Roland JD-990 with vintage synth expansion VS XV-5050

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.

Roland JD-990 with vintage synth expansion VS XV-5050

Postby Danchenka » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:07 am

I just moved, and I was thinking that since all my gear was already unracked anyway, it's a good chance to get rid of some of the stuff I don't use much and maybe get something new for the newly available rackspace.

I've always been pretty interested in the JD-990 with vintage expansion board. I've never heard anyone ever say anything bad about this, and there are some amazing youtube demos. I already have several digital synths from around the same time period (K5000 and Wavestation) that are great for pads. I love them both, but I don't think either one sounds much like the JD, so it wouldn't be redundant in my setup. If I got the JD, I'd just use it for synth pads and effects and stuff like that. I don't have much interest in the pianos and organs etc.

However, after some googling, I cam across Don Solaris's page with a very in depth comparison of Rolands JD JV and XV synths. ( It seems like the XV-5050 and 5080 offer everything you get in the JD plus a lot more, if you don't mind the compression of the raw waveforms.

I'm particularly interested in the 5050. For me, a one-space shallow rack unit is always better than a two-space deep rack unit. For me, that's the biggest advantage. More polyphony and waveforms are nice too, but I imagine a lot of those waveforms are things I would never use, so for me the bigger appeal is less rack space taken up. Also those big LCD displays always seem to die on me, and I don't want to get burned again. I usually use Midiquest, so I wouldn't program from the front panel much anyway. When my Wavestation AD LCD died, I replaced it with the Wavestation SR and was much happier. I think it's kind of similar to the choice I'm thinking about now.

However, all of that is irrelevant if it doesn't sound good. I don't ever hear people rave about the sound of the XV series the way they do about the JD. Most of the demos I've found of the XVs are typical rompler stuff and don't give me much of an idea of what they sound like when used how I'd use it. Also, I'm not sure about the filter. I've never used either of these. I tried a Fantom in a shop once, and I didn't really like the filter. I assume the JD filter is completely different. I'm not sure about the XV. The JD filter sounds good in the demos I've heard, but I can't find any demos of just the filter on a raw waveform.

Well that's the perspective I'm looking at things from. Does anyone have any experience with both of these? Can anyone give me any input?
Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2004 6:10 am
Location: Funabashi, Japan

Re: Roland JD-990 with vintage synth expansion VS XV-5050

Postby Baus » Sat Nov 14, 2015 8:27 pm

Hi Danchenka,

I have used the JD-990 and Vintage Expansion a lot during the 90's and I loved it. I now have a XV-3080 with the Expansion board in it and I still like it. Yes, like.

You have probably read that the converters on the JD are better. However the XV's have many effects on board
and sound good too, although I hardly ever have it switched on anymore. I use Roland's own editor software for OSX 10.4 on Mac and that's a breeze. The filters on this thing? Hmm... I remember having more fun playing with those on the JD. But that was 20 years ago in a time where I also worked with the Korg M1 which had no resonance filter, meaning to say that I was of course more drawn to the JD because of that.

My main argument now would be the small display but since you use an editor that argument can be swept off the table easily.

I see in your signature that you are in Japan. If that is the case I would look around for a JD. There might be stores where they're just stacked up and sold for dirt cheap.

Comparison can only be done when you have both units together. Personally, at this point, I would not be able to tell which filter is from which model if you would ask me, I think.

Somehow I have the feeling you already made up your mind anyways, also about the rackspace.

Best wishes,

The Netherlands
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 209
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:56 pm

Re: Roland JD-990 with vintage synth expansion VS XV-5050

Postby Danchenka » Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:57 am

Thanks for your reply.

I wouldn't say I've made up my mind. I'm constantly thinking I have, but it changes almost every day.
I'm happy to spare the extra rack space if one is clearly better than the other, but it seems like the only thing I can do is compare them.

It may just come down to which one is available when I have the money to buy it. The surprising thing is that, if the prices for the past month or so are representative of typical prices, the JD-990 sells for more than the 5080 and for around twice as much as the 5050 over here. :?
Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2004 6:10 am
Location: Funabashi, Japan

Re: Roland JD-990 with vintage synth expansion VS XV-5050

Postby madtheory » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:09 pm

I wouldn't be concerned about the DA differences. I think they are greatly overstated. IMO Don Solaris' statements about bandwidth and "sitting in a mix" don't make sense. All of those issues, if they're real, are solveable with a tiny amount of eq. However I can't confirm his assertion about the 30Hz HPF because I don't own an XV5050 to check its bandwidth on a scope. But my guess would be he can't prove it either. Simply saying "it's a fact" doesn't count as proof. So I would be very sceptical of a review like that.

I have a JV1080 and have used some XV5080. The greater facilities, especially the COSM effects make the 5080 way better. Plus it's much easier to programme than a 990 or a 1080, because the display is better than both

Seems like a no-brainer to me, if the price differences are as you say they are! That's down to perception- which is often wrong. Or else it's because the presets on the 5080 are possibly slightly more vanilla? But that's nuts because a 5080 can load 990 sysex. Or maybe it's because of the JD-800 connection? Also nuts. The 800 wins (even though it is the most limited in terms of features) because it's the easiest of them all to program. Plus it looks fab :) Or maybe it's because those mono, shorter looped samples are more characterful than the longer stereo waves in the XV5080? I could get behind that. The bass guitar wave on the JV1080 works well, despite its technical flaws. Very punchy.

