22 thoughts on “Inside The Roland JD-XA Analog + Digital Synthesizer

  1. interesting walkthrough.

    great: this guy owns a tripod and a video light. no need to get nauseous after 2 minutes like from this handheld stuff.

  2. The synth contains exactly what I expected to see. Markus is has created quite a few of these take-apart vids, and I find them a nice, relaxing view, but on this one I disagree with his statement that the synth seems to be well made, especially considering the other instruments he has dissected. Come to think of it, I don’t think he’s offered much negative critique about anything.

    To me the JD-Xa is way, way too plastic. Plastic synths do not like gigging. A small jostle or drop will usually cause some screw hole posts to snap loose. Also, many plastic synths don’t have threaded metal inserts where the screws go, so if you overtighten, or if you even just take it apart too many times, the holes wear out and the synth starts falling apart. My 300 dollar Microbrute seems way more rugged than this 2200 dollar Roland.

    Also, while the synth sounds pretty good, I think it looks ridiculous … but hey, to each their own.

  3. Oh no Markus. This has gone too far. If anyone deserves top slot in the National Synth Offenders List it’s you. Hide your kit. 🙂

  4. “Also, many plastic synths don’t have threaded metal inserts where the screws go, so if you overtighten, or if you even just take it apart too many times, the holes wear out and the synth starts falling apart.”

    So what percentage of synth owners do you think take apart their synths? Does this one have the metal inserts? Do you have info or are you just guessing? If you are just guessing, then it’s probably safer to trust Markus’ opinion rather than yours.

    1. Hey, why so confrontational? Trust whoever you like. Metal inserts or not, this synth has a POS plastic case that doesn’t deal well with shock, looks like a toy and goes brittle over time.

      1. Cool story brah. Not confrontational. Just doing my part to point out silly commentary. The TB-303 is plastic and seems to have retained a rather hefty value. The last time I checked, these things make sounds, so shouldn’t that be a priority? Do you even make music? The thing sounds amazing. It also doubt that this is intended for a touring synth. Their JP-80 was made for that.

        1. ok and how many tb-303’s do you know that are not falling apart? because they are, rapidly. at least the one’s i personally know. imo this btw is one of the reasons the prices go up, because they are becoming more rare.

    2. Here’s a real world scenario.

      You get a synth. At some point, you notice a certain key or group of keys isn’t triggering.

      You flip your synth upside down and unscrew 38 little screws. They all slot into little plastic posts. The screws themselves are cheap and soft and coated with black “tamper” paint. You end up scraping them up a little.

      Inside the synth, you don’t see anything obvious. You unplug and replug a couple of ribbon cables. Voila. The keys now trigger. The keyboard cable just needed to be reseated to get a solid connection.

      You button up the synth. This time, a few of the screws seem to have gone into the post at a slight angle, or have dug their own new threads. Still feels solid enough.

      Six months later you suspect a cold solder joint. One of your outputs is sketchy. Seems to work only with pressure. You use the headphone jack. Eventually that too feels intermittent.

      So you get your screwdriver, open it up, reflow the cracked solder, button it back up. Screws are now all flaked, a couple look stripped. The posts are now even dodgier. Feels a little loose with too much flex. Couple of driver gouges in the bottom panel.

      The you notice a little bit of plastic is now rattling around inside, but you don’t want to open it again…

      If I designed these things, they’d have a hinged chassis and some kind of locking fastener system. If Honda made cars like Roland, the CRV would sport a plastic hood with 300 tiny robot-tightened screws threading into cheap plastic posts.

      1. All things eventually die… It’d be nice if everything was metal ( |..|, ) but here’s a tip to keep those little plastic posts around a little longer – when the screws go back in, rotate them backwards (counter-clockwise) in the thread until they ‘click’ a little. Just after the click, the threads will be lined up, they can go back in the same way they were. Don’t force, don’t over-tighten, you should be able to take the screws in and out about 100 times before the posts start to get loose. Worn threads can be renewed with a little careful application of green goo or epoxy (use wd-40 on the screw as a release agent, move it periodically while it dries).

