Roland says that realism is at the very heart of its new Jupiter-80 performance synth. The company claims that the kind of expressive acoustic instrument authenticity delivered by its analog sound modeling technology simply couldn't have been made available before now. Studio and live performers can access a huge bank of preset sounds which are said to go beyond mere sampling of acoustic, electric, orchestral and ethnic instruments, then manipulate those sounds into something vintage, modern or futuristic, or create and store their own layered sonic stacks. Control of the action comes courtesy of a touchscreen display and numerous buttons, knobs and sliders.

In outward appearance, Roland's new Jupiter-80 gives a respectful nod in the direction of the legendary Jupiter-8 synth launched 30 years ago, which was used to great effect by artists like Enya, Duran Duran, Jean Michel Jarre and Howard Jones. The new live performance synthesizer features 76 semi-weighted synth keys, above which sits an 800 x 480 dot resolution LCD touchscreen interface. This is used in conjunction with the numerous control dials, knobs and buttons, the mixer sliders, the pitch bend/modulation lever and the infrared D-Beam control to help create, manipulate and otherwise produce the instrument's sonic output.

Built around the company's acclaimed SuperNATURAL sound engines that model the sonic characteristics of the original instruments, the Jupiter-80 is said to offer players a new level of fluidity from a keyboard thanks to the newly-developed Behavior Modeling technology. This digitally-matches the behavior and expressive playing styles of traditional and ethnic acoustic instrument players - such as half-valve trills and authentic rips of a trumpet, double bass legato or the punchy strum action of a flamenco guitar - and makes them available from the keyboard.

Players are given the ability to create huge sound stacks, each consisting of up to 30 independent synth sounds simultaneously spread over ten layered parts containing three separately programmable sound chains - each with its own oscillator, filter, amp and low-frequency oscillation (LFO). Real-time tone tweaking is provided by the Tone Blender function, and multiple effects can be applied to generated tones. Hundreds of custom settings can be saved for later recall using the Registration buttons on the front rail of the Jupiter-80, just below the keyboard, and the built-in USB flash-memory based audio player/recorder is capable of WAV, AIFF, MP3 file playback, and recording 44.1kHz/16-bit stereo WAV files.

The Jupiter-80 is shipping now with a suggested retail price of US$3,999.

In the following video demonstration, British digital music supremo Howard Jones shares his thoughts on the new instrument:

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