Roland JD-Xi Crossover Synth Review

Roland-jd-xi_top

The Roland JD-Xi synthesizer is a new 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.

Is it all that? 

In this video review, via sonicstate, Nick Batt takes a look at the JD-Xi:

Batt calls the JD-Xi ‘a really good value’ and ‘a cracking little instrument’. Check out the video and let us know what you think!

For more info on the JD-Xi, see the Roland site.

82 thoughts on “Roland JD-Xi Crossover Synth Review

  1. Okay, good that finally we have a full review of this. Its got some potential, but really, its just an updated SH-01 Gaia in my respects. I have one of those and I want to sell it. I’ll be much more interested in the JD-XA which I hope will have a more professional feel to it. As for the Xi… it has that ‘preset box’ look to it, and I don’t like the poky little LED display which seems to be central to changing parameters. Why not spend a bit more Roland and have a nice electroluminescent display? There seems to be many shortcomings with this keyboard based on what Nick was saying, and he still said it was a ‘cracking little instrument’. Clearly for someone just starting out and on a limited budget this would be good, but not right for me. Looking forward to hopefully seeing the JD-XA at Musikmesse in April so I can get a better idea of whether thats the instrument that could replace the Roland V Synth which was a fantastic synth – can’t believe I sold that!

    1. I think the Gaia is a bit of an odd comparison. I never owned one, but got to use one on a number of occasions, and apart from some slightly humorous behaviour with the envelopes, I thought it was great! Roland clearly envisioned it as a travelling keyboardists’ instrument, and I think it fills that role well. I’ve seen a lot of bands using them live, too. Next to Nord and the Virus, it’s the third most popular stage synth I’ve seen.

      The JD-xi feels more like an ‘arranger lite’ – a great synth to toss in a backpack to take to the studio or jam at a friend’s house. But probably not something people are going to want to gig with. It’s a smart entry for Roland. There is a huge market for this type of synth despite the scoff that mini keys get here 🙂 and they’re going to take a lot of market share from Korg and Novation with the ability to rough up a track with ‘only’ that backpack synth. Nick gets the sentiment bang on: “man, if I had that when I was starting out…”

      It just remains to be seen what Roland does as far as an editor. It will be interesting to see if they try to cash in on a kind of ‘preset marketplace’ model or give the users an editor that’s up there with the mininova.

      1. The Gaia, despite it’s 3-octave keybed and other limitations, was a proper synthesizer. Nearly 100% of it’s top panel was dedicated to real time synth control.

        The JD-Xi ‘s UI is split between some limited synth parameters and a ton of administrative buttons. If it was bejeweled with encoders like the System 1 and also happened to do 4-track sequencing, then the comparison would be better.

        Playing the keys and tweaking the knobs seems like an afterthought on this thing. This is more like Roland’s streamlined groovebox-meets-a-MicroKorg, putting this up against the Korg electribe 2 or the MiniNova – both of which do their respective things better.

        Finally we know: The analog voice is transistor ladder (like Moog, not diode ladder like many of Roland’s signature filter tones) and steps pretty bad. I hope they fix it properly like they say (with smooth interpolation and slew like Novation’s Bass Station II) – not just doubled MIDI res – which will still audibly step, just smaller steps.

    2. In the mean time Korg has done MicroKorgs for the last 15 years.
      Yamaha has done nothing.

      I am glad we at least have Roland.

      1. You might want to read up on the dozen or so synths that Korg has released in the past several years, while Yamaha and Roland were doing nothing interesting….

        1. Let’s see. Korg started the Major Manufacturer Affordable Analog Party with the Monotron, then Monotribe, then re-released the MS-20, then created the cheap and beloved Volca range, then brought the Arp Odyssey back from the grave.

          On the digital side, Korg Went from the Radias to the R3, MicroKorg XL and King Korg flagship synth, while also churning out a really nice retro-styled Stage Piano. And they kept the electribe series going while bringing out sequels, as well as various Kaoss products.

          Here’s Roland over that same time period: SH-201, SH-01, Aira Range, JD-Xi and A. Plus a bunch of Romplers and Workstations that only weirdos care about.

          1. Not only that, but they’ve had some great workstations over the years that have also been fantastic synthesizers. The M3 – when fully expanded – still keeps up with what is available today from other manufacturers. The Kronos – now in its 3rd incarnation – is an absolute BEAST of a SYNTH. There is nothing digital outside of a computer that can do what that does. Just MOD-7 alone is a lifetime.

            The wee Microkorg sells well because it’s pretty tough, lightweight, and sounds pretty damn good. That’s why they’ve been making them for over a decade.

