JD-990 Super JD
Synthesizer Module

This is one of my favorite digital synthesizers.  Every time I record its sounds to a DAW, the mix comes out full, powerful and "complete" - without a need to add any sweetening effects.

Considered the rack version of the famous JD-800, even though the module is more powerful and several features are added to the internal architecture.  This is a great-sounding synth, and it's a bit  more flexible than its keyboard counterpart - it does in fact read the SR-JV-xx cards - and typically owners choose to put the Vintage Synth card in, to achieve a large number of patches and waveforms from classic Roland (and non) synthesizers.

There's a big display, and it' easy to create custom patches editing.  This module is considered "a programmer's dream".

It is similar in look to the JV-1080/2080, but many owners swear that the JD-990 sounds better - due apparently to better DAC converters, and the on-board low, high and band pass filters.

The JD-990 contains 195 high-quality waveforms derived from the JD-800, an enormous number of parameters to edit, and a fast to use, intuitive display to program it.  The "Palette" screen allows to see all tones of a parameter at the same time, and it's extremely easy and intuitive to jump from screen to screen as needed.  Again, this is a programmer's dream.

There is a powerful DSP chip for digital effects, and it delivers graphic equalizer, distortion, phaser, spectrum, enhancer, chorus, delay and reverb.  These are all of high quality.

The synth is expandable via PCM and/or Data cards.


Roland JD-990 factory demo songs:

Hear the four on-board demo songs:

1 The City Weeps

2 Where am I going

3 Common Ground

4 Chameleon 990

Roland JD-990 audio demos in mp3:

These demos are 100% Roland JD-990, straight from the master stereo outputs - no other effects were applied.  Notice the high quality of the internal waveforms...

Stream all demos below


Internal bank
Patch name with audio demo My comments
11 Deep SEAmphony Beautiful, complex resonant pad with falling echoed crystals
12 Fourdimensional Superb phased pad, gentle and expressive. (Heavily phased pad with pulsating synth bass timbres.)
13 Ac.Piano 1 Respectable Roland grand piano sound
14 Nasty Man Bass Powerful analog reso synth bass
15 DistSynChorus Very good analog synth lead
16 Hybrid Strings Marvelous, intriguing syn strings
17 Slow Sync Lead Juicy, osc synched solo synth
18 Fantasia 990 The JD-990's version of the classic D-50 patch.
21 Vectoring 1 At the time the JD-990 came out, the Korg Wavestation and vector synthesis was popular.
22 Genesises Majestic, angelic crystal synpad. (Paradise synth plenty of swirling synth textures, breathy vox and deep bass.)
23 Digital Rhodes Super polished, crispy digital electric piano.
24 Analog Brass 1 Powerful, 1980s-style analog synth brass, with the typical Jupiter-8 style attack.
25 Throaty Clav Nice resonant Clavinet
26 Belstring Classic Roland sound - the bell + string pad
27 Delicate Lead Not very delicate, actually... cuts like a knife
28 Hearts of Space Digital, evolving, Wavestation-like pad
31 Swimotion Excellent New Age setup, trippy and inspired.  Seagulls singing in the background.
32 Phlangy Vox Pad Breathy choir pad, typical Roland
33 Midi Stack Classic 1980s sound - A few different sounds from different synthesizers, stacked together via MIDI
34 Mr.990 Brass! Nice brass in small room
35 FX Strat (add C) Elegant Fender Stratocaster
36 Beauty Stack Gorgeous, classy pad
37 Voice Pipe Solo Nice ethnic "shakuhachi" type sound.
38 Clear Bells Extremely sparkly bells
41 TechnoLFO Reminds of Keith Emerson and his sample-and-hold sounds from the modular Moog
42 Dawn Sweep Magnificent synth sweep which totally reminds of the famous D-50 preset "Spacious Sweep".
43 Pizza Hutt I think this is the base sound used by Faithless for "Insomnia"
44 Orch Stab 990 Typical orchestral stab - aftertouch adds bass
45 Funky Chicken Nice "liquid" synth
46 Look into Abyss Another excellent pad with bells - perfect for soundtrack work.
47 Lyric Pipe Solo Classic pan flute type sound
48 Psycho (..) Huge sound fx
51 Vectoring 2 More classic Wavestation-like vectors
52 Golden Sands Spectacular, evolving resonant pad
53 MIDIed Grand Good for '80s ballads
54 Tenor Break Cool tenor sax.
55 Ming Dynasty Asian feel
56 JD's Sentiment Ok
57 World -(.)- Lead Squiggly and raspy lead.
58 Deduk Outstanding duduk
61 Flourish Nice
62 Vectoring 3 Beautiful evolving pad
63 Crystal Rhodes 1 Quintessential Yamaha DX7-type FM electric piano.
64 Mo Funk Bass Note how powerful the bass is in the Super JD
65 Wailing Guitar Excellent, expressive creamy distorted guitar - that fades into feedback.
66 Ghosts Superb sci-fi/scary sound design
67 Digirez Lead Nice digital comp
68 Radio A masterpiece of programming (Perfect synthesized emulation)
71 Lover Dance Cool limpy evolving synth
72 Thor!!! Great resonant filter action
73 Space Harp Medieval feel
74 SyncStringsBass Splendidly aggressive, full synth
75 Gamelan 990 Very interesting Gamelan emulation
76 Velo Syn Strings Happy, full synth strings
77 Fusionic Useful solo synth, great for Fusion and other jazz/pop styles
78 CrazyHorse :-)
81 Ring Boom Spacey sci-fi fx
82 The RiverII..... Again, great filters in this machine.
83 Piano & Voice The modulation wheel brings in and out the voice mix.
84 Big Apple Bass Powerful slapped bass
85 Book Mark Very nice percussive synth, with distinctive delay
86 Bell-Ringer 990 Beautiful bell pad
87 Analog 5th Lead Very good old-school, '70s Moog type synth
88 Mellowtron Str Beautiful Mellotron strings

