Thirty years ago, the Roland Jupiter-8 synth redefined the sound of music. By combining the legendary vibe of the Jupiter-8 with the stunning realism of Roland’s SuperNATURAL synthesis engine, Roland has made the new Jupiter-80 a force to be reckoned with. The Jupiter-80 has a deep, rich analog synth sound, as well as a host of hyper-realistic SuperNATURAL instruments. Physically, it’s somewhat larger and heavier than Roland’s most recent and now discontinued 76‑note workstation, the Fantom G7. Its colourful control panel is reminiscent of a Jupiter 8, but only in a superficial way, and it’s clear even before switching it on that most of the action is going to take place on the 800 x 480-pixel touchscreen that dominates its control panel.
The Jupiter 80 generates its sounds using the Supernatural technology first heard on the ARX boards introduced for the Fantom G series, married to a significantly cut‑down version of the APS (Articulative Phrase Synthesis) technology found in the V‑Synth GT. However, despite the justified clamour from Fantom owners, there are only three ARX boards (one each for drums, electric pianos and brass), and the set of polyphonic APS sounds in the Jupiter 80 does not overlap fully with the APS sources and Phrase Models in the GT, so it’s clear from the outset that the new synth is not simply a mélange of existing engines presented in a colourful new box.
What’s even more apparent is that the Jupiter 80 is not based on any conventional synth architecture, because it eschews the conventional patch and performance structures that have dominated synth architectures for the past 20 years or so. The lowest level (or so Roland claims) is the ‘Tone’, and there are two distinct Tone generators: Supernatural Acoustic (which, confusingly, also contains the APS sounds) and Supernatural Synth. The next level up is the ‘Live Set’, which can comprise up to four Tones in ‘Layers’. The top level is the ‘Registration’, which comprises four ‘Parts’: a single Tone in the Perc Part, a Live Set in the Lower Part, another Live Set in the Upper Part, and another Tone in the Solo Part.