Roland JD-800 polyphonic MIDI synth
£80.00 plus VAT per day
Recently voted one of the top ten greatest synthesisers of all time, the Roland JD800 is a hugely powerful synth with the unusual bonus of a useful control surface. While most of the JD800’s contemporaries required editing of sounds to be carried out via a single small menu-driven LCD display the Roland JD800 crammed 125 buttons, knobs and sliders onto the front panel.
Recently voted one of the top ten greatest synthesisers of all time, the Roland JD-800 is a hugely powerful synth with the unusual bonus of a useful control surface. While most of the JD-800’s contemporaries required editing of sounds to be carried out via a single small menu-driven LCD display the Roland JD-800 crammed 125 buttons, knobs and sliders onto the front panel. Most importantly, 75 of these send out Sys-Ex which can be recorded into a sequencer for extensive real-time control of sounds. A huge range of sounds can be created with this synth, characterised by digital crispness but with surprising depth. Both pure waveforms and sampled sounds are available.
The JD-800 combines sample playback with digital synthesis, a process that Roland calls Linear Arithmetic synthesis, a technique Roland had been using to great effect in the Roland D-50. The JD-800 has 108 waveforms built-in, but these can be expanded via PCM-cards. There are waveforms in a variety of categories, like; analog synth, acoustic instruments, like guitars, woodwind, brass and voices. Most of these waveforms are very short and are designed to give character to the attack portion of a sound, while some longer ones are designed for creating pads, or the sustained part of a patch. The JD-800 was the first instrument from Roland to have its core sound set of waveforms developed entirely in the United States, under a short-lived branch of Roland’s R&D-LA office in Culver City, California. The core sampled waveforms and Factory presets of the JD-800 were created by Eric Persing.
A patch, or single sound, in the JD-800 consists of up to 4 tones. As every tone consists of an almost completely independent synthesizer voice a patch could be considered a layer of up to 4 different synthesizers. In single mode the JD-800 plays one patch at a time, but in multi mode it is possible to play 5 different patches, over MIDI, plus an extra “special” patch. The special patch has different waveforms assigned to the 61 different keys on the keyboard, so is used for drums and percussion sounds. The JD-800 has one effects section. In single mode 7 effects can be used simultaneously, in series, so all tones in a patch go through the same effects. In multi mode 3 effects can be used at the same time, all patches sharing the same effects, though a patch can be routed to bypass the effects.
Editing and playing
Using the “layer” buttons, the player can switch the 4 tones in a patch on and off, while playing. When in “edit” mode, the layer buttons are used to choose which tones’ parameters are changed using the sliders on the front panel. The “palette” sliders allow the player to edit the last active parameter of all 4 tones individually at the same time. While playing, the palette sliders can easily be used like a little mixing board to set the balance between the 4 tones in a patch. Nonetheless, due to the limited accuracy of the sliders, and because edited parameters jump from the value in memory to the value corresponding to the position of the slider, when the slider is moved, it is hard to edit sounds while playing without creating sudden “jumps” in the sound.
The JD-800 manual stated: “The original purpose of the synthesizer was to ‘create sound’. It’s easy to simply select a preset you like, but that sound will always be ‘someone else’s sound’. We at Roland asked, ‘Why don’t we return to the roots of synthesis; the enjoyment of creating original sounds?’ … ‘Creating sounds’ may seem like a highly technical process, but it’s actually just a matter of moving a slider to make the sound change! This is easy for anyone, and the sounds that you get will always be your very own.”
61 keys, Velocity, Channel aftertouch, 4 velocity curves.
24 voices Polyphony.
6 Partr Multitimbral (Multi mode): 5 part multitimbral + drum mode.
64 internal RAM patches storage positions plus 64 Rom-card.
S+S (Sampling and Synthesis) with resonant filters.
6 MegaByte ROM with 108 PCM Waves, expandable by PCM Rom Cards.
44100 Hz CD Quality waveforms.
24 db Filters.
108 internal source waveforms:
125 buttons, knobs and sliders on the front panel (75 dedicated for sound editing send out recordable sysex).
Effects processor : 2 effect chains, 1x mono, 1x stereo: