Roland Juno-DS88 Review (2021): A Feature-Packed Synthesizer at a Reasonable Price


Roland JUNO-DS 88-Key Lightweight Weighted-Action Keyboard with Pro Sounds

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The Piano is a fairly recent invent...
The Piano is a fairly recent invention!

With a reasonable price and a range of features, the Roland Juno DS88 is among the best synthesizers available on the market today. This 88-key synth offers more than 1,200 sounds, enhanced performance features, the ability to record and play back your tunes and basically, help you become your own one-man band. The easy-to-use interface is ideal for a pianist of any level. Let’s take a closer look at what the Roland Juno DS88 has to offer:

Overview of Roland Juno DS88

The Roland Juno range has been designed to provide a solid list of features and excellent sound quality at a reasonable price point. Despite having the full 88, weighted keys, the Juno DS weighs a mere 35 pounds and is easy to carry, especially if you’re a part of a touring band.It provides a range of sound at the lightest touch. The build is a combination of high quality plastic and rubber and the dials are pretty sturdy. There is some extra space on both sides of the keyboard if you want to prop your tablet or laptop against it for certain music tutorials. If you find the surface to be too slippery, use some rubber grips to secure it in place.

Video Overview of Roland Juno DS88

Also see our complete Roland Juno DS88 Tutorial

FAQs of Roland Juno DS88

When did the Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer come out?

It came out in 2015.

What are the dimensions?

5.68″ x 55.75″ x 13.43″.

What is the weight?

It weighs 36 pounds (16.2 kg).

How much does it cost?

Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer costs around $1000 but it can vary depending on where you buy it.

How many keys does the Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer have?

88 keys.

How many sounds does the keyboard have?

1200 sounds presets.

What cords come with it?

Cords that come with Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer are sustain pedal, duel MIDI cable, stereo interconnect 1/8″ to 1/8″-3, stereo interconnect duel 1/4″ TRS to duel 1/4″ TRS.

Where can I see a demo/test?

You can see a demo/test of the Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer here.  

Where can I see an unboxing? 

You can see an unboxing of the Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer here.  

Where to buy the Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer?

The Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer is available in large shops including Amazon.

Which is a better: Yamaha MX88 vs Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer

The similarities between both models are:

  • Both of them have 88 keys.
  • The DS88 has more DAW presets than the MX but there’s not much between them here.
  • They have same numbers of polyphony (128 notes) and 16 parts of Multi Tumbrel Capacity.
  • They have almost same types of input and output connections.
  • Neither the DS88 nor the MX88 has built-in loudspeakers.

The differences between both models are:

  • Yamaha MX88 has GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) weighted action keyboard. Heavier in the low keys and lighter in the high keys, just like an acoustic piano. Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer has progressive hammer action keys (Ivory Feel-G Keyboard with Escapement).
  • The Roland DS88 has a nice clear 256 x 80 screen with white text on a dark blue background which is better than Yamaha MX88.
  • The MX88 has a smaller wave rom at 166mb vs the DS88’s 256mb.
  • Yamaha MX88 has certain packages which are free like Cubase Ai. They also gives free essential apps. The Roland DS88 costs for them.
  • Dimensions of Yamaha MX88 has dimensions of 6.6 x 52 x 16 inches and weighs 30.6 pounds (13.88 kg). The dimensions of the Roland Juno-DS88 Synthesizer are 5.68″ x 55.75″ x 13.43″ and weighs 36 pounds  (16.2 kg)

Specifications of Roland Juno DS88

Here’s a quick summary of the main features of the Roland Juno. Think of this as a checklist that will help you tick off all the features you’re looking for and any extras that are just an added bonus:

88-key keyboard with velocity-sensitive keys that have hammered action

Control panel divided based on functionality with easy to use knobs for fast and easy sound manipulation

DAW mode available

USB compatibility available

Vast sound options: standard piano sounds and extra (such as the sound of falling rain)

Vocal effects for solo performers

Sequencer for you to capture your sounds and adjust them 

Phrase pads for enhanced performance with the help of external sound tracks 

Compatibility with older Juno-Di models.