    3. The Gaia does seem an odd choice of comparison. That’s is a pure VA instrument with almost 100% top panel control aimed at live performance. This is a largely PCM based instrument, with a step programable sequencer, multi timbrality and a huge amount of menu diving. I certainly won’t be buying one, but I can see the appeal.

      1. wrong. this is not a largely pcm based instrument. it uses the entire Jupiter 80 SuperNatural synth engine to create synth sounds, and has 160 pcm sounds available as well. The sequencer is realtime or step.

      2. No, at this point it’s been proven that that Gaia is a rompler disguised as a VA, or an odd mixture of the two

        also, the Gaia sounds terrible, one of the worst sounding synths I’ve ever owned

        The JDXI sounds REALLY good, not just for it’s price

        Good period

    4. No, it’s much; much different from the Gaia. The sound engine is several steps up in sound quality (uses the complete Jupiter 80 synth sound engine), and it includes an extremely deep/flexible drum machine, an arpeggiator, vocoder, analog synth, and pattern recorder – none of which was in the Gaia.

    5. you say just a “updated SH-01 Gaia in my respects.”
      I hink you are wrong ,totally wrong . Does the Gaia integrat digital synth ? answer is no
      does the Gaia have drum parts? answe is no
      Does the Gaia have 4 part step sequencer? answer is no
      Does the Gaia have a vocoder? ANSWER IS NO
      AND SO ON:::::::::::………

      1. yes but the gaia has full control and sound way better than this….and the Gaia have real keys.those mini keys are just crap .

        1. The Gaia………sounds better than the JD-XI?

          I’ve owned both, still have the JD-XI and the Gaia FINALLY sold, it was the worst sounding synth released by a major manufacturer that I can remember, and yes, that INCLUDEDS the Rhythm Wolf’s bass voice.

          It was a great keyboard for gigs and jamming, and that is where it’s value lies, the JD-XI is a killer songwriting/production tool, I really wouldn’t feel comfortable taking it to a gig.

          In this sense the Gaia does have some value, but sound vs sound? The Gaia is not in the JD-XI’s league, interestingly some people have said that pound for pound it’s a better synth than the JD-XI,

          This really is a synth that defies comparison’s there is nothing else exactly like it, it puts up a fight in the beginning, and I think most people weren’t up for the struggle, and returned theirs, those of us who hung in there would NEVER give it up, and I have a Pro 8 and a Juno 106

          I don’t think there will be another one like this for a really long time, extremely unique product

      2. Yes! Only drum in gaia you can hear it’s a kick! Controllers in Gaia are of the most Top Rated in synths but its not so versatile in sounds!!! I love my old gaia but this is beyond in a lot of senses

    6. Read your comments and while I agree in part I have to say your missing the point of it.. It isnt a JDXA, it isnt a giant killer keyboard, Its a product positioned to attack the micro korg and Novation keyboard market, otherwise, Roland will miss a piece of the money pie that line of small producer unit makes. Its nothing more and nothing less. BUT it has some incredible features that neither Novation or the Korg have especially in the DSP area.

      Ive looked at all of them and for the money and the ability to write ideas down and work on them later, It really is impressive. Everyones different in what they want in a keyboard. I have a shopping mad wife and a little boy so have to live within a tight budget lol..

      When you get your JDXA.. post a review buddy 🙂

  2. One thing that stands out to me, would it have killed them to put in a dial, or even a soft knob, for editing parameters in the menu screen? I was actually shocked that they didn’t, to be honest. It gets to be pretty tedious entering parameters with +/- buttons, even if shift will make it go by tens.

    Also, I’m a little confused at how an analog filter is able to have stepping that is firmware fixable. If that is a normal thing, please pardon my technical ignorance. But I just thought that one of the main attractions of analog filters was that stepping is inherently absent in them.

    Still, for someone just looking to buy their first synth or even someone experienced who needs a lot of features in a small form factor (or maybe just a portable sketchpad), this doesn’t look like bad little keyboard. As far as the analog section goes, it has the appearance of being kind of tacked on in an effort to cash in on the current trends. But even if it is, what a cool feature to have on a compact digital board.

    As the poster above mentioned, I am much more curious about the JD-XA.

    1. Stepping is common with many older analog synths that can save patches, because their knobs are really encoders that can only captures a limited number of discrete MIDI steps.

      For example, when you turn a filter cutoff knob or sweep it via MIDI, you may hear discrete steps because the synth was only designed to allow for only 16 or 128 different levels.

      1. Thanks for the clarification on that, learn something new everyday I guess. 🙂 In any case, I suppose what is really important is that Roland stated that it can/will be fixed.

      2. Moog fixes this in their modern synths using 2 CCs so you have something like 4000 steps, not audible at all.

        1. Also, some manufacturers do data interpolation between those 128 steps to smooth things out. I had some soft synths on my old Nord G2 that used a lag processor to do a similar thing, and it worked great!

