Review: Roland Juno DS

AI Roland Juno Ds

In the seven years since Roland introduced the Juno-Di—itself a successor to 2005’s Juno-D—the synth has dominated the affordable workstation market, thanks to its ability to nail the trifecta of features, price, and roadworthy construction. Seven years is a long time for a product to remain relevant in the synthesizer market, so it was high time that Roland released a successor to the line—the Juno-DS.

Wisely, they kept the original features, while adding modern amenities—the ability to load your own samples into its synth engine, additional controls for parameter tweaking, eight pads for triggering sequences and samples, and pitch quantization to go with the built-in vocoder. Rounding out the package is an integrated stereo audio interface. I received the 61-key model for review; a version with 88 semi-weighted keys is also available.
SOUNDS, SYNTHESIS, AND EFFECTS

The Juno-DS, available in 61- and 88-key models, includes a vocoder with pitch quantization, trigger pads, and a stereo audio interface. In addition to a full range of presets, Juno-DS offers the ability to load additional sounds downloaded from Roland’s Axial website.The DS is packed to the rafters with presets; over 1200 synth patches along with 30+ drum kits and 64 performance slots for customizing sound sets, sequences and the new phrase pads for specific songs in your repertoire. If you’re a current Juno-Di user, you’ll be pleased to know that its sound-bank is represented in the new DS. Moreover, several of the new pianos and organs are compelling in a live performance context.
In addition to the original Di sounds and more than 200 new ones, the DS can load sounds from Roland’s Axial website, which includes over 1,000 well-crafted downloadable presets. I checked out the factory sounds and a few Axial add-ons, and the overall vibe of the collection is solidly in the workstation camp—perfect for gigging, commercial and video work, and studio tasks. The only real downside to the presets is that the “analog” sounds have a decidedly in-the-box feel; but hey, that’s what the Roland Aira line is for, right?

The Juno-DS’s synthesis engine remains largely unchanged from the Di’s, with every patch consisting of up to four layered tones, each based on a different sampled instrument, with digital resonant filters, detailed time/level envelopes, and a pair of LFOs. Editing these from the LCD is challenging. But with so many presets, you’re bound to find something that can be quickly shaped using the four front-panel knobs, which include essentials like cutoff, resonance, attack, release, and effects, as well as custom options.
If you want to create your own sounds, the original Juno-Di’s free, downloadable editor works flawlessly with the DS. Once downloaded, I was quickly up and running, crafting my own sounds and checking out the onboard collection of multi-sampled data, which is quite deep. In fact, the synth features really come to life when you import your own samples into its engine. (The supported WAV file resolution is 44.1kHz/16-bit.)
The Juno-DS also includes a massive array of effects. Everything from phasers to pitch-shifters to modeled piano resonances are available, in addition to the usual chorus and reverb options. The caveat is that insert effects that are tied to patches can be lost when those patches are applied to the DS performances (which have their own effects assignments). Not a deal-breaker, but definitely something to note.
Each performance can consist of up to 16 parts, which include patch information, a few parameter offsets, adjustments to portamento and vibrato, and effects send routing. You can split the keyboard up to sixteen ways, allocate parts for sequencing, and create custom 12-tone tunings for every individual part. Granted, you wouldn’t realize this from squinting at the LCD panel, but in conjunction with the Juno-Di’s software editor, everything becomes crystal clear. I hope Roland creates an updated DS editor to access its newer features.

SEQUENCER AND PHRASE PADS

The Roland Juno-DS (the 61-key model shown here) can run on AC or batteries. It includes a 1/4″ mic input with level control, audio over USB, MIDI DIN I/O, an external audio input, stereo outs and headphone jack.

