The New Roland Boutique Synthesizers Are Really Tiny

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These images, via icon.jp, clearly show how small the new Roland Boutique synthesizers are, compared to the originals that inspired them.

In the above photo, the Boutique synths are photographed next to the synths that inspired them. 

These photos highlight both the impressive portability of these new synths and the fact that they are not really designed to be replacements for the original full-size keyboards. Instead, they are filling a new niche, of capable mobile synths, that advances in technology have made possible.

Here’s a photo of the new Roland JP-08 next to an original Jupiter-08:

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For more of these images, see the icon.jp site (Japanese language).

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119 thoughts on “The New Roland Boutique Synthesizers Are Really Tiny

    1. Big kids will love these also, I am a big kid for sure, I already ordered the JP08, may another one in the future. These may be toys but damn they are good sounding toys!
      Big sounding synths in a very very small package.

      From what I have heard on Youtube they sound really really good!

  1. Don ‘t know if the same happen to you guys…they look good…the price is good…the sounds its some how decent..I have these feeling to go an pre-order one…however…it is like something is missing with them…that still makes me hesitate about getting one. I haven been thinking of it lately…and in my particular case..I think that the concept it is awesome,,,,however with the level of technology in electronics we have these days…i feel that we deserve/want, a full clone in a smaller package (but bigger than the new ones) without the perks of the 80’s analog (I.e. Juno IC’s) of each of them for a price between $499 and $999…doesn’t matter if they include DCO’s and digital LFO’s (like the yameaha cs-01), but a good beefy analog filter, snappy ADSR’s and of course VCA’s….BTW the three fellas in the picture are Michael Jordan size in Japan..therefore modules are a lil bit more smaller than you think ;-)…rgds

    1. The big problem with these synths is that they’re not giving us anything new – it’s like the larger companies are stuck in an awful time warp and can only focus on regurgitating devices from the past.

      There’s no reason at all to release three versions of this device – one well designed unit could offer VCO and DCO emulation and a variety of filter sounds. The trouble is that it probably wouldn’t sell as well because it doesn’t trigger nostalgia.

      1. “There’s no reason at all to release three versions of this device – one well designed unit could offer VCO and DCO emulation and a variety of filter sounds.”

        You’re falling into the same thinking that some people did with the Reface keyboards – the whole point of these newer digital synths is exactly the opposite of what you are suggesting.

        There’s no point to doing a dedicated hardware synth anymore, unless you do a interface that’s dedicated to a specific software synth and that’s really easy to use. If you’re going to do a generic interface for a digital synth, why even bother? There are lots of good MIDI control keyboards around.

        1. “There’s no point to doing a dedicated hardware synth anymore, unless you do a interface that’s dedicated to a specific software synth and that’s really easy to use. If you’re going to do a generic interface for a digital synth, why even bother? There are lots of good MIDI control keyboards around.”

          Disagree with this statement. It implies the only synth worth buying is a software synth, and hardware synths (i.e. stand-alone) have no role. I am not dismissing software instruments – I have a few – but, hardware is coming back with a vengeance and if anything, I see the future very much between good quality hardware synths, including re-issues of classic instruments (i.e. Korg ARP Odyssey, and MS-20 Mini being good examples), and good software instruments that can be exploited via MIDI controllers that easily map to the software controls. I certainly don’t want to create music using a mouse and a computer keyboard. I want to create music with a real instrument at my fingertips, ideally with one physical control per function to let me shape the sounds exactly as I want them. The future is not hardware or software – its both, done better, with lots of re-issues of classic gear beyond what we already have.

      2. is it the manufacturers living in the past, or the people buying these? you’ll notice these kinds of devices from Korg, Roland, etc have all been selling like hotcakes. then i wonder why it is everything “new” im hearing these days sounds like its from the 80s

      3. They’re just doing it to piss off the old farts, who remember how nice the original keyboards sound. The younger folk think these 80’s synth sound like trash because of the digital emulation. It’s a conspiracy to end the analog vs. digital debate by mis-representing the past, to justify using digital because it’s cheaper than analog! Of course I’m not being serious… or am I?

