Roland JUNO-Gi Mobile Synthesizer Back

Hands-On Review: Roland JUNO-Gi Mobile Synthesizer

Posted on .

A pro performance synth, multitracker with FX, and DAW interface—all in one!

By Jim Bybee
Writer/Editor, Roland Corporation U.S.

The ultimate performer

Roland JUNO-Gi Synthesizer 61 Key

The JUNO-Gi is light, mobile, and ready for the stage. Equipped with 61 full-size keys, it runs on batteries or AC power, so you can play absolutely anywhere. Onboard are nearly 1,400 new sounds, tweaked for live performance and covering just about any music style. It's easy to navigate the massive sound library with the Tone Category buttons, and you can save your most-used sounds as Favorites for quick recall while performing.

On the JUNO-Gi, a "sound" is more than just a single voice; it's actually a group of sounds called a "Live Set," which contains up to four different tones that you can layer together or split across the keyboard. With Live Sets, it's easy to create rich, complex sounds, and it's simple to tweak them in realtime with the easy-to-reach Sound Modify knobs.

Roland JUNO-Gi USB Flash Drive

To sweeten and/or mangle your Live Sets, the JUNO-Gi offers a ton of processing options via two powerful multi-FX engines and reverb and chorus effects. In addition to the Sound Modify knobs, realtime controllers include pitch bend, modulation, and the infrared D-beam, which lets you add expression to sounds with a wave of your hand. There's also an onboard arpeggiator, and a handy USB Song Player for playing along with WAV or MP3 songs or backing tracks stored on a USB flash drive.

Multitrack recording companion

Roland JUNO-Gi Recording SD/SDHC Media Card

With its synth features alone, the JUNO-Gi is one impressive instrument. But it doesn't stop there—it's also a full-featured multitrack audio recorder, with eight playback tracks, 64 virtual tracks, and dedicated faders and transport controls. Powerful and easy to use, the recorder makes it a snap to put together songs and record other musicians with superb sound quality. Recording is direct to convenient SD/SDHC media, with up to 192 hours of possible recording time on a single 32GB card.

You can capture keyboard sounds, of course, but you can also plug in a guitar or vocal mic and record them as well. The recorder has its own multi-effects section, with effects powered by BOSS, Roland's guitar products division. When you plug in a guitar, you have an entire array of pro amps and effects at your disposal, all derived from BOSS' flagship GT-10 Guitar Effects Processor. Combo amps, mega stacks, stompbox distortions, delay, mod, and reverb effects, and many more—they're all here, ready to play in great-sounding presets. Or, for complete control, you can dive into Edit mode and tweak every parameter in micro detail. These guitar effects sound superb and are inspiring to play, providing "real deal" tone that will satisfy even the most diehard tone purists.

Top-notch vocal effects like compression, enhancer, and delay are on hand, too, and you can record with the effects, or simply use them for monitoring and record your sound dry for later processing. The recorder's 64 virtual tracks are great for capturing ideas and alternate takes; for example, you can record multiple versions of a guitar solo and choose the best one later, or capture various vocal takes and comp them together to create a perfect performance.

To add some rhythm to your music, there's a built-in drum machine with a ton of cool drum kits and percussion sounds, along with a host of preset patterns in a variety of musical styles. Each pattern group has variations for different songs' sections, letting you whip up slick rhythm tracks in no time. If you like, you can even create your own patterns, just as you would on a standalone drum machine. The rhythm always plays in perfect sync with the recorder, and automatically starts and stops with your audio tracks.

When you're ready to mix, you have everything you need to create a CD-ready song. Each track has its own EQ, and you can sweeten the sound with reverb and chorus effects. Finally, powerful mastering effects are available to add a final polish to your tunes.

Easy computer integration

Roland JUNO-Gi Digital Recorder

Today, a computer is the central component in many music studios, and the JUNO-Gi integrates seamlessly into that environment as a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 audio/MIDI interface. With just a single-cable USB connection, the JUNO-Gi instantly becomes the hub of your Windows or Mac studio: use the synth's XLR, guitar, and stereo line inputs to route audio to the computer, and monitor your music software's output through the headphone and stereo output jacks. Best of all, you can use the JUNO-Gi's BOSS-powered effects to record and/or process tracks in your DAW. You can also use the keyboard to record MIDI data in sequencing software and play virtual instruments, and use the faders, knobs, and buttons as a control surface for your DAW.

It's simple to swap audio tracks back and forth between the JUNO-Gi's recorder and a PC. You can transfer song tracks started in the JUNO-Gi for completion in a computer DAW, or export mixes for burning CDs and uploading to the web. You can also import computer audio into the recorder for live playback or song creation.

To jumpstart your computer-based music production studio, the JUNO-Gi comes with Cakewalk's Production Plus Pack, a suite of pro music software for your Windows-based PC. The centerpiece of this bundle is SONAR 8.5 LE, Cakewalk's premium DAW software, along with three amazing virtual instrument plug-ins: Rapture LE, Studio Instruments Drums, and Cakewalk Sound Center.

An astounding value

With so many great features under one hood, the JUNO-Gi is one powerful performer, and with its affordable price, it's an absolute steal of a deal. From live keyboard performance to songwriting, it's the ultimate creation station. With the ability to run on batteries, you can play music everywhere, and even integrate with a laptop PC for the ultimate music workstation on the go. Check out the JUNO-Gi and make this powerful keyboard the center of your musical world today!

Tags: Keyboards Roland

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