If I was yearning for a Roland ROMpler, I would definitely go for a 5080 over a 990, or a 5050 (rotten tiny display). But I'm not, the JV1080 is fine for me. I use it with an editor. :)

Good, level headed review of 5080: ... xv5080.htm
User avatar
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 4921
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 12:45 pm
Location: Cork, Ireland
Real name: Tomas Mulcahy
Gear: Novation KSR, PT12, VCZ, Redmatica, MIDIQuest, Casio FZ, SK5, Komplete, M1, Theremin, Digi Vocalist, Quadravrb+, Kaoss Pad, JV, SPD, Cyclone, Drummer.
Band: madtheory

Re: Roland JD-990 with vintage synth expansion VS XV-5050

Postby Tekhed66 » Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:58 am

Hi Danchenka

I have just bought a JD-900 and I'm using it with a vintage keys card that I used to use in my XV-5080... the sound of the 990 really is fantastic.

I originally owned just a 5080 and as I had nothing to compare it to, I thought that the synth was perhaps the best I ever heard 9certainly better than the JX3P and Juno 106 I used to own many many years ago !!). A couple of years ago I bought a JD800 (800, not 900) but because of serious 'self-editing' problems, the synth was pretty much unusable and it stayed packed away until late last year when I found a really good tech who was able to mostly fix the problem .. all of a sudden the synth was playable and I decided to sit down and really explore it. I downloaded heaps of '800 sysex banks and made a bit of a monster patch library and I'd spend a bit of time each day loading a bunch of new patches into the synth. It was then that I really heard the 800 for the first time ... i was pretty ignorant of all the hype but to me, playing these patches (even 'vanilla' patches) just sounded incredible on the '800. I read up a bit about the 800 and 900 ... generally speaking, it was very high praise all around but there was a definite vibe about the JD900.

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, I had the opportunity to buy a JD900 and have been the proud owner for about 2 weeks now ... the 5080 is fantastic, the 800 is incredible and the 900 is beyond words ... very hard to describe but you'll know it when you hear it.

I use my 5080 in my band and I'm pretty much using it as a rompler ... it does its job very well and I don't have any problems with it. The 900 is used only for home recording at this stage and I'm spending time creating my own sounds as programming the unit either directly or via the JD800 is pretty straightforward (and quite fun).

I think Don Solaris wrote that the 5080 and 990 sysex are incompatible ... they were created differently though the 5080 does contain some of the 990 waveforms. The 990 does have some limitations (feedback at high resonance, small memory, limited polyphony) but these problems are small beer ... the 5080 is all bells and whistles... very flexible, very programmable, great big display, lots of voices, lots of patches, dedicated PC editor... it's just a monster...

I know that you were after info regarding a 5050 but in a way, the 5050 is derived from a 5080 (1st or 2nd cousin???) so I think there is some overlap ... I've never used a 5050 though sonically it's meant to be right up there with the 5080.

My 2 cents worth is to say to get a 5080 over a 5050 ... a much harder call would be to decide between a 5080 and a 990 ... both the 5080 and 990 are incredible pieces of kit ... the final decision might have to be based on cost and availability ... granted there is much more hype about the 990 and I strongly agree that the sound quality is extraordinary but there is nothing at all wrong with a 5080.

lots of luck!!!!
User avatar
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2015 6:59 am
Location: Australia
Gear: Roland JD-990
Roland JD-800
Roland XV-5080
Kurzweil K2000
Yamaha An1x
Korg Triton Rack
Korg M1
Korg Radias
Korg Volca Beats
Akai s5000
Band: The Creepy Uncles

Re: Roland JD-990 with vintage synth expansion VS XV-5050

Postby desmond » Mon Mar 14, 2016 1:46 pm

The other nice thing about the 5080, other than the amount of instant patches you can have (all the 8 or so ram banks, plus another 8 or so "card" banks on an SD card, and whatever expansion banks you have installed) is that it is also a sample playback machine.

So in addition to all the preset and expansion waveforms, which are all fairly small, compressed, "Roland-esque" samples, you can load your own multisamples in there. So you can bung in all your own classic synth waveforms and have them running through the XV engine and effects, and whatever other sample effects you need meaning one rack can do a heckuva lot without breaking much of a sweat. And while your won't be loading up your 6GB piano sample, you can do quite a lot with 128MB to significantly expand the sound capability without having to buy the still over-priced SRX expansions...
User avatar
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 614
Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2005 12:32 pm

Re: Roland JD-990 with vintage synth expansion VS XV-5050

Postby jxalex » Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:23 am

madtheory wrote:....
But that's nuts because a 5080 can load 990 sysex .

No way! So generous that Roland is not. :D Or is it?
I connect JD990 midi out to XV5080 midi in and send a patch from temporary buffer. Not recognized.
ID and channel matches, sysex protect is Off. JD990 patch was not recognized

There perhaps can be some software (however I have never heard about it, but JD990 sysex is NOT directly supported by XV5080 based on this test).

Doing the same with JV1080 --
JV1080 sysex was recognized by XV5080 .

So, It is compatible back to JV1080, but not with JD990.
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:05 am
Location: Sweden
Gear: enough

Re: Roland JD-990 with vintage synth expansion VS XV-5050

Postby vicd » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:02 pm

Okay, looks we're all speaking like "JD990 as a part of JV/XV series".

Question - did we forget that adding a SR-JV-04 to a JD-990 adds not only the 255 extra JV-80 patches, but also another bank of patches available only on a JD990? And those are not directly translateable to more recent XVs' (well, unless you re-create them manually, because the waveforms _are_ there).

IMO, worth a notice.

I don't like the drums, but the drums like me!
User avatar
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 310
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:26 am
Location: Siberia
Real name: Victor
Gear: Blofeld, Formanta (EMS01, Maestro, Mini), Fusion 8HD, JD800, Morpheus, MP7, Plugiator, TG77, TOM1501, TR626, UltraProteus, V-Synth XT

Return to Synth Shootouts

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 3 guests