Features of Roland Juno DS88

What makes the Roland Juno stand out is that the keyboard is perfectly balanced, has a great response across its range and is not too stiff. Let’s look at some of its main features:

The Control Panel

The control panel is grouped into different sections based on functionality. The Mode section handles the import functionality of sample music and a DAW control button to activate the MIDI mode, allowing you to control any DAWs directly from the control panel. This makes it ideal for those who wish to record other instruments and incorporate them into their piano melody.

The next section on the control panel consists of 4 knobs and 4 sliders, which in DAW mode can be used to map a MIDI message of your choice. Their functions change based on the mode you have selected.

The 3rd section offers keyboard options such as: keyboard split, a dual switch (for double sound-stacking) and a “Super Layer” for stacking multiple sounds.

A Quick Lesson on DAW

DAW (or Digital Audio Workstation) is an inbuilt tape recorder of sorts that is a part of the computer’s software. DAWs help convert MIDI messages from their coded form to notation form.

Power Source for the Control Board

The control board can be powered with a combination of 8 AA batteries, which is particularly useful for street performers and other on-the-go musicians.

Sound

There are countless sound styles and variations built-in in the Juno DS and you have the additional benefit of generating your own custom sounds. It is particularly well-known for its organ and piano sounds, but the guitar and base sounds are just as popular.

You can recreate your favorite pop, hip hop and rock music with this synthesizer. Apart from offering the classic sounds, such as those of the piano, there are even some quirky sound effects you can play around with, such as water sounds, planes, etc. The quality and quantity of the sounds combined make for a superb sound experience.

Interface

The user interface is quite human-friendly and easy to master. The screen on the unit is somewhat small, but it will not prevent you from generating quality sound. Apart from functionality, the instrument has a sleek design, and it is evident that you can have the best of both worlds – a decent-priced product with all the right features.

External Storage

You can attach a USB flash drive to the Roland Juno DS88.

Other Features

The keyboard features basic FM and 80, diverse sound effects, Auto-Pitch (which is similar to Auto-Tune) and a vocoder. It does not, however, have an XLR socket.

Who the Roland Juno DS88 is Most Suitable For?

This lightweight model weighs roughly 16 kg, so you can travel the world with your music. Just like street guitarists with nothing but their guitars cases in hand, you can busk in the streets for fame, play in clubs around the country, or just carry your synth to the local pub every Friday night.

The Roland Juno is perfect if you just broke up with your band members and you are toughing it out on your own. Its additional sounds and the sound layering option will help you produce music sufficient for an entire band (or an orchestra if you’re on the classical route).

What’s Included in the Box?

This model of the Roland synthesizer series features an:

  • 88-key keyboard
  • A lightweight cabinet that makes it easy to set it up and use
  • Audio playback option
  • Pattern sequencer for generating original music
  • Velocity-sensitive keys

Additional Accessories to Consider

Once you have your keyboard, the work isn’t over yet. There are a number of key accessories required before you are ready to produce music:Sustain Pedal

The purpose of sustain pedal is the same as that with a classic piano. When the pedal is pressed down, it will sustain the tone being played.Piano Bench

Although the Roland Juno is designed for on-the-go use, you will obviously need to practice at home (or at a studio). A basic piano bench will help you play at the right height and maintain good posture as you play.Metronome

A metronome helps a pianist maintain perfect time and allows you to practice any piece of music you like at the pace you’re comfortable with. Although you can get a battery-powered metronome, there are even phone applications (for those on a budget) that provide this feature.Piano Stand

You don’t want to keep your piano on your dining table. Imagine being stared at by your family as they’re trying to eat dinner and you’re trying to perfect your song. Look for a piano stand that isn’t too expensive but is durable, portable and can fit your synth.Headphones

Headphones offer better sound quality and block out external noises better than earbuds. They are also comfortable for prolonged use (although there might be a bit of sweat buildup overtime).Sheet Music Stand

If you’re serious about playing music, a sheet music stand is essential. Choose one that is portable and can be folded into a more compact size.Amp & Amp Stand

To really lift your music, especially if you are performing in a crowded area, an amp and an amp stand will really help.Although there are many other accessories you may need before you are ready to start playing, these items are sufficient to help you get started.

