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, and Thomas Dolby.

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213 Visitor comments
Travis
July 16, 2013 @ 4:36 pm
I agree with the comments about the 3P sounding sharp, piercing highs, sharp, ect ect. Can't comment on the sequencer yet. I now own a JX-3P and JX-10 (aka "Super JX"), and have to rank the 3P higher since it has good string and brass and a much faster snap to it's sound (3P has a faster envelope).
rotone
April 24, 2013 @ 1:04 pm
JX3P of course has a more versatile architecture, a fun sequenzer, but does not convince me soundwise, to me it has a slightly unpleasant sharp sounding filter and i personaly don´t need sync or cross mod that much.
Juno106 has less parameters and only one real DCO, but therefore has a far punchier and squelchier filter, more bottom end, faster envelopes and polyphonic portamento. A one osc Juno 106 with Square, Saw and Sub on and some pitch-lfo is more inyourface analoque, than a 2 osc JX3P.
Paul
April 16, 2013 @ 8:32 am
I would encourage anyone to submit your JX-3P tracks to the Soundcloud JX-3P group!
There's already many recordings there featuring tracks that are mostly if not completely done with the JX-3P.
http://www.soundcloud.com/groups/roland-jx-3p
Alex
April 14, 2013 @ 12:18 am
A JX 3P with a PG200 running through a Lexicon delay/reverb is heaven to my ears. This was my first synth in 1985 and I still have it, it's simply the best "cheap" analog synth Roland ever made.
J to the G
April 5, 2013 @ 12:24 pm
Pretty sure Rush used this; possibly the actual sounds on Hold Your Fire and/or Presto but Geddy's JX-3P was definitely one of the two synths he used as controller keyboards (along with a DX7, the II D version I believe) on tour all through the 90's and up until he replaced them with a Fantom and Little Phatty.
 
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  • 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

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