Roland JX-3P

Roland JX-3P Image

The JX-3P is something of a hidden treasure – there is more to it than meets the eye. It came out about the same time as the venerable JUNO series, but represents a shift away from the traditional analog synthesizer interface and towards a less hands-on format. The JX-3P was mostly aimed towards players looking for those great stable Roland sounds of the time, but with immediate Preset-based access to them, and only the most basic and newbie-friendly of on-board controls to adjust them. (Note the space reserved on-board for holding sheet music in place.)

That is not to say this is a dumbed down synth, but rather, the digital technologies being explored by Roland at the time allowed for greater programability while simultaneously reducing the need for dedicated hands-on controllers per parameter - a path most synth manufacturers walked down during the eighties. This means that sliders and knobs were being phased out in favor of push-buttons, fewer sliders and a powerful programming interface tucked away “under the hood”.

The JX-3P shares the same great analog filters and VCAs as the JUNO and even the JUPITER series. Just like the JUNO, it’s a six voice polyphonic feeding digitally controlled oscillators (DCOs) through analog filters, envelopes and amps. However, the JX-3P has two oscillators per voice instead of the single osc. found in the JUNO synths, and while that does allow for greater flexibility, the onboard programming interface is a lot less fun and hands-on than that of a JUNO, no doubt contributing to the popularity the JUNO series enjoys over the JX-3P. You will need the optional PG-200 programmer if you want a real hands-on experience with the JX-3P.

Roland JX-3P Image

Surprisingly, the JX-3P is MIDI equipped, in fact it was Roland's first MIDI synth. However, its MIDI was limited to basic note on/off information only. Synths like the JUNO 106 had far better MIDI implementation. But the JX-3P also featured an on-board 128-step sequencer and came in a (slightly modified) rack-mount version called the MKS-30.

Roland JX-3P Image

Although the JX-3P may not be as popular as a JUNO, it makes a great vintage synth capable of creating some lush, classic analog sounds. And without the cult status of other synths similar to it, they can also be found at bargain prices, making them a definite synth to consider when looking for those classic early eighties Roland sounds. And aftermarket upgrades (like the KIWI-3P) can make it just as good, if not better, than any other polyphonic analog synths out there! It has been used by The Future Sound of London, Astral Projection, Vince Clarke, Orbital, Luke Vibert, Stevie Nicks, Asian Dub Foundation, and Thomas Dolby.

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217 Visitor comments
Stafftunes
July 6, 2011 @ 4:33 am
Had a JX3p since 1995, and it's been a key part of my setup ever since.
You really don't need a PG200. I've never owned a PG and I've used my 3P live dozens of times. e.g. back when I was doing a lot of acid/goa trance back in the 90's I'd have it bashing out a 303 style acid line (diriven by midi). just hit Edit Group B, '1' and wiggle the 'Sens' (edit) slider to your heart's content, instant filter squelch joy. 2 Oscillators are a big win, even more so is the fact you sync the oscillators and ring/cross modulate them (Called 'Metal' under cross mod).
ich_bin_ein_sheepdog
June 26, 2011 @ 5:06 am
Sorry guys, but when this synth first came out, (back in the day - I was there), it was generally regarded with revulsion. It was part of a crop of cheap, fizzy, lo-fi, low(ish)-price synths with limited programmability, aimed directly at kids inspired by the burgeoning synth culture of the day. The other synths that Gen-Y kid wax lyrical about today, (including the atrocious Poly61 and the Juno106) are actually quite awful. The real "classic" sounds of the very early 80s mostly weren't Rolands (except possibly the Jupiter 8), they were Prophet 5s, Oberheims, MiniMoogs and Korg MS20s.
acemonvw
June 19, 2011 @ 10:13 pm
@heskethbang, I imagine the reason this sounds nicer than the Juno-106 is is because of the 2 DCO's per voice. I have an oberheim matrix 1000 and Juno-106 and find the sound for the matrix is just way better than the juno. I think if this had the same layout with sliders, it would be considered a much better synth than the 106...
Johannes
June 8, 2011 @ 3:07 pm
Currently I own two of these little monsters. Ver. 1 which only has midi in/out and Ver. 2 which added a midi thru... I do happen to also own a Juno 106 and can honestly tell you that the JX-3p does indeed piss all over it like the last comment so eloquently describes... >/< Seriously its a vastly superior sound to anything at all in its price range! Really fun to program too even without the PG-200... Although if you want to tweak it live you should shell out $200 for the programmer. The JX-3p runs neck and neck with the Juno 60 and in my opinion both share similarities with the Jupiter 8.
heskethbang
May 31, 2011 @ 7:01 pm
The JX3P absolutely pisses on the Juno 106 sound-wise. I owned both simultaneously and the 106 sounds comparatively thin while the JX has more in common with my Jupiter 8. What the 106 does have is a nicer user interface and good MIDI implementation - but the JX has a very lush sound. The presets are a bit cack but once you start editing the fun really starts. Massively underrated synth - never judge a book by its cover!
 
VSE Rating

Excellent

User Rating

Rated 4.46 (1223 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 - 6 voices
  • Oscillators - 2 DCO's per voice
  • Memory - 32 preset, 32 user
  • Filter - Resonant Low pass and High pass filters
  • Effects - Chorus
  • Arpeg/Seq - 128-step Sequencer
  • Keyboard - 61 keys
  • Control - MIDI (no velocity except with a special ROM upgrade)
  • Date Produced - 1983
  • Resources & Credits
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    Review updated January 2012

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