      4. I agree. At least Moog is doing something new (well a new product at least) as well as going to town massively with their ‘new’ modulars.

    2. It took me all of the first 2 seconds of the more expensive Moog Mother-32 demo to pull the trigger on that one, but I hesitate on these despite the price. I think the Kraft music demo does a good job of showing how close these sound to the originals, yet I still can’t get myself to commit to these. Something about them feels cheap and gimmicky. Like I’m simply buying digital Juno/Jupiter plug-ins and being forced to take multiple dedicated controllers that will further crowd my studio. I was hoping Roland would take a cue from Dave Smith’s update of the Prophet 5 and do a similar analog update of their vintage synths. That’s something I think musicians would s*** their pants over and would pay a good amount of money for. I’d rather have a single powerful and more expensive modernized analog Juno (or Jupiter) with real keys than a stockpile of all 3 of these cheap things that will spend more time in a box under my bed than on my desk.

  2. Tiny is the whole point of these things, isn’t it.

    Software synths can be great now, but nobody wants to use a mouse to make patches or perform with.

    Roland is just distilling the control panels of these synths down to their essence so that you’ve got all that you need and nothing more.

    I hope that the plug-in versions of these synths will be able to do more than 4 voices when they are released. Being able to use these as dedicated hardware controllers for the VSTi’s would be a killer features

  3. Disappointed by the 4 voice limit (excluding purchasing 2) and the fact that the JP8 is $100 more than the other two for some reason (did I read that wrong?), but as an owner of a JX3p, I am overjoyed by the ability to use one as a MIDI controller for my hardware seeing as how the PG200s go for as much as $500 these days. I really like the Sh2 on the Aira keyboard, so if these sound as good, then I am happy. But I would be happier with a 5 octave keyboard version of these with their full polyphony for twice the money.

  4. Not enough to depose the Ant King. A big shout out to my mite behind the beats, the shorty in my ill convoy. Korg tinyPIANO Is in the house, people! I’m not sure where but it’s here somewhere!

  5. Just dawned on me what these are like, and why I like them so much.

    They’re like hardware versions of the gadgets in Korg Gadget – something that I’ve wanted for some time.

    I’ve always said that I’d pay $200 for a little stand-alone hardware version of the Chi Mai (sp?) Gadget.

    But now I can spend that for a little Juno Gadget.

    1. THAT WAS MY EXACT THOUGHT WHEN I SAW THESE.
      If Korg makes a Chiang Mai or Marseille box because of the success of these I will lose my s***.

    2. I said the same thing when I first got Gadget. If they were to make a hardware version of Dublin, I would be a very happy camper.

  6. For a size reference, based on the specs on the website it seems they are about the same width as the Teenage Engineering OP-1 and about an inch deeper.

      1. Not in terms of basic, subtractive style synthesis, though. The OP-1 is a top 5 synth for me, for sure, but it doesn’t offer up a nice, basic subtractive synth engine. It also sounds nothing like what Roland are going after with these.

        I think these will compliment the OP-1 very nicely.

        1. Buddy, if you can snap an OP-1 over your knee then you’re Charles Atlas strong. The OP-1 may look like a toy but it’s built like a tank.

  7. Much as I would appreciate a full-scale version of the Jupiter 8 for my rig, the truth is it would be a) possibly too large for my rig, I do not need another five octave keyboard for live purposes and I don’t have anywhere to put it in my tiny studio. I’m troubled enough as it is wondering where I’m gonna put my old Roland Alpha Juno 2, and b) it would probably be an investment I could not justify; my clients don’t care if I’m using VA or actual analog, and that’s why I’ve shied away from investing in a Prophet 08.

    These Boutiques are just perfect for my needs. I just need to check the reviews and videos to see if the ACB modeling will sound better than Arturia’s Jupiter 8, and if it’s a better deal than running the Arturia with my 25 key controller on MainStage, then my checkbook’s out.

