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synths

Roland Alpha Juno programmers part 1: software

My AJ1

The Alpha Junos are the last analog Juno synths made by Roland, and unlike their predecessors they are not blessed with a bunch of faders – instead, for sculpting the sound you have to rely on lots of membrane buttons and a single Alpha dial. That would’ve been a bad idea even in case of a simpler synth, and the Alphas are considerably more powerful and complex than their older siblings, even the envelopes are not your grandma’s ADSR. Combine that with a filter that doesn’t self-oscillate, unlike the older Junos, and no wonder the Alphas were a flop. As a result, they still aren’t even half as expensive as the more famous models, despite being able to cover 95% of their sound and then do much more.

If you’ve bought an Alpha Juno, you can commit to doing it the hard way with the buttons and the Alpha dial. Or you can use one of the numerous software or hardware programmers/editors/librarians/whatever that can ease your life. In this post I’m trying to make a comprehensive list of software editors for the Alphas (which should also work with the MKS-50 and HS-80). Part 2 will cover the hardware ones.

Free software

Personally, I’m using a free Ctrlr panel (Windows/Mac/Linux) to adjust every parameter from your computer. Configuration is a bit tricky, but still manageable even for someone as dumb as me. You can also export it to a VST plugin, but I haven’t had any luck with DAW automation. Overall it’s a bit ugly and slow, but it’s free and it works well, plus the randomizer is fun.

Alpha Juno Ctrlr panel

Another free option is the Alpha Juno Control (Mac only), but I’ve failed to make it connect to my Juno.

Alpha Juno Control

Finally, you can get the free Alpha Base Editor (Windows only) which some people seem to prefer over the Ctrlr panel.

Alpha Base Editor

Paid software

VST-AU Alpha JUNO Editor (Windows/Mac) costs $69.95 for a single OS version or $119.95 for both. Looks nice and seems to be structured well, but I’d definitely want to see a graphical envelope for that price.

VST-AU Alpha JUNO Editor

Roland Alpha Juno 1 Editor and Librarian included in the Patch Base app (Mac/iOS) is available for $29.99. It’s also included in the monthly and yearly subscriptions, along with a bunch of other editors. Despite the name, it should work with the Alpha Juno 2 and MKS-50 as well. It sports a touch-friendly interface that looks a bit alien on a Mac in my opinion.

Roland Alpha Juno 1 Editor and Librarian (Patch Base)

Alpha Juno Editor is a Max for Live device, which means it only works in Ableton Live (Windows/Mac). On the plus side, it’s only $9, which looks like a great price for something with a nice interface and apparently great DAW integration, even if that DAW can only be Ableton Live.

Alpha Juno Editor Max for Live device

Alpha Editor (iOS) seems to be a comprehensive iPad app with a touch-optimized interface, randomization and a nice price of just $5.99.

Alpha Editor

iPG-800 (iOS) is emulating multiple Roland programmers, including the PG-300 which was specifically designed to alleviate problems associated with not having faders on your Alpha Juno. For just $4.99 you’re getting a faithful recreation of said programmer, up to the absence of a graphical envelope unfortunately.

iPG-800

These are all the software Alpha Juno editors (correct me if I’m wrong), stay tuned for the hardware ones.

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