In 1984, the Juno-60 was superseded by the Juno-106, which increased patch memory to 128 slots. The other major addition was MIDI; although this was not the first Roland synth to come with MIDI from the factory, its MIDI implementation was far more extensive than almost any other synth on the market at that time. It included a facility for remote editing of patch parameters via sysex and transmission of movements of the programming controls via same. This made the 106 one of the first remotely programmable synths on the market. Note that there are a few aspects in which the MIDI interface does not conform to current standards; this is due to the incomplete nature of the standard at the time the -106 was designed. The user should also note that the -106 boots up in omni mode; selecting a MIDI channel number takes it out of omni mode.

To get the price and number of components down, Roland took the voice architecture of the 60 and miniaturized it for the 106. They bought unpackaged ICs (the bare chips) from the chip vendors and encapsulated them into two custom hybrid IC designs, one containing most of the DCO circuit, the other containing the VCF and VCA. Unfortunately, the latter (the infamous 80017A) had a design fault that caused the ICs to gradually fail over time, a situation that 106 owners today are still having to deal with. Additionally, the LFO and envelope generators, which has been in hardware on the previous Junos, became microprocessor-generated software functions. These measures did get the list price of the 106 down to less than half of the all-conquering Yamaha DX-7, which made the 106 one of the few analog synths to go head-to-head in the market against the DX-7 and become a hit; Roland sold over 40,000 units.



The -106 lost the arpeggiator of the previous models, but it gained another interesting feature: polyphonic portamento. To gain some control over this, two different voice allocation algorithms were provided, either of which could be selected via buttons on the panel. The “poly mode 2” setting allowed the performer to control voice assignment by carefully arpgeggiating chords, making the voice assigned to each note, and hence the behavior of the portamento, predictable. A third mode, unison, was of limited value due the phase-synchronized characteristic of the DCOs (they are all timed by the same master oscillator), which produced an unpleasantly buzzy and non-moving sound.

The same keyboard from the earlier Junos was retained, but the performance controls were rearranged. The separate modulation trigger button was replaced by adding a second axis to the pitch stick; pushing the stick away from the performer activated the modulation. (It was still only an on/off function.) The octave select switch was replaced by an on-off switch and rate knob for the portamento. On the panel, the patch selection, cassette interface and MIDI interface controls were moved to a row underneath the parameter sliders. Patch memory was divided into two “bank groups” each of which could be loaded or saved to cassette separately. Each bank group contained 8 banks of 8 patches each. Plugging a foot switch into a rear panel jack allowed the performer to rotate through the 8 patches of the currently selected bank by pressing the switch once for each patch change.

Although the two synths share a voice architecture, cassette patch data dumps are not compatible between the -60 and the -106.

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