The Mercury-6 is a meticulous recreation of the Jupiter-6 analog synthesizer, just in time for its 40th anniversary! Sitting between the early Jupiter-4 and Jupiter-8 models in name only, the refined Jupiter-6 was sometimes considered a “sleeper” release. It has become one of Roland’s most notable and coveted classic synths these days, thanks to its distinctive dark and complex nature. The Mercury-6 captures everything that is exceptional about this intimate polyphonic classic, expanding its extraordinary feature set for modern production and DAW workflows, and celebrating the groundbreaking innovations of an era that changed music forever.
- Released in 1983 as a more affordable alternative to the flagship eight-voice Jupiter-8, the six-voice Jupiter-6 nonetheless held an important place in analog polysynth history. Despite the superficial similarity and feature set, Jupiter-6 differed from Jupiter-8 in its sound and capabilities. Unlike previous Roland polysynths with low-pass filters and a rudimentary non-resonant high-pass filter, Jupiter-6 had a true multi-mode filter with 24 dB/oct low-pass, 24 dB/oct high-pass, or 12 dB/oct band-pass filter modes. This versatile filter design delivered a more aggressive sound than previous Jupiters, making the Jupiter-6 a natural fit for cutting-edge techno and electro styles.
Although this was a “hidden feature”, the Jupiter-6’s VCOs supported multiple simultaneous waveforms, and two LFOs and a cross-mode oscillator provided extensive modulation capabilities. Its jarring solo and poly unison modes produced massive lead and bass sounds, and it was one of the first synths to feature the then-new MIDI protocol.
While the Jupiter-6 has often been praised for its harmonic complexity and ability to cut through the mix, the cost savings in its creation have led to some drawbacks. The output was monophonic only, and it was limited to six-voice polyphony. The Jupiter-6 had an impressive (for the time) split keyboard and patch preset storage, but the six-voice maximum limited its potential. While it was significantly cheaper than the Jupiter-8, its timing proved unfortunate when the digital revolution kicked off with the release of the revolutionary Yamaha DX-7 FM digital synthesizer that same year.
Despite its remarkable character, Jupiter-6 is not one of those synthesizers that are immediately associated with recognizable sounds from hit songs. However, it was the Jupiter-6 that was behind the bassline of Ray Parker Jr.’s classic “Ghostbusters” and found its way into the work of the Human League, Tangerine Dream, Thomas Dolby, Trans-X, Vangelis and Devo. A testament to his resilience over the decades is his rise to popularity in genres like big beat, house and techno thanks to The Chemical Brothers, Moby and The Crystal Method. The electronic music duo Orbital has been a strong supporter of the Jupiter-6 and has recently become a big part of the Daft Punk and Junkie XL sound.
Mercury-6: 40 years in the making :
Cherry Audio’s Mercury-6 takes the Jupiter-6 experience into the future and celebrates the invaluable contribution that MIDI itself has made to the music community over the past 40 years. The Mercury-6 brings together everything that is exceptional about this classic and expands an extraordinary set of features and capabilities for today’s DAWs and workflows. We’ve added speed sensitivity, improved split mode, and added a layer mode that allows you to layer two different sounds at the same time with layered stereo panning, detuning, and sustain. The control panel allows users to easily select and navigate between these layers and includes a utility function for sharing settings between lower and upper layers, or even between presets. And polyphony, extended to 16 notes, will not allow Mercury-6 to exhaust the supply of voices.
We’ve reproduced the arpeggiator, including the hidden Down/Up mode of the original, and expanded it to include a Random mode and MIDI tempo sync. The chord memory mode allows you to store multiple notes and play them with a single key. We’ve improved the functionality of the LFO by adding a retrigger for LFO-1 and a permanently on option for LFO-2, both synced to MIDI tempo.
We’ve also introduced an integrated studio-quality effects panel with great-sounding distortion, phaser, flanger/chorus, delay, and reverb. With additional features such as per-layer drift control, over 500 expertly crafted presets, and flexible MIDI mapping, the Mercury-6 will satisfy vintage synth fans and modern music producers alike.