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  • November 16, 2014

Meeting the JD800 in the 90’s

Back in the early 90’s I remember visiting my local pro audio store in Dundee (Sound Control) with a good friend and fellow band member, Scott McAuley where we first set eyes on the Roland JD800. Both of us were like f*%k this machine is awesome! The Millennium patch blew us away as did many others.

When we heard the piano we just looked at each other, pulled a contorted E face and threw our hands in the air. We were especially excited with the level of control and the hands-on editing, something that was quite tricky on most of the other menu driven synths from that era.

I distinctly remember the keyboard specialist (who could only ever demo synths by playing Jump by Van Halen) say that all the controls transmitted sysex data which could be recorded into the Atari ST using Cubase and/or Notator. When the guy told us this we decided to perform a full-on “Big Fish Little Fish Square” dance in the middle of the store.

Later I realised that recording sysex data of that magnitude into the Atari from multiple controls simultaneously made the Atari’s small bee go crazy then within seconds the Atari would crash.

Call the police!

I was always interested to know why Roland didn’t output MIDI CC’s.  Maybe someone reading this article will be able to comment why this was the case?

The JD800 was a tremendous feat of engineering at a time when digital synths were making history. It was the new digital cousin of the Jupiter 8, later to be superseded by the equally tremendous and trance favourite, JP8000.

You can find out more about what this synth can do here.



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