April 2, 2011

Well, Shit...

by Chris Randall

I was going to, at this juncture, put up a lengthy rant about the Roland Jupiter 80. And the person that wrote this slavish bullshit. But then I thought what's the point? Why should Roland give a shit about 2,000 hard-core gear fetishists, when they can sell 10K of these to wedding band keyboard players?

And while that last sentence is, on the face of it, a sad thing, they're a business, and they have shareholders to please. There is a certain sort of company that will endeavor to get people like me or Matthew Davidson or others of our ilk to say nice things, and occasionally even solicit our opinions, and will work to make things that please people like us, and Roland is definitely not in a position where they need (or even want) to do that. The kind of quirky things that please us are inherently only really of interest to the couple thousand people that think like we do. The real music industry exists to please the 50,000 garage bands and the 50,000 wedding bands in the world. This is where the money is. And a corporation is generally beholden to its shareholders. Unless those shareholders are people like me and Matthew, their chief interest is a return on their investment.

Purists like us simply can't be pleased by a product like the Jupiter 80, as there's no room for (to borrow a word that Mr. Kirn uses with wild abandon) hacking. Roland's chief goal with an instrument like this is to make getting a sound that, well, sounds good for what it is supposed to do easy, quick, and thought-free. People like us like to think. We like to find new sounds, and figure out how to work them in to new contexts. The vast majority of the performing musicians in the world are much more concerned with easy access to old sounds, the ones that have already been thought of.

(As a brief aside, if you clicked that link, you'll see that there are 2,170 instances of the word "hack" in its various permutations on the createdigitalmusic.com site. For comparison, I have used the word "fuck" on this site 1,740 times.)

While I was pissing and moaning about this thing on Twitter, someone replied that perhaps I should wait to hear it before casting aspersions. I don't need to. Something like this may have "the best upright bass" a ROMpler can recreate, but it'll never make the bottles behind the bar rattle like a real one. It may have an excellent B3 emulation, but it doesn't have waterfall keys, two manuals, and a Leslie that makes your pantlegs flap. It might have a really pristine sample set of a Steinway grand in it, but it'll never look like polished laquer under a Leko framed just so.

In short, it may have science, but it is utterly lacking in art.

It'll sound like those things the same way it looks like a Jupiter 8: sort of. It will be, no doubt, a high-quality instrument for the paint-by-numbers set. Those guys make good money, too.


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Apr.03.2011 @ 7:59 AM
Please your stockholders all you want.
Just don't call it a Jupiter.

Apr.03.2011 @ 8:56 AM
That Journey video kicks ass when the blonde is walking toward the guy at 2:00 and then he starts gesticulating "in vain... in vain... in vain..." and then comes at us like he wants to kill us. Then she turns around. Then he hides in the palettes.

The song kicks ass and the video gets me pumped. But I always was a sucker for the practicing scenes in 80's sports underdog films. (Namely, Rad.)

What's also funny is that Roland already released a synth based on the legend of the Jupiter 8: the JP-8000.

Apr.03.2011 @ 10:08 AM
I hear the JP-80 features Roland's new Lush Analog Modeling Engine.

Apr.03.2011 @ 10:20 AM
Arturia ..... Ur doin it wrong.

Apr.03.2011 @ 12:16 PM
I'm also with boobs except, the Honda lawnmower is named the Acura NSX mkII.

Apr.03.2011 @ 12:24 PM
I'm with boobs.

Apr.03.2011 @ 12:27 PM
Then again, electronic music is the only touring draw out there.

link [lefsetz.com/worex.ph...]

But of course Keyboard magazine is going to love this synth. They have become lounge lizard magazine.

Apr.03.2011 @ 1:30 PM
keyboard magazine has been a piece of shit for as long as i can remember... i have no idea how that one stays afloat. it must be one of the worst places to work as a writer/editor/musician... unless you are a total tool..

Apr.03.2011 @ 2:57 PM
I dont think it honestly matters. Roland doesnt like the synth nerd set. Hell, I have it on good information that even companies like Access, who make good money on the synth nerds, really do hate them. We are the trekkies of the music world. We nutter on about envelopes and modulations and sidebands when, really, thats the afterthought in modern instrument design. As Chris said, you are not their market.

Chris makes a good point about sounds of the past. I think jupiter is an appropriate name for a box that tries to redo the sounds of the past because, HELLO, the Jupiter IS the sound of the past. As new and as exciting as that sound may be to some ears, it still comes from a 30 year old keyboard using 60 year old tech. It is *hardly* a foward thinking technology (forward thinking is something rarely attached to musicians, in my opinion).

Also, put it in context. The reason the Jupiter 8 sounded like a Jupiter 8 and not a Jupiter 80 was because that was what the technology could do at the time. The focus was on trying to create analog circuits that could *synthesize* strings, brass, bass, keys...etc. They didn't have sampling then, so thats how they did it. It was never ever ever about creating new sounds for Roland, Korg or anyone (Ok, Buchla...maybe). It was about selling to the gigging musicians who paid the bills, and not synth nerds. Fuck synth nerds.

Apr.03.2011 @ 3:46 PM
clavia embraced the synth nerds for a while with the modular G1/G2 but it's pretty obvious that software is where designers speak directly to the nerds though elektron and maybe DSI straddle that line pretty well.

these days clavia just makes the higher end version of what roland wants to make.. stage pianos and stuff.

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