Sonic LAB: Roland JD-08 Boutique

Authentic 90s LA Synthesis action      17/01/22

The JD-800 was a flagship in Roland's range - introduced in 1991 - it bucked the trend by reinstating the full set of controls. It was kind of a muscle synth of it's time, costing around $2800 when it launched.
As such it was the sound of many tracks of the time and found it's way into the studios of many contemporary artists.

The JD-08 takes that and squishes it into the Boutique format - removing the ribbons controls to make space for the faders, buttons and knobs. Even so, space means the faders are tiny 20mm (with 30mm Pallette controls) and there is no LCD, just a basic 4 character LED.

However, Roland have added more voices - up to 128 with a single tone (64 with 2, 32, with 4), a USB-C connection for both MIDI and multi-channel audio (with driver), more patch memory (128 over the original 64), plus two sequencers (one for each part).

It also keeps the original FX which the JD was renowned for (Ok maybe not so much these days)

We also get  bi-timbrality with the A/B part.

Add to that and we can also set key ranges for each Tone  within a layer, making it pretty flexible as a playing instrument - and it responds to aftertouch.

I personally found the JD-08 to be a fun instrument, yes it can be somewhat derivative, but it is also possible to program your own sounds via the front panel, sadly there is no editor or librarian - which also means there's no way to load existing JD-800 sounds into the JD-08.

If you want the JD sound you can opt for either the Roland Cloud plug-in version or now this in hardware form.

I think it's a pretty reasonable proposition given the price - £349/$399

We've posted a few JD-08 sounds over on our

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