This synth gets a lot of flack and is misunderstood and under rated not because of it's sound but because of it's interface, and in recent times because of it's bargain price. If this thing had the sliders of the Jupiter 6 on it many people would be drooling over it as a cheaper version with a harder DCO sound going on and with less features.
Sound quality. causes a lot of debate, some love the edgey metallic vibe and the ability to do a variety of things WITHOUT sounding the same all the time (ala Juno 6/60/106) others don't like it's basic tone, that's fair enough. If you spend some time programming this you'll find stuff you didn't think was possible on such a relatively simple synth. It's way more advanced than any Juno but still has a bit of the 'sweet' juno sound (ok it's not as good for bass and it doesn't have true PWM; other than that JX-3p is every bit as capable and then some).
Chorus on this, like juno, should be used sparingly. There is a massive variety of sounds you can get from a JX-3P that I've never found in my (sold) Juno 6, the Alpha Junos had a bit more going on and were slightly more interesting than the Juno 6/60/106 but unfortunately had a really weak filter. That leaves JX-3P as a unique sounding, but with some of the Roland DCO sound you may crave, synth that hasn't been over used to death for 30 years.
You can get some beautiful soft sounds out of it, or some gorgeous clean bells that ring out with charm and clarity. Bass wise it can do some kinds of bass. And actually sounds quite punchy low down even given it's software envelopes. The 2 Osc design does add quite a bit to both the texture and variety of the sound, and on DCO synths that is pretty important in my book. PWM is pretty sounding (on Juno) but only gets you so far, not everything can be a 1 OSC PWM thing and still be exciting after years of use. JX-3P goes beyond using PWM as a crutch to mask an inherently lacking architecture on the Juno.
When these were released they cost more than the Juno 6 yet many wrongly assume the JX series were the 'budget range' based on current prices. Wrong.
JX-3P was a kinda weird offshoot from roland's main synths, almost an experiment some may say, involving their guitar division IIRC. Whatever the reason behind it's birth it's it's obvious Roland wanted to get the power and stability of a 2 OSC synth into an affordable packaged, so of course the sliders had to go! The add on PG-200 cost pretty much the same in 1983 as it does today £250-£300 so that was an expensive addition in the early 80s and the marketing of this synth was perhaps a little off. Aimed primarily at the 'preset' market (ala DX7) and this adds to the confusion to many 2nd hand buyers. I don't care about 1983 marketing, I care about architecture, features, sound quality and the 3P has them all if you dig in. It's hardly a complex synth anyway, it can be programmed from the keyboard easily enough but you won't always come up with the best patches that way and that is why many under rate it.
I have a mod on mine so i can use a BCR2000 with it and since I did that my patches have improved, it's a fact, no matter how good you think are with the button press/one slider, it does take a lot of the feedback out of programming which is often essential to creating nuanced patches that you enjoyed making. Once you plug a PG or BCR etc into it you realise what a great misunderstood synth it is. It does have some short comings and it's resonance is not the best I've heard (even after trim pot tweaks) but it really doesn't matter, this synth does what it does and isn't trying to be anything else (except perhaps a baby Jupiter 6
) - actually for many things I believe the 3P sounds 'better' than the JP-6, they are different synths with different characters afterall.
Some of my best music was written using the 3P and my most popular song is full of JX-3P, because it can sound retro/analog but 'different' and that appeals to a lot of listeners who are tired of hearing VA and JUNO on everything.
Ease of use standard could be better - 6 for that - but as it has midi it scores over the older junos, it's very usuable if basic as standard. And with the mod, or the PG-200 it's every bit as usuable (more so) than a Juno 60 while also having midi and better features. So it would score an 8 in that case. So I'll settle on 7. It's relatively simple but advanced enough to stretch your legs and have fun with. Discovering the JX-3P takes time but it's fun getting there if you have a Programmer and don't mind searching for the sweet spots (there are more/varied spots to enjoy on the 3P vs a juno but the Juno has it all laid out for you - ultimately making the Juno more limited and a little boring to program)
Features? It's packed with them for such a cheap (now) and compact synth. Removing those real time controls has led to being able to include much more sound shaping tools for less money. Simple. And to find a synth with this tone and that sounds this analog (for DCO) at this price is amazing in the current market. If this had sliders it would be going for 3x the price guaranteed.
Bang for buck. One of the higest bang for the buck synths out there! they regularly sell for less than £200. There are now a couple of mods of varying prices that will allow you to use any programmer, and one that adds on some amazing features. Factor in a hundred or so extra for those and you are STILL cheaper than a Juno60 with a synth that is unique, a secret weapon in the studio and can do so much.
And we must factor in price. This synth costs 3x less than a juno 60. And yet can do 3 times more and sound just as good (depending on tastes and needs). That is what is reflected in my scoring. If this synth cost £1000 2nd hand then of course my ratings would be lower but at the prices these go for it's a steal!