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Lead or JD-XA?


Spider76

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Hi everybody, I'm going through the recurrent summer GAS attack.

 

My situation: I've got my piano, organ and ROMpler needs more than covered (Stage 2 and SK2). I've also got a Microbrute and Bass Station II for mono synth duty.

 

So, I was considering a powerful polysynth to complement my rig so I won't ever have to buy another keyboard again. ;)

 

Not needing sampling or workstation capabilities, the main flagship polys that come to mind are the Nord Leads (4 favoured over the A1 because of more modulation and live controls) and the Virus.

I discarded the Virus because of cost, size and not too friendly UI.

 

I might add, I will use it mostly for live tweaking performances, so a very direct interface is a must, no menu diving.

 

The new kid on the block is the Roland JD-XA, that on paper blows any other synth away: 4-part VA like the Lead, but with better arpeggiator, sequencer, loads of effects... AND a fully analog 4-voice on top of it?!?

Sounds almost too good to be true.

 

From the demos the sound is very Roland-ish, that for a polysynth is an extremely good thing.

Yet it seems it didn't get a very enthusiastic reaction on the market..

What do you guys think?

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I can't speak to the JD as I haven't seen it, but for Nord, don't discount the A1. It's plenty versatile mod wise and has great live control. It's effects are more useful (at least to me). A few more notes of polyphony too.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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I'm getting ready to start cutting back on keyboards. The first two out the door will be my Nords, Lead 4 and A1. I just don't care for the sound. Even though the Roland did not get much response I really like the sound. Great pad machine. Having said that, the Virus TI is at another level. I'll eventually sell my JD-XA, but I will keep my TI.

 

My advice, when the Virus TI2 came out prices dropped on the original TI. Look for a used TI.

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I got to play the JD-XA for a good hour or more at a local shop when it first came out. It's a hellalotafun and the layout and back lit stuff is so outer spacey. I figured out how to build patches really quickly using both the analog and digital engines. The old school sequencer is classic. I'd go play one and give it a good look/listen. The Lead is almost comparatively boring (cringe... heresy, I know).

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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I've studied the JD-XA, listened to a bunch of demos, and finally got to spend some time with one at Sweetwater about a month ago. I'll echo EJF's sentiments above; it's a lot of fun, and it was easy to build patches quickly. Love the real analog section; there's a lot of customizing that can be done under the hood. Guessing that clever programmers could do some great classic synth emulations - as there's a healthy menu of options in the oscillator and filter sections. Then there's the whole SuperNatural engine, which I barely got to. Within minutes though, I had a decent OB'ish pad up; sounded huge.

 

I'd been in the market for a powerhouse poly analog / hybrid, and this more than fits the bill. But budget realities - this summer being an unusually deep hell on my private teaching gig - led me to a GAIA instead, which will actually be great for my current gig. Hasn't felt right, for a long time, to not have a big bunch of knobs and sliders in the live rig.

Still have my eye on the JD-XA though. Once I spend some time with the SN section, my JP50 may go up on the block to fund a JD-XA. Definitely recommend checking this one out.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From the demos the sound is very Roland-ish, that for a polysynth is an extremely good thing.

Yet it seems it didn't get a very enthusiastic reaction on the market..

What do you guys think?

 

I think it's because crossover synths are kind of a tough sell. Analog guys would have preferred upping the analog voice count and cutting the VA. VA guys are indifferent to the analog side, but would have definitely preferred cutting the price to about a grand. Truth is, it's a gorgeous sounding synth with a nice blending of the two technologies. I would take it over the Nord in a heartbeat, but I'm much more a Roland guy than a Nord one.

 

That said, I'll pick up a Sledge Black as soon as they become available. I'm fascinated by it's looks and layout. But it's sheer size isn't going to do you any favors.

 

 

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What is the action like on the JD. The pictures look FA-06esque which doesn't really win it any points with me. I'm on the long-term hunt for a polysynth in this price bracket. I don't care about size though. My candidates are:

 

1) Roland JP-80 - I like the action, the architecture , and that I could use this board to do my Motown gig as a single board. ( But will probably only do so in rehearsals and continue to carry my old S90XS and Hammond XK3c rig.) A couple of the Axial collections sound really strong. My front runner but the size will suck for you. LOL

 

2) Virus TI-2 - It has an universal power supply and since I don't have to pay VAT I can get it in the states for around $2,150 plus $40 shipping, good action and a strong VA. - Too big and you have to pay the VAT on this thing which sucks.

