Some of the most widely used and distinctive sounding polyphonic synthesizers produced, the Roland Juno series is not too far away in architecture from its large and illustrious cousin, the Jupiter-8.
What makes the Roland Juno synthesizers so special?
Although the oscillators are digitally controlled, the level of warmth, depth, and texture that can be produced with its limited set of controls and features is astonishing.
When combined with the classic arpeggiator, or the highly recognizable built-in Juno chorus effect, it isn’t hard to fathom why it still remains such a sought-after creative tool in modern music.
How do the different Juno models compare?
In this post, we’ll look at some of the best plugin emulations of the Juno and its famous chorus. We’ll also dig into the record bag and find some iconic examples where Junos were used to great effect.
Finally, we’ll cover some techniques you can use within your DAW to ensure you’re getting an accurate sound more reminiscent of the original.
Which are the best Roland Juno plugins?
Each analogue plug-in emulation available takes a slightly different approach. Some recreate classic Juno sounds with a familiar interface, while others expand on the possibilities of the original.
Togu Audio Line U-NO-LX
We’ve mentioned TAL plugins before in this series – suffice to say, I’m a fan. Apart from the raw sound produced, any plugin with an interface that keeps you away from the patch library is worth holding onto.
The TAL U-NO-LX is based on the Roland Juno-60, maintaining most of its core aspects like the oscillator and filter sections in particular.
Accurately modeling the Juno-60’s VCA envelope is more difficult, but the U-NO-LX still achieves a detailed sound that really shines when paired with the AudioEase Altiverb or another high-quality reverb.
- Subtle added features in all the right areas
- Familiar intuitive interface
- High frequencies are not quite as smooth as the Juno-60 without chorus active
Arturia’s Jun-6V is another convincing plugin emulation, based on the Roland Juno-6 architecture. The UI is laid out in an almost identical fashion to the original hardware, which makes it easy to navigate.
Overall the sound doesn’t have quite the same ‘knock’ that leaps out from your speakers as the TAL, but it is still a very rich sound nevertheless.
Smoother highs make the Jun-6V perfect for creating the lush evolving pads that the Roland Juno is known for, and the added reverb and delay effects make it easy to create a full enough sound without reaching for more plugins.
- All the details of the original hardware
- Great set of expanded features and effects
- Doesn’t sit in the mix quite like the analogue hardware would
Roland Cloud Juno-60 & Juno-106
It goes without saying that the Roland Cloud plugins offer some of the best emulations of the Juno series available.
With an additional envelope and an expanded selection of effects, these software instruments capture the character of the original hardware versions and provide a few extra creative tools to work with.
In addition, these plugins are also fully compatible with the Roland System-8, which gives you complete tactile control of the plugins. The voice count of both the Juno-60 & Juno-106 plugins has also been increased to eight, giving you a slightly wider range to create chords.
- Authentic recreations of the original hardware synths with some useful added features
- Controls map easily with the System-8
- Brand exclusive features
While it is not exclusively a Juno emulation, Diva is still a powerful and realistic-sounding softsynth. While the interface might not look exactly like a Juno, it’s possible to recreate every aspect of the sonic architecture in detail with Diva’s extensive features.
Up to 16 voice polyphony combined with the ability to stack voices, allows you to go beyond what was possible with the original hardware. Also, you have the option to mix and match your oscillator, filter, and envelope section models to create unique combinations.
While it has been around a while, Diva is still an extremely complex and great-sounding vintage synth plugin.
- An extremely versatile instrument with a rich, textured sound
- NKS compatible
- Realtime circuit simulation and ZDF means high CPU load
- Mac AAX version is not yet M1 compatible
With some of the best plugin emulations in the business, it’s no surprise to find AudioRealism’s ReDominator on this list and many others too. The attention to detail in the interface design makes it a pleasure to use, and its eight parameter envelope generator gives you an extra degree of control when designing sounds.
Although the Alpha Juno became famous in the late 80s and early 90s for its Acid and Techno sounds, the Redominator is capable of so much more.
t can even load the original Alpha Juno patch banks if that’s what you’re after, but the interface is simple enough to dive into from the init. patch and create your own sounds in minutes.
- Simple, authentic, and easy to use
- Really great sounding
- Too few to mention
Some other great Juno emulations also include:
Using the Juno chorus
Both hardware and software versions of the Roland Juno chorus have become extremely popular for use on other instruments. Plugins like the TAL-Chorus-LX and the Arturia Chorus Jun-6 can be used to give your native DAW softsynths an authentic Juno-like edge.
They can also be used on vocals, guitars, and effects return tracks such as reverb and delay to widen the stereo image and create more texture. Be sure to filter your low frequencies accordingly when using chorus plugins in parallel, as this will ensure you’re actually adding depth to the sound you’re creating.
The Roland Juno synthesizers in popular music
The Roland Juno series can be heard on some of the most iconic songs in pop music history. From Madonna’s Chic produced Like A Virgin single from 1984, to the Eurythmics smash hit Sweet Dreams, or the internet’s all-time favourite Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley.
The Juno offered artists access to rich, full soundscapes at a more reasonable price compared to some of the other famous polysynths of the time, such as the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, the Roland Jupiter-8, or the monstrous Yamaha CS-80. The thick tonal sound and sharp envelopes make the Juno extremely diverse for almost any sound you can think of, especially pads, stabs, and basslines.
Apart from its use in electronic music, Junos are also widely used by Indie and Shoegaze musicians for the colourful character of their sound. Some other notable exponents include Vangelis, MGMT, Tame Impala, and Com Truise. (watch here: Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up (Official Music Video))
Recreating that classic Juno sound
The first thing you’ll notice about using a Juno is its tendency to warp and warble around, even when used in mono – and especially with the chorus active.
While these slightly unstable characteristics are synonymous with analogue circuitry, there are ways of reproducing this level of realism with software by using the right approach:
- Slightly detuning the oscillators can immediately create more authentic results
- Simpler pads and basslines are possible using the softsynths mentioned above
- Careful use of chorus and portamento can enhance the clinical character in the way plugins reproduce pitch
- The noise oscillator can also be a useful tool for softening the high frequencies for a more pleasing overall sound
- Becoming adept with the synthesis parameters and designing your own sounds will save you endless hours of patch browsing
More about vintage gear and plugin emulations
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