Roland JD-Xi Synthesizer Private Demo

2015 NAMM Show: This video captures a private room demo of the new Roland JD-Xi synthesizer by Roland’s Scott Tibbs.

The demo was filmed off the NAMM Show floor, with direct audio, so it offers a better preview of the audio possibilities of the JD-Xi than most other videos.

The Roland JD-Xi is mini-synth that offers an analog monosynth, dual digital synths, 808-style drum sequencing and a digital effects section. It’s the first in a planned JD-X series of hybrid analog + digital keyboards.

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

70 thoughts on “Roland JD-Xi Synthesizer Private Demo

    1. Definitely not for me, and most people on this site probably have enough gear already that this doesn’t really fit a niche. But for a ‘first synth’ it seems like that $500 bucks will get you a lot with this. I’d just like to know if they are going to have a pc editing utility for getting at the deeper synthesis params or is it locked-in presets or lots of menu-diving…

      1. As much negativity as some fanboys or astroturfers try to attach into this product, it is simply the best offer in the minisynth category at the moment.

        And MANY synth people buy them. Even when they have lots of gear, most synth people don’t have so much gear, that they couldn’t fit this good sounding analog mono synth, that also comes with very nice VA into their rig.

        Of course beginner will get a full catering with one affordable purchase;
        2 interesting and good sounding synths.
        4 parts(vs 2 in kingkorg and 1 in UltraNova…phooey! You need 4 to make decent song)
        Good effects for each part
        Very nice sequencer!!!

    2. Can’t wait for the big one. What was it called jdxa? If the jdxa is like that, only deeper then I will be wanting one very bad ^^

  1. Is ANYONE curious if the analog filter self oscillates?

    Is anyone interested to learn what circuit the filter is based off of? (303, 101, Juno, Something New?)

    How about the DSP filters – do they attenuate signal, step, self-oscillate?

    Instead of this very basic information, we get dozens of instruction videos on how sequencers work.

    1. More information would be better, but why do you think it’s critical that the filter self-oscillates? The only time I’ve used that is to create synth kick drums.

      1. I think it’s very basic information about the character of this synth. No one seems to know or care. Yet the filter is the element that imparts the most character to the sound.

        I didn’t say that it was critical that the filter go into self-oscillation. I just wondered why no one was asking this, and other details, at NAMM.

        I think there are a lot of people who are satisfied that there is “analog” on this thing. There’s good and bad analog, filters that sound flat and filters that have unusual sounding behaviors. The words “analog” and “Roland” are not enough on their own to get me to buy a synth.

        I’d like to know more but none of the demonstrators or interviewers seem particularly interested in the actual analog filter or the basic sounds. They just start explaining how you can have drums, a robot voice, and supersaw stabs. Yes, we know.

        Guess we’ll have to wait for Nick Batt to get his hands on one.

        1. i think the main question is already answered which is does the filter sound any good at all, with a resounding obviously not. clever way to nab some beginners who think they are ‘upgrading’ or ‘going analogue’ not realizing that a filter really only has one sweep. the weak thinness to the tone upon filtering in this video will be endemic to the whole tone of the unit and no tweaking will improve it. that will be a rude awakening for any who go for this thing. Try a volca by comparison! the filter is practically an ms20 filter and has a strong sound throughout the sweep.

          1. Volcas are fine, but they only have 12db filters which is a fairly shallow slope. Roland’s most popular synths had 24db filters – but we don’t know what the db per octave on this is, because there’s almost no info and no one is asking.

            1. 12db filter leaves a richer sound, it removes LESS sound. lots of classic filters are 12db. the 24 can often be ‘smoother’ tho in this case i think it is one that ends up just sounding quiter and remains thin, perhaps because of the DSP back-end of the synth.

      1. That’s cool. But are you in the least bit curious how the filter behaves? Or it it enough that it’s analog? Because not everything that’s analog actually sounds good.

          1. Great – I’ll take your word. I’d still like to know more – 12 or 24db, does it attentuate volume, does it have high resonance through the entire cutoff range (unlike MiniBrute), is it 303-like, Juno-like?

  2. When an analogic groovebox ? A sequencer like rs 7000, 16 part,poliphonic, analog+awm2+fm+samples with many different multi efx!! All in a box!!

