Synth Site: Roland: JD 800: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.7 out of 5
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Mattsynth a professional user from USA writes:
The Roland JD 800 to me is one of the best sounding digital synths ever produced. I have a Roland JV 1080, D50 and a Fantom G and they do not compare. Yes they all can make JD 800 sounds but they do not have that big bottom end or clarity of the JD 800. And all of them slider are a programmers dream. I can cook up any type sound in seconds. My first unit had the keyboard glue problem but my second unit had a replacement keyboard already installed. I keep both units for spare parts because I do not want to loose this synth from my studio. If you can find one in good shape buy it because this one is a winner.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-May-18-2011 at 15:22
VisceralVoids a part-time user from Los Angeles, CA writes:
It's been one year with a JD-800 and it has been nothing but great times.

A JD-800 will take you far out into the confies of space if you let it.

The JD-800 is an unbelievable synthesizer that at 20 years of age now is still modern and futuristic in terms of sounds it can put out. The factory presets are not the best it has to offer. The first 13 waveforms are all 18-bit oversampled analog. 24 db filters as well. You can have a different filter per tone. JD-800 has the "Soft Pad" waveform that is smooth, bold, powerful. Magical filters, incredible effects (best are delay, distortion, enchancer, phaser is A+) and gorgeous sounds. Unbelievable for pads. Basses, all kinds of leads, pads, strings, flutes, marimba, ambience to die for. Plink & plucked instruments, organs/organ-type are very good as well, cathedral, hammond etc. Piano is fantastic with reverb, old-school analog emulations are very very good. Lots and lots of clean smooth bass. While I had this synth I learned the "Crystal Rhodes" was used on those Disney movies like Beauty & The Beast etc.

The string card adds more classic JD-800 sounds like the "Erotomania" organ that Kevin Moore of Dream Theater used. Moore also used the JD-800 heavily on the albums "Images & Words" and "Awake." The pad that opens "Take The Time" is an example of the JD-800's beautiful, subdued smooth nature. Very smooth, bold, and powerful sounds. When you start programming the JD-800 it can show you just how glitchy or dirty it can get. The distortion that the filter does when it's being overdriven can be used to great effect in ambient music, but it does not have high-enough of a headroom as a VA-based synth would. So since I liked this synth so much I thought "why not check the JP-8000 out" since this Roland left such a huge impression on me.

The Roland JD-800 is an incredibly deep synth for sure. You have to look at LCD2 to see the parameters how they are set up, or set the controls so they tell you the value on the LCD when you move them. Then move ahead to edit them by turning on the tones. The palette sliders are used for fine tuning parameters of each of the four tones. The biggest offput in using the JD-800 to the max, was the scientific names Roland gave to the controls! They were not kidding on this one.

Also, turn the global reverb off and some of those acoustic based sounds will show you the JD's 20-year age when you compare it to today's "sample-hungry acoustic mega-sampling beasts."

The sound engine is super-clean. The JD-800 is 18-bit oversampled with subtractive synthesis! So, digital and synthetic sounds are always fantastic! A great classic Roland that I would recommend checking out, if you are a Roland fan. No wonder this is such a great soundtrack synth. The JD-800 does lack alot of great stuff like arpeggiator, and that certain "analog sound" I was looking for. I had an Ion so I think the JP-8000 will be it, since I loved this Roland so much.

So spaced-out keyboardists, ambient, film, early electronica, and progressive players will love this.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Mar-27-2011 at 19:05
Peter Dome a hobbyist user from uk writes:
This is my second review of this beast.I bought one last year, but, it was in such bad condition, I sent it back to Music man Reading UK. It was in a right state. Anyway. I've just bought another of ebay., Lets hope this one's, OK. This Baby is a real beast of a synth. Built to survive an atom bomb, built like a tank, with the looks of a stelf Bomber. It has more controls than, The Starship enterprise, and more lights, (LED'S) than JFK airport landing lights. It weighs,a tonne. and is massive.

I don't know what's up with Roland. They make real classics, every now and then. JP8, D50, and this, But never seem to capture, the same quality, or uniqueness, of such synths, in other models. The newer Juno G, much over hyped, for example, no comparison to this baby.I only had the JD a couple of days, but it scared the living daylights out of me, and the neighbours, they, must have thought my house was poss-ed, and the martians had invaded. I only touched one fader slightly, and this thing, suddenly made the most unearthly sound, liken to, from the bowels of Hell. This 'thing', seems to have a mind of it's own. Not for the faint hearted. get a medical check up first from your Doctor, advisable. For me, nothing comes close for pads.

Just to enthersise, how good this synth is, and how it still has a place even today. In recent concerts I've seen, they are still being used live by, the likes of, Gary Newman, JM JARRE, and MIKE OLDFIELD. This says a lot about them. you have ,more chance of programming classic sounds, like these artists, than a lot of synths with their menus., even on the go.

