Roland JD-800

Roland JD-800 Image

The JD-800 is Roland's answer to half a decade of hard-to-program synthesizers. Covered in sliders that act as dedicated editors just like a classic analog synth, the JD-800 is an extremely programmable and hands-on digital synthesizer. It is also an interesting and great sounding digital synth with incredible flexibility and control. Internal ROM based waveforms are combined to build your sounds. The sounds are based on Roland's D-50, but updated for the nineties with multimode filters - uncommon but welcome at the time.

The JD-800 came in a tough metal case capped off on the sides with large plastic covers. Programming may be a little too flexible for some users, but once you know what you're doing with it, almost any sound you can dream up can be dialed in and stored.

Roland JD-800 Image

It has been used by William Ørbit, Emerson Lake & Palmer, 808 State, Ken Ishii, Astral Projection, Rabbit in the Moon, Depeche Mode, Underworld, Tangerine Dream, LTJ Bukem, Apollo 440, Jean Michel Jarre, ATB, Vangelis, Pet Shop Boys, Faithless, Luke Vibert, Mouse on Mars, Laurent Garnier, MC Hammer, Bushflange, Genesis, and Eat Static.

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128 Visitor comments
May 14, 2010 @ 7:14 pm
A very intuitive synthesizer. Comes with an array of manuals that I can't be bothered to read. I play it like an analog synth and it responds nicely. So impressed with the Pad selection, which is extemely powerful and textured. Sure, some soft synths have nice stings, but the payback on the JD-800 is much better.
The filter is pretty amazing, good built in effects, very nice.
April 25, 2010 @ 5:41 am
D-50 gets mentioned a lot for good reason. If this synth had a minimal interface like D-50 there would be no 'interface bias'. JD-800, like a LOT of early 90s romplers was a dead end for 'synthesis'. People assume those cool sliders mean it's 'more powerful' than the D-50. It isn't. Not in the way that matters to good warm sound and powerful synthesis.

Put both synths next to each other and program them and the D-50 will make sounds that MOVE you and sound classy. JD-800 will, on the other hand, forever be limited to just playing back samples of what was considered 'cool' in 92, which any number of synth/string/instrument VSTs can do better.

There are a few real synthesis features in the D-50 (structure mode 1 'pure synthesis') that are completely absent in the JD-800. It's a NICE synth, but as has been said many times already - IT IS *NO* D-50! And for the record, D-50 doesn't just mean 'PCM bells', only in the 80s did it mean that (for some).
April 24, 2010 @ 3:16 pm
I was looking for just such a sound.
Very warm, well-manageable.
Pads and superb strings!!!
Ricardo Di Lago
April 20, 2010 @ 3:50 am
Nick, i can realy advice you to open up the JD800 and unscrew the prints from the panel.
it;s easy, you can leave the cables attached mostly if you like. but they are all easy to get out of the sockets.
then you can clean it all easely. replace the battery at the same time, also a simple task, you loose your patches though!! JD800 starts up with factory patches.
but i guess you know how the backup/load your patches.

be aware that spare parts are almost out of stock.


Richardo di Lago
April 15, 2010 @ 5:44 pm
The JD-800 is all over Leftfield's leftism album. In fact the first track opens with the "aurora" factory preset, it's such a nice sound. A lovely digital monster.

My only criticisms- a cheap combination mod/pitch wheel that seems to stick all the time (at least on mine), and all those sliders are embedded in a groove that are impossible to completely clear of dust. Though I suppose I could take it to bits to clean it...
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User Rating

Rated 4.31 (906 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 24 voices
  • Oscillators - ROM based digital synthesizer
  • #Instruments - 6 part multitimbral
  • Keyboard - 61 key keyboard with velocity and aftertouch
  • Arpeg/Seq - NO
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1991-93
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