  3. forgive my old age comments here, but i wondered how much this does appeal to the younger generations because at the best part of £400 it is not a cheap christmas present. And thinking back to my own youth I would have been disappointed at the lack of keyboard to actually play. I suppose the functionality and allure of a analogue in its price range does make it eye catching and despite its critiques roland does seem to be able find its niche.

      1. Hmmm. You really seem to be going out of your way on this one. The fact you can’t decide for yourself and just have to rip apart everything Nick says seems to me that you are just trolling. The fact you don’t call him by “Nick” (he’s probably the most well known synth reviewer around) is odd as well. You seem desperate to say everything bad about this synth.

        This is clearly not for you or me for that matter but not being able to discern what Nick is saying and why he is saying it says more about your lack of understanding, than anything about the review.

      2. Be careful questioning Nick Batt’s relationship with Sonic State and Sonic States relationship with Roland and applying the transitive law of logic (if A=B and B=C then A=C) as I once did. It generated over 100 dislikes and a personal reply from Nick himself (who does happen to be my favorite synth reviewer).

        Clearly Roland has A LOT of employees commenting on these “independent” forums. An their advertising dollars carry weight with those who run them, if anyone wants to argue that they simply don’t under stand business.

        As for the JD-xi, I’ve already ordered and paid for one as think having a 2-part super natural synth for the price is worth it alone, I could care less if they packaged it in a cardboard shoebox with no keys!

        1. “Be careful questioning Nick Batt’s relationship with Sonic State and Sonic States relationship with Roland and applying the transitive law of logic (if A=B and B=C then A=C) as I once did. It generated over 100 dislikes and a personal reply from Nick himself (who does happen to be my favorite synth reviewer).

          Clearly Roland has A LOT of employees commenting on these “independent” forums. An their advertising dollars carry weight with those who run them, if anyone wants to argue that they simply don’t under stand business.”

          Nick Batt does great reviews and if your comment got downloaded into oblivion, it was probably either ignorant or offensive, not because of a crazy conspiracy theory.

          1. When did I say he doesn’t do good reviews? That has never been a question. I clearly stated he was my favorite reviewer. I enjoy his reviews very much and wait for them to come out. I never criticized his reviews either.

            All I was pointing out was there is never a time where a roland product has had a very critical review, which is completely opposite of the attitudes of every person I know who knows synthesizers. People who know synthesizers have been universally disappointed by Roland for 10 years.

            Nick personally responded to me to confirm there is no payment for his reviews.

            But, Roland purchases advertising from sonic state. Roland always sends synths in advance to be reviewed.

            Common sense tells you Nick can’t review A Roland synthesizer and say it sucks, I really recommend you don’t buy the synthesizer. As great as his reviews are people come to realize there are limitations as to how critical he could be about something from a company like Roland.

            And I think it’s ridiculous that no one is allowed to point that out without being criticized.

            And if you don’t think Roland has their people on forms like this backing their products that’s just plain naïve.

            1. you talk crap dude….THIS SYNTH IS THE ABSOLUT HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR:::pERSONNALY I WOULD HAVE PAID MORE FOR IT AS YOU PROBABELY DID NOT EAR THE SOUND THAT CAME OUT OF THIS BOX AND HOW FANTASTIC AND DEEP IS THE SEQUENCER:::OPPOSITE TO YOU I ALREADY OWN IT SINCE A WEEK AND I AM TELLING YOU THIS MACHINE IS A ABSOLUTE KILLER MACHINE:::YOU LIKE IT OR NOT ;IF YOU DON T LIKE IT ;WHY SPEND SO MUCH TIME TO TRY TO MAKE IT BAD:::WHEN I DON T LIKE A SYNTH I PASS MY WAY BU I DON T WASTE MY TIME TRYING TO CONVICE THE ALL WORLD IT IS CRAP :I JUST PASS MY WAY:NOW YOU MAYBE DON T NEED A SYNTH WHO INTEGRATED A 4 STEP SEQUENCER / aRPEGGIO7VOCODER BUT I DO AND I AM SO GLAD FINALLY ROLAND DID RELEASE WHAT NO OTHER FIRM DID: BESIDE I PLUG MY GUITAR IN IT AND CAN USE ALL EFFECT AS WELL AS I CAN PLAY SYNTH PART VIA MY GUIAR AS IT WOULD BE A VST: PRE PATTERN CAN BE MODIFIED ON THE FLY AND IT IS A PLEASURE BUILDING FAST TRACK ON THE FLY;ALSO YOU CAN COMBINE UP TO 3 SOUNDS PER PARTS ;WHAT MAKE PLENTY OF ROOM FOR MORE COMPLEX MELODIE ON THE FLY:::SO I SUGGSET BEFORE CRITIZISING YOU SHOULD EATHER FIRST TEST IT OR PASS YOUR WAY ::BECAUSE THIS ROLAND JD-XI IS GOING TO MAKE PLENTY OF PEOPLE VERY HAPPY JUST AS I AM:

  4. One good thing, while the pros are paying a fortune for the development of these synths (think ms2000 which became microkorg) they’re getting a second life in these more affordable lines which makes them accessible to me.

