Roland JP-8080 by themailman05
THE MASTER OF SUPERSAW
The JP-80x0 series has been criticized by some as sounding "digital" or "thin". As this is a very unique synth, I tend to agree with those statements, yet I see them as features and characteristics rather than detriments to sound quality. If you are expecting warm, fat, analog pads (e.g. Prophet 5), you will be disappointed. The JP-8080 is capable of sounding very fat and warm (think supersaw + chorus), but is definitely not what I would call "analog" sounding. The filter is excellent sounding, smooth with great self-oscillating resonance. A white noise filter sweep on this machine is a thing of beauty. Wet and thick.
As I tend to utilize sonic dissonance and noise a great deal in my music, this synth truly tickles my fancy. The noise generators are great, and the feedback oscillator is truly something to behold. The oscillator mod section has options for cross-modulation (FM) and LFO modulation on many parameters. I love making noise with this synth, and the hands-on nature of the controls makes it incredibly easy to twist, gurgle, and chirp your way to victory. The integrated DSP effects are excellent, with several delays, choruses (chorii?), flangers, and a very harsh distortion that is not available on the JP-8000.
If you want know why this is the true master of supersaw, try setting both parts A and B to supersaw + sawtooth waves, and then turn on unison mode. This equates to 7 + 1 detuned sawtooth oscillators x 10 voices, or 80 detuned sawtooth waves! For extra fun add a wide chorus
The factory patches are quite dated, IMHO, however the synth is such a joy to program, I have no doubt that anyone with a knowledge of subtractive synthesis can make amazing sounds happen with minimal fuss.
Ease of Use
Programming this synth is a breeze. There is a knob for every imaginable parameter, and the layout is extremely intuitive. My only complaint about ease of use is related to the MIDI implementation. There are two MIDI-In ports, one labeled "remote keyboard" and one labeled "MIDI-in". The MIDI-IN is intended to be used when you would like to use the synth as a multitimbral sound module, as it listens on two separate channels, channel 1 for the upper part, and channel 2 for the lower part. However, MIDI patch changes are only available through the MIDI-in port, and are nonexistent on remote keyboard mode. This is a bit frustrating, as I like have the two patches spread across my single midi controller, yet I still would like to send control changes from my DAW to automate parameters. Thankfully, the knobbiness of the synth makes changing parameters in real-time quite easy.
The JP-80x0 series of synthesizers were the first Virtual Analogs from Roland. The integrated oscillator waveforms are:
- Supersaw - Excellent for pads. Detune and mix (# of oscillators) are adjustable
- Square - PWM depth and LFO mix are adjustable
- Noise - with independent filter
- Triangle Mod
- Feedback - GREAT for noise
- External Waveform
There are two "parts" that make up a "performance" patch. The parts can be spread out across a keyboard, soloed, or doubled for double the fun. There is an integrated vocoder and formant filter that is a joy to play with. Your voice, or an external audio source, can modulate a great deal of the parameters on the synth, far beyond what is found in most vocoders such as the microkorg or mininova. This is truly a programmer's synth, as so many of the parameters are capable of modulation through several LFOs, envelopes, and of course, your own voice.
There is a syncable arpeggiator onboard, with several different patterns available, as well as a pattern sequencer with motion control, which I have still not quite figured out
Patch management is a bit strange, with several banks of individual patches, as well as several banks of "performances", as I have described above.
This is a highly feature-laden synth, but there is a bit of menu diving that must be done to change things like LFO sync note values, formant filter types, and MIDI controls. I am a bit of a menu diver by nature, so this is not an issue for me, and I am quite glad that Roland has made so many parameters available.
Bang for Buck
This is a hardware digital synth. It costs more money than VSTi. However, I believe the physical presence of the unit is invaluable, and prefer using this device over any other softsynth that I own. This unit is underrated and will be a classic in years to come, so if you can find one for less than $500, snatch it up, you will not regret it.