Pros & Cons of Roland Juno DS88

The Roland Juno has numerous benefits for the young musician but before you actually consider buying the Roland Juno, you need to consider everything, the good and the bad. We’ve already looked at the pros. Let’s weigh out the pros and cons before you make your decision:

PROS

  • The interface is simple and easy to use
  • There are eight pads on, which you can either run the keyboard on MIDI mode or standard mode
  • The presence of MIDI allows you to record and playback your music
  • The keys are weighted and have the additional benefit of giving an ivory feel. 
  • Realistic sounds of other instruments
  • Realistic, experimental sounds, such as planes, water, etc.
  • Quick response to the lightest touch
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Well-priced for the number of features and quality if offers

cons

  • The synthesizer does not come with a keyboard 
  • The LCD display is small and hard to read at times.

Some Visual Guides for Roland Juno DS88

If you’d like to check out the nitty-gritty of the Yamaha PSR E363, here’s a link to the model’s manual:

For details about playing music on the Roland synth, check out the following YouTube videos:

Roland Juno DS88 Instruction Manual

For more details on the features of the Roland Juno DS88 as well as a detailed instruction guide, you can check out the following links:

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Roland Juno DS88 vs the Yamaha DGX 660

While both instruments have a lot to offer, certain features set them apart and make them suitable for different types of usage:

While both instruments have a lot to offer, certain features set them apart and make them suitable for different types of usage:

Playback

Whereas the Roland needs to be hooked up to a DAW program for recording and playback, the Yamaha has a built-in sequencer that’ll make the job easier.

Portability

The Yamaha weighs nearly double (61 lb) that of the Roland (35 lb), which makes it okay if you plan on recording in a studio or music school, but for travelers and roadies, the Roland is the lighter and more convenient option.

Built-in Accessories

The Yamaha has more built-in accessories, such as amps and a built-in stand that make it a better option if you don’t want to buy additional equipment. However, if you’ve been playing for a long time and already have the add-ins, the Roland will be perfect for you.

Price

The Yamaha costs nearly half that of the Roland and still provides 88 weighted keys, a MIDI feature and USB recording and is considered to be the better option for musicians who stay in one place.

Overall, both keyboards have features that cater to different needs. The most important difference is that the Roland is better for those who move around (or play street music) and the Yamaha is better for the studio.

Merriam Music’s Roland Juno DS88 Review

Summary

Although there are some minor cons in the Roland Juno DS88, some would say even the features picked out is us being too finicky. At around USD1000, it offers portability, quality and durability, a package that is usually quite hard to find.

If you’re a musician with big dreams of getting on the road with your band, playing gigs every night, this keyboard will not only be easy for you to carry, it will also help you generate amazing sound. 

Roland JUNO-DS 88-Key Lightweight Weighted-Action Keyboard with Pro Sounds

Roland Juno DS88 (click image for more info)

Even if you’re on your own and haven’t managed to find a band yet, this synthesizer will help you generate music that sounds like it’s been created by a complete pop band.

If you’re finding it difficult to buy a new one, you can look for sources to get a used synth. As long as it’s in good condition, you’ll still be able to produce good music.

We hope that you enjoyed this Roland Juno-DS88 review and it will help you decide if you are should go with this keyboard.

Maurice

I am intrigued by how music affects the brain. I created this site to share my fascination with music in general and piano keyboards in particular.

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