    If I want cutting edge I’ll have to pay for it, but here I get tried and true modern technology in a small easy to access package with pretty much every bell and whistle I’ll ever need. Now just give me the XA so I can access it with out menu diving and get more flexibility with analog and I’ll be happy. Oh and keyboard splitting, that’s a must.

  5. it is a nice little machine. although i find the sounds a bit too simple and clean. also, limitations popping up in whatever you do could be annoying. funny: batt really wants to like it, but does not succeed 100%. 😉

      1. You should go over to sonicstate and read Nick’s comments on the the video thread. You may dismiss them, but he contends that he really does think the synth is good for what is is, while calling out the problems he sees with it. Clearly, you can disagree with his view of the synth, but don’t project your own views on to him and then call him dishonest for not agreeing with you.
        You should also be more thoughtful before you impugn his (or anyone’s) integrity, particularly in the puerile and homophobic ways you’ve done here. This is a guy who, for good reason, has got a lot of credibility in the synth community.

        In fact, everyone should head over to sonicstate and give Nick the traffic.

      2. I think Nick was fair, and he was critical where it counted. You can read in between the lines (which was “not for me and probably not you”) Indeed the breathy intake might be his “tell.”

        Sure, he was gentle compared to some of us comment section hounds. But the target demo for this thing isn’t seasoned synthesists, and he made that clear while remaining diplomatic. I would have taken this over the MC-303 and 307 back in the day – things I bought from Roland (for more money!) which really frustrated me, and are totally destroyed by the capabilities of this little board.

        So it’s cheap and does a lot, and he said so. Nick Batt is not going to declare it a piece of junk, which it isn’t. It’s just not for us.

        The mark of a good reviewer is judging things by the intentions of the creator. Frozen isn’t a Great Movie, but it’s great for little girls. Should a review of it rip it apart and compare it to Taxi Driver?

        Roland didn’t make a flagship super synth. Thy made a contender for the cheap groove box/minisynth-with-a-gooseneck segment. It’s a thriving market, and has some cool gear. This seems to do the trick.

        Glad Nick dug in and let us know who is going to be happy with it, and who can safely pass.

        1. I agree with this breakdown you give. I just think he doesn’t realize how much power he has, people wait for Nick’s word before buying, I have heard and seen this. That is a power that means he doesn’t need to appease a corp like Roland, Roland may ditch him after a washy review but they will come crawling back with a better product for him to review once their sales half. He just needs to say, send me the good stuff and I’ll give it a honest review, send me crap stuff and I’ll also give that a honest review, send me nothing and watch your sales fall off the chart. He doesn’t need to check with Roland regarding the stepping, crashes, and editor – just mention them in the review, in context of it being a review product, and say that you hope Roland addresses these issues before the release – job done. You can’t take Roland’s word regarding these major issues that need addressing, as they will say anything to get a sale. Nick has the power to finish any synth company he wants to, he may soon realize it is the synth companies who trying to appease him.

          1. “Nick has the power to finish any synth company he wants to, he may soon realize it is the synth companies who trying to appease him.”

            Sounds like you can’t decide whether you love or “really love” Nick Batt.

            1. I PERSONNALY DON T GIVE NICK UNLIMITED CREDIT ;I ONLY LISTEN HIS DEMO TO EAR THE MACHINE ITSELF ;EVEN IF NICK WOULD SAY THIS MACHINE SUCK I WOULD BUY IT ANYWAY::I REMEMBER NICK SAYING THE M-AUDIO VENOM WAS A GREAT SYNTH AS THE PRICE WAS 500 BUCK;I BOUGHT IT WHEN IT WAS ONLY 169 BY THOMANN AND RETURN IT AFTER 2WEEKS AS IT SUCK BALLS:—NICK MAKE EXCELLENT DEMO BUT NICK IS NOT GOD AND HAS HIS OWN TASTE:AND I REALLY DON T THINK THE ALL WORLD BUY WHA NICK FIND GOOD;THERE IS A LOT OF DEMONSTRATOR OUT THERE AND NICK IS SIMPLY JUST ONE OF THEM WITH HIS STREGHT BUT ALSO HIS WEEKNESS:FOR ME THE VENOM STORY PROOVE ME RIGHT

          2. How much “power” he has?

            Wait. I see what you mean. Bald? Check. Foreign accent? Check. Obsessed with technology? Check. Nick is really Ernst Blofeld!