  8. I propose from now on all synth marketers must but something to serve as a reference for size in their photos. When I first saw these, I knew they were small but had no idea they were THAT small. My big nubby fingers could never deal with programming on these. It reminds me of how pitifully small the PS3 controllers always felt in my hands. Frankly, I don’t want to get hand cramps every time I try to program a patch. The could sound beautiful and I’d still have to pass because of ergonomics.

    1. It will be just a matter of time before someone will map them with Lemur for iOS so that the slider will be longer. And they can be very long with that new iPad Pro! 🙂

      1. I could do that with my own master controller but then it would defeat the purpose of having those knobs in the first place. Either make the surface ergonomical or make it a rack mount module.

  9. The biggest issue I see is 4-voice polyphony. A 4-voice ‘guitar’ is not a guitar. A JX3P or Juno106 needs to be 6 voices, and a Jupiter-8 needs to be 8 voices. The specific limited polyphony is part and parcel of how you have to approach the instrument and work within its limitations.

    The $299/$399 price point could easily be $399/$499 … just give us the required polyphony to be a true recreation representative of the original instrument.

    1. But these toys aren’t those instruments, so I don’t see an issue. They will sound and play different, some will get new sounds from the limits of that, and strap a couple together for greater polyphony, and maybe finding new quirks and interesting journeys into sounds, maybe even better sounds. Polyphony or not, these are a far way off giving sanctification to someone demanding a ‘true recreation’ of a classic – you’d be better looking for a software solution, then waiting for that boat to come in.

    2. They voice chain over MIDI, you can have 8 voices if you want. Or, you could play the other four voices as an overdub – so 20th century! They’re small, fun and affordable, what’s not to like?

      1. What happens if you chain two different models together? Do you get 4 voices that sounds like one synth and 4 that sounds like the other? Or does the second synth pretend to be the first in chained mode?

  10. price is tiny TOO
    unlike the yamaha reface, who keys are tinier yet price isn’t

    Of course the trouble in above picture is yo have Asian men holding it

          1. That’s a plus for Boutique.

            Refaces are gimped, over simplified, overpriced and lack controls.

            If not from Roland, there are no other fully knobby synths in any sub $1000 price category.

            Boutiques may look like toys, they may be priced like toys, but they sound good and have great facilities for making your personal sounds and play with them.

          2. OK, sure let’s compare Reface to Roland why not. Everyone here hates minikeys so adding on minikeys is irrelevant since literally none of you Roland haters actually want minikeys, it’s a completely absurd advantage to be citing of the Reface, something you all actually hate.

            Now more important to ask. Exactly how much do I have to pay for an add-on to the Reface to get 64 patches of storage? Or is that simply not available at any cost?

  11. I’d probably get these if they weren’t so shite, I mean small.

    It is an odd paradox of design, lets build a hardware emulation so everyone can have hands on fun with a classic, and lets make it tiny and fiddly so it defeats the point of making it in the first place – it is like these corporations only allow one good idea per product.

    The best effort so far goes to Korg with the ARP, but even then they couldn’t let it evolve into a modern product for a professional, they had to slim it down and get sentimental with features – shame.

    1. you mean…lets build a re-creation of a classic but lets make them digital instead of analog so it defeats the point of making it in the first place…

      1. Good sound with LOTS of control @ $299-399 does not defeat its purpose, it defeats a lot of synths even in higher price ranges.

  12. Roland can do no right in the eyes of many. They do a JD-XA (new concept) and people complain that they didn’t make a new Jupiter 8. They do an ACB Jupiter 8 and get criticized for not doing something new. People love the System 1, praising the SH-101 et al. emulations, but these come out and people gripe about the sound. Same tech. Tough to be Roland.

    1. What is this? A keyboard for ants? How can we be expected children to enjoy classic analog sounds… if their fingers can’t even operate the sliders?

      Derek, this is just a limited edition…

      I don’t wanna hear your excuses! The synth has to be at least… three times bigger than this!

