The Roland MKS-80 Super Jupiter is one of Roland's true classic synthesizers. It's often called a Jupiter 8 in a rack, although its voice card design is actually closer to the Jupiter 6. Its fat sound is due to the classic analog technology in its filters and 16 analog oscillators at 2 per voice. The MKS-80 voices feature a typical analog set up: two oscillators, noise generator, resonant low pass and high pass filter, LFO and chorus. The oscillators feature cross modulation in addition to several waveforms and pulse width modulation. The MKS80 can hold sixty-four patches in it's memory, which can be layered or split.
An additional 128 patches and tones can be stored on a M64c RAM cartridge, although I would not recommend using the old RAM cartridges at this point since they have not been made in many years and even if you do come across one there is a good chance that the battery has died. Getting inside to change the battery is not an easy task since Roland sealed the cartridges instead of providing a simple screw to open it up. Best to store all your sounds on your computer hard drive via a system exclusive (sysex) dump if you can.
There are two revisions of the MKS-80. The rev 4 (serial numbers up to 511799) features CEM3340 oscillators, Roland IR3109 filters, and CEM3360 VCAs. The rev 5 (serial number 511800 and later) featured Roland IR3R03 oscillators and IR3R05 combination filter/VCAs. There has been lot's of debate over which sounds better, but IMO they both sound great! Any MKS that you can find is a great addition to your rack although they are still pretty pricy and sell for about $1000. US dollars.
Roland MPG80 Programmer
Programming the MKS80 from the front panel is very difficult so Roland produced The MPG-80 programmer specifically for the MKS-80. It's well sort after since it gives you all the knobs and switches that a typical analog synth usually has and sells for about $500. US dollars. An alternative is using a computer editor to tweak your sounds. We use MOTU's "Unisyn". It works great and gives you all the same features that are on the MPG80 for less then half the price.
In the early 90's we produced two volumes of sounds for the MKS80 which turned out to be one of our top selling collections. In 2005 we took a fresh look at the MKS and produced volume #3 (Patch King Mix) which fills out the collection adding several new sounds not found in the other two volumes.
Sounds are available as system exclusive or standard midi files. If your computer has a midi interface or sound card connected to the USB port, you can use your midi interface to load in the sounds. We provide the software along with your order that will load in the sounds for you. Midi interfaces are an inexpensive alternative to purchasing RAM or PCM cards and we sell them starting at under $100. Sorry, but we no longer offer the sounds on the M64c cartridges for the reason mentioned above.
We have also done extensive sampling of the MKS over the years and many of the sounds are available in WAV, Akai, Reason or Kontakt formats so it's the next best thing if you don't happen to have a vintage MKS in your collection. Just click on the above "catalog" link to get to our main catalog where you can find everything. Our sounds will also get you back in business if your MKS80 battery has died and you lost all the sounds in the memory. If you need any more info please contact us via phone or e-mail.