The sounds are powerful, rich, thick, and down right beautiful. only limited by your imagination. This synth, is a beast out of control. I have so many synths now,I don't have room to turn around in, I might just, be able to fit one in, if I get rid of my cooker oven. Cant wait till it comes, to play it in a darken room. and scare my self senseless, and get the neighbours to move,never get invited to wild party's they have. These synths, are going to shoot up in value, and be very sort after in years to come, so grab one now, while you can, but watch your back, their ridiculously heavy. A true classic, worth considering.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Oct-10-2009 at 11:48
photomoto from Brighton (UK) writes:
WARNING: I tend too rant.

You know when you say to yourself, I really got that urge to play synth like right now? The jd800 caters for this synth players addiction immediately. I was really happy when I bought this three months ago because it was much cheaper then it was going for on ebay and is in fantastic, virtually untouched condition....and ultimately because I was very impressed with the factory sounds which had been reset for me.

But I have to say if it wasn't for my hardcore internet search of the JD800 patch organizer (i'll talk about this more in a sec) I might have been distracted for a while as it is indeed tricky to escape that PCM sound.

Having said this the ability to change the tuning on each individual voice mixed with the random pitch function you can create some sounds incredibly close to analogue which a lot of people won't believe if you tell them. I must stress at this point that I know what analogue sounds like as I have another 4 synths of analogue caliber, sh-101, cs50, jupiter 8, Korg ms20

So back to the JD800 patch organizer...it enables you to send and recive sound banks off the JD800 by midi...with this bit of kit came with 30 banks which gives me 1960 odd sounds! I am no way near getting through them all. One reason I have not got through them all is that I collected 64 of the best from 8 banks and stuck with that for the last two months as they are soooo good, soft pads, amazing strings, really epic leads and sub basses to summon the brown noise. I'm getting great aphex twin sounds contrasted with Vangelis and Tangerine Dream. So moral is you must not stop at the sounds you have and judge it on that, you can do two things:

1. Mess about with your sounds to endlessness 2. Get loads more sounds and make your final decision

Anyone that may dare say this thing is limited has been stuck with the same sounds for too long and s truly missing out.

To avoid you having the same ridiculous 3 day internet search for the patch organizer and sounds I have saved you the bother, I posted the link on vintagesynth website my post is under the name photomoto.

To be honest you get a bit fixated with making the same alterations with this instrument, but as soon as you try something new it blows you away. The on board effects are very good indeed and very versatile the guy that sold it to me said I would be surprised and I was...

OK bad points. The wave forms are 90's, if only they added in a little vector synthesis. With the expansion cards you get extra waveforms but I haven't had the need to do this yet. Some sounds peak if taken off mono, yes peak - you have to go into the effects bank and find out what is making the sound behave that way. Also other sounds appear dull, not in quality but sound so you really have to spend some time EQ'ing these till bright and then saving them.

The final (i think unnecessary) issue is the lack of arpeggiator. Why do I think this is an outdated and pointless issue with this synth? Well this synth should mainly be used for pads and long thoughtful leads....arps are best for better suited instruments like for example the korg polysix, mono/poly, Jupiter 8 and sh-101....I just don't think an arp is suited to this instrument - so deal with it. Having said deal with it I did want to discover a solution to this...guess what? I found one. It's called 'Sweet midi' you can hook this software up via midi, play the keys and it will arp the sound you are on, so stop bitching, the solution is here if you are desperate for it.

In conclusion this is a highly addictive, lush synth. Please don't buy this if you are into your Nords and are impatient for modern day sounds. If you are a collector of vintage synths then please please bite the digital bullet and buy this instrument you will recognize many classic sounds and it looks great - it is a true classic which is why bluesynths website properly duffed its cap to the JD800

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Sunday-Feb-15-2009 at 15:26
peter Dome a part-time user from uk writes:
Id wanted one of these, for some time, after hearing people talking about them. I bought one, over the internt, from a shop mus.. m.n, in Reading, uk. it was in really, bad condition, and not as described at all. I got my money back, but,one of the hazards of, buying over the internet im afraid. so be aware. Anyway. from owning one of these for a few days,I can tell you, This synth is huge, weighs a tonne, and, is built, like a panzer tank. I was totaly overwhelming. I felt like I was at the controils, of the starship enterprize, with so many, sliders, buttons, and switches.talk about L.E.D s. you can twiddle this synth for ages, and come up with something new, all the time. just the minor tweek, and the sound changes so much. It seems to have a mind of its own.This is a very powerful synth. icredible sounds, the potential to create sounds on this monster, is, phenominal. The sounds, are so thick, and powerful enough to scare the neighbours whitless.and yourself.This thing is a beast!. I wouldt want to put anyone off buying this synth, but my experiance with the seller, has put me off buying anothrer. the sonic potential is, mind blowing.but the sheer size, and weight, you wonder although not as good,A vst synth, may be more practicle these days?. the design contours, wouldt look out of place, as a controil on a stelf bomber. if the size doent put you off, its worth looking at.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Saturday-Jul-12-2008 at 06:42
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