The words 'Roland has just updated the JX-3P' probably haven't been muttered since about 1983 when the original hardware synth was launched.
But, of course, we're talking about the software version of this synth, and with v2, Roland says the JX-3P not only looks better, but can sound as good as the original, in any condition that may be.
The original JX-3P arrived at what you might call an 'odd' time for synthesisers. Analogue machines had ruled the charts and keyboard rigs but this newfangled digital technology was coming in to make everything more stable and deliver features like presets and effects.
The JX-3P was one of the models of the time – and you can count Korg's Poly 6 in similar company – where the heart of the synth was analogue but there was digital control meaning a distinct lack of rotary controls, and everything starting to be hidden behind buttons and menus. Consequently a Roland PG-200 was released bringing back some rotary control. To spin a popular phrase: First Roland taketh away, then it giveth.
Back to the software version, and the JX-3P models both the original 2-oscillator synth and its controller – although ironically an external MIDI controller would be nice to get the best from both – and v2 of the synth adds better looks, sounds and realism.
The better looks come by way of an updated hi-res screen – which again goes for both the keyboard and controller – which Roland says is completely overhauled. The sounds, meanwhile get a four-pronged update. First the ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) model has been improved to give a more realistic sound, and of these, new presets have been added. Plus you can now home in on them better with universal patch browsing.
Most interesting is the addition of Circuit Mod. This is a little like the Vintage knob found on an increasing number of synths that allows you to make the synth's sound more unstable, and has recently been introduced into more Roland synths like the Juno-60.
Roland explains it well: "Vintage synths like the JX-3P had internal trim controls that allowed technicians to tweak various analog components when they drifted out of spec. But sometimes, 'out of spec' created a sound that was unique, interesting, or extraordinary.
"Through our latest ACB advancements, Circuit Mod lets you sweep through multiple trims using a single control. A Condition parameter simulates the effects of ageing, so you can dial in everything from a factory-primed JX-3P to a road-worn synth that hasn’t seen a tech bench in decades."
The updated Roland JX-3P is available through a Roland Cloud subscription, available for $19.99/month.
And we'll finish by mentioning some famous original JX-3P users like Harold Faltermeyer, The xx and Future Sound of London, not least because it gives us a an excuse to link to this beauty...