Roland Returns To Analog With JD-Xi Synthesizer

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At the 2015 NAMM Show, Roland announced its return to analog synthesizers with the debut of the JD-Xi Interactive Analog/Digital Crossover Synthesizer.

The Roland JD-Xi is mini-synth that offers an analog monosynth, dual digital synths, 808-style drum sequencing and a digital effects section.

According to the company, the JD-Xi gives musicians the best of both worlds: the warm, smooth response of classic analog, and the clarity and versatility of modern digital.

The JD-Xi is the first in a planned line of hybrid analog synths. A full-size flagship hybrid analog & digital synth, the JD-Xa is also being previewed at the show.

Here’s a demo video for the Roland JD-Xi, featuring Dorian Concept. Dorian creates the track from scratch, while he performs in real time:

In the second intro video, Dorian Concept shared his impressions of the new JD-Xi:

Instead of a retro analog recreation, Roland’s goal with its JD-Xi synth is to offer a modern take on analog, and to leapfrog the current mini-synths in the market.

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Equipped with 37 mini keys, the Roland JD-Xi lets you play and sequence four sections:

  • The JD-Xi features a true analog synth engine. The newly developed analog synth section in the JD-Xi features saw, triangle, and square waveforms with pulse-width modulation and an analog filter, plus an independent sub oscillator for low-end power.
  • Two digital synth sections offer 128-voice polyphony and a wide range of SuperNATURAL-based PCM tones, for playing any style of music.
  • The JD-Xi also offers a PCM-based drum section. Included are many types of electronic and acoustic kits, and the drum instrument assignments are conveniently labeled above the keys for quick identification. Users can modify the sound of the kits with filter, envelope, pitch, and pan parameters.

A four-track pattern sequencer lets you create four-bar sequences, using an evolved 808-style sequencing interface. Four separate tracks—two digital synth parts, analog synth, and drums—are available. Real-time and step recording modes are provided, along with a special TR-REC mode for programming in the style of Roland’s classic TR-series beatboxes. Patterns can be queued up and manipulated while playing the keyboard, and many preset patterns are included for jamming right out of the box.

A gooseneck mic is also included, to use with the synth’s Vocoder and AutoPitch effects:

  • With the Vocoder, users can sing into the mic and control the tone and pitch via sounds played on the keyboard.
  • AutoPitch can be used to create robotic vocal sounds.
  • The Auto Note function provides the ability to “sing” JD-Xi synth, sounds without touching the keyboard.

Finally, the four parts can be enhanced with the JD-Xi’s effects section, which includes delay, reverb, and processing options such as Bit Crusher, Slicer and Ring Mod.

Supporting both MIDI and audio over USB, musicians can use the JD-Xi with their favorite computer music applications. USB also provides the ability to access a growing collection of free JD-Xi patches, which will be made available at Roland’s Axial sound library site.

The Roland JD-Xi is expected to have a street price of about US $500. See the Roland site for details.

39 thoughts on “Roland Returns To Analog With JD-Xi Synthesizer

  1. Seems like a reasonable competition to Microkorg XL+. Drums, sequencer, quick access to parameters and an analog synth, nice one. As long as there are some half-decent PCM based sounds, I guess.

  2. I was initially excited when I heard about this. I had assumed it was going to have something along the lines of the high quality oscillators from the Aria series. Which even if it doesn’t recreate analog 100%, they do avoid aliasing by internally running at 96khz and 32bit. I think also wrongly assumed that those digital Oscillators would be able to go through the analog filter

    With this being the supernatural, a older variety of synth than ACB for roland, I’m worried that it will Alias. And the digital section doesn’t even touch the analog filter. And the drums are just PCM samples. Stupid.

  3. Fast fingers doesn’t show the potencial of the synth. To many words and no sounds, demos, textures … I’m not the target for these kind of promotional video than doesn’t say ANYTHING. First impression is REJECTION just for these video.

  4. You guys shouldn’t poop on this so much. Roland is clearly doing their return to analog with baby steps, just as Korg did. You don’t have to want this instrument just like you probably didn’t want a monotribe. But just as the monotribe paved the way for a new MS-20 and Odyssey, this JD-Xi is only the first step. We should encourage the competition. It’s actually super cool how Roland is taking an approach that’s different than their competitors. We should be encouraging them because it’ll mean better things for us.