      3. @Kuwa Mashine

        ” You can tell by the intake of breath when he talks about certain things”

        That’s Nicks natural way of speaking. Check out the Sonic Talk podcasts.

        I take Nick’s reviews as honest and informative but I wouldn’t base a purchase entirely on them.

  6. Some nice enough sounds but just watching Nick scroll through the menu pages I could feel my eyes glazing over. It’s just a personal thing I know but I’ve spent so many years menu diving I just can’t handle it at all anymore. Hell, I can’t even get down with editors anymore.

  7. Kind of a Korg fan myself…but the fact is: This thing sounds better to me than the new Electribe. I hate the design and all the menu diving, but I think it actually sounds pretty well for a little all-in-one box.

  8. I will pass on this after watching the review. I have SH-201, Korg R3, MicroKorg, Minivoa, MC-808, MC-909, and Minibrute, that all work great. Seems like the JD-Xa will be a better purchase. I think I hyped this up for myself when I saw it. Wasn’t impressed with the System-1 nor any of the other Aira products.

    1. I somehow knew this review would generate a lot of polarized opinion, appreciate you taking the time to comment here, but I’m not sure I agree with your assumptions that I have the power to finish any synth company – made me laugh.

      Anyhow, just to clarify, yes the JD-xi has limitations, but for the money its surprisingly well featured, – in my opinion. Not for everyone, but the SuperNATURAL engine and drums make for a pretty good little unit..

      You may be correct that I pull my punches, but I think this is more to do with my style than anything else, while a more extreme approach may suit the anonymity the interweb, I just don’t see the point of being nasty or extreme – goodness knows we can see that anywhere we care to look.

      Thanks for watching

      1. Nick – we appreciate your style, and you always provide the essential info.

        There have been dozens of demos and reviews of the JD-Xi since NAMM, but yours was the first to talk about the analog filter circuit (transistor ladder, it turns out) and highlight the stepping – as well as provide Roland’s comments about a fix.

        I think this product is causing a lot of strife online because it’s that sweet spot of low price, analog, and Roland – while also sporting mini keys, menudiving, and being aimed at 20-year-old newbies. Smoke is pouring from the ears of conflicted budget-conscious gearheads. “It’s an analog Roland! But It’s a digital toy! But it’s an analog Roland! But it’s a digital toy!”

      2. I personally like the reviews on the whole, but this thing is full of holes. Firstly it is addressed as an entry-level keyboard, but without full keys and a software editor, it would be a sadistic act to get a youth something like this to cut their teeth upon – to build memory muscle on minikeys and learn synthesis punching a few buttons around a tiny LCD screen, add to this the likely non-compliant midi, as Roland haven’t developed the driver in time for this review. And such a market position doesn’t require the analogue part, does it? Really without a software editor this thing is useless. I don’t disagree that this is a versatile machine that can make some good sounds. But few today have the time or will to patch a 4 part synth with 3 OSC per part using only a small 80’s style LCD system. I am sure a few do desire such a workflow, but you can get medication for that these days. But, let us overlook the minikeys, the stepping filter, the crashes and overworking DSP, the lack of midi driver or specs on midi, the awful editing of patches, sponsorship deals and professional working relationships; what is it good for? I agree it is good at “sketching out an idea”, but what is that? what do we mean by that? Building up memory muscle on a four parts? Sequencing? Re-using the midi? Sampling or re-sampling? It means a lot of things to a lot of people. And for the most part it doesn’t call for an analogue part! In conclusion, it means that it is a toy of a synth, a synth without portfolio. And if I was wanting a bit of kit for around £300-400 for “sketching out an idea” I think I currently have better options, in a ipad and midi controller or Korg Electribe 2 and Volca of choice. All far more versatile and more portable. And, I don’t believe people come to forums to defend the integrity of a review if that review is perceived by themselves and others as being completely integral, or use their own networks and channels to defend this same failure, do you?

        1. Any $400 synth is going to have compromises.

          Your cup is half empty, though, if you can’t see that a synth like the JD-Xi compares very nicely to other mini synths that are available. This is a MicroKorg-killer, not a high-end workstation.

          The MicroKorg is one of the most successful synths of the last decade, so it’s no surprise that Novation and Roland want to offer their own alternatives. And both the MiniNova and the JD-Xi are pretty big improvements, in both sound quality and features, over the MicroKorg.

          It’s clear that the JD-Xi not your cup of tea – don’t buy one! But, if you want to offer credible criticism of the JD-Xi, it would make a lot more sense for you to explain why you think it’s not a microKorg-killer, instead of trying to trash Nick Batt for giving a thorough, honest review.