Stream all demos below

A bank
Patch name with audio demo My comments
11 Killer Pad Great analog impression
12 Pulse Pad Spectacular, hypnotic soft pad
13 Lovely Vox Pad Classic vox "Fairlight" pad.
14 Tempest The aftertouch opens the filter (a lot!)
15 Deep Breath Pad Fantastic, hypnotic digi pad
16 Pure Glass Classic FM glassy pad
17 Cherish Delicate glassy pad
18 GlassVoices Ethereal, glassy pad
21 Ac.Piano 2 Cool piano
22 Ac.Piano Hybrid Ballad mix
23 Crystal Rhodes 2 Very sweet-sounding ballad FM piano.
24 E.Piano 1 Digital
25 E.Piano 2 FM
26 Agogo Rhodes Yep
27 Seq E.Piano Fast attack suitable for sequencing
28 Whispery Piano Nice variation
31 Pipe Organ Powerful church organ
32 Choir Organ Bubbly organ
33 CLS 222 (Mod) 1 Nice Leslie emulation.
34 Ring Organ Wobbly
35 CLS 222 (Mod) 2 Happy organ of the 1950s/1960s :-)
36 Jazz Organ Very woody
37 Dist.Organ Ok
38 French New Organ Beautiful, expressive chapel pump organ
41 Authentic Harp New Age patch
42 Harmo Harpo Nice harp, realistic
43 Authentic Clav Classic, "tubey" Hohner Clavinet patch.
44 Digital Clav Yes
45 Nylon Guitar Well sampled classical guitar.
46 String Guitar Sparkly clean acoustic guitar
47 Electric Guitar Classic Strat sound
48 Velo Harmonics Very nice
51 12 String Guitar Yep
52 Clang Guitar Clean guitar
53 Stratomaster PJ Pickin'
54 That's Funky yep
55 ChinaGuitar Nice vibrant instrument
56 Reso Strat Reso comp
57 Big Country Jumbo acoustic
58 Velo-Crunch The excellent distortion effect on the machine
61 Fretless Bass Nice
62 Woody Bass Clean jazz contrabass
63 Velo-Switch Bass Slapped
64 Slap Bass Standard slap bass.
65 Pick Bass 007 style.
66 Fingered Bass Warm and very precise bass
67 Flubber Bass Cool and synthetic.
68 House Bass Lots of woofers
71 Rubber Bass The typical Roland syn bass
72 Stick Bass Great bass for sequencing '80s New Wave and Electronic, a la Depeche Mode
73 Wiry Sync Bass Digi bass
74 A Funk Bass 1 Subtle phasing action
75 A Funk Bass 2 Superbly resonating filter funk bass
76 Techno Bass Extremely powerful resonant synth bass
77 Structure Bass Metallic and resonant, guttural bass
78 Mega Mono Bass More synth power
81 Warm Vibe Beautiful vibraphone patch
82 Marimba Extremely realistic marimba patch
83 Night Kalimba Quiet and nice
84 Perc Stab Nice
85 Harlequin 990 Cinematic
86 Cow Vibes Nice cowbell patch
87 Ethnic Metal percussion
88 AfricaMetals Extremely cool ethnic percussion

