and "metal" functions which allow it to do much better EP sounds than the Juno's single oscillator.

The Alpha Juno's strength lies more so in snappity snappyness, but with a cleaner, more modern, more digitalish sound. I'm not too familiar with the NL3, but my NL2x can do most of what my old AJ used to do. The AJ sounds really good doing sequenced bass. If they married the AJ envelopes to the oscillators of the JX, you could get some obscene clav-ish sounds.

Also, IMO, the JX3P is just a really nice and interesting sounding synth and is warmer and fatter than the Alpha Juno. The 3P can also be really gritty (for a Roland synth), whereas the AJ is usually very clean and clear sounding (but not in a bad way).

If, however, you want really really nice EP sounds, have you considered a JX8P? It sounds kind of like the Alpha Juno (cleaner, more modern), but with the power of the JX3P, and an ability to sound like a more analog DX-7. Very lovely stuff.

Full disclosure, I currently have a JX8P and an MKS-30. In the past I had an AJ 1 and two MKS-50's (all at the same time). All of the above are very nice and shockingly flexible synths for their price.
Old 13th September 2011
  #5
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duggabax's Avatar
jx 3p. though for 390 it should be in very good shape. I didn't find the interface too hard, there's a little diagram right on the front panel. select parameter and adjust.
Old 13th September 2011
  #6
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shadowfac's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by duggabax View Post
jx 3p. though for 390 it should be in very good shape. I didn't find the interface too hard, there's a little diagram right on the front panel. select parameter and adjust.
The JX3P is around 290, not 390. It looks in good condition. Is that price reasonable?
Old 13th September 2011
  #7
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dhollmusik's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfac View Post
I've come across an Alpha Juno 1 for $225 and a JX3P for $290, but I know little about them.

I plan to use it mainly for pads and strings and EP sounds, maybe some woodwind-like sounds. Not too much into organs or brassy stuff.
I've had both and I much prefer the Alpha Juno (I still have my AJ2, sold the JX-3P).

For me the JX-3P was good but had a very limited sound, always the same colour character. The Alpha is much more versatile and produces more colour in the sounds it creates (my subjective impressions). I also find evolving patches on the Alpha much easier than on the 3P.

The Alpha can give you very nice pads, strings, EP and woodwind sounds, and a lot more besides. Also patches you create don't always need the chorus to sound good (unlike the 3P). The AJ has a mightier bottom-end too.

The only advantage I can see the 3P having is that it offers a very specific and thick mid-range, which might suit some mixes...and it does have a fun sequencer.
Old 13th September 2011
  #8
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Yes, I noted the JX3P was a bit harsh mid-rangey in Jexus' demo. In fact, it had a character similar to the Prophet 08. I don't dislike it, but if I sell my P08 rack I plan to buy the keyboard in the future, and I don't see the JX3P doing anything the P08 cannot do. The AJ seems smoother to me, maybe not as thick as a Juno 60 or 106, but the character is definitely there.

I'm still quite undecided though. Even about selling the P08 rack.

This is the worst time to shop for synths. I just finished an album and I'm creatively dry. It's like going to the grocery store when you're hungry.
Old 13th September 2011
  #9
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If you decide to go with a Juno 1 or 2 then this editor works really well and is free/donationware. I helped beta test it for him as did a few others here on GS.

Alpha Base - Ultimate patch editor / librarian for the Roland Alpha Juno family

With this editor I pulled some amazing sounds out of the Juno which wouldn't have happened without it. Cheers Ryan W!
Old 13th September 2011
  #10
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dhollmusik's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfac View Post
Yes, I noted the JX3P was a bit harsh mid-rangey in Jexus' demo. In fact, it had a character similar to the Prophet 08.
Yes, I forgot to add that in my comment, I mentioned it earlier in another thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhollmusik View Post
I've heard the Prophet 08 in action at a friend's place, and it reminded me a lot of the JX-3P sound.
If you keep your P08, then you definitely don't need the JX-3P...but nothing else sounds like the Alpha Juno, at least not from the synths I've heard.

For me the Alpha Juno is the most DX-sounding of all the DCO analogues I've tried. It does bells almost as shimmering and alive as the DX7 itself. As you probably know it also does the legendary "hoover" sound which no synth in the world has been able to match, not even Roland's later V-Synth which attempted to emulate it.

Add to that clean deep bass, snappy envelopes, very easy UI, a versatile yet unique sound and you've got a keeper.

Jexus didn't rate it very highly (see his website synth reviews) but this is one area where I disagree with him. Out of all these synths (including non-DCO's) I've used I rank the Alpha Juno above them all:

- Microwave I
- JX-3P
- AN1X
- Matrix 6
- DW-8000
- Wavestation A/D
- Supernova


Only my Nord Modular, Virus and VCO analogues are more interesting. I haven't tried the Juno 6/60/106 so can't comment there.

But €200-€300 for a DCO analogue synth like the Alpha Juno 1/2 is one of the last great bargains left in the used synth market.

