Roland JD-800

The Roland JD-800 (Jupiter-Digital 800) is commonly accepted as one of the best digital synthesizers ever produced. It excells at lush atmospheric pads, silky soft sonic textures and evolving soundscapes. Complex and colorful musical soundscapes can be created with it’s 4 layers of sound and extensive editing features. The JD-800 is an extraordinary tool for sound design.

It has a warm analog-like filter and an advanced effects section. Unlike most other digital synths it’s covered with sliders and knobs for hands-on control which makes it a joy to program.

One of the strengths of the JD-800 is the synth architecture: 4 tones can be layered into one voice, and each tone has its own parameters including waveforms, 2 LFO’s, 3 multisteps envelopes and multimode filters. The sounds come from 108 quality 44.1khz sampled waveforms.

The original factory presets sounds sucks for the most part, but there’s plenty of great user patches to download from the internet. And all its knobs and sliders almost begs you to program it anyway! Beautiful ambient sounds can quickly be programmed with very little effort. The JD-800 is truly a very inspiring synthesizer.

Later the Roland JD-990 rack synthesizer was released with enhanced features and more waveforms.

Audio samples:

Abyss One of the great presets

Space Madness Multitrack of some weird stuff. The JD-800 is capable of some really strange sounds.

The JD-800 has complex envelopes, compared to the standard 4-step envelopes of traditional synthesizers. Part of programming a complex patch is understanding how these envelopes work. The envelopes are different for pitch, filter and volume.