        Plastic isn’t ideal, but with a little care it lasts a long time. Wood is way worse for wear and tear and there are plenty of wood instruments that have lasted hundreds of years.

    3. Hello Guys, The JD-XA has plastic posts around the outside edges but the line of 4 screws along the centre are fixed to metal folded posts, I think the synth is well made electronically speaking. but the case is plastic and the edges have no additional protection so in an unlucky situation it would crack if dropped. with a bit of forward thinking Roland could have put replaceable end pieces on it. It feels reasonable sturdy for a plastic item and has 2 metal strips the top metal strip is folded over the back by 25mm giving it some extra rigidity. I like the lightweight feel to it though I’m carrying it around like a newborn baby and would not transport this in a soft gig bag. It really needs a hard case. I have the Jupiter-80 and that feels much stronger but weighs about 39Lbs compared with the JD-XA at 14.375Lbs. But if you dropped it you would quite likely break it.

  5. When he opened that I felt like I’d seen it before, then I recalled the Roland advert showing it without the case. But good to hear that all 8 parts seem to send midi and a differnt channel, very useful – but at a price.

  6. I agree about plastic builds. They skeer me a bit, although my various ‘plastic’ Rolands and Korgs have held up quite well. I’m not Dave Smith, so I can’t comment directly about manufacturing realities, but I would think X number of buyers, for a little while at the front end of the run, could pre-order a more pro model with a couple of added metal bars, molded handles, etc. for tourings’ sake. Then again, many artists sell their post-tour gear as a business write-off, so the wundertoy only has to hold up for a fixed period, ruff or not. Even my new flatscreen is on a stand with screws that are about 1/4″ long, which is BS for any electronic device. WTF, too cheap to charge me another $1 for 1/2″ screws in bulk? GAH! I gave up and bought a couple of controllers I like for softsynth-ing, because most makers seem determined to offer sh*t keybeds on full hardware synths. That seems odd, because I WOULD PAY MORE FOR A BETTER KEYBOARD MECHANISM. Wouldn’t you pay $50-100 more to get keys you could really grab with confidence? I’ll bet Korg could have sold a lot more KingKorg’s if they hadn’t crippled a great vintage sound vault with aggravating keys.

  7. I have a Korg Triton, 14 years old. Gigged 2-3 times a week with it for years, now gig 1-3 times a month. The only repair I ever had to do on it was when the 1/4″ out got scratchy. The sketchy punk (Korg certified repair shop) who I sent the thing to broke off one of the screw sockets which attaches the top of the chasis to the bottom, and he also decided my pitch bend was loose (it was not) so he “fixed” it and now it is lose.

    I sent the thing to a 2nd repair shop to fix the damage from the 1st. Repair guy says he fixes a lot of Korgs, mostly scratchy outs (happens) and broken keys (happens) and this was the 1st time he’s ever seen one of the screw posts break off. His conclusion — the Korg is a tank, the 1st repairman is an idiot.

    The moral of this story? I’m not sure. Besides this accident, which sounds like a freak thing, the keyboard is rock solid. Then again, if it weren’t plastic it would not break.

    Before this review I was unimpressed by the new Roland series. Now I may have to give it a try.

  8. I thought this was very interesting and good to learn about the insides .
    I do think it looks crap , but this was really interesting .Great point about the tb 303 (and 606) being crap and plastic but they have lasted and lasted and lasted!!

    1. I really wanted to buy this keyboard but the colours of the circuit boards has really turned me off. They really don’t compliment each other. What were Roland thinking. Maybe they need new Pantone swatches. There is also a reflection from one of the knobs that bothers my eyes. If they don’t use real Narwhale horns in their next keyboard, I’m giving up on Roland.

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