Synth Site: Roland: JV-80: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
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REENO a professional user from NYC, USA writes:
First and foremost, let's get one thing straight: THIS IS NOT A SYNTHESIZER (no matter what the front control panel says) ..This is a ROM/sample playback device! No matter what you do to "edit" the parameters in it, it's still just playing back a "snapshot"!! That being said, i've had mine for well over 10 years now, and i've used it on countless recordings. Regardless of what people say about the piano sound, I love it. With some reverb, It sounds like the real thing. Sure..lots of the presets are cheezey, but the sounds on the expansion boards are much better--particularly the organs/rhodes. This keyboard is not for editing or creating your own sounds, unless you'd like to waste 10 years of your life with menus and an awful "filter". I bought a prophet-5 for those warm analog sounds..that can be edited in real time--with KNOBS.

all in's a good ROMpler, even by today's standards. Roland samples are better than korg's in my opinion.


Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Oct-23-2008 at 15:24
bargada_fino a part-time user from New Zealand writes:
A couple of things I forgot to point out in my review:

1) The manual is the usual cryptic unhelpful document that Roland is famous/notorious for. I found out more about the beast just by using trial-and-error than I did by using the manual. A little bit of everything, except what you need to know.

2) There is, instead, a very good Yahoo group on the JV-80. This group also caters for users of other JV-series synths as well. (I now also have a JV-1080 as well, so for me one group did for both synths.)

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Thursday-Sep-27-2007 at 20:19
bargarda_fino a part-time user from New Zealand writes:
I got one of these second-hand back in '04 as I wished to get a second keyboard for live playing that wouldn't break the bank, and a friend of mine was selling one of these. It was in mint condition, and had the Pop expansion board in it.

Overall impression: a good stand-alone unit for live playing.

The piano sound isn't wonderful, but it does the job. I sometimes use it when my other keyboard is being used for other sounds. (My other keyboard is an A-80, and my usual piano sound is a U-110.) For example, I might have a specific sound or sounds I need from the A-80's set-up, but I might need a bit of piano as well, so the JV piano sound gets used. I use the piano on the expansion board - it was the only half-pie decent one. 60's Electric Piano on the expansion board is great! I use it as standard for electric piano, unless the Wurlitzer sound is specifically required, in which case I use a Korg X5DR. The JV is good for Analogue emulations, too. Last year I did a show which required a lot of analogue sounds, and it was a good thing I had the JV, as it was head-and-shoulders above anything else i own for those. It is the only unit I owned at the time that had Portamento, too, which is a definite plus.

Minuses. 1) The CRAZY Midi implementation. Do you know that if you send the JV-80 a note from an external source, and hit the JV's pitch bend lever, the note will ignore it completely. Similarly, if you hit a note on the JV's keyboard, and send it volume change messages from an external MIDI source, it will ignore them completely. At the time that I bought it, I was working in a sequenced two-piece set-up, and this MIDI implementation defeated half the purpose of getting it; as I was unable to automatically set it up via messages from the sequencer the way I did with all my other gear - the JV ignored any such messages completely. I also was unable to use the A-80's Damper pedal (controller #64) to control the JV, to cut down on the number of pedals under my feet - that was annoying.

Don't get me wrong, this unit functions very well as a stand-alone unit! But anyone considering using this unit in a MIDI set-up should bear this in mind.

2) Its output is relatively weak. You need a bit extra mixer headroom. For some weird reason, its output becomes even weaker when playing notes received from an external MIDI source.

3) 28-polyphony nowadays is a pretty low ceiling. I don't use mine in Performance mode, but if I did, there would be problems in the notes-cutting-off department. There sometimes is in Patch mode as well, if the patch concerned uses three or four partials, and the sustaining pedal is down.

4) The internal factory sounds are mostly average. I wouldn't consider getting one of these units without an expansion board. The one in mine basically MADE the synth. Getting the patches off the expansion board (as opposed to the sounds) is cumbersome, though. You can't access them directly off the expansion board, you have to save them to User or Card memories. That said, the patches that I use from the expansion board are pretty good.

5) The unit as I bought it is weak in Organs. I guess that would require another expansion board - but there is only room for one in this thing, and changing one around on stage is out of the question.

I would recommend this unit to someone on a budget, someone starting out wanting a reasonably serious keyboard, or someone whose requirements weren't too fussy who only wanted to use one keyboard - provided it had an expansion board in it. If you're thinking of getting one, make sure it has one, otherwise look elsewhere.

I would recommend avoiding this unit to anyone using a sequencer or other MIDI-dependent set-up.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Sep-26-2007 at 19:17
a professional user from usa writes:
I unlike alot of people who complain about about this synth quite enjoy it very much,the choirs sound weak I admit unless you use a sample 'twice' in a patch which goes the same for any sound.It's nylon guitars are very spacious and pads are nice too.You can expand this synth with PCM cards or a Expansion Board,but choose one carefully or you'll end up buying them all and changing them constantly.Here is a recommendation,pick the card that suits your genre.Anyways, I enjoy PCM synthesis far more than analog or analog modeling,you can go so far with mixing instrument sounds together than a simple analog can.Don't get me wrong I love the Prophet-5, but for hyper surreal sounds PCM is the way to go.besides what instruments led to the invention of PCM synths anyway? I'll give a hint-Fairlight and Synclavier.That's right those famous samplers with synth engines that costs 10's of thousands of dollars are now sitting in front of us leaving the breath of our imagination to creation.Enjoy the JV-80, expand it, and use that part of your creativity guide you through years of enjoyment.( I also recommend anything PCM by korg preferably using the AI synth engine-very surreal sounds!)

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Feb-20-2007 at 09:49
Hidden Culture a professional user from US writes:
For starters, if you know your synths this is the follow up to Rolands D-50. Now with that said, the time and place in history should speak for itself. This is a live players board. I have read some reviews by others and all I can say is this board holds up to many new synths at a fraction of the price. I have a Motif 6, Korg Triton, Trinity V3 and a Roland VK-7. When you change a patch on this board, BAM! Its there without a glitch. None of my other boards can compare for quick patch changes. Like in a previous review, there is a BrassComeOn patch that isn't in all JV-80s and I don't know why. All I know is that I have mine saved on a card just in case becase it has been my secret weapon for about 7 years now (I have owned 3 JV-80's in my keyboard career). Does that strike a chord with you? Yes, it is true the stock piano is dated, but all you purists out there that want a 1991 synth to give you a great piano-I can't help you, you have real problems.

Add a expansion card like Keyboards of the 60's and 70's and you'll have wonderful Rhodes and Hammonds that are quite impressive. Again, bang for the buck I am giving away a BIG industry secret. This board is like a vintage strat. It will be sought after once somebody goes back and reads the manual........

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Tuesday-May-10-2005 at 21:21
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