Review: The Roland JUNO-Gi synth

Unboxing the Roland JUNO-Gi has a distinct feeling of deja vu. Physically it takes its looks from its sister, the JUNO-Di, and much of the internals are similar too. Yet Roland has managed to come up with something a bit different than before…

This time they’ve aimed their workstation at people who have, or are hoping to have, real skills on the keyboard. The people who will love the Gi are people who just want to play (alone or with others) and record their performance with the minimum of fuss, and without needing a computer to do it. Not that Roland are Luddites where computers are concerned. In fact, when the JUNO-Gi is plugged into a Mac or a PC via its USB port, it can function as a MIDI and stereo audio interface for your DAW software. Not bad!

But what if you don’t want to use a computer, or want to take the keyboard to a rehearsal room and leave the computer at home? Here’s where the Gi has a neat trick up its sleeve. It features an 8-track digital audio recorder, capable of recording not only your keyboard performances, but also guitar and vocal parts. There’s an XLR mic/guitar input and a stereo line input on the back which are the same ones which work as an audio interface with your computer. These can act as inputs to the recorder, either dry or via a chain of effects – the guitar effects chains are by Boss and feature some very tasty amp and pedal simulations.

You can build up one or two tracks at a time to get your ideas down (up to eight in total), then transfer the 24 bit 44.1k WAV files to your favourite software for mixing. Or just mix right on the JUNO-Gi, as there’s an 8-track mixer with effects on board, and files are recorded on to an included 2GB SD card in the back.

Sonically, you never need to worry about Roland as they know what they’re doing, but they still come up with a few nice surprises. The Gi has double the wave memory of the Di, and that means an even better grand piano sound, and an incredible arsenal of over 1300 instruments. Sounds are organised into categories like ‘Piano’ and ‘Strings’ to make them easier to find – essential with that many at your disposal. As well as the pitch bend/modulation lever and the patented D-Beam “waggly hand” interface, there’s a full vocoder mode too. Kraftwerk, eat your heart out!

The Roland Juno Gi is perfect for a music performance space, but it will also suit someone who just wants to play a keyboard with as many sounds as possible and no complicated menus to go through to find them. Keyboard recorders often just record performances over MIDI, so the Gi’s ability to record a vocal, acoustic instrument or electric guitar is brilliant – particularly because they’ve made it so simple. It makes you want to give up the programming and get back to playing again!

To find out more about the Roland JUNO-Gi synth workstation, call 03332 409 306 or email You can also keep up with the latest audio news, reviews and offers on our Twitter (@Jigsaw24Audio) and Facebook page.


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