          1. Firstly, stating that a review is compromised isn’t trashing someone. And to conclude that someone can’t do an honest review of someone doing a disingenuous review is verging on comical. Now you want me to tell you why this isn’t a Microkorg killer? OK. If we were to go back in time to 2002 when the MicroKorg was first put on sale then I imagine this could have killed the microKorg off, if it didn’t crash, had solid drivers and a bloody software editor. Given the absence of a time-machine and suffering this deep willingness of Roland to cripple and tier its range of products to the point of a joke. I don’t see how it could kill off the success the microKorg has had for the last 13 years, in the absence of any crippled JD-Xi. I hope that helps? It is evidently a deeply compromised review. I am happy to re-watch the whole review and break it down word of word, frame by frame, and tell you why it fails at being integral, if you want me to?

          2. The microKorg came out in 2002 and has a software editor. The JD-Xi isn’t out yet, and doesn’t even work in review conditions in terms of crashing and drivers, and doesn’t have a software editor. Is that a fair comparison? What are you defending here, the weak review or the weak product? Or both?

            1. Kuwa

              You say you’re not trashing Nick, but you’re calling him a liar (saying that his work is disingenuous). You might want to a) decide what you think; and b) figure out how to state it clearly.

              Also – you’re not doing yourself a favor by talking about time traveling synthesizers, instead of making a real comparison of the JD-Xi to similar synths that people might want to buy.

              When it comes to the microKorg, the editor is crap – it looks and works like it hasn’t been updated in years. The microKorg also strains to do 4-voice polyphony, while the JD-Xi can handle 32 times that. And you’re trashing Roland for not having drivers yet for an unreleased synth, when the microKorg has no audio interface functions at all and never will.

              The miniNova is a step up, but the synth engine sounds a bit dated, especially the quality of the effects. The miniNova did not have an software editor when it was released, but at least it does now.

              And – while the MiniNova is a lot more synth than the microKorg, it still maxes out at 18 voices, has no polytimbral capabilities and no audio interface.

              At least in terms of features, the JD-Xi is a generation ahead of the other mini-synths out there.

              As long as Roland address the firmware issues that Batt discusses in his review in the final firmware, it’s going to be a no-brainer purchase for people in the market for a cheap mini-synth.

              1. I am not trashing or calling him a liar, I am stating the review is disingenuous, which doesn’t mean someone is lying, but means someone is attempting not to lie. I am clearing saying he is skirting around the facts, and maybe with purposeful intent – which isn’t lying. We don’t call it lying when someone fails to ask the right questions and therefore negates giving a truthful answer. Yet clearly I am saying, it isn’t his proudest moment. You seem to be missing the point here, this synth has great potential if Roland makes it a solid set of drivers and a software editor, without that addition it is useless to most, other than to tinker on. And I don’t see how we can be debating that, for me that is beyond reproach and will not be discussed further. Without a software editor it is a nice little toy. That is what it is.

                1. “I am not trashing or calling him a liar, I am stating the review is disingenuous, which doesn’t mean someone is lying, but means someone is attempting not to lie. I am clearing saying he is skirting around the facts, and maybe with purposeful intent – which isn’t lying. We don’t call it lying when someone fails to ask the right questions and therefore negates giving a truthful answer. Yet clearly I am saying, it isn’t his proudest moment. ”

                  Sadly – a #fail on both tasks:

                  a) decide what you think; and
                  b) figure out how to state it clearly.

              2. I agree ,Mininova and microkorg cost about the price of this killer synth here but do not have a quarter of the potentiel of the JD XI.
                Amazing synth to make music fast and painless…

            2. Come on man its 2017 and the JD Xihas a great editor and is being renewed andnimproved with each and every new update.JD Xi is just a killer,killer machine.It will be a future classic like the MicroKorg its just in it own league,its another beast.

        2. Oh it definitely has holes in it, the worst being no song mode and a bizarre system for saving compositions,

          But unlike so many others, the good in this product outweighs the bad ten fold.

          This is a songwriting /production tool, if neither of those titles match your job description, than it may not be for you.

  9. Nick,
    super cool guy, that is what you are in my opinion (as well as your occasional counterpart…that bass player). i love watching your reviews no matter what you are reviewing. someday if i had the funds, time, and luxury, i’d definitely fly over the pond and have a beer, coffee, or whatever with you and wax about synth! time well spent for sure.
    thanks for your reviews, they are a pleasure
    -Angelo

  10. oh, one more thing: of course your review would generate something (skewed towards negativity)…it’s a review of a Roland synth for Pete’s sake! no duh

    you know that Roland will never catch a break

    1. Not until Roland releases the TB-303, SH-101 and Juno 60 (all analog and 100% physically identical except adding MIDI over USB) will the internet give ’em a break. We’re unreasonable.