  13. I’m going to wait until I get a chance to play the JP-08 before I’d put my money down on these. I’d certainly not get the matching keyboard thingy from Roland – use a proper 61 key MIDI controller and it would be much better. If the sound of the JP-08 is close to the Jupiter 8, I might be tempted, so that has to be proven. But then again – the money I spend on this could go towards what I’d aim to be the first of three Moog Mother 32s, which would give me Moog quality, and a proper modular Eurorack system that could be expanded. As for the other two (Ju-06 and Jx-03) they don’t interest me that much. Its the JP-08 that I’d look at, and it would all depend on how accurate the sound was in relation to the original.

  14. these appear to be the same size as microbrutes, which I don’t remember many people complaining were too small; if anything a lot of people seemed to like the small form factor but would’ve preferred a desktop module without the miniature keyboard. Which is pretty much what these are, albeit “ACB” rather than actual analogue. If these had been made by Arturia people would probably love them and be asking “why couldn’t Roland have done this?”

    1. With the MicroBrute, everybody was thinking “Damn! A real analog synth for under $300. Shut up and take my money!”

      With these, there are already plenty of virtual analogs available in this price range. Even the 10-year old MicroKorg has the same polyphony.

    2. What makes the MicroBrute less objectionable is that they didn’t shrink the controls too much or pack things in too close together. Although the MicroBrute is only marginally larger (and about the same size keys), Arturia uses larger knobs and sliders, with significantly more spacing. There is not enough room to properly turn a knob completely in one motion on the JX-03 and JP-08, and that’s a deal-breaker for me. 1″ spacing (like Arturia) is about minimum for adult fingers; .6″ (JP-08) is just too small.

      This is a shame because there’s a lot to like here. These are just the things to get little kids hooked on synthesis.

  15. I would consider purchasing one. Just concerned about the tiny faders! The JP-08 only has 20mm(?) faders. I can imagine it’d be quite annoying to program the exact sound you want.

  16. In the interview, they say they’re limited run. You can MIDI chain as many as you can although latency may become problem. If you chain different units only polyphony will be increased. The team who developed them is different from AIRA team. The size is decided to be A4 (the size of paper) which is most common paper size in Japan. etc etc…

  17. Too many people complaining that these boutique synths are TOYs.
    Go do a search for KORG’s Volca series on Youtube & see how many talented people that are using them to make music.
    Apparently the Volca enthusiasts don’t think they are toys.
    It will be the same for Roland’s boutique synths.
    Plus ALL 3 have onboard sequencers.
    I don’t recall ANY of the original synths having that…
    Just more Tek snobbery from the analog purists.

        1. Volcas are a pure analog oscillator and analog sound design. Only digital thing is the sequencer and presets. Which, by the way, the most famous analog synths, such as the Moog Voyager and the Oberheim OBXa all are. You have to be able to save patches some way, and that is the only digital part. So please dont try and muddy the waters and call Volcas anything other than an analog box.

          again, your argument is a FAIL. x2 actually now.

    1. They are still toys no less. Thats not where I hope this industry is going or it would be like saying that what we have accomplished in 25+ years is simply making the same stuff 3 times smaller and a bit more efficient. Once it was vanguard and experimentation, now its mostly a carbon copy fest.
      And did you say it also comes with a sequencer?! Just like in the early 70s forward? Great Scott I’m shocked!

      If somebody get good sounds on the thats great, but its a different story.

  18. I am a user of Roland gear since the early eighties, I have had most of their synths. From the Mc 202 up until my rack JP 8080.
    I think these look tiny so possibly difficult to use but and sound source you can midi up is worthy of checking specially with Rolands name on it.

  19. I can just about remember when the originals were launched, and also other ground breaking synths like the Dx7, then later when Roland brought out the d50, and later again the Korg M1. So new, so exciting, all of them. I really really wanted them at the time, but could never get near them because of the price. It seems now that the main players are looking back and reliving their yesterdays rather than looking forward and actually bringing something ground breaking, new and iconic. At the moment the future of synths looks to be set in the 1980s! Still, at least these are affordable.

