Roland Boutique Series JP-08 by monophonic
If you don't know about the iconic monolith that the Jupiter-8 is, you'd better learn a bit about it first. Now, here's the miniature version of said iconic monolith. Roland did a very good job here. Even if I must admit I never had the chance to play the real thing, what I've heard and read here and there about it is quite very well summarized in the JP-08. Many people have been criticizing this or that aspect of the Boutique series, but considering the Jupiter alone, let's face it : would you really be able to afford the real gem ?
Visually speaking, you'll notice you're not exactly getting the real thing : small knobs, tiny faders, touch strip pitch and modulation, mini-keys. Roland has definitely nailed the concept of portable - well, maybe a bit too much here, though. It remains playable, and the illuminated faders are great, but you'll probably be using this synth (and its brothers) in the studio only.
Now for the inside : 4 voice polyphony, all right, you get half the real thing there. Anyway, for what I've been playing so far, it's quite enough. You'll be able to play your pads, strings and stuff. Obviously you'll be multitracking if you want full polyphony - or even better, get a second unit and chain them together.
The sound is... well, as I already said, I've never put my hands on a real Jupiter-8, so it's difficult to say if the JP-08 sounds exactly as its bigger brother. It's quite impressive anyway. Such a small unit giving you so much sonic power, even if it has a bit less depth than the original (after hearing a few comparisons on the Internet).
I found sound design to be fairly easy. I don't have a huge background in synthesis, but I know what most knobs do. If you know what you're looking for, you'll be getting a result in minutes. Otherwise, the journey into parameters will be the most pleasant anyway. The delay and the sequencer will be great tools as well to sculpt your sound.
The optional K-25m keyboard will allow you to have faster access to the JP whenever you feel like twiddling knobs and/or carrying it around. An external MIDI keyboard will otherwise be a much easier way to play on more octaves.
All in all, the JP-08 might not be your preferred synth because of its tiny knobs, but if you're after a Jupiter and can't afford it, then you'd better check this one out.