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.
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.