  20. The stylophone, Bee Gees Rhythm Machine, Casio VL, Speak & Spell were real toys, and no-one ever made decent tunes with those…

    My concern is that, ironically, these seem overly expensive for what you are getting – A Mircrocontroller, DAC and some knobs and buttons produced using modern cheap mass-production methods.

    1. Well, maybe no-one made a decent tune using ONLY those ‘toys’, but I’m pretty sure Orbital’s UK top-20 hit “Style” from 1999 was based around a Stylophone riff… Trio’s massive 80’s tune “Da Da Da” was mostly Casio VL, and both OMD and Kraftwerk made decent tunes using Speak & Spell vocals. Not only that, but Kraftwerk used the Bee Gees Rhythm Machine on “Pocket Calculator”, and can even be seen in photos from the era using them onstage. So, just sayin’, is all…

  21. there were 2 quite interesting videos this week:

    Trent Reznor (for Moog) talking about with how much passion Robert Moog developed his INSTRUMENTS – even the smaller ones, but especially the larger ones. Everything, Reznor said, from case to smell, from tactiles to sound was completely a composition with one goal: to be an INSTRUMENT for players who love what they do and who wanted the best possible feedback from their INSTRUMENT.

    And then there was that sonicstate talk 149, very remakable one, in which Ty Unwin said, that despite the fact, that the Roland Boutique synths are massmarket products produced with no big love or respect for musicians and music, “we all are gonna get one” because they are so tempting.

    cleverly packed little drugs?

    i really do quite like the JDXA a lot (for what it is) , but the boutique synths are just cleverly packed VAs.
    Also says Unwin…

    and i can see very little love and respect in them. (and in many other so called instruments nowadays. But people buy them. Which might be a mistake in my opinion.

  22. sorry if the rant goes on a bid…

    but if i read statements like “all i need is 2x JP08 to make good music” then i feel really sad about the music.
    music is more than a burger we eat on the way to the next happening.

    and, last thing: Roland seems to be quite a mixed bag reagrding credibility. On one side the JD XA, on the other side the AIRA (which is not bad but – sorry – not really the real deal -and for that money they COULD deliver some real deal … see mother 32, see dominion 1 – AIRA incl the terrible sounding tr8 and the soso but unfunky tb3 costs also quite a lot)

    now they even make it worse: they call thiese new synths “boutique”. I had known the word boutique only from guitar pedals, where it meant: handcrafted or really special and with lot’s of love and effort made to give you something that is NOT a massmarket product.

    So, Roland, you try to fool me here? give me a medioce sounding (ok, the JX3P is really close) small, totally NOT inspiring plastic box for a few hundred bucks, calling it “made with love and effort” while it is missing almost ANYTHING to justify this?

    sorry i feel fXXd…

    i am almost tempted to say: people, stop buying this xxx. buy less and enjoy some really good sound. there is too much McDonalds music in the air …

    1. “music is more than a burger we eat on the way to the next happening”

      So then why are the tools you’re using so important to everyone here?

      By her own admission, Grimes put together this entire album in garageband with crappy soft synths.

      Its also one of the most interesting synth-pop albums I’ve heard in the last few years:

      People need to stop implying expense / inconvenience = quality

  23. WHY?

    roland make tat, you all know it so why bother. you don’t increase sales by making synths that last a life time, but you do make sales by making synth that people get bored of after a few months. in the lyrics of roger waters….. it all makes perfect sense expressed dollars cents pounds shillings and pence, can’t yer see it all makes perfect sense.

  24. I agree that they totally did in the term boutique. This stuff is not at all boutique.

    One more thing: any word on compatibility with the Aira MX-1?

  25. As an ancient philosopher once said…

    “If you like it, buy it. If you don’t like, don’t buy it.”

    Judging by the comments, you’d think it was way more complex than that – go figure.

