Picking up where Roland’s popular SP-303 sampler left off, the new SP-404 is built on a foundation of more: more features, more voices, more pads, and more memory. The SP-404’s sleek, silver look is new to the SP family, and it surpasses its predecessor by offering battery-power compatibility, a CompactFlash slot, and a built-in microphone for quick, stress-free sampling sessions. Just turn it on, aim, and record — no cables and mics to connect. Then get down to the business of making beats and patterns, and add extra color with the great effects built into this little powerhouse. Even with all the bonus features, the SP-404 is still amazingly affordable.
As a long‑time owner of Roland's earlier top workstation, the XP80, I watched with interest for what would come next and was, therefore, delighted when offered the chance to review the Roland Fantom. Despite its name, the Fantom is neither shadowy, dark nor mysterious. Instead, it's a sturdy, no‑nonsense music workstation brimming full of quality sounds and featuring a 64‑voice multitimbral synth based on XV‑Series architecture. It boasts a built‑in D‑Beam controller, an arpeggiator and drum pattern generator, plus a large screen, a classy 76‑note keyboard and onboard effects featuring 24‑bit reverb, chorus and 90 multi‑effects algorithms (including COSM amp models and RSS 3D processing).
Two models were released in 1985: the Alpha Juno 1 (JU-1), and the Alpha Juno 2 (JU-2), which added one octave of notes, a cartridge slot and touch-sensitivity. Alpha Juno synthesizers presented a reduced user interface compared to other synths of the day, with a single "Alpha Dial" replacing many sliders and knobs. The keyboard features MIDI in, out and thru, mono, stereo and headphone sockets. It also supports an external footpedal controller, and tape backup. The MKS-50 (1987) is a rack-mount version of the Alpha Juno. It has the same synth engine and architecture, with some added features like 16 programmable chord memories, and the ability to store velocity, volume, panning, de-tune, portamento and other similar parameters within each patch.
The Juno-60 synthesizer is a six-voice polyphonic synthesizer. The single digitally controlled oscillator (or DCO for short) per voice gave the Juno-60 a high degree of stability in maintaining tune; most analogue voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) of the time would tend to drift in pitch and require re-tuning of the oscillator. The DCO provides sawtooth and square/pulse waveforms as a sound source, in addition to white noise and a square-wave sub-oscillator pitched one octave beneath the key played. Both of these additional sources can be mixed in with dedicated sliders.
The XP-60 was one of Roland's flagship digital Workstation Synthesizers. With extensive professional features, superb quality PCM sounds, sequencing, effects and more, the XP-60 could be the only synth you may ever need! Compared with other XP- synths, the XP-60 is almost the same as the XP-80 except that XP-80 has a great 76-note semi-weighted keyboard whereas the XP-60 has a standard 61 note keyboard. Like the XP-80, the XP-60 offers up 64 voices of polyphony and can send on up to 16 MIDI channels simultaneously. The sounds are all digital in nature and sound pretty good too! Though its strengths are the emulation of acoustic instruments,