Synth Site: Roland: JD 800: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.7 out of 5
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M.Smith a professional user from England writes:
This is a mean bit of kit! The JD800 is a very versatile machine, capable of just about anything. It's riddled with sliders and buttons, and looks really complex. However I found it easy to figure out, good to explore, and a pleasure to work with.

I reckon everyone should at least have a go on one of these, just to get a feel of its sheer power! Everything can be adjusted in real-time and every parameter has its own slider. (Hence there are 59 sliders, 63 buttons, 3 knobs, and a pitch/ modulation lever on this beast!) The JP8000 is the newer version of the JD800, and generally should be better. However, I reckon the JD800 is the better model.

Contrary to popular belief, these are still relatively easy to get hold of, providing you know where to look. Obviously they're second hand, though, but that's cool.

So, it looks superb, the sound is excellent, it's built to last, and it was worth (in my opinion) every penny! Oh,...and there's one or two lights on it...

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Mar-18-2003 at 17:22
Zeb a professional user from NYC writes:
A beautiful thang! My best board of all time. Beats my matrix 12 for fun and sheer good looks. It especially looks good in the dark. Just like me! Who's the joker in luv with the casio? Says it beats the JD. Youre a unique and beautiful if slightly misguided person. Enjoy your music Bro!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Jan-18-2003 at 04:40
Chris L a professional user from London writes:
A wonderful synth which is capable of producing just about any sound imaginable. The interface is terrific as is the depth and power of the sounds. Not much really compares. One of the great synths of all time. The value you get is just about unbeatable. This is a high end synth by any streach of the imagination. It's also great fun to work with. Nice keyboard. Buy one if you can. The prices are going up. Owners tend to hang on to them. Most are sold by the time you get your email in. The rush of Vas was responsible for the temporary depression in prices. This synth has much more to offer and is much more substantive. Those pads... ahhhh!!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Jan-14-2003 at 11:41
Gwydion Elderwyn a hobbyist user from Sydney, Australia writes:
I bought my JD in mid-2002, and there's no way I would consider selling it. It looks great, it sounds fantastic, but to me by far the most important feature is that every parameter has a dedicated control - none of this scrolling through menus crap like on some modern synths.

I had all but converted my studio to 100% software (Reason, Fruityloops, Reaktor, Sonar, etc), but I have yet to find any softsynth that gives me the sort of chills I can get from the JD. There's something about the sound that you just can't get from "virtual" beasts. Call it warmth, call it depth, hell, call it Beryl if you like. Whatever it is, it inspires me, and that's what it's all about.

I've built up a collection of something like 2000 patches for it and many of them blow my mind. Sure you can do all the sorts of things you'd expect - brass, strings, etc - but it's in the evolving and multi-timbral patches that the JD really shines. For ambient music and electronica in the style of Jean-Michel Jarre, it's still a very respectable workhorse and quite capable of teaching these VA upstarts a thing or two ;)

Even repairing it is fairly straightforward - mine stopped responding to aftertouch but it only took me an hour to get the case off, find the problem (the edge connector cable had fallen off, or been deliberately taken off) and get the thing back together. I've also dropped it twice (gasp) but it still works fine - but then for a synth this damn heavy you know the construction must be solid!

The only area where I feel it's lacking is polyphony. While it is 20-voice polyphonic, patches can use up to four voices per note, so that restricts the real polyphony to five notes for some patches - not really enough for big chords - and there's no voice expansion. Thank goodness for computer-based sequencing and multitracking!

One final note - the support from Roland is excellent, in Australia at least. I bought mine with no manuals, but Roland in Sydney not only had all the manuals in stock but the service manual as well - all brand new - for less than $100 ($US50). You can't beat that for a synth this old!

If you want to hear what it's capable of in ambient music, take a listen to my tracks "Thermal Vent" and "Methane Rain" at ... they both use only the JD for the synth engine but there are software FX over the top (reverb, etc).

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Jan-05-2003 at 08:46
Mather's Studios a hobbyist user from UK writes:
Wow! Sounds like some nasty argument going on here somewhere - I'll stay out of it and get on with my own story about the JD 800.

I haven't used one for about five years now - we had one at college, nobody knew how to program it and I never saw anyone use it. Then I came along and used it every day almost. It was always in the same condition that I left it the day before. So there's the first good thing about the JD: it has a panel memory. Like the DX7, however you left JD on power down, it will always come back in exactly the same condition next time you power up. This is a great idea for such a complicated control panel.

So it's been a long time, but I've never forgotten the JD. I have bought six other synths since my first encounter and still not managed to find a JD. It could make some fantastic pad sounds and the piano sound is probably one of the most common ones in dance music like Korg's M1.

The first thing I did when I switched on the JD was start to program it - started to edit the sounds (and blew a couple of amps because I used to much resonance and realised afterwards that I was actually trying to play it through a guitar amp!), and eventually I made some strange synth sound with multi echo effects and filter sweeps in it. It was a great sound which I stored in the memory, and it was still there on the last day I used it.

One of the bad things I can remember about the JD is the panel legending. Some of the white silk screened panel lettering was starting to wear off. I actually found that this could be lifted quite easily and, with a finger nail and plenty of time, you could scratch off all the legending. Be careful with it.

So, in amongst the other synths we had at college at the time (this was 1996-1997), which were three Korg X5's, a Yamaha SY77, Korg MS20 (what I'd do to get my hands on that now!), and the JD, the JD was the best looking one by far, and probably the best sounding one too. I never got used to the SY77 and knew nothing about analogue at the time so I could only get strange, endless buzzing sounds out of the MS20 (I had to switch it off in the end because the sound simply wouldn't stop!).

Final verdict: I've heard it's 24 note poly - plenty if you've got other synths as well, it looks great, it's a brilliant real-time performance synthesizer and it is also well made. 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Oct-01-2002 at 07:36
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