Stream all demos below


B bank
Patch name with audio demo My comments
11 JD-T.Chimes Superb, sparkly metals
12 Wave Bells Obviously, bells are a strong point of the 990.
13 Tria Bells Gentle delayed bells
14 Lite Delay Nice digital bells
15 Like Dee Like Roland D (Dee) -50  (Roland D-50 - classic L.A. synth)
16 Reincarnate Nice open sound
17 Fantasy Bell Clean bells
18 Ring Chimes Ok
21 Brass Section Ok
22 Brass Mix Ok
23 French Horn Alright
24 Bad Wolf Horn Nice trumpet sound
25 Wagner Chorale Distinguished orchestral brass.
26 Analog Brass 2 Analog feel
27 Brass Vel.Fall in a room
28 Sax Tpt Tbn Realistic
31 Trumpet Solo A bit thin but okay
32 Harmon Mute Trumpet with mute
33 Trombone Solo Excellent trombone rendition, including the slide effect.
34 Alto Sax Honest alto saxophone
35 Tenor Sax Well recorded
36 Intimate Flute Nice
37 Mellowtron Flute Nice emulation of the classic 1960s instrument
38 Panhandler Extremely breathy Pan flute
41 Fusion Solo Another great Fusion/Jazz solo synth
42 Tap Sequence Electronic
43 Wavy Flutone Nice ethnic flavor
44 KoreanTongPoo Wild!
45 Lyric Flute Solo Good synth
46 BendSaxVoice :-)
47 Saw Lead Excellent sawtooth synth with slight detuning on pressure
48 Bubbly Lead Cool electro lead, a la Daft Punk
51 990 Strings Fantastic string ensemble!!!  This patch is just beautiful and has been widely used in the '90s - This patch reminds me of the strings in "Unfinished Sympathy", the beautiful song by Massive Attack.
52 Pizzicato Great pizzicato patch - good for both classical and Techno/Dance/House/Trance Faithless style.
53 Soaring Strings Expressive and beautiful strings
54 Silky Strings Beautiful string orchestra
55 Carry on it Good
56 B-V's Oooze The classic, beautiful Roland vox
57 Dreaming Time Beauty and perfection.
58 Waveola Vox Rize Digi stuff a la JX-10
61 Tangerine Eminently Fairlightian vox pad
62 Twinkling String Beautiful evolving crystal pad
63 Strat'O'Dreams A strat with lots of reverb/echo
64 Euro E.Piano Perfect for '80s pop ballads
65 Betazoid Harp More New Age beauties
66 Glory Nice
67 Orgatoron Superb 1960s puff organ, perfect for scoring 'Nino Rota' style.
68 Oasis Magnificent, wide, soundtrack like atmosphere patch
71 WinterVox Cool digi pad
72 From Far East Perfect Asian bells
73 Macho Swell B I G rising pad!!!
74 R-Mod Brass Pad Powerful analog style
75 The Pad The warm Roland filters in action
76 Story Pad Stupendous warm digipad
77 Hybrid Poly Syn Cool
78 JX Sweepee Typical great, wide Roland JX/MKS type sound
81 Let's Dance !! Typical Roland ROM loop
82 GreatExpectation Cool wavy pad
83 Letting Go Weird sci-fi ambience
84 Aqueous Strings Reminiscent of the famous D-50 preset "AQUA"
85 CyberneticEmpire Huge sound
86 Kalahari Nice sound FX
87 Passing Asteroid Very nice sci-fi effect.
88 Pink Bomb Excellent pink noise bomb fx

Stream all demos below


Patch name with audio demo My comments
A-01 The Bomb C4 Fantastic analog emulation
A-02 Perc Child 990 Toy like
A-03 Lovely Time Another great breathy pad
A-04 Break Bass Low bass, resonant
A-05 Ray Brass '60s section
A-06 Witty Guitar Nice acoustic
A-07 The Analog Incredibly analog-sounding!!!  (aftertouch opens the filter)
A-08 Armadillo Very good delays
A-09 Just Moment! Just intonation
A-10 Pizzimba Nice mix
A-11 Dignified Bass Very '80s synth pop
A-12 Voice Bell Christmas like
A-13 Flip Clav Cool!
A-14 Flute Organ Cool street/circus organ!
A-15 JD990 Mix Bell And more bells.
A-16 Draw.... Ok
B-01 Nylon Story Wavy guitar pad
B-02 Saw Lead Mix Cuts into the mix
B-03 Secret Organ Soap Opera organ
B-04 Appoint Bass Goes low
B-05 Radiate Pad Good for "serious" ballads
B-06 Ethno Tap Different
B-07 Metal Harp Inspired by the classic D-50 patch
B-08 As soon as An underground lava torrent
I-01 Fourdimensional2 Superb ambient, evolving pad
I-02 Jubilan More bells
I-03 Honky-tonk Piano Cool, standard honky tonky piano
I-04 Bass System Typical 990 bass sound.
I-05 Orch Stab 990 Great for TV games
I-06 Snow Remember Nice e. piano pad
I-07 Metal Gamelan Cool delays
I-08 Seq Hutt More pizzicato
I-09 SessionBrass990 Realistic brass section
I-10 Digital Rezo Good for many electronic styles
I-11 Ivory Color Very nice effect
I-12 Boxer Bass Powerful syn bass
I-13 Crystal Guitar Very good for New Age music
I-14 High Pressure Weird fx
I-15 Power Sax Breathy saxophone
I-16 The End. Fantastic sound design


