If you were to count the five best synthesizers within this price range, your list would definitely be incomplete without 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 the Roland Juno DS88 is still a really special workstation in its own rights.
If you’re a primarily a guitarist or a bassist, you might find the Roland Juno DS88 the ideal synthesizer buddy for you. Why do we find this synthesizer completely amazing? Well, hint, this comes with more than 1200 built-in sounds.
Now, since we still 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. Emphasis on the “evolution”, don’t think “revolution”. However, this is one synthesizer with a lot of features which gives the instrument a modern appeal.
Perhaps, its most outstanding feature is that you can upload original sounds that you created onto its engine. This feat might not be groundbreaking in itself. But all the same, that doesn’t change the fact this synth is a truly amazing one.
Now, in addition to this, you’ll also find a plethora of options for tweaking different parameters on the DS88. Again, you’ll find about 8 pads which you can use to trigger samples and sequence. And let’s not forget the built-in vocoder and pitch quantization.
This piano comes with 88 keys that are semi-weighted with the brand’s ivory “Feel-G”. Long story short, 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 great and the controls and knobs have a pretty simplistic layout. So, altogether this is a pretty interesting instrument with a promise of loads of fun to come.
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 8 types of mic input 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
The Roland Juno DS88 comes with a very simple layout like we already mentioned initially. This is particularly intriguing especially because this is a really intricate instrument. So, for Roland to create such a clean layout that’s 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 on this guy. Plus, programming this guy is surprisingly super easy. Again, we have to mention that this is a big deal because synthesizers aren’t exactly straightforward instruments.
Alright, to the size…
You could call this a fairly compact and portable keyboard. At least, it measures almost the same as many portable digital pianos you find. And its weight is also somewhat light at 35 pounds, even though we will agree that we have seen lighter keyboards.
Talking about the display, this comes with an LCD graphic display but the problem is that this unit is a little smaller than we’d have loved. 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 too.
Roland tries to keep things versatile by including the synth which you can use to create sounds from the dance and pop genre. Plus, there are also sounds from the more classical genre such as the accordion, cello and piano.
All these sounds are high quality and the best part is that the makers source these sounds from the Steinway piano. So, you can be sure that all sounds come with an awesome level of depth and clarity.
Now, to be totally honest, it’s not like everyone falls in love with the sounds of the Roland Juno DS88 at first sight? Hearing? Whatever… But then again, sound is a personal thing. And if a pianist is more of the classical type, then they should love the sounds from this synth.
Anyway, this synth comes with a massive amount of sounds. And you can comfortably play all of them thanks to the 128 note polyphony. There’s even a slot for expansion sets too.
So, if you’re looking for realism and an amazing rhythm pattern, this will meet your needs.
The Roland Juno DS88 comes with weighted keys which also come with ivory keytops. The ivory keytops will keep your fingers from slipping off.
Now, for the action part, Roland chose the hammer action. So it’s close to an acoustic piano feel. Plus, there’s escapement too.
The number of sound effects available on the DS88 is massive. There are the usuals like reverb, phrasers, and chorus. But there are also some other pretty interesting effects like the pitch shifters and the piano resonance filters. We told you there are lots to go to town with.
In this section, the DSS88 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 well 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 this to your loops.
Altogether, this isn’t the most intuitive sequencer ever but it’s pretty great anyway.
There are many kinds of functions in the Roland Juno DS88. Some of them 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 help you create beautiful and interesting performances that you can enjoy.
When harmonizing with other instruments, you’re going to need the transpose function. Thankfully, this synthesizer comes with a transpose function of +5 and -6.
Also known as the accompany function, this helps the instrument to match a background music to your performance. There are more than 72 rhythm types on the DS88 which means more than 72 ways the DS88 can make your experience more enhanced.
There is a playback function in the Roland Juno DS88 which will allow you to play files in WAV format like audio. If you want you could even tweak the volume a bit so that it plays along with your digital piano.
The Roland Juno DS88 comes with an app which you can use to interact with your piano. The best part? This app is absolutely free. And with it, you can easily connect to all your devices wirelessly. Yes, all of them. You can connect to your ipads, iphones or any smartphone at all.
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.
- Also features MIDI capability, expanding what’s possible on this keyboard.
- Keys are weighted with an ivory feel to give you something close to the natural feel you get from an acoustic piano.
- More than 1200 different preset patches.
- Realistic sound for more realistic play.
- Comes with a responsive action, making it easier for your to execute certain techniques.
- Keys are touch sensitive.
- Portable instrument.
Cons Of Roland Juno DS88
- Does not come with speakers.
- The LCD display is quite small. So it can easily feel like the display is cramped when doing deeper editing.
- 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, we seriously do not know how Roland managed to keep it at this price point.
The 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.
In the end, Roland has set the bar really high for future synthesizers to come with this fantastic instrument. Bravo Roland!