Does Roland’s software Juno 60 capture the magic of the original?
The Roland Cloud... misguided or the best thing to happen since soft synths first dropped out of the trees? Opinion seems to be divided between those who dislike it on principle, and those who love it. It’s not my job to judge who is right; if the Cloud’s combination of subscriptions, rent‑to‑buy and purchasing works for you, that’s great. If it doesn’t, move on. But if you’re not willing to give the Cloud a chance, you might want to stop reading now because the subject of this review is only available through it. Following hot on the heels of Arturia’s Jun‑6 V, it’s Roland’s recreation of the Juno 60 called, with horrifying inevitability, the Juno 60. But since this will be very confusing when comparing it with the original, I hope that Roland will forgive me for renaming it the Cloud 60, at least for this review.
Listen to these Roland demo tracks while you continue reading.
Whereas Arturia’s approach was to create a (mostly) accurate representation of the original synth and place its additional features within an Advanced panel that could be popped out when wanted, Roland have chosen to place everything in the Cloud 60 within a single GUI, adding a second ADSR contour generator, three effects and some extra facilities to give it a pumped‑up, Super‑Juno‑on‑steroids look and feel. The result is only superficially reminiscent of a Juno 60 and, the first time that I saw it, it reminded me more of a Jupiter 6.
Its signal path begins with an emulation of the Juno 60’s single DCO per voice, but six footages from 64’ to 2’ now attract the eye, and the waveform on/off buttons of the original have been replaced by faders so that you can now balance the contributions from the sawtooth and pulse waveforms. These additions may not be authentic, but they’re certainly useful. In addition, the application of the LFO to the oscillator frequency is now bi‑polar, as is the application of the selected contour to the pulse width. The consequences of these additions may not be obvious, but they considerably extend the range of sounds that you can obtain.
Moving onto its high‑pass filter, the Cloud 60 offers 255 values from its minimum to its maximum frequencies — essentially a smooth fader as found on the Juno 6 rather than the four possible values found on the Juno 60 and Juno 106. It also offers a switch to choose between the HPF response of the Juno 60 (which travelled from flat through three degrees of high‑pass filtering) and that of the Juno 106 which wasn’t, strictly speaking, a high‑pass filter. Instead, it generated a significant low‑end boost at its lowest setting and approximated a high‑pass filter at its upper settings. Common wisdom is that this was a significant factor in the popularity of the Juno 106, although you can generate pretty much the same effect by careful use of external EQ.