    1. been waiting for that for a decade… somehow i doubt it will ever happen.. maybe 20 years when all this shit is “retro” again

    1. Well for some of us it started with the Casio cz 101 and of course the yamaha dx 100, (and the tiny yamaha analogue /pre midi) It meant that us poor folk could buy cheap machines and over europe and the world, (detroit , Chicago etc ) new music was made by those without access to huge amounts of money. We got round our naff little keys by MIDI’iNG THEM UP TO MASTER KEYBOARDS!!!!!!
      If you where not around in the early 80’s , you really are picking up the end of a fashion not the beginning.
      I don’t hear people moaning about lack of a keyboard on a 303? Or the wasps, nats etc

        1. It is what midi is for , hooking up , modules, synths, samplers together (thank you Dave Smith ), you don’t needs keys on every sound device.
          I suppose if could be critical of these small keyed things is please , make rack gear .
          I have a lot of rack gear and love it.I have some gear now I wish was racked.
          rack gear keeps stuff tidy and organised. By the look of trends , it will come round again, companies making rack gear .To me this has to be the shittest synth roland fetched out and people are getting anal about it, get on the sound on sound website and buy a better specified analogue second hand if you want quality.

  3. I’ve been building up an mostly analog studio with a Virus B, Analog Four, Analogy Rytm and soon a Sub 37. Been trying to stay away from toy synthesizers, but this thing looks like fun and honestly sounds the biz to me as well. Doubt I’ll pick one up, but I would have loved this thing 10 years ago when I didn’t have the money to spend on the above.

      1. Yeah, I hadn’t realized about the SuperNatural. it’s looking more now like this is a preset rompler keyboard with some macro controls. For example, it seems to have an envelope knob that lengthens the overall attack, and you can adjust depth of envelope, but doesn’t seem to allow other envelope changes. Not a bad unit for the target audience, but it’s more like a Yamaha Portatone as far as the level of sound design capability goes. Perhaps though there will be low level editor software allowing more detailed sound design? We’ll see.

  4. In order to support Roland’s return to real analog, I want to like this. However, I just don’t ooh and ahhh over it.

    I can’t put my finger on just one thing or another as to why it doesn’t really interest me. It’s a combination of things. Here are some (subjective) reasons:

    Tiny mini keys like this automatically make a synth seem low budget el cheapo

    Sorry, but I don’t like the look of it.

    The built in drums remind me of one of those cheap all in one preset keyboards that you see at places like Best Buy.

    The analog/digital hybrid aspect sounds cool until you find out that you can’t combine analog and digital sound engines simultaneously.

    Sorry Roland, but the analog portion of this is blown away by many of the low cost feature packed analogs available today.

    Sorry Roland, but the digital portion is blown away by many of the low cost feature packed digital synths available today.

    It tries to be too much. It does a lot for $500, and it sounds good. But why settle for this when you can spend a bit more to get much more. For someone on a budget, this offers a lot. But it just doesn’t get me all that interested (unlike the new Prophet 6 and Korg Arp Odyssey, both of which got my attention and kept it).

    Again, just my (entirely subjective and ultimately meaningless) two cents.

    Now, that new Roland JD-XA shell sitting at NAMM has piqued my interest. I hope that it’s more than just a big JD-Xi.

    1. it could likely be your gut reaction to the lack of musical character to the tones. people often forget to let their gut be the judge and not get too confused in considering the details and applications of a piece of gear. you see people buying and selling things all the time hoping they have found something, excited, anticipating, buying into hype and expectation, then getting the unit and realizing ‘oh… it just sounds exactly like the demo and nothing more. i figured i could get more out of it’

    2. You get a lot in a little package.
      But you can’t layer your synths like you could on the Gaia. You’re meant to create 4-track looping sequences.
      It’s more of a synth groovebox hybrid – in competition with things like the electribe 2.
      If you approach it as a synth, it is lacking. A minikey menudiver with a very limited analog section.

    3. I understand your frustration with Roland from your point of view, but you have to see where your own biases reside and how silly your comments can sound.

      Firstly, you think spending a bit more = spending twice as much. I’m not sure what you’re thinking here.

      Secondly, the analog and digital parts can all be played together with the drums as well. The main limitation of the DSP is that it does not do both Analog synth and vocoder. You have to choose either.

      Thirdly, a decent drum machine with 32 PCM drum kits with a 4 bar real time/step sequencer reminds you of cheap keyboards at best buy? Maybe I should just go buy one of those instead then?

      Fourthly, they are mini keys as it is a mini keyboard. This doesn’t make it cheap, this makes it mini.

      No one cares that you think drum kits and mini keys seem el cheapo. This product isn’t even close to what you look for in a synth, so why are you categorizing it like it is?

  5. There’s a lot clearer audio in this one than in the previous demo video, cool.

    This instrument looks like a lot of fun and seems to have a well designed user interface. Glad to see the drums are all adjustable and have their own individual effects.

    I look forward to checking one out in person.

  6. Can I order a modded version where they have removed the possibility of this ever making a super saw sound? I want a broken one. One that’s been kicked around so it sounds all wrong

  7. I read somewhere the microkorg was the highest selling synth of all time?…or something like that.. something like most units sold. This could be a strong competitor. Looks like tons of fun for about the same price. Can’t wait to see how Roland builds on this (JD-XA).