In addition to playing back complete songs from a connected USB stick (AIFF, WAV, or MP3 format supported), the Juno-DS includes an 8-track pattern sequencer optimized for live performance. The pattern-based system makes creating eight-part looped sequences a breeze. I was able to whip up credible quantized backing tracks that were easily manipulated in real time via the new Phrase Pads. I could envision creating different song sections with the sequencer and switching between them quickly in a performance situation. If you’re in a band and the guitarist decides to vamp for an extra 16 bars during the final choruses, these pads could be a lifesaver.
As for the sequencer itself, Roland markets it as a scratchpad, and it’s great for that. But with some forethought, you can do clever interactive tricks with it, too.

EXTRAS
Whereas the Juno-Di offered vocoding and reverb for its microphone input, the Juno-DS ups the ante with a pitch quantizer for pop, R&B and EDM. While some may tire of this sound, it’s now as essential as distortion on a guitar for certain genres.
As a bonus, the Juno-DS includes basic DAW control for a variety of platforms including Apple Logic Pro, Cakewalk Sonar and Steinberg Cubase. With this you can integrate sync, transport, and some basic control surface features. Unfortunately, there’s no baked-in support for Ableton Live or Avid Pro Tools, though a user-configurable mode is available if you don’t mind spending the time to set it up.
Moreover, the Juno-DS supports audio over USB. The resolution of this interface is conspicuously absent from both the website and manual, but since the Juno’s preferred audio format is 44.1/16, it’s a safe bet that that’s the specification.

FOR ALL OCCASIONS

I didn’t get around to checking out the Juno- DS61’s price until late in the review, and I was completely blown away to find it priced around $700. Between the 128-voice synth, pattern sequencer, phrase pads, sample loading, and integrated audio interface, it’s no exaggeration to say that this keyboard workstation is a genuinely affordable Swiss Army knife for casual gigs, small theater work, school bands and house-of-worship duties. The Juno-DS resets the standard for price vs. performance in a keyboard meant for light gigging.

STRENGTHS

128-voice synthesis engine. User-loadable samples. Massive collection of presets and drum kits. Pattern sequencer. Phrase pads can trigger samples or songs, or toggle sequencer tracks. Stereo audio interface.

LIMITATIONS

Analog sounds have a decidedly digital feel.

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Offering lessons in:
Vocal, Guitar, Piano, Drums, Bass Guitar, Violin, Cello, Saxophone, Oboe, Clarient, & Flute, and with lessons available in Bryanston, Fourways, Centurion and Kemptopn Park, the Global House of Music is your one stop music lesson option in the Joberg area. They even offer home lessons. Check out there website to make a booking or call them directly on: 083 959 3782

Music is about way more than solo acts. School of Rock Claremont is as focused on community, teamwork, and friendships as it is on inspiring awesome music. Through our performance-based approach, we foster an inclusive community of rockers in Claremont to build a unique type of confidence only gained through cool, real life experiences. Whether we’re in serious shredding-mode or just jamming along with the band, our team spurs the growth of real, practical skills for music-minded students.

At School of Rock Claremont, we believe everyone deserves to have fun and feel like a rock star. Visit us and get a feel for the awesome opportunities your child has waiting just around the corner.

The Athlone Academy of Music (AAM) is a non-profit organisation established in 1994 with the sole aim of providing music tuition within the Athlone area. This initiative has now expanded and has grown to include the greater Athlone community residing along the Klipfontein corridor including Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Retreat, Steenberg, Atlantis and Malmesbury to name but a few. The communities in and around Athlone have tried but there has not always been a cohesive attempt to make sure that music education is not lost to our children. Music tuition has shown to help with discipline, motivation and a sense of belonging. Three basic values that children from the poorer disadvantaged communities need plenty of. We all know that these communities suffer under the scourge of substance abuse, disease, abuse against women and children and a general decay of the social fibre in society. This social decay is largely a result of unemployment, poverty and idleness. We at the Academy feel obliged to create opportunities for children in the communities we serve to be active in music education and in so doing, eradicate some of the social pathologies we are faced with on a daily basis.

Rockschool is the leading accredited provider of rock & pop exams worldwide. We offer Graded Music Exams in the principal rock instruments and Diplomas in Teaching and Performance. Rockschool produces and examines unique music qualifications that are taught by independent teachers in schools, colleges and music centres all over the world. Rockschool music qualifications are practical, flexible and fun and are open to musicians of all ages and abilities.

