My experience with the Roland JDXI, the mini review…
…a best starter synthesizer in the future, or has it got there already?
Well now this was a real surprise, getting this synth, it felt very lightweight, but to me at least, I found it to be a revelation to my work flow. That’s right, I managed to “improve” my output of sketches or musical ideas to be expanded on later and…
I had fun! Lots of it!
If you ever get on to your DAW sometimes and like me you look at the screen and feel like man I don’t know what I am going to do here, sometimes firing up loads of presets or starting an INIT patch in the hope that some creative spark comes from nowhere.
I have found that once I had my first piece of outboard gear for music, I started to get into things much faster. I would probably say that 70-80% of the time starting with a synthesizer or drum machine, or a synth and drum machine module combined, rather like the JD XI, resulted in at least one good sketch progressing into an arrangement.
I basically use this synth in a simple but fast way. Once I have 3-4 sounds at least bass, synth and drums that sound good when played in live on the JDXI, it can be transferred to my premade template for the JDXI in Ableton Live that allows me to jump straight in and record of the midi and any audio if I want. Having this organised like this allows my work flow to continue without any techy stuff destroying the fun.
This little synthesizer has slotted into my setup perfectly (no pun intended), it even has an analogue part, which to be honest is not as good as say a Moog but it is analogue and you can get some pretty fat sounds from it. (I am lucky enough to own a Moog Sub 37 to compare it to).
I am not going to go too into depth on the other parts digitals 1, 2 and the drums because simply put, they are all ok sounding, but like most electronic synthesizers it’s when you start to tweak it’s so called hidden parameters is when you can get some surprising and cool results! But there is an issue with the creative side on the JDXI, the one flaw it has in my opinion is that not every parameter is on the surface, which given the price is understandable!
But there is some serious tweaking to be had under the hood…
These sound design controls are hidden with menu diving *sigh* However I have found and managed to get working the Roland JDXI manager which is free at the time of writing. This application (tested on a pc) will allow you to edit the JDXI hidden parameters with a mouse.
I have started to map each control to an external midi controller for some extra synth knobs action also, but for those of you that don’t have the time to do that and work out every parameter get this free app it is great. It even managed to run alongside Ableton with the JDXI in slave mode playing back my midi recording and tweaking at the same time.
Number one on the list it’s very easy to learn to start with, and I will say it again, it’s fun to use, a synthesizer for beginners and experienced users alike
It’s accessible to most on a budget, in fact one of the best all in ones on the market right now for the price
A quick way to get into synthesis, when you want to go deeper just get into the hidden parameters
This thing is lightweight so easy to gig – my laptop weighs more!
The vocoder was a nice touch
Shame about the lack of editor from Roland but there are options out there.
Sounds good, a bit thin at times but that can help depending on what you are trying to achieve
In my opinion this is going to go down in history as a classic “cheap synthesizer” a lot of people will probably not like it straight away but if you can get over certain things like the buried parameters, you will be in for a pleasant surprise!
Feel free to share or comment below, especially if you can add to the above.
All the views expressed in the article are of the author’s personal opinion, you should conduct your own research prior to any sort of decision.