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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216 Visitor comments
p6
September 9, 2012 @ 9:24 pm
can confirm LFO delay does the same here - sequencer and midi - no delay even if programmed. Never bothered me before but could see why it would bother some. I have the organix midi mod upgrade and it still does it.

While I'm here I have to say - the video posted on this page, I know that guy has a lot of synth respect on youtube but his video makes the JX-3P sound way worse than it is! It sounds very nice in reality when you program great patches.
Sven Reckziegel
September 8, 2012 @ 7:17 am
I do not understand one thing with my JX-3P. Maybe it is a defect. Maybe it is a bug.

I programmed a simple tone with delayed LFO modulation to the VCF. Everything works fine whilst playing the keys manually. But the LFO delay isn't working when I play a note through Midi. The same happens when I use the internal sequencer. LFO modulation starts immediately without a delay.

Does anybody knows this issue? Is there a way to solve this without buying a midi expansion kit?
Phil
August 10, 2012 @ 7:17 am
Yeah, don't buy it thinking it's a Juno on the cheap - it's not. The JX's were intentionally a different sounding range of synths to the Juno's. There are similarities with the Jupiter 6 and the Junos but it doesn't really sound like either. No arp, no portamento, no true PWM and just one Chorus setting but it still has a sound of it's own despite these missing features.

I sold my Jupiter 6 and replaced it with a £200 JX3P and I don't regret it at all. Fantastic little synth.
!emalosho
August 9, 2012 @ 7:00 pm
just a fair plastic-go for beginners but don't go dreaming,will never beat power of junos 6/60, nor 106 (of course)
Phil
August 8, 2012 @ 6:34 am
@ Emile

I've got a Juno 106 which I think is fantastic. The JX compliments it really well: between the two of them you can cover a large sonic spectrum.

I'd say the JX3 is a little brighter sounding overall and maybe not quite as rich in the low frequencies but that may be to do with the PWM and Chorus on the 106 rather than the filters. They both have their own strengths so I'd hesitate to say one is better than the other. 2 DCO's is a definite plus point though.

I paid £220 for the synth and £200 for the PG200. You really don't need one to get the best out of it - save your money!
 
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Rated 4.46 (1218 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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