    1. A wiser man once said:
      “Opinion may be free but it is far from being worthless.”

      You put a product out in a social media world and you will get opinion, good or bad. It is easy to avoid opinion you just don’t release any products, yet if you only want good opinion then release solid products that can’t be mocked – it is a simple ideology.

      Roland and Yamaha have taken a bit of flack recently over some products, but it is all valid, it is all fair play. If they don’t want people saying that a new product is shite then ultimately the ball will always be in their court, and they can ace it or not – they choose not to ace it. These things are far from aces, the level of negative opinion is self-evident to what they are – a weak serving that can easily be countered – done, new balls please.

      1. 1. Imagine the perfect synth. It has your favorite form factor, UI, and features. Now, ask the person to your left to imagine the perfect synth. Just keep on asking people, adding and subtracting features until you have total agreement by everyone.

        Obviously, that’s an impossible task. It’s not possible to please everyone. The perfect synth with 100% global appeal is simply not achievable. That’s why there’s a million different ones, catering to every possible use and user.

        2. So, then you start to consider money. Can you design something that ALMOST everyone would agree is great, then price it so low that the price convinces everyone who has a complaint? A “no brainer” synth, full global appeal, no nasty comments on Synthtopia?

        You might get everyone one in the world to agree a full size Minimoog Model D reissue is a no brainer if it cost a 100 dollars. Or a full size CS-80 for 200 dollars. Even people who are not fans of those synths would buy one.

        Even if it was done for that price, people would complain that the modern components sound bad and only the old ones were good and warm or some analog superstitious voodoo claim. Also, if you didn’t guess, You can’t sell PRICE GIANT ANALOG SYNTHS FOR A COUPLE HUNDRED BUCKS because they cost way more than that to make.

        So – every synth ever released, no matter how cheap or expensive, limited or feature rich, has been called overpriced junk that sounds weak BY SOMEONE. Whatever is missing is a deal breaker. Whatever was streamlined, shrunk, or scaled back is a deal breaker. And the forum for that synth is full of people complaining about this or that, or build quality, or broken pots, or buggy software.

        Just hit the forum of any synth and read the complaints.

        1. I see synths here all the time that get little to no negative comment. The latest Modal thread here is like that, and it isn’t cheap – but people understand what you get for the money, and comment reflects that. MFB Dominion 1 had great comments from everyone, Nick Batt also stating how he loved it. The new Moog Mother has mostly positive feedback, which is hard for a new line from such a traditional player.

          Good synths get good feedback, but I have noticed the latest offerings from Roland and Yamaha don’t get good feedback – why is that? Maybe, just maybe, it is because they fall short from what people know can be done for the money.

          1. I actually think these are perfect in every way… except they don’t seem to have CC or sysex support. I just need to be able to record my moves. That’s an issue for me because I like to work with timbral and other gestural changes expressively in my compositions. I did this when these synths first came out. A simple architecture with the ability to play it in real time is a great design in my view. Others prefer synths where they press a button and listen to the note change for 20 minutes without repeating. That’s an approach too, just not mine.

            I liked the original synths these represent and have two of them in storage because they are old and I haven’t gotten around to fixing their issues. These clones represent the possibility of being able to use these again.

            However I do need to be able to record and edit parametric changes since that’s part of my workflow.

            If this isn’t to be for these that’s fine, I am OK with the stuff I have now. If these do allow recording and playback of all parameter changes, then yeah I’m going to buy the whole set. But I understand that companies can’t cater to individual interests. At the same time though covering reasonable interests is a good way to increase sales. Invisible features like receiving and sending parameter changes don’t cost panel space or shipping costs, it’s just a decision whether to support it in software. Given the other features it’s clear these support changes to parameters without stepping, so an intentional decision would have to be made by marketers NOT to include such a basic feature, just as Yamaha decided that patch storage wasn’t going to be included in their crippled low end version of synths, obviously to avoid competing with their top end workstations. I see how MBAs interested in the bottom line make those decisions, but I also note that sort of thinking nearly always backfires.

            I can never buy another piece of gear again and it won’t affect my ability to compose. But I do buy cool useful stuff. Because why not.