    1. Finally someone with a brain. I don’t think people understand that Roland is a company that wants/needs to make a profit. This allows them to spend money on R&D so we can have things like the AIRA line. And if anyone is going to diss the AIRA line for sound, you are either deaf or trolling. I was not convinced until I heard them. For the money, they are the best deal going. The SH-2 plugin on the SYSTEM-1 is a monster.

      1. I think it’s a matter of taste, or the different keyboard putting people off. Sh-101 isn’t my kind of sound and even on the airas built in set I didn’t really get what I wanted.

        But I agree the xi is designed to sell big and I hope the xa and the rest of the crossover lineup benefit from it. But competition is much tougher now than when the microkorg came out.

  8. This is a kind of retro VA style synth (Yamaha Loopfactory, etc.) but I like it – for the price tag! And at least not that 100 times and more overpriced KLING KLONG from old (or young) module lovers sitting in their dark cellars spending the last family money for a drone peep cabinet 😉

  9. This is a terrible demo. There’s a lot of confusing information between the useful nuggets, he really should take notes from moog. I think the problem is they’ve made a pretty complex tool with a lot to explain, but at the same time very limited capability with each item. A knob for an envelope?! You’re gonna have to convince me of that.
    I’m hoping the fuller workflow of the jd xa lives up to expectations.

  10. I really want to know more about the digital side. Is it a full synth engine, or just presets?

    Seems like it’d be a great on-the-go synth, or something to easily set up for a small live looping performance.

  11. I think it sounds pretty good. It’s like a cross between a Korg emx2 and a full synthesiser, and since the emx’s had a cult following from their decent groovebox abilities, I think these will do well. Not really what I looking for though, but still, I think it looks like a decent instrument

  12. Throw out the mini keys, the VA synthesis, The PCM drums… stick it in a desktop/rack module, make it 100% MIDI controllable (if not allready), and lower the price even further… then I’m interrested.

  13. I’m sitting here with my JX8P, scratching my head and asking myself… THIS is how Roland re-enters the RED HOT realm of analog synthesis gear in 2015? They are using design cues from 1999, interface cues from a decade ago, and DIRECTLY ripping off the staggeringly successful 13 year old MicroKorg.

    Is there even a word for something being this bland?

    This demo guy actually used the term “Skrillexian.” That’s where we’re at with this company.

    ROLAND is toast. Korg releases more cool gear in one quarter than ROLAND does in 3 years. And I say that as a ROLAND synth owner since 1994.


  14. With the crowd finding we can build the sequencer of the future, and by this way we can put a standard instrument in the story of electronic music. What about the right name of this engine? Can we do?

  15. Interesting. At about 4:50 he says, “Remember, this is like a synthesizer.” The key word is “like.” Rather telling. Just a manner of speaking or does it reveal Roland’s own view of this keyboard?

  16. This is clearly aimed at the “I make beats market”. For those of us synth geeks debating this a wise man once said “those aren’t the droids your looking for”

  17. Those little round buttons look cool………reminds me of my Microstation.
    I like mini keys….you can put the thing in front of your qwerty keyboard and sit at your computer. I hate having to find room or swivel around and back again when making music.

    Good move them putting on wheels instead of a joystick. At last!

    They need to do a mini Juno 106 don’t they.

  18. I see the promotion of these thing and I remember the JX305, another plastic toy that is going to be in storage in 2017 and no one is going to remember. The word EASY and FUN is say to many times in these Roland new products they are selling toy to entertain and not real profesional and serious instruments that became classics in the future. I have a lot of Roland instruments in my studio and the older machines from them sounds a lot more better and interesting than these kind of new FUN, EASY plastic $500 toy for NON-MUSICIANS clients.

  19. There’s a bunch more amazing videos on YouTube now, much better than the one posted. Gearslutz’ synth bug asked Scott berry a bunch of forum questions and got some really specific detail.

    And then Mark Watson? Did a great demo of making a song.

    I understand if you don’t want to publish another vid but could be useful as a fresh news item later.

  20. Novation comes out with the Bass Station II, an analog synth that recalls many classic Roland sounds, basically serving as a modern version of an SH-101.

    So Roland comes out with the JD-Xi, which is a minisynth with autotune, just like the Novation MiniNova.

  21. Hey guys I’m looking to buy my 1st proper synth,im more intermediate than beginner and im looking for deep house/ uk garage bassline sounds and I want a synth with keys I’m toying between this and the system 1 or at the top of my budget Dave smiths pro 2 and want something that’s quite easy to figure out and works perfect with ableton live any advice from you guys would be great ????

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