Hello, Old guy, new face. My Juno Gi experience

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Hello, Old guy, new face. My Juno Gi experience

Postby OGG » 03:27, 24 April 2015

Hi everyone!

Please allow me to introduce myself. The screen name's OGG (Oh Gee Gee). It's an acronym, if you guys are cool, maybe I'll share what it stands for. I am a lifelong Roland Geek in particular, but have been making electronic music (among other types) since I got my first Sequential Circuits Pro One in 1984. Shortly thereafter came a Juno 60 and a pair of SH-101s which were all linked together via patch cables to a Korg DDM-110 Drum Machine and a CSQ-100 Step sequencer. Yeah, I'm old school.

With the introduction of MIDI, I continued on to a Juno 106, Jupiter 6, JX3P, TR-707, MSQ... You get the idea. Over the last 30+ years, I've had more synths and drum machines and sound modules and samplers and sequencers etc than I can even remember. After playing in local bands (mostly as a singer/guitarist) in my teens and early 20's, I got involved with a well established 80's "New Wave" band that was still plugging away (minus the bulk of original members) into the 90's, and even still today. Anyway, that acted as something of a springboard, and I somehow found myself being involved in studio work.

Before I knew what was happening, I was being called upon in a variety of capacities by a number of artists to perform one of my many duties ranging from session work to Producing and Engineering, to creative input (both music and lyrics) and on and on. It was a snowball effect that has been a Hell of a ride and allowed me to do things I never dreamed possible. There have been many moments wherein I found myself sitting at a console next to some music business legend, and thinking that I must be dreaming.

But, I digress. No one cares about my resume.

Here I am in my mid 40's, and as part of my now semi-retired goal to have as much fun as humanly possible, I put together your typical mid-life crisis local band for the purpose of playing the occasional live gig because I deeply missed the thrill of playing live. So I had this crazy idea to start San Diego's first exclusively 80's New Wave, Post Punk, Alt-Rock cover band doing stuff like A Flock of Seagulls, Ultravox, Squeeze, INXS, Duran Duran, Oingo Boingo, Men at Work, Payolas etc. Being the optimist I am, I put an ad on the local Craigslist looking for band mates. In yet another stunning turn of good luck, I wound up assembling the most fantastic group of fellow 80s lovers and stellar musicians.I can't tell you all how lucky I feel to have found these guys.

Anyway, we secured a practice studio and started honing our skills and putting together set lists. In a short time, we had our first show, which turned out to be at the Del Mar Fair on the crazy large stage on Fathers Day last June. From there, we secured a monthly residency gig at a local club that's a real institution in SD.

So dude, what about the Juno Gi?

So yeah, being the loyal Roland enthusiast that I am, and after hearing my older brother tell me time and again how fantastic his Juno G was, I rushed over to my local Guitar Center and plunked down 900 bucks on a Gi without doing even the slightest bit of research on it before hand (this was January of 2014 btw). I assumed that being the successor to the G, it would be the newer, better, more capable machine.

Ouch.

I quickly learned its staggering limitations, not just compared to the G, but to virtually every other performance synth on the market. No sequencer? No Visual Editor? And for the love of digitally controlled oscillators, why is the MIDI implementation on this thing so mind bogglingly devoid of simple features that have been a standard part of every MIDI device made since 1984? Surely Roland could not be serious? Right? Surely they would address some of these bizarre shortcomings by way of a firmware upgrade right?

I don't do a lot of forum stuff, but this place has been where I have ended up finding an answer after googling my latest Gi induced headache. As a "lurker" I soon learned that not only were all of my gripes legit, but that the overwhelming sentiment here is that Roland Corp pretty much just left the Gi owners out in the wind with a thousand dollar semi-functional synth that could be easily made multitudes more capable with a few software upgrades. I've read the correspondence between Clan members and Roland Corp, and saw how completely disconnected and disinterested they seem to be with the whole community.

Oh well, Go figure... a Corporation that sucks at customer support and retention. Surprise surprise right?

So I have this beast, and there are actually quite a few things that I do like about it. As a gig-friendly synth, you couldn't ask for a better balance of build quality vs. weight. The battery power is a cool, albeit very short lived feature. Some of the on board sounds are quite good.

My intention with the Gi, is for it to act as the "Master" for some synth heavy backing tracks that I have already created via DAW, that can be used with a click track send to the drummer for some of our more ambitious cover songs a la Depeche Mode, Camouflage, Q-Feel, Blancmange etc. I figured it would easily be up to the task either by importing the .wav files into the song recorder, or by importing the sequencer data via the USB song player.

