Today we are going back into time to the beginning of the 90s. One sound changed a whole part of the dance music scene. It’s patch title was: What the F.., for those in the know immediately know what i’m talking about. One of the very first records i heard it’s sound on was Mentasm by Joey Beltram. But that one sound got very famous with the release of Human Resource’s Dominator. This sound was later dubbed a Hoover since it sounded a little like a vacuumcleaner. This massive sound came from a small synth called the Roland Alpha Juno 2. Audiorealism took on the big task of recreating this old love of many of us into ReDominator.
Here we go!
When opening the GUI you are greeted by a straightforward layout, every parameter is there for you to see. On the top row is the preset window, poly, porta(mento) and the Chord section. Chord is a neat little trick often used to write a patch and playing say a fifth chord which is then recorded into the patch. Very cool sounds can be made that way. Just mess around with and see what you come up with.
The DCO (Digitally Controlled Oscillator) section is for the basic tone shaping. All the Pulse,Saw & Sub shapes are there just like IN the original Juno2. You can combine all these shapes to make tones that are giving it a special recognisable sound. A very special feature that makes the juno kinda unique is the fact that you can modulate the pulse width of the saw waveform. Most synths only have that option on the pulse waveform and then it’s called PWM (Pulse width Modulation). A very special character in sound can be acieved that way. Sublevel and Noise level are the parameters that are often used to make the sound bigger and darker on some old hardcore patches. While you can make corny bread and butter sounds with it this is not where it’s strenght lies.
Moving on to the filter section.
The filter on the Alpha Juno2 was not a very good filter but sounded so quirky that it is a big part of the total sound of it. The people at Audiorealism take a different route here and put in a more modern filter. This is where things can go wrong when trying to recreate old patches as i found out while comparing my old MKS50 (rack version of the Alpha2) to ReDominator. A lot of the essence and beefyness of the old patches are lost there imho. I surely hope that in a future update they give you an option to use also a remodeling of the old filter.
The Pitch section has got all the trimmings that you expect on an emulation. Pitch envelope is the secret behind the famous hoover sound. The envelope section is exactly emulated to the original and is certainly not the standard ADSR fare. You really have to expirement with this section to make shapes that as far as i know are only achieved by the Alpha Juno2 and now by ReDominator.
Lastly the chorus section.
To my ears it sounds exactly the same as the original, definately a thumbs up for this. Roland always had a typical chorus sound and that makes it easily recognisable from other synths. Now that we got the GUI info out of the way, let’s move on to a special feature that is build in ReDominator.
Sysex import of old patches.
Let me explain real quick what sysex is about. Sysex is a string of data containing all the info and parameter settings on a patch. I’s a very old format that’s been used in old synths and every synth has a unique code so that patches can been saved on a computer or in the old days even on a cassette tape. Yep ancient dinosaur technology i know… Because sysex import is on board you can transfer your old sounds to ReDominator.
I was stoked when i read this and immediately fired up my old MKS 50 and recorded a sysex dump into Cubase. At first it didn’t import my sounds so i searched on the internet for some info. There i found out it only imports a single patch. From there i stumbled upon a program called Alphabase that is capable of importing single patches of my MKS 50. I’m on pc so i haven’t got the foggiest idea if such a program is also available for mac.
After saving my patch as a .syx file in that program i was able to import that file into ReDominator. Happy as a pig in the mud to transfer my Headbanger – Sweet Dreams patch into ReDominator again. Audiorealism gets a huge thumbs up from me for implementing this awesome feature.
How does it sounds? well like this:
Some final thoughts.
When first encountering ReDominator i immediately got a huge smile on my face when hearing what sound came out of it. The character of a juno2 is unmistakable and never fully captured in plugin form until now. The essence of the original is closely matched by the people of Audiorealism, but definately not a full 100% at the moment.
As mentioned the filter section could need some work. The original is somewhat darker and fuller with it’s sound. Also the sysex import, i would love to see a possibility in the future to import whole banks if that’s technically possible. The preset section could be overhauled since at the moment it feels a little clumsy. But after all that if you want to have THAT sound back in plugin form Audiorealism ReDominator provides you with the very best option yet.
Thx for bringing this old quirky love back into my life ! For more info visit: www.audiorealism.se