      On the other hand, Roland won’t make the stuff their customers are begging to buy. It’s a DCO Chicken/VCF Egg situation.

      1. ‘Roland won’t make the stuff their customers are begging to buy.’

        Roland seems to be doing great with the Aira line and the JD-Xi seems like a pretty solid introduction, too.

        There are obviously some people that would love to see Roland reissue things like the 808 and 303. Realistically, though, those would be expensive reissues, with pretty limited audiences. Look at Korg’s Odyssey and full-size MS-20 reissue – those are over $1,000.

        Roland knows that they can sell a hell of a lot more TR-8’s at $500 than they could reissued TR-808’s at $1,000-1,500.

  11. Analog sucks. This was way over hyped. It sounds really harsh and painful to listen to. The sounds are very rigid as well. I don’t see how you could achieve any sound sculpting. Its just a bunch of presets without much originality. My Aira never breaks sounds but most of these options sound squeaky and harsh. I would be hesitant to take this on stage. One mistake and you microwave the crowd. It may have nuances if its own but they aren’t under your control. I’ll gladly buy plug-outs that are always a win vs this risky instrument. The dub step generation doesn’t want this.

  12. One has to wait for a “real” review to then judge a new instrument and as usual Nick is THE one who is able to do that properly. Now I know that the sequencer has 4 measures, there are some hidden parameters and there is much more potential inside than I imagined at first.
    Nice also that Nick knows how to program decent music on the synths he demos (track at the end).
    Looks like a fun little synth. I’ll play around with it when it comes out in the shops.

    1. I don’t get how anybody can do a sequencer these days that doesn’t do at least 4 measures. My Electirbe from 10 or 15 years ago could do that, but Korg went backwards with the Volcas and they’re not alone.

      I want to know if this is multi-timbral when you use it as a synth module. That would be a killer feature.

      1. As per the manual when addressing Midi it lists the below. Which would lead me to believe it could be used as a stand alone sound module.

        Digital Synth 1 – Ch 1
        Digital Synth 2 – Ch 2
        Drum Engine – Ch 10
        Analog Synth – Ch 3

  13. I think you all miss the point that the advantage of this synth over other one is the 4 parts step sequencer with all the 6a kits drum programming making this mini synh a ideal way of production on his own with no need of a groove box next to it or a computer .it is a perfect way to make music instantly and with huge variation …and very light portable to take anywhere…and if you look all the specs closely…for 500 buck it is a amazing value and a steal

  14. Wow. So many negative nellies. For all those offering criticism of this synth, remember all the young artists that may be reading your harsh conclusions.
    I remember my first ‘workstation’, the Roland MC-303. It did a lot, but it was dreadful in certain respects. I loved it though. It was fantastic for sequencing ideas easily, and it was polyphonic.
    I see the same appeal in the new ‘JD’ synths, but I don’t need to tell you how much better they are, and I haven’t even played one yet.
    As a result of my experience with my MC-303, it is immediately clear to me that these machines follow more of the ‘Groovebox’ mentality than a ‘workstation’ mentality. That is, they are meant to be fun and easy to use, and affordable.
    Last time I looked, there are dozens of serious synths available, as well as many serious workstations and DAWs if you are looking for something like that.
    I like the JD series and the Aira series. They scream fun and I guarantee we will hear many new songs and albums using them for years.
    Thanks, Nick. Good review.

  15. Looks cheap, plasticky, fragile. Sounds average to my ears. Some interesting & cool features. A lot of stuff in there for a synth this price. Looks like a reasonable option for someone totally new to synths. For me personally it has virtually no appeal & scores a pultry 2/10 on the GAS-ometer. Roland in general just doesn’t appeal to me these days. I find most of their synth products quite ghastly to be honest.

  16. A friend of mine got one the other day.
    It does indeed receive midi on four separate channels. That alone gives the unit possibilities that haven’t been explored, so far.

  17. Another nice review from Nick.
    It’s a shame you have to use the analog voice or the vocoder, not together.
    Didn’t they think anyone would want to do some old school vocoding with an analog voice a-la Kraftwerk?

    Otherwise it’s cool that it uses the Jupiter 80 sounds.
    Overall, it’s useful, but I still prefer my MiniNova.

  18. I think so many negative review are due to the fact the many synth geeks hold Roland to a standard they’ve set years ago. Maybe the JD-XA will be more for the experienced synthesist. But, in a way some classics were probably a bit as gimmicky as this JD-Xi when they were first released…. 303….