I understand it's UI is expandable with the Behringer BCR2000 or Peavey PC1600...so you might look into that as well.
Old 13th September 2011
  #11
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shadowfac's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhollmusik View Post
Out of all these synths (including non-DCO's) I've used I rank the Alpha Juno above them all:

- Microwave I
- JX-3P
- AN1X
- Matrix 6
- DW-8000
- Wavestation A/D
- Supernova
Those are big words there. I love the Microwaves and Wavestations. Also owned a Matrix 6R. Now I'm very intrigued about the Alpha.
Old 13th September 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfac View Post
Those are big words there. I love the Microwaves and Wavestations. Also owned a Matrix 6R. Now I'm very intrigued about the Alpha.
All very subjective, of course. I'll have to do a new synth demo for my Alpha and upload it here
Old 13th September 2011
  #13
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JX3P has 2 DCO, Alpha Juno/MKS-50 has only 1. don't let the fact that the Alpha has only 1 LFO bother you, it actually has dedicated LFO's for chorus and PWM rates. that leaves the LFO free for other duties, which is rather dandy in my book.

don't forget you can pulse width modulate the saw on the alpha - which is totally crazy.

i have one of all the Juno line (60, 106, MKS-50) and a JX8P is on my radar again - the 2 DCO with the Roland filter is missing from my setup.
Old 13th September 2011
  #14
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Do the alphas have suboscillators like the older junos? Other than that, I don't mind 1 DCO per voice. I want it mainly for simple sounds.
Old 13th September 2011
  #15
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L-feld's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfac View Post
Do the alphas have suboscillators like the older junos? Other than that, I don't mind 1 DCO per voice. I want it mainly for simple sounds.
The Alpha sure do have suboscillators! And that thing can put out some really awesome bass sounds thanks to its really snappy envelopes.
Old 13th September 2011
  #16
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blinky909's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfac View Post
Do the alphas have suboscillators like the older junos? Other than that, I don't mind 1 DCO per voice. I want it mainly for simple sounds.
take a look at the PG-300 to get an idea of what all is available in the Alpha Juno/MKS-50 synth engine. it's pretty much everything everyone wishes was on their Juno 106 about a year after buying it

http://erikhall.mine.nu/~ronny/rack/PG300-4.jpg
Old 13th September 2011
  #17
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Thanks guys. I'm 99.9% convinced.
Old 13th September 2011
  #18
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Ry-Fi's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morechips View Post
If you decide to go with a Juno 1 or 2 then this editor works really well and is free/donationware. I helped beta test it for him as did a few others here on GS.

Alpha Base - Ultimate patch editor / librarian for the Roland Alpha Juno family

With this editor I pulled some amazing sounds out of the Juno which wouldn't have happened without it. Cheers Ryan W!
Sweet, thanks for the plug! I'm just glad some people find my editor useful.
Old 13th September 2011
  #19
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I don't have much experience with the 3P, but from the hour or so I got to play with it I liked its sound a lot. Most say it's like a Juno and I got that impression too...just not as 'thick' sounding...which isn't a bad thing. Overall, I'd say go with the AJ as I think its inherent sound is better than the 3P's...especially for sole polysynth type stuff. I think its got the 3P beat in the low end department and is capable of some good sounding pads and FX. Both take some time to program, but if you dealt with an ESQ than you should do fine with either. On a side note, I would check out ebay if I were you...the AJs are going for about half the asking price of the one you're interested in. Don't pay much for one of these as they aren't exactly rare. Hope this helps.
Old 14th September 2011
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhollmusik View Post
Yes, I forgot to add that in my comment, I mentioned it earlier in another thread:



If you keep your P08, then you definitely don't need the JX-3P...but nothing else sounds like the Alpha Juno, at least not from the synths I've heard.

For me the Alpha Juno is the most DX-sounding of all the DCO analogues I've tried. It does bells almost as shimmering and alive as the DX7 itself. As you probably know it also does the legendary "hoover" sound which no synth in the world has been able to match, not even Roland's later V-Synth which attempted to emulate it.

Add to that clean deep bass, snappy envelopes, very easy UI, a versatile yet unique sound and you've got a keeper.

Jexus didn't rate it very highly (see his website synth reviews) but this is one area where I disagree with him. Out of all these synths (including non-DCO's) I've used I rank the Alpha Juno above them all:

- Microwave I
- JX-3P
- AN1X
- Matrix 6
- DW-8000
- Wavestation A/D
- Supernova


Only my Nord Modular, Virus and VCO analogues are more interesting. I haven't tried the Juno 6/60/106 so can't comment there.

But €200-€300 for a DCO analogue synth like the Alpha Juno 1/2 is one of the last great bargains left in the used synth market.

I understand it's UI is expandable with the Behringer BCR2000 or Peavey PC1600...so you might look into that as well.
A friend said the AN1X is a beast and is very good. He said it is like a poor man's P5.
Old 14th September 2011
  #21
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Hazmatic's Avatar
Here's another vote for the Alpha Juno 1.

