The JX-10 – an underrated synth

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The JX-10 – an underrated synth

Postby ScottMG » Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:55 am

I've just been re-united with an old friend, and what a great old friend she is. Years ago, for many years, I had only a single synth – a JX8p. And I made some of my best music with that one synth.

Since then business has been good and I now have a nice collection of synthesizers including a Jupiter 8, OB-Xa, Yamaha CS-60 and a Monopoly (all of which are wonderful). But I recently sold my Oberheim OB-Xa (was just so big) and brought back and old friend that was sitting in the basement, a JX-10 and put it next to my Jupiter where the OB-Xa was. And BOY was I surprised how incredible this synth sounds. It's bright, it's fat, and it's organic.

I also own a JX-8p, but I have to say that synth feels limited when compared to the JX-10. One of the biggest limitations of the 8p is the lack of PWM (pulse width modulation). This is that ability to modulate the width of the wave, giving a very fat sound (famous on the Juno). You can sort of get a PWM sound using cross mod and modulating that, but it takes two oscillators.

However, the JX-10 changes all of that. The JX-10 is basically two complete, 6-voice JX-8p's, including the analog chorus circuit. And if you have a PG-800 programmer, you can with a single button press, switch between either JX-8p stuffed inside the 10. And you can run each in mono, and pan hard left / right, and get some of the most amazing, fat, wide, organic sounds.

The JX series has been criticized for it's thin filters, and that is sort of a fair criticism. However, I think we tend to make the mistake of looking at an analog synth through a single lens. Every synth, including the Jupiter and Oberheims, have technical limitations. They also have their own “sound.” So does the JX. The JX has a specialty IMO for fat stabbing brass. It also can make excellent bass sounds. It also has a feature unique to it, and that is having LONG filters. This allows for the creation of one of the most famous analog synth patches, “Soundtrack.” This is a rich analog pad that ever so slowly opens the envelope over time. Only the JX can do this. You can't do this with a Jupiter, or a Prophet 5, or a Juno. The JX is a unique, true analog, organic instrument that IMO is undervalued, and if anyone is short on cash and wants a classic analog synth, I think the JX-10 with a PG-800 should be considered. It has a large keyboard and can pretty much do it all. It's not perfect, but stands up to any synth on the market and capable of making great sounds, and is no distant second to anything. Don't let anyone tell you it's not true analog, it is. It sounds far better than any virtual synth. Technology has still not yet re-created the beauty of true analog. But make no mistake, the PG-800 is essential to get the most out of this synth.

Scott.
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Re: The JX-10 – an underrated synth

Postby commodorejohn » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:33 am

Oh yes, it's a fine synth, even if it is somewhat limited tonally. I like to compare it to a really quality acoustic piano - you'll never get it to sound like anything but itself (even its cross-mod and sync sounds are somehow gentle and well-mannered,) but within its own particular tonal wheelhouse, it is glorious.

And yes, if you had to pick one specific patch to make the case for the JX-10 as a synthesizer, "Soundtrack" would definitely be it. Just achingly beautiful.
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Re: The JX-10 – an underrated synth

Postby ats » Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:15 pm

I agree its pretty under rated , I have the rack version MKS-70 and its one of my all time favorite synths. It pairs very nicely with my Prophet Rev2. I use iPG800 to control it on my iPad I wouldn't trade it for anything.
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Re: The JX-10 – an underrated synth

Postby gs » Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:57 pm

I had the JX-10 with the PG-800 programmer for about 5 years before selling them both off circa 2010.

This was when I was going through a vintage analog phase myself. I had an SCI Pro-One as well, and also a Korg DSS-1 which has PCM oscillators but one h**l of a fat analog filter.

Since then, I've pretty much reconvened my rig with a modern ROMpler and Clonewheel... for the kind of gigs I do now.

IMHO, the JX-10 had the finest, most detailed (almost "digital" in essence) sounds that Roland was able to coax from an analog DCO synth. The "Soundtrack" patch says it all. Eric Persing got the most he could get out of this machine, with Yamaha's all-digital DX7 nipping at their heels while they quietly designed the D50 behind the scenes.

I was never able to get really convincing Synth Bass out of it (but I expect you could if you worked at it long enough)... I usually preferred the snappy punch of the Pro-One for that. But when it comes to warm, buttery analog pads... the JX-10 is KING.
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Re: The JX-10 – an underrated synth

Postby ScottMG » Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:04 am

GS,

I also never used the JX-10 on bass and then I bought a used 8p and the previous owner made a bass patch that was just a killing sound. He did an odd combo of both oscillators, something I never would have thought of myself. Like you, I reach for a mono synths (Monopoly or CS-30) for bass (or even the Jupiter 8 does great bass). But I realized after that patch that the 8p/10 is capable of strong bass and could see using it for bass if I didn't have these other bass monsters. BTW I've always wanted a Pro one, that must be amazing on bass.

It's interesting how our opinions change over time. I remember when the DX-7 was released and the JX8p just sounded just so old by comparison. The DX was able to create these clear tones like we never heard before, and it was the future as we all saw it. Then sampling came out which threw both the DX and analog synths on the shelf. Then after years of listening to sampling, we all started to tune into the sterile, predictable, lifeless sounds of sampling. And so many, me included, all went running back to analog, but this time for a generation older (Prophet5, Jupiters, Oberheims, etc.).

We are in such a better place now with these beautiful organic instruments. And now, from this vantage point, the JX-10 feels fresh again. It's just so strange how the mind works, but the JX-10 has been my go to synth lately. I've also got a new appreciation for the power and simplicity of the PG-800. For a controller without any color, to help navigate, it is still very easy to use and not get lost. It's lightning quick to make all kinds of sounds.

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Re: The JX-10 – an underrated synth

Postby synthRodriguez » Sun Jul 01, 2018 3:51 pm

An MKS-70 is welded into my rack for the reasons above. :D

Is anyone using the Vecoven microprocessor modification? I have a JX-10 I bought with the thought of doing the mod, but never got around to it. Curious about the snappier envelopes and extra LFO, would be nice to hear some examples.
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Re: The JX-10 – an underrated synth

Postby edmons » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:14 am

ats wrote:I agree its pretty under rated , I have the rack version MKS-70 and its one of my all time favorite synths. It pairs very nicely with my Prophet Rev2. I use iPG800 to control it on my iPad I wouldn't trade it for anything.

It never let me down.
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