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Roland Juno-106 (Part 3 - Back From The Spa)

After not very long at all, the voice board for my Juno-106 came back from the Synth Spa. Frankly, I was a little jealous. While I was working away in busy, noisy Tokyo, my voice chips got to spend a nice vacation relaxing at the spa in Tennessee. It obviously did the trick because they sound great now.

I opened the box to find the six chips stripped of that horrible black resin coating. They’ve been installed in sockets now so they can be easily removed. They’ve even been autographed by Allen, thus identifying his handiwork. Remember, Allen honors his work for eight years so it makes sense that he’d want to be able to identify them.

After screwing the board in and re-attaching the wire to the test point (remember, I have a “rare” rev 1 board) I fired it up. And let me tell you, I wouldn’t have been surprised if angels had flown out of the thing, it sounded so good. Here was that famous Juno sound in all its glory: thick pads (there’s really only one oscillator here?), bouncy bass, luscious sweeps.

Feeling nostalgic, I decided to load in the original factory patches. It’s easy enough to do from your phone, and I was soon luxuriating in 1980s synth pop heaven. Remember, not only does Allen refurbish the chips, he also calibrates it. I could really hear it in the patches that make use of the self-oscillating filter to add extra harmonics.

I had been hoping that getting the board back would encourage me to keep going on the restoration, and it really has. The work that needs to be done—particularly refurbishing the sliders—doesn’t seem so intimidating now that I have it singing. I’m actually looking forward to pulling them out and taking them apart. That’s how gorgeous this thing sounds.

Unfortunately, the low C is still dead, and if I don’t toughen up the solder joints for the heat sink transistors soon my celebrations may be cut sadly short. The workbench awaits.

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