I'm no stranger to this stuff mind you. I started out slinging patch cables back and forth between controlled voltage and gate inputs. I had an ATARI 1040ST running cakewalk 1 back in 88 (?). I know a little thing or two about MIDI syncing.

I'll be damned if I can figure out how in the wide wide world of sports to get this curmudgeonly stubborn half-synth to do what I want it to do. The song recorder doesn't seem to recognize an embedded MIDI clock sync track in the .wav, the USB song player, will play the sequences, but it assigns each seperate track to the same instrument no matter what DAW I use to write the .smf file wherein I am positive to include proper MSB, LSB and Program information into each track.

Honestly, I'd prefer to use the sound recorder, because with that option, I can have much more control over the sounds I am using. All of these backing tracks were created using a wide variety of both hardware and software synths, I would hate to be stuck with just the Gi's humble assortment of sounds, but I could live with it if I could get the bloody thing to work.

So, Hi! I'mm OGG. I have a Juno Gi, and I am completely stumped. First time in over 30 years that a machine has beaten me. Well Played Roland, Well Played.

Do any of you kind souls have any helpful words of advice or pointers? If I'm an idiot am am missing something obvious, it's ok to tell me so. I did, carefully go through the forum before asking my n00b question, and saw some similar topics, but nothing that really addressed directly what this infernal box of microchips is forcing me to endure.

I would LOVE some help if it's available here.

Either way, this seems like a very cool place, and I intend to hang around.

Thanks in advance, and for all of the answered I've already found here.

P.S. The main keyboard player in the band just bought a Jupiter 50. Guess what two features the JP 50 and Gi Share? :facepalm:
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OGG
 
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Location: San Diego


Re: Hello, Old guy, new face. My Juno Gi experience

Postby Striple » 06:11, 30 April 2015

Hi OGG, a very interesting CV all the same.

Just replying to let you know you are not alone on here. ATM I can't even sync an RC300 to my Juno-G so I will be no help to you at all.

But I was around in the days of the GI release, and I too thought the G was going to get better, like bigger better colour screen, and faster memory maybe? But yeah, no.

At the time it seemed reasonable to see that with the Juno-G, Roland had invented the everlasting light bulb, like how else could a novice pay $1000 and get a tone generator with 16/4 track sequencer, mod knobs and sampling to name just a very few of its features? Roland had broken rule number 1 of expand or die theory, mostly because they were panicking about competition, and PC evolution.

The Gi was simply the G stripped down and given a flash front end to distract us from realising what was now missing, and Roland were back in the evolution business. I bet they wish they could recall and burn every single G, they gave too much away at once.

It's all funny now to read your report. Roland are a corporate company, just because they make fun toys, it doesn't make them fun people.
Striple
 
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Re: Hello, Old guy, new face. My Juno Gi experience

Postby OGG » 02:11, 5 May 2015

Thanks for the reply. Yup, the G was clearly a far superior machine. I really wish I had done a little research before I just blindly ran out and grabbed a new Gi. Never again. There's plenty to like about the Gi, but to strip it of the most basic performance features and then label it a "Performance Synth" is more than a bit disingenuous. It's pretty sad that I can plug my ancient Kawai K1 into my computer and not only have a fantastic visual editor, but can also send it multi-track sequence data via DAW that it plays back like a champ. If only it had all of the sounds I need, I'd drag that beast out on stage. I honestly can't think of a single multi-timbral MIDI synth that can't do the very basic things this board is incapable of. It's maddening.
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Location: San Diego

Re: Hello, Old guy, new face. My Juno Gi experience

Postby kmtaylor » 13:11, 23 May 2015

Hi OGG. If your happy to do some tinkering, I've found that most of the limitations can be worked around. As far as syncing goes, you have to make the Gi master. That way you'll have arps, and the 8 track in sync. Then you can sync all of your other gear.

It will only send midi clock on the MIDI connector, not over the USB interface.

I've got some softare at https://github.com/kmtaylor/gi_editor for editing/saving/restoring patches, syncing the jack transport to MIDI and realtime control of patch parameters.

I use the software with a raspberry pi, as I don't like having a laptop in my workflow. It's all pretty stable these days, and I've used it live on occasion, although like you I'm mostly the guitarist in my band.

Anyway, let me know if your interested, and I'll be more than happy to give you any pointers.
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