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Saturday, January 28, 2017
Roland Super Jupiter MKS-80 (Rev 4) SN 460625 w/ MPG-80 Programmer
via this auction
"The MKS-80 is famous for its very FAT analogue sound, produced by a cluster of 16 analogue oscillators at 2 per voice. The only vintage Roland synth that comes close is the Jupiter 8. Basically, the MKS-80 is a refined Jupiter 8, stripped of its keyboard and made into a rack module, made with MIDI capability and touch sensitivity. It really is the Super Jupiter. The MPG-80 programmer unit allows the MKS-80 to be edited realtime with classic analogue sliders and knobs, instead of through clumsy menus on a tiny two-line text screen. The MPG-80 programmer releases the beast in the MKS-80 and gives you complete hands-on control of the sound. The MPG-80 programmer is worth as much as the MKS-80. I've owned both units since 2005 and they're extremely reliable.
Yes, it’s a Rev 4
Most MKS-80s you’ll find are the newer Rev 5 series, which are perfectly fine. However, this MKS-80 is one of the sought-after ‘Rev 4’ series (serial numbers up to and including 511799 – this unit is serial number 460625). What does that mean? Well, look it up on Google – the Rev 4 series are worth considerably more than other versions. The general consensus is that Rev 4 series MKS-80s produce a warmer, richer and fatter sound. Technically-speaking, this is because it has the CEM oscillators (3340) and VCAs (3360), and the older Roland filter chip (IR3109), which is found in the Jupiter 8 and Juno 60.
MKS-80 vs Jupiter 8
You’ll hear people say that the MKS-80 is like a Jupiter 8, but in a rack. But that aint so. I’ve owned both synths, and I’d strongly argue that the MKS-80 far outstrips the Jupiter 8. I owned a Jupiter 8 for over 20 years and actually sold it to buy this MKS-80. Having owned and extensively used both, I have to say the MKS-80 wins hands down. Yes, the Jupiter 8 has a built-in arpeggiator, but the MKS-80 has aftertouch and is velocity sensitive, which can be programmed to differently effect filter and amp envelopes. It’s so much more expressive than the Jupiter 8, with its rattly non-sensitive keyboard. Also, Jupiter 8s were never made with MIDI fitted, so if they do have MIDI it’s been retrofitted and it’s often very limited; the MKS-80, on the other hand, was built with MIDI. The MIDI implementation is also very sophisticated for an early MIDI synth, and I often use MKS-80 editing software to edit sounds and patches from my computer, interfaced to the synth via MIDI. You can't do that with a Jupiter 8. The Jupiter 8 was also extremely heavy, so heavy that you need two people to move it; the MKS-80 is light enough to be carried around in a rack."