I love mine. It's an "all-rounder" IMO, with emphasis on string/pad sounds. The pads you can create with it are absolutely amazing. It's warm and smooth but can hold it's own on the low-end too.

FYI, you should also look out for the Roland HS-10 as well since it's basically the same as the Alpha Juno 1 but cheaper.
Old 14th September 2011
  #22
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see sig

matter of taste and usage. Neither are mind blowing synths (hence the prices) and both do different things (had them all at once, and have had Juno 1,2 and MKS-50 at one time or other). They ARE nice little synths with a sweet sound and interesting architecture but if analog is your thing they sound nowhere near as 'analog' as the JX-3P (which sounds more vintage and raw - a sound design tool to be slotted in amongst other synths, the AJ's are more a 'my only synth' thing and can do a variety of more digital-ish things along with, in mono mode/portamento esp, good leads and ok bass).

I think both are quite nice but my pref obv went to the JX-3P in the end for my music, but I think the AJ will initially attract you more due to it being a giant sweet spot (as all junos are) but after a year??? hmm It runs out of legs quicker than the JX which is still giving me some crazy sounds and I've had it years (My 3P is the synth I've owned the longest in all of my sig synths - first being the Juno 6 which got a bit samey after a couple of years)

I don't 'have' to use the 3P chorus? and often turn it off and listen to the raw tone and IR3109 filter which runs RINGS around the, frankly quite ****ty IR3R05 filter fitted in the alpha junos (And JX10/8p). JX-3p is good synth for making more unique/off beat sounds to fit into productions, weird basses, or resonant blips here and there, tangy, metallic, vibey sequence lines etc. It can also do some of the best staccato bell leads and hard strings I've heard, and can really cut through a packed mix. AJ is way softer even while being 'bassier' to some degree.

The AJ is more 'traditional' and gives you your PWM leads and nice enough bass. Definitely less character on the AJ and sounds far more generic than the 3P. And yes the 3P probably does sound way more '80s' if you program it that way.

Take a listen to Gorillaz stuff, Albarn uses a 3P (and polysix) in his studio (or did for quite a while), no junos to be found and he did ok with it, it can sound punchy and quite hard hitting which many people fail to realise when skimming the 3P presets! It does have, or can have, a harsh tone if you abuse it, sometimes that's what you want though, the AJ never has a harsh tone and just sits there behaving itself... aside from perhaps the ONE exception being the 'hoover' patch, though you really can't use that these days without sounding like a cliche, can you?

I also found the AJ so close to software or VA sometimes that it almost became irrelevant when I had VSTS and AN1x etc. Still, it's a nice synth.. but would advise AJ2 which felt a LOT better built than AJ1 (AJ2 has metal upper panel, AJ1 is plastic up and tabs break on back) and had much nicer keyboard (Velo/aftertouch). So nice I parted out the AJ2 and grafted the keybed from it to one of my polysixes a fact I mention on a far to frequent basis

I think if you have only a couple of synths and are going to need something to control future racks, the AJ*2* is probably more for you thanks to better midi and better keyboard - soundwise it's completely a matter of taste so try both if you can.
Old 14th September 2011
  #23
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Well, as other people have mentioned, it's a question of "What kind of music do you want to make?" The Juno is GREAT at super chorused PWM, (the chorus is programmable for each patch) almost sounds like an MKS-80 in unison mode for bass sounds. I have the MKS-50 with the programmer, and I also have an MKS-80 and I think the Juno is redundant in my setup. The JX-3p was just too limited for me because it has no velocity control.

Quote:
I plan to use it mainly for pads and strings and EP sounds, maybe some woodwind-like sounds. Not too much into organs or brassy stuff.
Are you sure you want a true analog? I don't know what your budget is, but a Microwave 1, with real analog filters and sweepable wavetable oscillators (in a way that your ESQ-1 could only dream about) ... I think it would work much better than a Juno for bright EP sounds, morphing woodwinds and THICK pads.
Old 14th September 2011
  #24
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i've got two mks 50 and one alpha juno1 with pg 300.

i suggest the mks 50, it has less noise level on the outputs than the keyboard.

instead of the programmer i suggest plugin programmers much more versitile and kind of easy recall for patches.

anyways it's always fun to play around with the original hoover patch!!
Old 14th September 2011
  #25
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I love my Mks-50. Really big pad sounds and the waveforms are very interesting. I've setup some faders in my Logic environment to control it - its basicly a software pg300. Took 20min to make and patches are saved within a project. Bet you can do the same in other DAW's.
Old 1st January 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfac View Post
Those are big words there. I love the Microwaves and Wavestations. Also owned a Matrix 6R. Now I'm very intrigued about the Alpha.
I have the MW1 and MKS-50 and I prefer the MW1. It's a matter of taste guys
Old 2nd January 2013
  #27
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JX-3P + this.
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