Rhythm Sets
Patch name with audio demo My comments
INT Drum Set INT Okay drum set, aggressive and clean
PR-A Drum Set A Nice compressed snare
PR-B Drum Set B Rock and 808


The Vintage Board patches for the JD-990


Typically users outfit the JD-990 with the SR-JV80-04 Vintage Synth expansion board, which gives access to a set of patches programmed especially for the 990, making excellent use of its filters and programming capabilities.  Here are some examples from this set:

Stream all demos below

Patch name with mp3 demo My comments
001 Portamental An incredible resonant synth ensemble, with portamento effect - very vintage-sounding.
004 Andromida Wash A sample of the power of the 990's filters.
005 Warm Shimmer Very warm and analog-sounding.  Crystals floating around.
008 Mourning Android Incredible sound design.
010 Vectoring Propht Presumably inspired by the Prophet VS
021 Sergelow Analog with long release - reminds of certain tones used by the band "Air".
026 JP-8 Silk Pad Classic Roland Jupiter-8 soft strings.  Aftertouch opens the filter.
029 CS-Strings-80 Beautiful synth strings inspired by the fabled Yamaha CS-80.
031 Omni II Very retro and very ARP.
032 Solina Bi-Phase Classic Solina through phaser.
036 Memory MG Pad 2 Feel the windows shaking from this pad?
059 CS-Eighty Sweep More CS-80 incredible tones.
061 Voyager-Eight A presage for the Moog name?
072 VP-330 Choir Typical Roland VP-330 sounds
078 Somewhere JX Nails down the hollow tone of the JX/MKS series!
093 D50 Stacc.Heaven Remember the D-50?  This is one of its best patches!!!
112 Rezo BPF Sweep Filter power!
117 Mother Matrix Classic 1980s sound
123 Bendy GX-One Make sure you're using the JD-990 with a keyboard capable of transmitting aftertouch.
125 OB-Poly Brass-X Classic Oberheim OB-series patch
135 U.K. Waspy Inspired by the Wasp obviously.
136 Mini MG Lead 1 A cool Minimoog lead.
143 GR-300 Lead The classic Pat Metheny sound.
149 System-100M Lead Powerful lead synth from Roland's modular
152 Serious Syncin' Very serious.
161 OB 2voice Lead Classic Oberheim hollow lead
164 Ultimate Cheese yep
165 Mondo MG Bass Shakes the foundations.
174 SH-5 Solid Bass I would love to get an SH-5 someday...!
182 SH101 Mute Bass Typical housey SH-101 bass
184 Prophetic Bass Inspired by the Sequential Circuits Prophet series
187 JP-4 Rezo Bass Excellent Roland squelchy bass.  Inspired by the Jupiter-4 Compuphonic
195 4 Pole Wow Bass Excellent!
203 Zone Rouge Hit A classic hit from the early '90s
204 Cyberpunk Mod.Wh :-)
210 Putney Ramper Who needs a modular with the 990? :-D
211 960 Sequence Beautiful analog sequence
212 System700 Panner Powerful.  I suspect this patch inspired the "Blade Racer" patch on the JV/XP series.
214 System-700 S&H More modular madness.
215 AKS S&H Overload Sci-fi
221 Mr.B! They even squeezed in a bit of Hammond
231 Starless Strings Superb Mellotron ensemble!
239 Big Tron Vox Classic Mellotron vox
244 Death Race 2000 Very nice
245 Future Siren Spectacular.
247 Catch the Wasp Fun! :-)
249 VCF Reso 2600 Is this a real 2600??
250 2199 Bath House Phenomenal sound design.
251 Aural Enigma 990 Outstanding sci-fi effects
255 Time Warp MARVELOUS.  Marvelous.  This is the PERFECT science fiction sound.


Roland JD-990 Super JD
Year of release: 1993
Polyphony: 24-voice
Sound generation method: PCM
Preset memories 3 banks of 64
MIDI: in, out, thru
Sound expansion capabilities: PCM and Data cards
Sequencer no
Arpeggiator no
Effects yes
Velocity yes
Aftertouch yes


Additional JD-990 audio demos

This is a song I composed using one JD-990 exclusively, multi-tracked in Sonar 5 PE.  Every sound comes from the JD-990.  I used a mix of custom and preset patches:

JD 'n' B

Roland JD-990 pictures (click on thumbnails to enlarge)


Roland JD-990 manual

available at www.rolandus.com



SITE Type of resource DESCRIPTION
    home page

Roland JD-990 Super JD review with audio demos