In 1986, Roland released their Alpha Juno series. This continued the tradition of their analog Juno synths, but to get costs right down, they dropped the sliders and instead used a data entry method where all the parameters were adjusted with a single data wheel. The Juno-1 and Juno-2 were pretty much the same except for the larger five octave keyboard included on the Juno-2. The Juno-1 is a smaller, three octave keyboard.
Both Juno's included six voices, DCO digitally controlled oscillators, LFO, high pass filter, VCF filter with freq/env/res/LFO/kybd, VCA envelope and a chorus effect. Other new features included better MIDI implementation than previous Roland synths and a larger memory of 64 presets and 64 user patches. The Juno-2 also had a cartridge slot for the Roland M64c cartridges which held an additional 64 sounds.
Roland's MKS-50 synth module was released a year later and was essentially their Alpha Juno synth in a one space rack mount unit. It has the same synth engine with some added features like 16 programmable chord memories, the ability to store velocity, volume, panning, de-tune, portamento and other similar parameters within each patch you create.
Programming the MKS-50 as well as the Alpha Juno's from the front panel can be difficult. To solve this, Roland released the PG-300 programmer which gives you traditional slider control of each parameter for easier editing. An alternative to the PG-300 is using a computer editor to tweak your sounds. We use MOTU's "Unisyn" which gives you all the same features that are on the PG-300.
Roland PG-300 Programmer
Our Alpha Juno Sounds are available as system exclusive or standard midi files. If your computer has a midi interface or sound card connected to the USB port, you can use your midi interface to load in the sounds. We provide the software along with your order that will load in the sounds for you. Midi interfaces are an inexpensive alternative to purchasing RAM or PCM cards and we sell them starting at under $100. Sorry, but we no longer offer the sounds on the M64c cartridges.
We have also done extensive sampling of the MKS-50 and Juno's and many of the sounds are available in WAV, Akai, Reason or Kontakt formats - so it's the next best thing if you don't happen to have a vintage synth in your collection. Just click on the above "catalog" link to get to our main catalog where you can find everything. Our sounds will also get you back in business if your Alpha Juno or MKS50 battery has died and you lost all the sounds in the memory.
If your just getting into synthesizers and on a budget, a used Alpha Juno or MKS-50 is worth looking into. Unlike many other analog synths, the Juno's and MKS-50 have not skyrocketed in price.