 

3) Prophet-08 - ease of use, I like the tone in unison mode on leads. It is a 61 key but very compact.

 

4) Lead A1 - effects section, sounds fine to me.

 

5) Sledge (Yellow one) - Price, Layout, and I have a soft spot in my heart for the old PPG wavetables.

 

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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What is the action like on the JD. ...

 

Probably the worst thing about the JD. To me it is the equivalent of Nord Lead action, which I have never liked. The other JD negative is the poor visibility of the labels. At least the layout is logical and you can quickly remember what the knobs do. But the action is a far cry from the JP-80.

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Checking Ebay I see the original TI keyboard for as little as $1400 and the desktop for as little as $900. I regret having sold my TI desktop. It integrated very well with my Fantom X7.
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Have a lead4 and its pretty cool, programmed loads of sounds trying to mimic my moog for example, it does come pretty close.

 

Tried the JD twice and really wanted to like it, but mweeeh. Keys are terrible and the dark layout makes it difficult to see what is what.

 

Tried the new OB6, if I would go for a new poly that would be my choice. Sounds absolutely fantastic brass, bass, strings.....

 

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True, the keys are FA-06ish on the JD-XA - for some reason I didn't dislike them as much - maybe I was forgiving since I wasn't trying to play piano or organ parts on it... side topic: Does anyone else find the weighted on the FA-08 shallow? Like the keys don't drop far enough? I can adapt, but not immediately natural feeling for me. It's Ivory Feel G with Escapement like the new DS-88. But it (the JD-XA ) was very fun to manipulate and it does sound very Rolandish.

 

Played the Prophet 6 the other day too. Sounds beautiful, and layout is very easy to use. But it's $2.8k and 6 note poly - yes of course it's analog. Would love to own one just to play leads and simple pads on. Very luxurious, not so practical.

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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Thanks everybody for all the inputs!

 

Yeah I discarded the P6 and OB6 because I really can't justify spending that much money for a synth with limited features and polyphony. I know that's the price of analog, but I can't afford it.

 

I really wanted to love the Virus, but it's probably overkill for my needs, I'd probably use 1/10th of its capabilities, and as I mentioned I prefer to stay as far away as possible from menu diving, assignable knobs that change function between different patches, and so on.

 

That's why I like the Leads - one knob per function (mostly), WYSIWYG.

And I happen to like the Nord sound, I feel that especially the 4 and A1 are a big step forward with the new filters.

 

BUT...

What is the action like on the JD?

 

Probably the worst thing about the JD. To me it is the equivalent of Nord Lead action, which I have never liked

 

Damn, I wanted to ask the same question, and feared the answer. I hate the FATAR synth action that's ubiquitous on so many boards. I feel it's really shallow and unresponsive to both velocity and aftertouch.

 

I guess that's another price to pay for a full-featured synth below 2k euros...

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...my Nords, Lead 4 and A1.

...

I'll eventually sell my JD-XA, but I will keep my TI.

 

Wow RABid, so you own both Nords, the Virus AND the JD-XA? Amazing setup!

You're in the perfect position to answer all my question...sorry for you! ;)

 

Keeping in mind that my priority is live use, so I need an immediate and user friendly interface, how would you compare those boards?

I always liked the Nords in this respect, but the Roland doesn't look so far away...except for that dark and shiny front panel, it looks amazing but I fear it would be really hard to see on a dark stage.

 

Are aftertouch and velocity usable, or is it the same old FATAR-like thing (almost on-off, very little control)?

 

It's true there are very good deals on used Virus TI, what are the main differences with the TI2?

 

Thanks again!

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The other advantage of the Nord is it's built like a tank. Metal chassis and sides, nice knobs, etc.

 

RE the FA08 action- I didn't notice anything abnormal with it. I came off a Yamaha S70XS which has a great action and it was easy to adapt to the Roland.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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Wow RABid, so you own both Nords, the Virus AND the JD-XA? Amazing setup!

