Any list the five best synthesizers on the market today, within this price range would have to include the Roland Juno DS88 synthesizer.
Other competitors like Yamaha and Korg might carry amazing synthesizers that could give the DS88 a run for its money. But regardless, the Roland Juno DS88 is up there with the best and is a very special workstation.
Why do we find this synthesizer completely amazing? Well, here’s a hint, it comes with more than 1200 built-in sounds.
Now, since we have a lot to consider, let’s hurry up and get this show on the road…
An Overview Of The Roland Juno DS88
Roland created the DS series synthesizers as an evolution to the Di series.
The emphasis being on “evolution”, not “revolution”. However, this is a synthesizer with a lot of features, which gives it a modern appeal.
Perhaps, its most outstanding feature is that you can upload original sounds that you’ve created directly into its engine.
In addition to this, you’ll also find a plethora of options for tweaking different parameters on the DS88. You’ll find 8 pads, which you can use to trigger samples and sequence. And let’s not forget the built-in vocoder.
This piano comes with 88 keys that are weighted with Roland’s ivory “Feel-G”. The keys feel really great and classical pianists are going to love them. In fact, this is the first synthesizer in the Juno family to come with such amazing keys.
The overall build quality of this synth is very good and the controls and knobs have a simplistic layout. So, altogether this is a pretty interesting instrument.
Specs Of The Roland Juno DS88
- Keys: 88 Ivory Feel-G weighted keys with Escapement.
- Maximum polyphony: 128 notes.
- 16 parts.
- Preset Memory: over 1200 patches, over 30 drum kits, 64 performances, GM2 compatible sounds.
- User memory: 256 patches, 8 drum kits, 128 performances, 100 favorites.
- Wave Expansion Slots: 1
- Audio file format: WAV.
- Effects: multi-effects (80 types, 3 systems), 3 types of chorus, 5 types of reverb.
- Display: LCD (256 x 80 dots).
- Connectivity: pedal hold jack, pedal control jack, mic input jack, EXT input jack, Output jacks, phones jack, MIDI connectors, USB memory port, USB computer port, DC IN jack.
- Dimensions: 55.75 x 13.43 x 5.69 inches.
- Weight: 35 pounds.
Features Of The Roland Juno DS88
Interface And Design
As mentioned, the Roland Juno DS88 comes with a very simple layout. This is particularly intriguing because this is a really intricate instrument. So, for Roland to create such a clean layout, that’s so easy on the eyes, is a really major score for them in our books.
Furthermore, you should find it very easy to navigate all the controls and knobs.
Plus, programming it, is surprisingly easy. Which is unusual, considering that synthesizers aren’t exactly straightforward instruments.
Alright, on to the size…
You could call this a fairly compact and portable keyboard. And its weight is also somewhat light at 35 pounds, even though we will admit, that we have seen lighter keyboards.
To the display, it comes with an LCD graphic display but the problem is that it’s a little smaller than we would have liked. It’s just 256 x 80 dots. It might not necessarily hinder your performance but then again, we thought you should know.
But altogether, the layout and interface of the Juno DS88 is clean and simple which adds to the appeal of this model.
Whoa! It’s a full house here. The number of built-in sounds on the Roland Juno DS88 is massive and all of them are quite realistic.
You’ll particularly love the piano and organ sound as well as the bass/guitar sounds. But all the rest are very enjoyable as well.
All these sounds are high quality with great depth and clarity.
The Roland Juno DS88 comes with 88 weighted keys which have ivory keytops. Their matte finish will keep your fingers from slipping off.
Now, for the action. Roland chose to use a hammer action, so it’s close to the feel of an acoustic piano.
The number of sound effects available on the DS88 is massive. There are the usuals like reverb, phaser, chorus, etc. But there are also some other pretty interesting effects like the pitch shifters and the piano resonance filters.
In this section, the DS88 very closely resembles the Di series. The only difference is that the DS88 comes with Phrase pads which were not included in the former series. This sequencer comes in an 8-track pattern and it sets up really easily, especially for live performances.
Now, if you want, you can choose to load all kinds of songs or any other media onto the sequencer from your USB.
Or, on the other hand, you could just choose to create varying backing tracks to an arrangement you already have. And then you can apply these to your loops.
There are many functions in the Roland Juno DS88. Some of these include:
This helps you to play two sound types at the same time while striking just one key. So, yes you can play strings and piano or organ and piano simultaneously. This will allow you to create beautiful and interesting new sounds, or not as the case may be.
For standard transposing both up and down.
Also known as the accompany function, the Juno features 72 rhythm types.
There is a playback function in the Roland Juno DS88 which allows you to play standard audio files in WAV format. Great for practicing or jamming with any song you want.
The Roland Juno DS88 comes with a free app which you can use to interact with your piano. This allows you to easily connect it to your iPad, iPhone or any smartphone.
Pros Of Roland Juno DS88
- Sounds are very easy to manipulate.
- Comes with 8 pads which can be used to run MIDI or can also be used as triggers.
- MIDI capability.
- Keys are weighted with an ivory feel.
- More than 1200 different preset patches.
- Realistic sounds.
- A responsive action.
- Keys are touch sensitive.
Cons Of Roland Juno DS88
- Does not come with speakers.
- The LCD display is quite small.
- Currently, there is no editor specifically made for the Juno DS.
This is one hardworking synthesizer workstation and we are very impressed by it. It packs so many features, especially at this price point.
The Roland DS88 is more than your average digital piano. It is a superb synthesizer with an amazing ability to satisfy all kinds of players, no matter how demanding they are.
Roland has set the bar very high for future synthesizers, with this fantastic instrument.