Roland JD-Xi

Roland JD-Xi
Where to Buy Roland
Price $499.99
Release Date -
Bottom Line For what it is there are no complaints, it's an awesome party in a box. Certainly aimed at a consumer market or those who simply want to have a little fun with small portable packages.


We review the Roland JD-Xi interactive analog/digital crossover synthesizer, vocoder, step sequencer, arpeggiator, etc, or as we call it, “party in a box”.

The Roland JD-Xi is a 37-key Analog/Digital Crossover Synthesizer with 128-voice Polyphony, 4-track Sequencer, Gooseneck Mic, Arpeggiation, Nice Sound Bank, Drum Machine, Some Knobs, Rather Simple Directions, Vocoder and AutoPitch, Built-in Effects, and USB MIDI Connectivity.

Roland JD-Xi Versus Roland The Roland JD-XA

Before we start our review of the Xi it’s important to note, the Roland JD-Xi is the little sibling to the Roland JD-XA (which comes with way more knobs, and at 5 times the price). So if you want the consumer rig that does it all look at the Xi, if you want a pro-fromance synth and don’t need the extra bells and whistles (like the drum machine and vocoder) consider the XA.

The JD-XA drops the drums for more of a focus on digital / analog synth modeling. What it lacks in party in a box it makes up for in much more control over the waveforms.

Analog Meets Digital

The Roland JD-Xi combines all the goodness of digital synths, but lets you use analog filters and an analog synth for a unique experience. This isn’t to say you can’t use just the digital effects or just the analog, indeed it caters to both worlds and allows you to intermix the two.

Party In a Box – JD-Xi Sequencer and Preprogramed Tracks

Right out of the gate we get a bevy of preprogrammed tracks. These include a sequenced drum beat either 1, 2, or 4 measures long (in either 1/8, 1/16, or 1/12). The ordering of the tracks is a little bizarre, we get Trap and then it goes right into some poppy dance beat. It would have been cool to have the preprogramed banks flow in a more sensical way. But that doesn’t mean much, Roland’s preprogramed party is cool, but it’ll be your customized sequences in the blank banks that will be the source of your true party in a box.

JD-Xi Arpeggiator

One of the coolest tools in any synth is the arpeggiator. It may not be the most useful, but it turns anyone who can press a key into a musician. The hold note and arpeggiator buttons are easily located on the front of the JD-Xi, but this is where it ends. Like most of the other nitty gritty it’s all about mastering the menu, shift, and enter buttons (which don’t light up, that would have been nice). You get a lot of control over the arpeggiator from the sequences, to the randomness, to the patterns, to the notes… but it’s an uphill battle smoothly transitioning this in realtime.


The Screen Interface

At this point then it would be good to point out that everything aside from the analog and digital synth stuff can require you to click around inside the screen of the Xi. For the price it makes sense that we can’t simply have a knob for everything, but to the extent that you have to click around is the extent to which you sacrifice control over your beat or sound.  It’s pretty amazing you get everything you do for the price, so can’t complain too much.

And Of Course the Vocoder

Who hasn’t made great use out of a vocoder? It’s not impossible, and while not always the best tool in your arsenal it’s undeniably fun. The JD-Xi doesn’t just come with vocoder capabilities, it actually comes out-of-the-box with a gooseneck mic that allows you to switch over to your vocoder at anytime. It’s got a auto-tune button to synch up your pitch with the pitch you are playing.

In Conclusion

When we put together everything the Roland JD-Xi gives us we essentially get a complete workstation, analog/digital synth, with oscillators and effects, an arpeggiator, and a vocoder… and a large sound bank… and step sequencer. Yep we get just about every tool an electronic musician could want. This makes the Roland JD-Xi the perfect starter kit for an aspiring electronic musical. That being said, a professional musical looking to add that amazing new synth to their meticulously crafted studio might want to set their sights on the XA, there is little the Xi does better than your DAW or other controllers, it just simply does everything you need to get a party started in seconds and keep it going.

Features and Specs

  • Analog synth section provides authentic lead and bass tones
  • 2 digital synth sections with SuperNATURAL synth tones and 128-voice total polyphony
  • Gooseneck mic for access to Vocoder, AutoPitch, and other vocal effects
  • 4-track pattern sequencer for building loops
  • Pro Drum kits for high-impact beats
  • 4 simultaneous effects for sound-shaping
  • USB for audio/MIDI communication with computer music software
  • Includes a large selection of ready-to-play sounds and patterns
  • Roland’s Axial site lets you download additional sounds
Sound Engine Type(s) Analog/Digital Crossover
Number of Keys 37
Other Controllers Pitchbend, Mod Wheel
Polyphony 128 Voices
Number of Effects 19
Effects Types Distortion, Fuzz, Compressor, Bit Crusher, Flanger, Phaser, Ring Mod, Slicer, Delay, Reverb, Vocoder, Auto Pitch, Auto Note
MIDI Sequencer 4-track
USB 1 x Type B
Audio Inputs 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″
Audio Outputs 2 x 1/4″, 1 x Headphones)
Height 3.375″
Width 22.6875″
Depth 9.6875″
Weight 4.85 lbs.

Get the specs on the Roland JD-Xi here.



Author Rating

Total average


The Details

Where to BuyRoland
Price $499.99
Release Date-
Bottom LineFor what it is there are no complaints, it's an awesome party in a box. Certainly aimed at a consumer market or those who simply want to have a little fun with small portable packages.
Go to top