 

There are people here with bigger, nicer collections. I attribute my collection to stage fright. ... Stage freight? ... Yes. Thanks to stage fright, 30 years ago I gave up on being a full time musician and went back to school to get my Computer Science degree. While other people in my field buy boats, cabins on the lake, nice SUV's, travel overseas, etc... I drive a Camry and buy music equipment. :)

 

Keeping in mind that my priority is live use, so I need an immediate and user friendly interface, how would you compare those boards?

I always liked the Nords in this respect, but the Roland doesn't look so far away...except for that dark and shiny front panel, it looks amazing but I fear it would be really hard to see on a dark stage.

 

The interface on both are fine. A few points...

 

Nord Lead 4 - Easiest to read interface. My least favorite sound. If you like the Nord sound, no problem. This thing will cut through the mix on stage.

 

Nord Lead A1 - Easy to read the interface but the structure is more complicated than the the Lead 4, and not really in a good way The osc's and filters sound nicer to my ears but Nord took some shortcuts with the synth structure. Not sure I would choose it for programming on the fly on stage. Read up on the programming structure before choosing this one.

 

Roland JD-XA - Red lettering on black combined with red lights surrounding most knobs and sliders. Don't count on reading the tables on stage. On the other hand, EG's have sliders and the layout is very logical. After a few days you will not need to read the labels. By far my favorite sound of the bunch.

 

Are aftertouch and velocity usable, or is it the same old FATAR-like thing (almost on-off, very little control)?

 

I don't have any trouble using after touch for filter or modulation. Would not try accurate pitch bends. JMHO, no one has a really good aftertouch. I adjust to what keyboard I am playing.

 

It's true there are very good deals on used Virus TI, what are the main differences with the TI2?

 

Thanks again!

 

The difference between the TI and the TI2 is more processing power, 20 to 25 percent more on the TI2. This may give you a couple extra tracks in the studio but you should not reach any polyphony ceiling in live use. Same OS and patches. Cosmetically the painted faceplate logo is in a different place on the TI2. Important to know if you are buying a used TI2 and want to make sure you are not getting a TI1. The is nothing on the TI2 that says "TI2". You have to go by the paint job. Also, don't worry about menu diving during live use. The TI still has dedicated knobs for most functions that you are going to use on stage.

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Thanks again RABid, lots of precious first hand info!

 

I share your opinion on the Nords, the A1 probably sounds a tad better but I don't like the pre-programmed shortcuts.

 

Good to know you value the JD-XA sound so highly, and the interface is good despite the colour scheme.

 

So if I got it right, the TI1 has exactly the same sound, OS, effects etc than the 2? Only difference is processing power? I agree that it's a pretty minor limitation in live use, so for my purposes the TI and TI2 would be basically the same.

 

As for the colour scheme, the TI 61 is the black one with dark red sides and a huge Access logo on the top-right corner, right?

 

This one?

http://en.m.audiofanzine.com/analog-modeling-synth/access-music/Virus-TI-Keyboard/medias/pictures/a.play,m.243289.html

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I share your opinion on the Nords, the A1 probably sounds a tad better but I don't like the pre-programmed shortcuts.

 

I own and use the A1 in a group situation.

I just love the sound; and i agree that the pre-programmed configuration in the oscillator sections are a limit for live situation; they force you to switch from a "tweaking knobs at run time" attitude to a "studio sound programmer" attitude.

 

But: they concern only the oscillator section, and you have still knobs to tweaks once you have chosen a specific configuration, and the various configuration give a lot of flexibility.

 

Maurizio

 OB-6, Modx 7, Rameau upright,  Hammond Pro44H Melodica.

Too many Arturia, NI and AAS plugins

http://www.barbogio.org/

 

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Yes. That is the TI1. Large logo on the right, the word "Access" above the wheels. The TI2 has a smaller logo and not "Access" above the wheels. I had to research this when I bought a TI limited edition white out. It was listed at a TI, but some accounts had it as a TI2. Finally researched the differences and identified it as a TI2. There is also an extra LED on the TI2.

 

TI2 LE Whiteout.

http://www.virus.info/_media/images/Picture-VTI2-KeyboardWhiteOut1-LB1000x479.png

 

TI2

http://www.virus.info/_media/images/Picture-VTI2-Keyboard-LB1000x479.png

 

 

TI1

http://www.vintagesynth.com/misc/virusti_kb.jpg

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