Welcome to my Roland JUNO Di review. The Juno-DI is designed for travelling musicians who want a full set of musical styles available at their fingertips. Battery powered and lightweight, it can be taken anywhere, whether it’s a gig, a rehearsal, or even in the studio. It is easy to use and packed with more than a thousand sounds. The individual sounds are organised into categories such as piano, synth, guitar, organ, etc.
There are even some synth control knobs on the control panel for live adjustment of common synth parameters such as attack, release, reverb, cutoff and resonance.
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Product: Roland JUNO Di
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon
Warranty: 3 years
Better Alternative: Korg KROSS
Nick of Sonic State Says it Has Some Good Sounds
Lots of Great Sounds, Well Organized
With over a thousand sounds on the Juno-Di, it’s probably going to be a long time before you run out of new sounds to play around with. The sounds are conveniently organized into categories such as piano, strings, organ, synth, guitar, etc. This means you can very quickly find the type of sound you are looking for. You can also assign sounds to the “Favorites” buttons for very quick access, which will come in very handy in live situations.
The piano, string and guitar sounds are particularly good. The distorted electric guitar sounds do a reasonable job of emulating a real electric guitar, although it’s always difficult to get very close to the real thing. The pad and vocal sounds are also very good, which can be great for adding lovely atmospheric backings to songs.
You can even edit the sounds in great detail by plugging the keyboard up to your computer using the USB port and using the accompanying software.
However, not all of the sounds are great. Maybe that is inevitable when there are so many sounds to choose from, not all of them are going to be great. This is probably most likely caused by the limited sample memory, which means that some sound samples could be better quality. But just be aware that although this keyboard has well over 1,000 sounds, that’s not over 1,000 great quality sounds. It’s some great sounds and then a bunch of other sounds to fill it up.
Although this keyboard does have drum sounds, it’s somewhat baffling that they have not included any of the sounds from any of the classic Roland drum machines of the past. This seems like a fundamental oversight. Those old drum machines were so popular and on so many records, it just seems obvious to include them in an all-round keyboard like this. Also, the rhythm patterns could be better. Oh well.
Although there is the ability to change some sound parameters with the 5 knobs, other sound editing options are somewhat limited. Will this matter? Not really, if you are happy with the preset sounds, but those who like to dive in and have a play around might find it a slight problem. Luckily, if you hook it up to your computer you can do more sound editing with the accompanying software.
The Juno-Di is 16-part multi-timbrel, which means it can play up to 16 different sounds at the same time. It has 128 note polyphony, which when divided up between the 16 different sounds is 8-note polyphony per instrument. This is plenty and means you can have lots of chords and complex sounds happening at the same time.
The ability to layer sounds on top of each other and play them at the same time on the one keyboard can give you some really full, fat sounds. Just one problem, you can’t do both of these things at the same time, which is a bit limiting.
For those who like crazy-sounding vocals, the built-in vocoder could be a lot of fun. It’s also great to be able to easily add other effects to your vocals. However, one problem is that you cannot have different effects for different songs, which is somewhat limiting. Also, the vocoder effect is not quite as good as it could be, so don’t expect to be sounding quite like Kraftwerk with this keyboard.
Easy to Use & Fun to Play with Some Great Live Performance Features
If you are not a synthesizer expert, it really doesn’t matter. You can start making great sounds with the Juno-Di straight away. It’s a lot of fun to dive straight in and get started with the preset sounds. Then when you are feeling a bit more bold, why not play around with the D-beam controller or start turning the sound adjustment knobs. A keyboard needs to be fun to play, otherwise, you’re just going to put it away in a cupboard and not play it.
You can also play along with your favorite songs. Simply plug a USB memory stick into the USB stick port, or plug in an MP3 player to the external input, and use the Song Player function to play along to your favorite songs. Or perhaps you have created your own backing tracks that you want to play over the top of, making it ideal for the solo performer or small band.
In addition to the layering ability, there is the split option that means you can assign different sounds to different parts of the keyboard. So, for example, you can play a bass sound with your left hand while playing chords or lead sounds with your right hand.
You can also manipulate the synthesizer sounds live by turning any of the 5 adjustment knobs: attack, release, reverb, cutoff, and resonance. Alternatively, you can use the D-beam motion sensor by moving your hand in front of it.
Unfortunately, the keys on the Juno-Di are not the best. Whether or not you notice this will probably depend on what keyboards you have used before. If you are new to keyboards and synthesizers, you might not know any different. But if you have used high-quality weighted keyboards in the past, these keys may come as a slight disappointment. The lack of aftertouch could be disappointing to some people, but might not matter to others.
The MIDI ports mean you can synchronize the Juno-Di with other digital musical instruments, use it as a MIDI controller, or use an external sequencer to control it. You can also use the USB port to connect it up to your computer. This could be useful for using it with music software, or for editing the sounds using the supplied sound-editing software.
For its size, this keyboard is very light, and it also runs off batteries for up to 5 hours. That makes it great for being able to take it wherever you want, whether it’s a gig or a band rehearsal. If you perform music in lots of different places, the last thing you want is lots of heavy gear, so it’s great that the Juno-Di is so light.
Is it Good Value for Money?
For the price tag, you are unlikely to get anything else quite as fully-featured as the Juno-Di. With so many sounds immediately available, it’s portability and ease of use, you do get quite a lot for your money. This makes it great for anyone who is just starting out and doesn’t have a lot of money to buy lots of different keyboards.
Is the Roland JUNO Di Suitable for You?
This keyboard is clearly designed for the live performing musician. If you need a reasonably-priced all-round keyboard that can do a wide variety of sounds reasonably well and is lightweight to carry to gigs, this is a pretty good choice. Sure, you can get better keyboards for more money, and the Juno-Di won’t necessarily do everything you ever want it to do. But if you are in a band that is just starting out and you need something pretty good that will cover most bases pretty well, without breaking the bank, it is definitely worth considering…but only if you can get it for a good discounted price, otherwise you should consider the Korg Kross 61.
Is it the best choice for someone wanting to make music by themselves at home? Probably not. If you already have a computer, and you intend to make your own music at home, I would recommend getting Propellerhead Reason and a standard MIDI controller keyboard. You will get more sounds and flexibility for creating whole pieces of music by yourself. But that’s not what the Juno-Di is intended for. It is clearly meant for live performance as a good value all-round keyboard.
I hope you found my Roland JUNO Di review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.
All the best,