MATRIXSYNTH: Does Roland deliver? Comparing the Jupiter 4 and the Promars plugin.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Does Roland deliver? Comparing the Jupiter 4 and the Promars plugin.

video upload by Friendly Noise

The modulation comparisons at 17 are interesting.

"Jupiter 4 vs Promars plugin

This text contains information about how the comparison was made. If you want to read a longer review, please download the pdf file at the bottom of this page.
But if you want an unbiased experience, stop reading and go see the video or jump to the desired part of the video using the video sections below.

In any case, please also consider subscribing to the channel if you like the video. This is a very time consuming activity, I make this just as a hobby and the only way to know that it’s worth the effort is the statistics of the channel. I have no message for the mankind, but I need to know if you like what I do, if that makes sense. :-)

Ok, this is a comparison between the Roland Jupiter 4 and the Roland Promars plugin. The Promars is a dual VCO monophonic synth. It is said to be technically very close to the Jupiter 4. So, if we use only one Promars VCO and don’t play chords on the Jupiter, the resulting sounds should be theoretically very similar. But close enough to allow for comparisons? Let’s have a listen!

No video or pics of the filter and envelope settings are included. There made no sense because the position of the parameters in the Jupiter 4 and Mercury 4 didn’t match.

Levels are matched using peak normalisation. The Promars is just a little quieter. That’s how the plug-in works.

No effects, EQ or processing were added to the direct sound. The Jupiter 4 onboard chorus is always off, and the second Promars VCO is of course switched off, too.

Video sections:

a) The sections are color coded. So if you go forward or backwards in the video and you see a different background color, it means that you are in a different video section.
b) Also, I made no video of the recording. Later I realised that the name of some sections may be a close guessing, but maybe not completely exact. So, 80% resonance means that the resonance was high, but not at the highest level. In any case, only the name/label of the section may be inaccurate, but the comparison remains solid.
c) In some sections like in the Raw Waveforms section, I have included the sound across 8 different octaves. It helps understand how the pitch affects timbre, loudness and occasional instabilities.

You listen first to the Jupiter 4, then to the Promars plugin.

00:13 Explaining the comparison
Raw Waveforms
00:54 Raw Waveforms: Sawtooth, no Resonance
02:18 Raw Waveforms: Sawtooth, no Resonance, Maximal VCA Level on Jupiter 4
03:22 Raw Waveforms: Square, no Resonance.
04:24 Raw Waveforms: Square, no Resonance, maximal VCA Level on Jupiter 4.
05:20 Square + Sub Oscillator, no Resonance, maximal VCA Level on Jupiter 4.
06:17 PWM, no Resonance.
Different envelope and filter settings
07:50 Square, 50% Resonance, Long Release.
09:02 Sawtooth, 50% Resonance, Long Release
10:17 Square, 80% Resonance, Long Release
13:51 Sawtooth, 100% Resonance, Long Attack Time.
17: 00 Sawtooth, 100% Resonance, Pitch and Filter Modulation by LFO, LFO Delay.
Sequences made with Intellijel Metropolix
19:12 Sequence 01
19:58 Sequence 02
20:31 Sequence 03
21:18 Sequence 04
21:51 Sequence 05
22:36 Sequence 06 - Drums
23:14 Sequence 07 - Talking Synth
23:50 Sequence 08

I had never the luck to own or play a Promars. I do know that one voice of the Jupiter 4 equals one voice of the Promars. But there is a big difference in the plugin: the VCA level slider is missing. When raised, that slider will let internal levels saturate the VCA. This is specially noticeable when you play more than one key in the Jupiter 4, or when you activate the Unison mode. The sound that you get cranking that slider is simply not available in any other Roland mono synth, and not other Roland polyphonic synth, no matter how big or famous, generates that kind of raw Jupiter 4 power. Maybe the hardware Promars come close… but fact is, that the plugin doesn’t model that behaviour. Big failure here.

There are several revisions of the Jupiter 4 hardware, including different filters. As a consequence, not all Jupiter 4 may sound the same. Further than this, it is very easy to open the Jupiter 4 and tinker with the internal trimmers for each voice. I did that many years ago and decided to go with longer envelope settings, because long attack and release times are a must for pads and ambient sounds. After doing that, the shortest times were still fast enough for fantastic sequences and percussive sounds.

While the Jupiter 4 is a giant sweet spot, programming the plugin with the mouse can be annoying. Sometimes the smallest movement with the mouse changes the sound too much for my taste. I did what I could, but maybe other people could make Jupiter 4 and Promars sound closer.

Link to the uncompressed audio files:
You can read the full comparison text here:"

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