Roland has become a very dangerous company. I feel like every month a new musical instrument drops into that sweet impulse-buy spot. The Boutique collection is especially taxing on my wallet. For as low as $200, you can add a tiny synth based on a vintage instrument, another addition to the pile of instruments you swear you're going to use to start a band or record that album. Someday.
One Roland Boutique synth in particular, the $300 JP-08, has been hanging out in my backpack and replaced my Arturia Microbrute synth at band practice. With digitally-modeled sounds using Roland's Analog Circuit Behaviour (ACB) technology, all based on the Jupiter 8 synthesizer from the early 80s, its plethora of tones makes it a great little addition to my band.
It has two VCOs, an LFO, two envelope filters, a 16-step sequencer and supports four voices at once. That's all controlled by the same 36 knobs and controllers found on the original Jupiter 8. The result is an impressive amount of sounds and sound manipulation from a gadget that's approximately 12 inches by five inches.
I like it so much, I used it live at a recent show. Unfortunately, I forgot to swap out the batteries for new ones, and it turned off at roughly 80 percent into its part of a song. Yeah, that was my fault. If I was smart, I could have just plugged it into the same USB charger I use for my Android tablet. That's fine, but it would have been nice if it accepted a standard power pack like the ones I use for my guitar pedals. Instead, I either have take a chance on batteries or use a different power supply.
Chalk it up to its low price tag, but the penny pinching has some other consequences. The JP-08 (in fact all of the Boutique brand synths) ships without a keyboard. That means some of the coolest things you can do with the synth ( like playing a sequence while simultaneously playing notes) is impossible right out of the box. Instead Roland sells its own K-25m keyboard that attaches to the unit for $100.
I've opted to use a random MIDI keyboard, which is more than adequate. Sadly, one of the features I wish was controlled by JP-08's Musical Instrument Digital Interface was the ability to manipulate the tempo via button, knob or switch. The unit will time sync with other instruments, but when it's by itself, the timing is controlled by a touch ribbon. In other words, there's no real way to fine tune the tempo unless you're connected to another MIDI device with that level of precision. It's a huge pain when you're trying to stay in time with other instruments.
Another issue is Roland's use of mini-jack audio out instead of the standard quarter-inch audio port found on most instruments. I got around it running a mini-jack to quarter-inch cable to a pedal with true analog bypass, so it's not a deal-breaker, but it can be irritating for musicians playing live shows.
And while I found the JP-08 a great little companion with a few issues on stage, it's really meant for bedroom musicians. It has a tiny speaker that makes it great for sitting on the couch and noodling out parts without dragging your headphones out of your gig bag. The USB port supports 24 bit / 44.1 kHz to your digital audio workstation of choice. It's approachable and can be nestled on a bookshelf when not in use. I'm not sure if I'll pick up another Roland Boutique for my band, but it's getting tougher for me to ignore the growing line of tiny synths and drum machines at pretty reasonable prices -- mostly because they're fun to play, and, really, that's half the reason anyone buys a synth in the first place.
I'm a pretty frequent cook (I'd say avid, but I don't actually love cooking). I have tried many, many, many different methods to organize recipes: everything from a physical binder of printouts to online organization with various hosts (Allrecipes, Pinterest, Evernote, you name it). Nothing was quite flexible or robust enough to accommodate what I needed.
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The trick with Paprika is that it seamlessly syncs between your devices using its own cloud service. I have it for iOS and Mac, and I'm glad that my (many) recipes aren't taking up valuable space in iCloud. But the reason Paprika works so well is because I deal with my recipes on my computer, my phone and my tablet for different purposes. It works everywhere I need to use it.