One of the most powerful and tactile synthesizers ever made. This synth has so much depth it seems like you have to be an engineer to fully realize its' power. Generally each patch is made up of four tones. Each tone can be selected individually and manipulated by all the sliders on the front panel. There is also a "special setup" that is a key map, mostly used for assigning drum sounds to individual keys. In single mode each patch can chain up to seven effects. In Multi Mode you can choose, reverb, delay, reverb & chorus, & reverb & delay. There are four outs, two bypass the effects portion.
It came with two thick manuals and are very detailed about the various controls and how they interact with each other.
You'll need a control pedal if you want to take advantage of the channel aftertouch. Holding down the key won't do the trick. The pedal can also be set to control the volume, pan, or modulation, although not all at once.
The JD-800 responds to "Breath Control Messages" and be set to receive other message associated with Wind Controllers like the Casio DH-100 or Yamaha WX-5. The DH-100 sends Aftertouch instead of breath messages but the JD-800 can be set to receive Aftertouch and Velocity in the Breath settngs field.
The Guitar sounds on this machine are pretty incredible and plugging in a MIDI Guitar like the Casio MG-510 [A 'Strat' type guitar with a built in MIDI interface, tuner and Humbucker" pickups] gives you the control you need to play MIDI guitar sounds. The "Wailing Guitar" literally screams! Watch out for sounds with too much sustain as it tends to blur everything. Clavs seem to sound pretty good. In some ways MIDI guitar is better to learn on because your notes have to be clean or it doesn't make a sound. The tone is crystal clear because you are going through your Synth. It is still pretty tough to get a strum effect but you can set the MG-510 so that each string sends on a different MIDI channel to get more control. Don't waste your money on a Casio DG-20 the "eighties" looking one. The frets are pieces of plastic not strings. It has MIDI but it plays poorly.
Fans of La Monte Young may be interested to know the JD-800 can be tuned to 'Just Intonation". This setting allows you to play sounds heard on La Monte Young's "Well Tuned Piano" and Terry Riley's "Harp of the New Albion" where he is actually playing a Piano.
All information are from the cards themselves - this is the real deal!
Waveform, Patch & Special Setup for Each JD-800 Sound Library Card Set
Cakewalk Definition Files for each card including drum maps
JD-800 Internal Waveform list
Vintage Synth Module Cakewalk definition including drum map
If you cannot get that to work download these text files and rename jd800.ins and mvs1drums.ins
JD-800 Sound Library Card Cakewalk Definitions File
Vintage Synth Module Cakewalk Drum Map
There are Eight Sound Libraries available for the JD-800:
1. SL-JD80-01 Standard Drums
2. SL-JD80-02 Dance Drums
3. SL-JD80-03 Rock Drums
4. SL-JD80-04 Strings Ensemble
5. SL-JD80-05 Brass Section
6. SL-JD80-06 Grand Piano
7. SL-JD80-07 Guitar
8. SL-JD80-08 Accordian
Each Library consists of two cards:
SO-JD80-01 Standard Drum Waveforms | PN-JD80-01 64 Sound Patches
SO-JD80-02 Dance Drums Waveforms | PN-JD80-02 64 Sounds Patches
SO-JD80-03 Rock Drums Waveforms | PN-JD80-03 64 Sound Patches
SO-JD80-04 String Ensemble Waveforms | PN-JD80-04 64 String Patches
SO-JD80-05 Brass Waveforms | PN-JD80-05 64 Brass Sounds
SO-JD80-06 Grand Piano Waveforms | PN-JD80-06 64 Grand Piano Sounds
SO-JD80-07 Guitar Waveforms | PN-JD80-07 64 Guitar Sounds
SO-JD80-08 Accordian Waveforms | PN-JD80-08 64 Accordian Sounds
Each Set comes with two cards. A Waveform card and a Data card
Most waveform cards also include a special setup to map various sounds to individual keys. Only the three drum cards and the Accordian Card include Drum Maps. The four other cards only map waveforms to keys.
The sounds on the patch cards are very rich and often better than the internal sounds but there are some noticable filler sounds on each card.
A few cards - String Ensemble & Grand Piano only have 7 waveforms because more memory is needed.
Unfortunately, the cards & patches are quite stunning & realistic and very hard to find. It could cost you more to buy each card individually than the cost of the Keyboard itself.
You cannot upload the waveforms into the JD-800 Via Sysex. They must be played off the card. The Internal waveforms are ROM.
There are a few websites dedicated to the JD-800 that include patches, an editor, and other information. If you found this page you've probably seen those already.
A 1U rackmount module of Vintage Synth Sounds. The sounds are the same as the Vintage Synth
expansion card that can be inserted into a JV type unit. There are 256 sounds and eight drum kits. The patches are pretty good but editing is limited via the front panel and you have to use an Editor or a Peavey 1600x MIDI mixer to edit the sounds. The sounds can be edited once you know the sysex strings. Most of the sounds are 'pads' and bass sounds. The Drums are really solid and have been EQ'd to perfection. It includes the 808 & 909 type sounds as well as Jazz, Brush, Techno, Standard, Room & Power Kits.
There is a M-Performance Studioware for Cakewalk available on the web. This is great for controlling the chorus and reverb. All the parameters can be changed.
One glitch is the "Performace Mode" and the standard Mode. You can't really tell which one you are in and often you won't get any sound for no reason. And you can only read one patch number even though you can play up to eight simultaneously. If you have a program like Cakewalk you can read what patches you are playing.
The patches may be the same as the Vintage Expansion Card but the order is not. Thus, using the Expansion Card INS file in Cakewalk will list the wrong sounds. The INS definition above does match. I'm still working on the Vintage Drums. It has eight kits but I cannot find a site that lists the key mapping. Again the expansion card does not match.
The Vintage Synth Module might contain a Roland GS GM Mode. If you power up holding a certain button you can use it as a GM module but you cannot get to the Vintage sounds. Why you buy a Vintage Module and use it as GM module is beyond me.
All Sound Library Patch Names, "JD-800" copyright Roland Corp.