Mode Machines – F-106 Juno filter review

We offer our verdict on Mode Machines’ latest piece of classic hardware emulation, the F-106 Juno filter.

Mode Machines are the well-heeled German audio engineering company that managed to recreate the Roland TB-303 in the form of the Xoxbox and Xoxbox 2, a unit which is still considered the best 303 clone to date. Now Mode Machines have turned their attention to the Roland Juno-106, a synth famed for its smooth stereo sound, hefty bass and warm, throbbing pads that could be perfectly controlled through MIDI. A big part of its sound came from the synth’s 24dB low pass filter, and its this filter that Mode Machines have attempted to emulate with their latest bespoke creation, the F-106.

The F-106 comes in the form of a small metal box with a sloping face that is around the size of a guitar effects pedal, with wooden sides that give it a “real analogue” feel and impressive build quality, with a colour scheme and font design like that found on the Juno-106 itself. Mode Machines have opted to keep the unit as spacious and uncluttered as possible, with just three knobs and three switches on the face of the filter. The knobs control the filter cut off, resonance and VCA and the three switches will give you a 12dB/24dB toggle, a self-oscillation on/off toggle and a power on/off switch, with a red LED indicator, for the 12 volt DC needed to supply the unit. The simplicity continues around the back with a single ¼” TRS mono input and output.

Like that of the original Juno-106, the sound of the F-106’s filter is decidedly smooth. It takes quite a lot of tweaking to get anything that could be described as truly nasty from this unit, but then that’s not really the point of the F-106. Those looking for wilder sounds will find that some interesting textures can be created when the unit is thrown it into self-oscillation mode. Of real interest to analogue synth aficionados however is the inclusion of control voltage inputs around the back that allow you to modulate the filter via VCA, resonance and frequency. Although this writer didn’t get the opportunity to try out the CV possibilities for himself, the inclusion of this form of control make the F-106 the ideal component for an analogue modular sequencer set up with which to drape some sweeping and luxuriant filtering over elements of your creation.

Mode Machines’ emulations have always recreated the past with an eye for the future and like their earlier creations, the F-106 will appeal to producers and sound designers of all abilities, recreating the filter of the Juno-106 inside a unit which lends itself to multiple uses. Although the F-106 is not stereo equipped and the knobs are a little wobbly, the overall feel of the F-106 is definately one of quality.

Rob Lee

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Specifications:

Power 12V DC
I/O 1 x 1/4″ TRS input. 1 x 1/4″ TRS output
Filter 12dB/24dB Low Pass Filter
Control Cutoff, Resonance and VCA knobs, 12dB/24db Switch, Self Oscillation toggle switch and power on/off switch
CV VCA, Resonance and Frequency