Kiwi-106 upgrade for Roland Juno-106

The sound of the Juno-106 is so perfectly suited to making dance music that it almost seems a bit too easy. In standard form, the synth has one of the biggest sweet spots you’ll ever come across; it’s very hard to make it sound bad, and it slots into a mix effortlessly.

Three decades on from its initial release, the 106 is just as popular as ever, but no synth is perfect and there’s always room to improve. Unfortunately, the Juno doesn’t lend itself particularly well to traditional DIY modding, soldering in new knobs and sockets to add features. There are a few DIY mods which improve the Juno’s feature set (adding an external audio input to the chorus effect is definitely worth the effort, allowing you to process sounds through the Juno’s famously lush stereo chorus circuits) but until recently there’s been nothing that really transforms the synth into something significantly more powerful.

The release of Kiwi Technics’ Kiwi-106 upgrade a couple of years ago changed all that. By swapping the 106’s CPU board for a custom-designed replacement, the Kiwi upgrade expands the functionality of the synth dramatically.

The list of new features is extensive, including a second envelope generator and second multi-waveform LFO, new key assign modes, oscillator detune, aftertouch over MIDI, polyphonic step sequencer, chord memory, an arpeggiator and a lot more. As a result, the sonic range of the synth is hugely expanded.

Owners of the more affordable Roland JX-3P should also check out the similar Kiwi-03 upgrade.

16th June, 2015

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