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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; here's how it went.

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.