NAMM 2015: Roland JD-Xi synth is analogue/digital hybrid

NAMM 2015: It broke cover in a fuzzy sneak peek earlier this month and now - as everyone expected - the Roland JD-Xi is real and appearing live at the NAMM show.

Borrowing some styling from Roland's successful Aira series that was introduced last year, the new JD trades on the good name of the company's '90s super synths and therefore swaps Aira green for JD-orange.

The JDs were all-digital synths laden with analogue controls for instant tweaking. This new JD does likewise but goes one important step further, incorporating a genuine analogue synth element for the first time in a Roland synth since the JX-10 in 1986.

The heat is on

The JD-Xi's monophonic analogue oscillator gives proper, fashionable retro warmth, with no Aira-style impersonation required. There are saw, triangle, and square waveforms, with pulse-width modulation and an analogue filter, plus an independent sub oscillator.

'Why choose between an analogue or a digital synth when you can have both?', is the question that Roland's posing.

The analogue element can be played solo or teamed with a pair of new-for-2015, SuperNatural-derived digital synth engines. There's a microKorg-style gooseneck mic and vocoder, a digitally-derived drum section and, finally, a four-track sequencer with effects that brings all four synth engines together and makes the JD-Xi a real all-rounder.

So, this new hybrid can act as a full analogue machine for those who require fat, in-vogue sounds, but still provides the 128-note polyphony and multitimbrality that today's music-makers expect from big name synths.

Roland's aim here seems to be to best Korg's smash-hit MS-20 and new Odyssey remake, while throwing in a pair of full-on digital synths and drums capable of taking on a whole track. 'Why choose between an analogue or a digital synth when you can have both?', is the question it's posing.

Construction is sturdy but plastic (with Aira-style metal panels) and, while the inclusion of mini keys is a little disappointing, this may have been done in order to hit the rumoured (and highly provocative) £399 UK RRP.

You can find out more on the Roland website.

Roland jd-xi

Roland jd-xi

Roland JD-Xi feature highlights

  • Interactive crossover synthesizer with analogue and digital sound engines
  • Analogy synth section provides authentic lead and bass tones
  • Two digital synth sections with SuperNATURAL synth tones and 128-voice total polyphony
  • Four-track pattern sequencer and high-quality rhythm sounds
  • Gooseneck mic and vocoder section with pitch correction
Daniel Griffiths

Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest entertainment, tech and home brands in the world. He's interviewed countless big names, and covered countless new releases in the fields of music, videogames, movies, tech, gadgets, home improvement, self build, interiors and garden design. He’s the ex-Editor of Future Music and ex-Group Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Musician, Guitarist, Guitar World, Computer Music and more. He renovates property and writes for