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Reviews Synthesizer/Rack/Module


Review of the Baloran The River analog synthesizer

When the analog flows in the stream! 35 years after the release of The Moog Source, the young French company Baloran pushes the concept to the next level. The River, much more than a polyphonic multitimbral analog synth, is made with pragmatism, modesty, talent and innovation. An outstanding musical instrument! read more…

Review of the Ploytec Pi L Squared Leukos Synth

Little Bad Boy The Ploytec Pi L Squared Leukos (PL2 Leukos) is a hardware synthesizer module that fits in the palm of your hand, and can plug into your computer and respond to your DAW. Its analog pulse wave oscillators and analog and digital filters can create some pretty impressive synth textures. All parameters are edited via MIDI control change messages or using the comprehensive free software editor. And best of all the PL2 Leukos sells for a street price of $99. read more…

Waldorf Streichfett Review

Fat Strings Unveiled last spring at Frankfurt, it wasn't until mid-summer that the Streichfett was to be seen in stores. As soon as it came out, we grabbed one and stripped it down! read more…

User reviews on Synthesizer/Rack/Module products

Very small – but very mighty, too! (Roland - JP-08)

By petitsynthe, 21/10/2018
So this is a miniature analog-modelling synth rendering Toland’s high-end synth from the early 80s (1981 precisely), the Jupiter 8.

It seems sturdy and is quite heavy considering its size, which is quite telling as to its building quality. After a closer look, it IS indeed a high-quality product, all the more when you consider its price!

It only comes with 4 batteries, the micro-USB cord is not supplied (but it’s the same standard as the one powering your cell phone).

It’s very cute but very small too – hence some of the nicknames people have given it, the “gnome synth” or “hobbit synth”.
After the Korg Volca, Arturia mini/micro-brute, Korg mini MS20/ARP Odyssey and Yamaha Reface, Roland seems to have followed that “honey, I’ve shrunk the synth” trend which has been going on for the last few years now.

I love compact machines, but this one is a bit on the extreme side: try and edit with faders that are only 2cm long… Thankfully, they offer a good resistance which allows to compensate the problem while adding precision.

Roland’s technology used here is called ACB (for Analog Circuit Behavior), it models the behaviour of each of the original synth’s component for better rendering of the analog sound.

It is a further improvement compared with the previous generation Virtual Analog models: this time, it sounds (almost) like a real analog’s oscillators, envelopes or filters!

It may still sound a bit too clean, but only a bit…

As to comparing with the original, I’ve owned a Jupiter 8 in the past (which I had bought used when it was still affordable), but it was 20 years ago or so. In theory, I could compare it with what my ears remember, but it’s frankly too old for anything reliable. However, all in all, I’d say it sounds rather close.

So far, with the synth’s processor, you’ll have to choose from polyphony or realism, and Roland has favored sound quality over polyphony which is limited to 4 voices. Hey, why only 4 voices? That’s much too limited for a digital device, even just 6 would have worked for me but 4… Granted, you can buy another JP-08 and chain it to the first one for a total 8 voices, but it instantly becomes less practical and more expensive – plus the psychological effect: buying twice the same gear, doesn’t that feel strange?

Especially as we can expect further evolutions:
Roland has indicated the Boutique series would be a limited edition, which doesn’t mean another (better) series won’t be produced, e.g. bigger models with more polyphony.

So, with the original 4 voices, wave your pads goodbye… (unless perhaps you can do with only two notes, but that’s quite limites). This won’t be a problem with most other sounds without too long a release – well, as long as you’re not into very complex chords.

Of all three Boutique synths, the JP-08 is the only one that I’ve bought as it’s also the only one featuring VCOs, the one with the most powerful synthesis engine, plus the only one with such an “80s legend” status. The only things missing compared with the other two (the JX-03 and JU-06) are a good chorus and longer-coursed faders/knobs.

I also bought the optional clipsable keyboard (a great idea by Roland), which is nice though nothing exceptional: the advantage is that you can play instantly with nothing else to plug and it also looks clearly nicer, but you’re soon limited with only two octaves.

Please note that the JP-08 also can also be used as a rather powerful sound interface (though I haven’t used it as such), features a rather basic step sequencer, and has an integrated small speaker of very average quality (don’t count on it for more than quick sound tests).

So, in the end,


- Almost analog sounding (ala 80s).
- Very good manufacturing quality.
- Doesn’t take up mush space in a portable, standalone and already-crammed homestudio.


- The faders’ course is too small.
- Polyphony offers only 4 voices, which is the JU-08’s big fault: a real pity, which by itself prevents me from giving it a 4-star rating.

But clearly, it sounds very well and its power allows to create a wide array of analog sounds: so wile it’s small in size, this JP-08 delivers a mighty, mighty sound!

As a bonus : a track (and album!) entirely recreated using the Jp-08 :


WARM. HUGE. ANALOG. My new ambient pad, brass & string machine! (Oberheim - Matrix-1000)

By volcarock, 27/01/2019
I bought the Matrix 1000 in black one week ago as a counterpart for my beloved Juno 60. And this 6 voice polyphonic rack synthesizer sounds really analog and wide , even without FX. I really love the overall warm sound, it is the opposite of some harsh sounding modern synths.

But with adding a bit of delay, reverb or modulation FX turns it into an epic analog pad, brass &string machine. This it what I am mainly using it for.
But nevertheless there are also fantastic bass, leads, FM, FX and all other kind of analog sounds possible.
With the Mod matrix it is easy to make very organic sounds.
And even if attack time and LFO's are a bit slower, for my kinda music they fit.

When I bought it, Firmware was 1.11, so I did an eprom upgrade to 1.20 (Tauntek/Rob Grieb) where a lot of bugfixes have been solved. It is possible to use the Matrix now with a MIDI controller without problems! The eprom also includes the important global detune from Gigli v. 1.6. With this upgrade the Matrix 1000 does not sound static anymore, the DCO's behave more VCO like.

Without an external controller the matrix 1000 is more or less a preset machine because no editing is possible.
With my stereoping controller it is really fun to tweak the synth. Of course you can also use a Software to tweak, but I prefer real knobs.

For me it is the perfect sounding analog poly!
And I am thinking of grabbing a second one for stereo operations or 12 voice polyphony :-)


Very nice sounding synth (Studio Electronics - SE-1)

By dlmorley, 29/03/2019
I got this in a deal and wasn't expecting too much, but pleasantly surprised. Rather than a newbie buying a Behringer or Korg, I'd rate these higher. Good build quality and a classic sound. Won't replace my Minimoog, but it's very practical and sounds very good. Recommended if you don't mind racks.

News Synthesizer/Rack/Module

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Feature Articles Synthesizer/Rack/Module

A synth in my guitar

Published on 02/08/18
A synth in my guitar
The '80s revival that has taken hold of pop culture seems to not have an end. And, obviously, music hasn't escaped this phenomenon, to the benefit of one instrument: the synthesizer. A fact that make…

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