Roland’s Boutique line features digital emulations of some of their analog classics. Here, the JX-03 seeks to recreate the JX-3P, a mid-80s Roland synth whose legacy seems to be overshadowed by its contemporaries, the Juno and Jupiter. Still, the JX units definitely have their own sound, and flipping through the 32 presets will yield a few familiar, classic sounds. The real joy of this synth lies in it’s programmability, however, and the features of the JX-03 mean that producers of any genre may find something of value here.
Two digital controlled oscillators offer a wide range of waveforms; sine, saw, square, sawtooth, and pulse options give you even more options than the original JX-3P. The DCOs even include white and pink noise generators. The large amount of waveforms go even further when you use the Cross Mod knob; ring modulation and four other cross modulation types provide a wide palette of textures to work with. Two knobs for tuning, one coarse and one fine, also allow you to program slightly out of tune sounds that give extra width to your patches. The two DCOs can be mixed evenly or at any ratio using the Source Mix knob.
The VCF section features both High and Low Pass filters, the latter of which can be controlled manually or by the LFO section (also chock full of waveforms). The filter is very smooth and satisfying, especially with a bit of resonance added. The chorus effect is also worth mentioning here; it sounds great on strings, basses, or just about anywhere you put it.
The 16-step sequencer is simple enough to program, but using an external MIDI keyboard or the optional K-25M dock make playing much more enjoyable. The ribbon slides on the left side of the panel are useful as a mod wheel, but you won’t get far at all programming notes on them. Four voice polyphony can be doubled by linking up two JX-03s, making some lush patches possible. Audio is sent using 1/8th inch cabling and the rear panel has both MIDI in and out. The Roland Boutique units use four AA batteries and last a pretty good while. Audio, MIDI, and power can alternatively be routed through USB. The JX-03 and it’s parent JX-3P may not be as sexy or renowned as some of Roland’s other classic synthesizers, but the wide range of waveforms and ease with which you can dial up your own sounds make this unit stand out on its own right.
|Year of release: 2015
|Oscillators: 2 DCO
|Multitimbral Parts: 1
|Patch Memory: 32 (16 user)
|Filter: Low Pass / High Pass
|Effects: Chorus, Delay
|Sequencer: 16 Step, 16 Pattern
|Control: Midi, USB
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