          2. Don’t act like it’s rocket science to figure out.

            Everybody would love to buy a Schmidt or a Modal 008, but the Schmidt is $25K and the Modal is $5,500.

            The synths that most people can actually afford are synths like the microKorg – which has been one of the best-selling synths for a decade. And ANY of these new Roland or Yamaha synths sounds way better than a microKorg.

            These mini synths are full of compromises, made so that they can be built and sold for under $500. So, yeah, there are things for purists to whine about. What do you expect?

            1. And these cheap synths from Yamaha and Roland is just electrics and software attached to a bunch of knobs, which technically could be whatever you wanted them to be, and more. It doesn’t matter, cost went out the window in the digital age. A good synth is a good synth – these are just a bunch of re-purposed electrics pretending to be something from the past at a rigged price – I don’t see how I can commend that, it isn’t commendable.

              Nobody is a winner from a transaction like that, they can do much better, and I, for one, demand they do better.

              And why is everything being sold to people who like making music on a go? Sit down, make some music – being on the go is what you do after doing something profound, not during. In ten years time when you say why is the music so rubbish, my response is this, because you all got drunk, jumped on a toy train and started making tunes on stylophones – nothing good can come from this.

              1. I’ve see people make amazing tunes with ‘toys’. Only on a gear forum would someone have the audacity to imply that the gear you use somehow makes your musical output better ¯\_(?)_/¯

  26. From what I’ve heard and seen, (and I’m not a raging yamaha or roland fan), but the reface just look more solid state. These Roland Boutiques look like they came out of a cereal box.

  27. These remind me of those little table top arcade games from the 80’s. a stripped down miniature of the original. Still fun though.

  28. I bought my JX3P new in 1985 for a little under a thousand bucks. 6 voices, 12 oscillators, MIDI–very nice and stable DCO sound. These days a 4 voice analog with a smaller keyboard is $1300. The Mopho X4. It is interesting how technology succeeds in making just about everything cheaper yet better. Not so with polyphonic synths. Sure, the new ones can do a lot the old ones could not do, but synth manufacturers can’t manage to produce something as good as a JX3P for anything close to the price of one. Sure, there are reasons, but nothing that is insurmountable I bet. The used market will continue to get more ridiculously expensive as long as manufacturers fail to deliver analog polysynths with a reasonable number of voices for a decent price. Not $2500 for a Prophet 6.

    1. When you factor in inflation, the $1000 you paid in 1985 equals $2,214.83 in 2015 money. So your mass-market Roland synth cost several times as much as a boutique analog synth from a tiny little California company would these days.

      1. Good point, but, still, look at the trend in other electronics, like televisions and computers. Prices have dropped and power has increased exponentially. Sure, you can spend more, but with the more you get a product most of us could not have conceived of at the time.

        1. You’re comparing the synthesizer market to consumer electronics. The demand isn’t anywhere near the same; It’s unreasonable to expect the same economies of scale apply.

            1. I think that’s what they did. Two of the three new synths are being sold 40% cheaper than the System 1 on which they are based. I see that as a pretty big deal.

              And to go back where you started, you can now get surprisingly accurate sounding JX3P Clone for $300 dollars, and it comes in a physical case with real time tactile controls. Isn’t that what you want (A good poly synth for a fraction of the price)? I don’t understand what there is to criticize.

              1. OK. Maybe in your view there is nothing to criticize. And that is fine. I suppose the thing for me to do is to buy the Parva 8-voice analog synthesizer for $1000. I would have liked to see Roland do something similar, but they did not.

            2. That’s an interesting claim. Are you aware that both DSI and Roland are very small companies founded by an individual which only make electronic music instruments and which co-invented the MIDI standard?

  29. “1st world problems” – I was hoping we had stopped using that expression, never been able to work out who it offends the most?