    Having looked at the digital Oscillator types and their variations on the JD-Xi, it does look somewhat similar to the Gaia. So I do think in that category there is similarity. Considering the large amount of polyphony i doubt the digital synth engine is the same analog modeling as that found in the SH-201, V-synth, JP-8000 or what have you. Maybe the Oscillator are sample based and achieve things like PWM with a wavetable or some other high tech Roland trick. I do actually like the digital but somehow warm and polite sound of the Gaia.

    So what is supernatural synthesis? analog modeling or ROM with extra DSP or… ? Very curious.

  19. I purchased a JD-Xi the other day, to use instead of my Virus/Akai when I can’t be bothered firing up the Moogs/Jomox. Delivering 909/808/CR78 etc / 2 x VirtualAnalog PolySynths (lie your arm across the keys and hear every note polyphony so there is no sense of constraint) / 1 x RealAnalog MonoSynth / Vocoder / Roland effects with loop sequencer (changes pattern without glitch so again there is no sense of constraint) and mini keyboard in a modest 570mm box. It is proper fat, thumping and seriously spacey: a synth-head’s groove machine.

  20. This is really aimed at the Microkorg/Mininova market I think. When you compare the features, it really plays well for the Roland. Way more polyphony, intelligent quick editing, drums, sequencing, and a real analog voice. This for about $100 or $150 more than a Microkorg (not even the XL, I mean the original one.)

    I think it represents great value. There’s a lot of layering potential, and I could see this also appealing to bass players who want to poke out the odd extra bassline, but have more tonal flexibility than what you’d get say from a Bass Station II (Which is great, BTW.)

  21. Every synth ever created has at least ONE good sound, even the lowliest Casio and Yamaha toys that were sold at Radio Shack- ( remember the SK-1 ? Remember Radio Shack? ) The killer synths nowadays, such as the MiniNova, Microkorg, Minibrute. GAIA, to name a few, can be had for $150 -$300 used these days. I have been picking them up when I see a great deal for next to nothing, and MIDI them together with a patchbay so I have essentially a HUGE sound library.They don’t take up much real estate, and you can use a cheapo Yamaha np-31 for a MIDI keyboard controller. Talk about FAT HUGE sounds!

  22. I have never figured out why musicians on forums tend to be so snarky about a new product; it doesn’t mater who makes the product being reviwed. Here, they even go out of the way to attack the reviewer!
    It is is a really good thing that in some cases that musician have minds of their own. In some cases. If the think Nick is biased at times-use your brain if you have one. Talk what you want; leave the rest. Do you really not expect a reviewer NOT to have a few biases that may bleed through in a review? Would you rather he expressed no opinions? Look up in the dictionary the definition of a review.
    The other thing.-musicians vary widely in tastes, talent, and experience. This may sound like a restatement of the obvious. But it is just the opposite for the following reason. When someone makes a stupid negative comment such as “it’s a toy” or not for me-1) who the hell cares?! 2) who appoints you to pass judgment? Give a reason so some of us mortals can evaluate your CONSIDERED opinion with your reasons! Another way of saying all of this; try being an adult for 2 seconds. Being a free spirit is a wonderful thing! That’s one thing that makes music so great! Just leave the childish negativity in the romper room where it belongs.

  23. Wow! A lot of negative feedback here. Nick Batt does a great job reviewing synths. If you don’t like his reviews, don’t watch them. He is fair and like he says, not extreme.
    I just bought a JD-Xi and the WORST thing about it is the stupid color scheme. RED TYPE on a BLACK BACKGROUND? Who designed this piece of crap? I can’t see anything on the control panel in my room during the day, let alone on a dark stage. They wanted to make it look slick, but it’s worthless. I’m returning it. What good is it if you can’t read it? It’s got some good sounds. The analog section is good, but hard to shape. It’s a DJ dance box with really cheap keys. Feels like a toy. Apart from that, if they made it with proper color schemes I might consider keeping it. I just saw that Kraft has a limited edition in white that is legible and tempting. I’ve owned a MicroBrute, Korg MicroKorg, JD-Xi and thinking about a MS-20 Mini. I previously owned a GAIA and liked it a lot. I think I may buy another GAIA. It was fun and easy to program. And has FULL SIZE KEYS!!!! I think it’s the small keys that are turning me off. The MicroKorg has them, but it’s a classic, with real wooden end caps too! Ah, too many choices to confuse us!

  24. I am a songwriter, use a Oasys 76, lorg Triton studio 88, also travel with an ikey and jdxi both with minikeys!!!
    Have owned JP8’s, 6’s, indeed most of the Roland analog range and numerous other industry standard units over the years, and yeah the black on red is not the best!!! But I love the JDXi!!!! For the size, price & sounds, its value way beyond the price!!!!! Simples 🙂

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