    1. A lot of folks here have been having fun at Roland’s expense for a while now, not that they haven’t deserved it…but this is another step forward and it does have a definite market. If I was a dance music kid with limited funds, this would look like a dream machine. As is, it’s a nice but not groundbreaking addition to the Roland line. Unfortunately for Roland, news of the reborn SEQUENTIAL CIRCUITS pretty much trumps everything else. I’m probably going to have to break my ‘no more synths’ vow.

    1. I have a microkorg xl and it is fine, but from this little demo I’d say they did beat it. Sounds better and looks more fun to play with. I wanna try one.

  5. stuck for words, its an interesting idea, I think its again more about marketing, roland seeking out a more garage band (literally rather than app) punter than a synthtopia blog reader. who knows?

  6. Roland, do away with the fucking PCM sounds already (except for maybe drums). FFS, if you would’ve put the JP8000 engine combined with the analog synth section that could all run through both an analog filter and a digital multimode filter you would’ve had a huge hit, even around the $1000 mark.

  7. interactive?! My days! Roland are stuck in 1999..

    Saying that, i would like to rock some kind of StreetFighter III:3rd Strike soundtrack vibe with this.. but that’s probably just as much Dorian Concept’s tip as it is the keyboard’s.

    I am glad to see Roland stepping back into the fray though.

    Good Luck!

  8. That red and blue/green doesn’t go together at all. The first thing I thought about this synth was how ugly it is. Looks like POS.

  9. Its not a bad little package for its intended use, which is clearly Dance. There are loosely two kinds of synths: “Basic pop synths,” for sawtooth leads, filter sweeps & TR-type drums and “Advanced synths,” where modulars, a fair number of softsynths and workstation layering go for greater detail and sound design. That’s why we all have at least one of each, right? I’d have to control this from a “real” controller if I was considering it. I suppose mini-keys are a marketing thing to make it feel more like a serious instrument, but this would be an even better tabletop module. It would have to be half again as powerful for me to consider it and that would push it out of its intended niche. I grew through hardware sequencers and into Logic, so this would be more of a casual/travel goof-off toy for me. OTOH, I add points for the PCM bank and if its still Roland-tough as I’ve known it, that’s a rational price.

  10. Wow! This looks like it’s aimed at killing the microkorg once and for all, I think it’s clever to marry analog sound with the flexibility of a digital workstation. I often wish I had something like a workstation synth but not without the analogue, plus it has the flexibility of digital oscillators too, so you could built a lot of other sounds that analogue isn’t as good at.

    Using Dorian, making it mini in size and giving is a vocoder and mike really give it away as aiming for the microkorg market.

  11. The problem with this plinky plonky then square wave layering and “dance music” is that no one seems to care about depth of chord progressions, melody, etc. This demo is wack in its overlay and density of such irritable casioness circa VLtone

  12. The floor models at NAMM were very buggy. The analog synth section has no ADSR, just one envelope knob, and it wasn’t possible to get an envelope with full sustain without it having infinite release as well (i.e. it would hold your most recently played note forever). Very disappointing, I hope they fix it cause the VA section sounded pretty good

  13. For people who liked the korg emx-1 this might be more in line with what they wanted from the electribe 2 than what they got. Plenty of possibilities with this one that haven’t been shown in demos

  14. the roland people should be ashamed of themselves. just like the jd-xi the jd-xa has NO SWING! wtf? what are they thinking?? on the back of the jd-xa they want us to purchase the £300 sbx sync box which gives control over swing. roland suckz big time imho. sixteen pattern tracks without shuffle is for kraftwerk fanboys only. man, my old mc808 is more versatile than this shitty sequencer. epic fail.

  15. Just bought a Roland JD Xi and … 909, 808, 707, 727, CR78, 606, 626 kits on board 🙂 they sound great. Two VA style digital synths with that; lean your arm across the entire keyboard and hear every note kinda polyphony 🙂 . Arpeggiators and a 4 track 64 step and realtime loop sequencer 🙂 . Simultaneous distortion, modulation, delay and reverb 🙂 . Vocoder, a mini keyboard and proper midi 🙂 . It is an awesome groovebox before you even get to the analog synth.

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