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Do you have a desire to play the drums or improve your guitar skills or another band instrument? If so, then M&M is the perfect part-time Music Academy for you. We have students that attend the academy from the Parklands, Table View, West Beach, Melkbos and Milnerton area. We offer musical training in all the popular band instruments from beginner to advanced. Why don’t you visit the “Instrument” tab to learn more about our drum, guitar, bass, piano/keyboard or vocal courses. We also offer a full digital recording studio operating on Cubase, Presonus, Rode and Alesis equipment, should you wish to lay some music tracks or follow your personal development at M&M.

Beau Soleil offers tuition on all the instruments of the orchestra, namely flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, double bass, trumpet, trombone, French horn, euphonium, tuba and percussion. An Open Evening is held once a year, during which most of the instruments are demonstrated and prospective pupils and parents have an opportunity to learn more about Beau Soleil. A number of these instruments are available for hire for a limited period.

SoundHouse is a music educational vision. Designed not only to educate microcosmically but to facilitate the teaching of musical concepts through music technology. A particular focus of this vision is on music experimentation, composition, learning and recording, digital media, such as picture stories, music videos and digital mash-ups.

In De Kuilen street Kuilsriver, the average passer-by may be pleasantly surprised by what is heard when passing number 15. This building houses a premier music school within the community: Cape Music Institute. The sounds of guitar, bass-guitar, drums, keyboards, saxophones, and voices fill the air, making it an educational, entertaining and fun atmosphere. The concept of Cape Music Institute was birthed during a meeting in 2005 between Camillo Lombard, Ezra Delport, and Gary Thomas and, is currently in its fourth year of existence. Each individual contributed his own vision and ideas of what the school should be and, the outcome was a combined vision of a higher education school of music, emphasized in three categories: performance, production and business. The “seed” for Cape Music Institute, however, had been “planted” in the three Founders independently.

With studios in Cape Town & Johannesburg and branches in Lagos and Dar Es Salaam, Sound & Motion Studios is a multi-purpose audio solution covering both POST PRODUCTION AND MUSIC PRODUCTION. With a team of highly skilled engineers, producers and composers in our stable, our facilities offer analogue warmth and character, guaranteed through beautiful mixing consoles and tape machines, that forms the soul of music productions, as well as the digital accuracy and recall requirements for film, tv and corporate productions.

Tunes is a rehearsal studio that acts in the interest of local music by providing affordable practice space, good quality reference rehearsal recordings, drum lessons and retailing in musical accessories including guitar strings, drumsticks and larger items that can be ordered from Paul Bothner. We recently added new items to our stock such as drum skins, cymbals, guitar and bass pedals. We also stock electric, acoustic and bass guitars.

Tunes is open for bookings seven days a week from 08h00 to 24h00. Bookings can be made by contacting Jean on 082 7704798 or by e-mail, tunesstudio@gmail.com

CCFM (Cape Community FM) is a 24-hour, non-profit, community radio station serving the people of Cape Town. We play a mix of contemporary Christian music, combined with compelling chat, views and interviews. Not to mention up-to-the-minute news, weather and traffic information. CCFM was the first community radio station and has been on the airwaves for over 18 years, starting as Radio Fish Hoek in 1993. We currently broadcast from our building in Muizenberg on 107.5 FM in the Greater Cape Town and on 96.7 FM in the Fish Hoek valley.

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Established in 2006, The Nameless Pub has become a well known ‘watering hole”, function venue and leading live music venue in Somerset West. With big screen TV’s, DJ’s, live bands, indoor as well as outdoor venues, 2 stages, air conditioning and a fire place, we can host any party or function in any season or you can just come and enjoy.

Celebrating 16 years at the Baxter Concert Hall, the Festival will showcase a number of schools colleges and community big bands and special guest artists will be participating in the four day Festival.