    In this media age, I don’t think rich westerns have exclusivity on mocking corporations and their poor offerings. Can some starving teen sit on barren soil and mock these products, and may some broken man in a despotic state take the piss out of Roland? Shall we deny them these rights, along with others? I don’t understand why we feel it is the exclusive rights of rich westerns to be concerned with the everyday and the mundane events that shape society, and I also feel that everyone, including those dealing with hardship and toil, need reprieve – whose simple acts of human synchronicity that make us feel connected and human. Is it so wrong for a freedom fighter to text a Roland joke to a friend before entering battle? Is that not the act of someone simply being human? Is it not those simple privileges he fights for? Which may seem worthless in isolation, but it all adds up to a meaningful human experience in a modern connected world.

    I guess the aim was to keep the poorest people preoccupied with toil so they can’t shape the world, then technology got in the way of that; so my problems, their problems, your problems, Roland’s problems, and the whole worlds problems are all our problems – big or small it is a shared experience that shapes us all. Dealing with this alone is a big problem for us all.

    I am Kuwa Mashine. I am but one, but together…

    1. I read the expression not as a means of excluding the rest of the world, but as an admission that they’re not likely to care.

  30. If I were a hobbit I’d be all over this. As is I’m in the not-a-fan-of-tiny-controls camp.

    I’d like to see these about 90% bigger. At that size, if you made the pitch and mod ribbons part of the keyboard controller (“above” the lowest keys like these are) the remaining controls would easily fit in a 4U rack module, and it would bring the faders up to about MiniBrute size. I’d love to see a series of rackmountable modules that fit into a full-size 3-octave keyboard controller with pitch and mod.

  31. Has anybody considered the fact that these may look like toys for a reason? Roland make physical hardware, so if people are only buying software synths they’re kinda out of business in the future. So… put out something that looks like a toy but actually isn’t, put it out there for the kids (future hardware buyers) to use and maybe just maybe create some future hardware synth nuts that’ll keep them in business in the future? seems far fetched but…just saying.

    1. But people are not only buying software synths. The hardware market is going very well – especially with the analog renaissance resulting in many good new hardware synthesizers, together with the ‘re-issue revolution’ just getting started. More and more people are turning to hardware, and whilst software instruments still have an important place, the future is no longer purely about software instruments.

      I don’t think Roland need to do these Boutique synths to keep them in business at all. Look at the JD-XA. This is a synth that is quite ground-breaking in combining analog and digital into one keyboard, and the ability to integrate both is done quite well. Likewise Roland’s System 1, whilst by no means perfect, is a step forward from the SH-01 Gaia. Then the System 1M and to System 500 modules reinforce Roland’s ability to do good hardware. So I don’t see these Boutique synths as really being necessary for Roland’s survival when they can continue to produce good quality hardware products.

      I think with these, Roland are trying to jump on the re-issue bandwagon without actually ‘re-issuing’ a Jupiter 8. They are going for low-cost, high volume sales to a mass market, rather than a more professional instrument to a narrower market of the professional or ‘serious’ electronic musician, (which are most of the people who comment on this blog.) If they re-issued a Jupiter 8, even a scaled down one but one that still looked like a Jupiter 8 (i.e. they emulate the MS-20 Mini approach), then the price would be around $2,500 US (best case) – out of the reach of most of the market Roland are aiming at. They could do that – and still could – it would make sense to have a ‘professional’ model with a full 76 note keyboard, and exact replica operation and controls – but could they do that using ACB? Or would they have to make it full analog to really get it right?

      In the meantime these boutique synths may be a way for Roland to ‘test the re-issue’ waters more decisively than would be possible with plug-outs for the System 1.

  32. I can actually see that the tiny size factor may be a major selling point to young electronic musicians who wish to take their first steps into the realm of physical units from VSTi’s, but lack the real estate for bulky synthesizers at their home studios.

    Soundwise these little units are excellent – even though they don’t sound *exactly* like the classic synths they are based on, they are quite frankly not a million miles away either.

    Too bad that these units do not respond to MIDI CC. I just cannot see myself twiddling those minuscule switches and sliders during a recording session without being able to record what I am doing, so that was a deal breaker for me…

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