As soon as I put on my headphones, I felt like I was back in the 80s, kicking in the on-board arpeggiator on fat lead patches and comping chords on silky-smooth pads. I'm simply blown away by the versatility of the Roland Juno Gi. For any keyboardist who wants an analog sound and in-the-box tools to record, I strongly recommend this instrument.
My First Keyboard
I'm a guitar player who composes, writes, arranges and records at home. I bought this 'board almost three years ago now, and have played it a LOT in the time since. I initially got it because I was fearful of DAW-based recording and preferred using hardware. I was up and recording an original within days. There are a lot of useful patches, and the onboard recorder was similar enough to my Boss (another Roland product) MicroBR that the learning curve wasn't too steep.
After a while, I started working with the free version of Cubase that came with another piece of hardware and found that the Juno-Gi worked great as a synth instrument as well as a MIDI controller, and I was able to record some tracks using that method as well. The issue I had was that I spent way too much time doing the engineering tasks, and not enough time with songwriting, composing and musicianship.
So I've gone back to using the onboard 8-track. There are no latency issues to solve. While there are a lot--and I mean a LOT--of sound options, it's not as comprehensive as using VSTs instruments and effects, but for me, that's a good thing. Now with 8 tracks and 8 virtual tracks per, there are a lot of takes to be had, but not nearly as many as were available in the DAW, which means that to have a decent workflow, I have to perform better during the recording. It also means that I'm more likely to rehearse before hitting RECORD. With only one instrument/mic input, and no interface, I'm less likely to hop instruments between takes. It makes me have to focus on one instrument track at a time.
This device won't replace a full-on recording studio, and probably won't even replace a well thought out and resourced home rig, but for laying down ideas and arrangements BEFORE you shell out money for studio time, it's a great piece of kit.
As for the 'board itself: it was my first keyboard and I'm very happy that I went with a quality piece. I've played around on other keyboards at music stores and have found that I favor the Gi's semi-weighted keys versus synth or weighted actions. I've also found that realtive to some other keyboards, the Gi's feel more substantial. The buttons feel kind of fragile, but the whole thing has held up fine. I don't travel with it, so aside from a family move, it's stayed in the music room its entire life. As the specs say there are over a thousand sounds in this thing, but I find myself coming back to a few go-tos. The acoustic piano sounds are nice, but the electric pianos, especially the Wurlitzers are very pleasing to my ears. Most of the horns don't really sound like horns, but they sound like synth horns, so they'll work in most of the stuff I do. The synth sounds are also very useful. I don't do electronic music, but adding a lead or a bassline in addition to the bass guitar really fattens up the sound, and it's easy to do on this keyboard using the arpeggiator and chord memory functions.
Another thing: the onboard effects use Roland/Boss's COSM modelling, and some of them are useful, but I find using my Digitech RP1000 for amp/cab modelling to yield better results when recording electric guitar. They work great for electric bass however.
To sum: if you're cool with DAW recording and can get a good productivity and workflow using that method, buy the Juno-Di (same thing minus the recorder). If you're like me and would rather focus on the other aspects of music creation, then this keyboard is a really nice option, and in fact, the only one at this price to my knowledge.
Oh, and buy it from Sweetwater, they're the best!
A truly awesome keyboard synthesizer as a very reasonable price
Where do I begin? I was looking for an inexpensive keyboard synthesizer that would extend my capabilities as a songwriter. What I got with my new Juno-G was way more than I bargained for. Roland has long been know for truly great sounding synths. For instance, no one synthesizes the sound of a guitar any better than Roland. As a guitar and bass player, that was one of the things that first attracted me to the Juno-G. The pitch bend modulation lever feature, once you become adept at it, actually enables you to make that keyboard sing almost as well as any metal guitar soloist or country steel guitar lead-man. I also have the ability to plug my guitar or bass into either of the Juno-G's standard 1/4" TS input jacks and I'm able to use the Juno-G just like any other multieffects pedal. I can even plug a microphone into one of the input jacks and use the Juno-G as a truly awesome sounding vocoder. The rhythm patches and the quality of all the voices, are every bit what I expected from a Roland synth. What really got my attention as novice keyboard player however, were the Arpeggio and Chord Memory features of the Juno-G. With a just a little practice and a greater understanding of these unique features, I'm suddenly ten times the keyboard player I used to be. I have only begun to understand and appreciate the Performance mode capabilities and the ability to create my own unique sounds using the Patch creation and editing features. Upon reading the Owner's Manual I recently discovered that I can even expand the number of voices (patches) and rhythms giving me almost an unlimited variety of sound capabilities. I was a little apprehensive about settling for a 61-key keyboard since my other keyboard is a full 88-keys but shortly after setting up my new Juno-G, I discovered two (up and down), octave switches on the mode control panel that actually allows me to increase my note capability to 17 additional keys beyond a standard 88-key keyboard (by lowering or raising all the keys up to two full octaves) giving me a total note range from E0 (the lowest audible note to the human ear) all the way up to C9 (a full octave above the standard piano keyboard). In order to take full advantage of the low note range capability of the Juno-G, I purchased a JBL ES250P 400 watt powered subwoofer with a low frequency response of 25 Hz. You should hear the truly awesome sounding low bass effects I now get from the Juno-G through this powerful JBL subwoofer. I have used the Juno-G to record though it's 2.0 USB computer Interface directly into Pro Tools recording software and the playback I get is a very high broadcast quality sound. With the addition of the Juno-G to my home studio, I am now capable adding Hip Hop, Trans, and Techno genres to my arsenal of songwriting capabilities. I have only begun to learn and understand everything that the Juno-G is capable of doing. All I can say is, I fully expected to have to pay a whole lot more for everything that this keyboard is able to do and I have not even begun to use the recording, editing, and sequencing features of the Juno-G. All in all, I have been overwhelmed with it's performance capabilities so far and I'm more than satisfied with this purchase. At it's current low price the Juno-G is definitely the very best bargain you could ever hope to find in a keyboard synthesizer today.
Juno Gi Rocks!
A fun and versatile keyboard/synth!!!! So much to delve into with some amazing voice patches! A few things I wish it had, but minute when you consider everything it does have!
Juno - G best for the price
Have had my Juno G for over a year. Love it. I added the keyboard expansion and have love the additional sounds. I have done some great home recordings and would buy this again in a heart beat. For the price (under $1,000) you can't go wrong. The owners manual is a joke. I got the DVD and it made every thing so easy to understand. BE sure and get it to save time on learning this machine. I would have given it 5 stars but nothing is perfect. I have been playing for over 40 years and it's the perfect light weight performance set up. I have the 4 track, would love to have the eight track. If you find something better better for the price, let me know.
Not perfect - not bad.
I'm primarily a guitar player so take this review in that context. My take on the Gi is that it does what it's primarily intended to do quite well, but that it's not the answer to all questions. If you want a portable board that is great for conceptualizing ideas and getting them recorded, it's great for that. If you're looking for the last board you'll ever have to buy, this ain't it. The sounds, to me, are okay, nothing more. There's a fair amount of tweakability there, but it's lind of a pain to do. The recorder is good and works great and it's nice to be able to plug in guitar/bass/mics to complete the songs. The action is real light synth type but not the worst I've ever felt -not the best either. Overall, it's a useful instrument but possibly a bit overpriced.