The Mercury is a top class music venue in Cape Town, right up the road from the Cape Technikon and close to the city itself. Incorporating two venues playing a large mix of music, it is one of the best places in Cape Town to hear South African tunes.

This venue is actually two in one: the Live and the Lounge areas. With its own in-house sound and lighting system, the Mercury has built a superb reputation and a loyal clientele during its 10-year existence.

Located in the old historic area of District Six, also known as Zonnebloem, it hosts live music entertainment ranging in style from rock, hip-hop and pop to jazz, world music and electronica.

Mercury’s upstairs Live venue has a capacity of over 600, and has seen most of South Africa’s top acts perform on its stage. Foosball and pool tables provide a diversion in between performances. With regular specials and promotions on offer, it’s a firm favourite with live music aficionados.

The smaller, downstairs Lounge venue has capacity for approximately 150 people, and hosts DJ parties and student nights on certain evenings. Staying open till the wee hours, the lounge is also a favourite late-night dancing and chill-out spot for patrons from other clubbing venues nearby.

Owned by former band and road manager Kevin Winder, the Mercury has a solid reputation for providing the best quality sound in a convenient and well-equipped venue. This ethos extends to making sure that only the best bands, both established and up-and-coming, are invited to play, resulting in top quality music nights.

The venue has a relaxed and friendly vibe, with good security and, a rarity amongst live music venues, excellent service. Dedicated to supporting South African music, it’s one of the best live music venues in the country.

Aandklas is a Rock Bar created for people who love their music and socialising with friends in an awesome atmosphere. Aandklas is also a live music venue that hosts big South African bands and give up and coming bands the opportunity to reach bigger audiences. All and all it is just an awesome venue to come and have a couple of drinks and enjoy the Stellenbosch culture.

BULLETSCRIPT is a band with a clear message – open your eyes to the world around you, and question everything, taking nothing, and nobody, for granted.

The band consists of a full compliment of seasoned performers from the Cape Town metal scene. A band that enjoys pushing the envelope, placing great emphasis on solid song writing, stellar stage performance and a delivery so intense that your neck will be in a constant state of headbanging ecstasy.

Combining the skills of Ian Watson (Vocals), Jacques Hugo (Guitar), Oliver Saggerson (Guitar), JJ du Toit (Bass) and Kyle Curran (Drums), BULLETSCRIPT is ready to spread the word, take no prisoners and have a great time!

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A high energy electronicore band focused on bombastic theatrical performances, Set For The Sky have been making waves all across the local scene with electric live performances and a high quality sound. Consummate professionals, they have been gigging since 2013 and have continued to grow their name in the South African music market, with a highly acclaimed debut album, “The Machine”, released in 2015 and two video singles “Live Like You’re on Fire” and “The Secret Season”.

They have played numerous shows around the country including slots on many festivals and tours, they do not settle for mediocre, whether in their performance or their music, and will continue to provide an exceptional experience for their fans.

Follow the band on Facebook or check out their website

Follow Louise on Facebook or check out her website.

After discovering that he loved writing songs in high school and taking some guitar lessons, Jesse could sense that he was embarking on a journey to follow his dreams.

Jesse has had a career that many singer-songwriters would love. He has pursued his music with single-minded determination, and it has definitely paid off.

One of his first big miles stones on his journey was winning a national talent competition. After that there was no stopping Jesse! Not only did he get a mjor record deal, but Jesse went on to form the Jesse Jordan Band. The Jesse Jordan Band consisted of Alex Power on keys, Heindrich Schultz on guitar, JP Crouch on drums and Sheree Power on Rhythm guitar.

So far Jesse has managed to record four albums, but that’s just a start! He’s still in the prime of his career, and it would seem as though nothing is slowing him down.

Over the years he has played countless live shows; ranging from music festivals and parties to selling out venues. He has honed his skill as a performer and audiences always leave with a smile on their faces. Jesse is known to give 150% to every performance!

After years with the Jesse Jordan Band, Jesse has started a new solo journey. It’s just him, a guitar and his life experiences. He has spent the last two years writing new songs which explore the lessons he’s learned on his journey.

This new solo project is all about story-telling in the style of old-school singer-songwriters and bluesmen. It’s raw, personal and real. In his music, you will find a hint of Michael Buble meets Maroon5, but the sound is still unmistakably Jesse Jordan.

Faith Endorsement

In September 2017 Jesse Jordan was officially endorsed by Faith Guitars and Paul Bothner Music.

Faith guitars all have a rich and unique tone which perfectly matches the rawness of Jesse’s stories. It is a perfect partnership of tone and perfection.

To keep up with Jesse, go to his Facebook page or website and give him a like and a listen.

This hip, young virtuoso started playing piano at the age of four!! To his fans this would come as no surprise! Kyle is a well-schooled prodigy… He went on to study piano and voice as subjects, before leaving for Greece, as a youth, where he performed on the Olympia Countess, as it sailed around the globe!! He’s been musical director to many productions, at venues such as the Cape Town International Convention Center and Grand West Casino, amongst many others.

He’s also a producer, session musician, highly trained vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and has had lots of radio airplay. The Kyle Petersen Band features his university trained brother, session star, Darren Petersen, who’s also travelled and performed, much like Kyle.

Follow Kyle on Facebook or check out his website.

Reuben is a super drummer, with a history of achievements that read like the biography of a legend in the making! He studied at Beau Soleil’s Music Centre, completing his Trinity Grade 6 drum kit studies, with Distinction! He went on to study at the South African College of Music, at The University of Cape Town.

He performed with the Standard Bank National Schools’ Big Band, in 2007, and at Paul Bothner’s Drum Day, in 2010. He drummed for the North Sea Big Band, in 2010, and followed up by performing at the prestigious Cape Town International Jazz Festival, with Spha Mdlalose. Other notable work includes an appearance on Idols star Unathi’s album, entitled: ‘With Love’, and on Sowers of the Word’s debut album: ‘God of Wonders’. He has a background in Rock, Pop, Swing, Latin jazz, Bebop jazz, R ‘n’ B, Hip Hop and Gospel, in live performance, studio session work and educationally.

He currently performs with the Jimmy Nevis band, electro-pop quartet TheCity and SA ska band Trenton and Free Radicals.

Contact Details

To book Ruby Crowie as a session musician or simply for additional information, please email kim.muller@hotmail.com

If you like the tuneful use of light and shade like Led Zeppelin, Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies, Rage Against the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age, or any rock with that remarkable heaviness, grounded in performance and riffage, not sheer volume, you’ll love Taxi Violence.
If you’ve heard Zeppelin’s John Bonham’s beats and the multi-guitar, low-end, V8-revving tone of a guitarist whom wields an axe, not a tennis racket, you’ll need to watch Taxi Violence live. Ever felt like you’ll never get to hear those bands because ‘someone’ said there’s no market for it here? They lied! Join the throng! “Taxi Violence smashed onto the scene as a breath of fresh, raw exuberance without the need for any fancy ‘post’ this, or ‘neo’ that or cute little words like ‘alt’ or ‘indie’ necessary to define them. The result is that after seven years together, their sound is still a timeless ode to what they do best… rocking out!” – Dave Mac (Muse Magazine).
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This crew began in 2007 as an evolution of punk band HOAX. it’s now its own thing. Completely.They have been linked to a lot of things, they’ve worked with a lot of people, they’ve made a lot of friends. Words to describe their music and, experience and work ethic include “innovative” , “Earl Grey”, “guerrilla”, “disco Something”, “retro rock” and “melody” amongst others. That’s no joke.Along with a cult following that trend to turn their sentence into acronym and get the dance floor riled up, The Plastics set out to take over the world, or at least play some darn good gigs along the way.2008 saw the release of the bands first EP The Plastics followed closely by another one; Kiss The Plastics (2009). Both distributed among Cape Town’s indie elite and head bangers for free. for more information on the band click here.

 

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