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Loop scoop

Roland JS-30

Article from The Mix, June 1995

Desktop sampler

Not everyone can stretch to a third deck, or have three hands to drop in those loops and breakbeats. Pete Berwick checks out the Roland JS-30, one of a new generation of DJ-friendly samplers

Time to dig out those records, tapes, CDs and any other sound sources you might have lying around, because Roland have created an essential piece of DJ equipment. The 18-30 comes fully cocked and loaded with a built-in cross-fader, on board 4-track sequencing, 8-voice polyphony, 16-bit A/D and 20-bit D/A converters, built in SCSI interface and heaps more.

The JS-30 has incredible power for the purpose that it was created for, which is the DJ market. Don't expect a cut-down or simplified version of the S760, because this sampler is in a league of its own. The JS is the MS-1's big brother, but has certainly got bigger, and is packed with loads more available functions and facilities. The MS-1 should have taken a leaf out of the JS's layout and structure, but then is there room for two of these power houses?

With samplers being brought out left, right and centre, it's surprising just how many are geared towards the DJ's needs. This is, after all, where much sampling originates nowadays.

Sadly, the unit is non rack-mountable, but find a spot, plonk it down and it looks great. The time taken in setting up the workstation is half the fun. The simple panel layout took no time at all to get into, and made operation a breeze. Also, the unit's four character LED provides easy-to-understand information and instruction, which is not always the way when working with digit displays.


The general layout of the JS contains a 13 pad — keyboard (well 12, really the thirteenth is a mute pad), where individual samples can be played or assigned to different 'zones' on the pads. I found using a MIDI controller to trigger the samples off a lot easier in a studio set-up, but the pads are good fun when mixing it up with a set of decks!

There are three factory banks containing 36 sampled sounds, special effects, rhythmic sequences to get you on your way, and two user banks that hold the sound or samples that you record. You can switch between sample rates, 44.1kHz (which allows you to have 22 seconds sample time), or 22.05kHz (44 seconds sample time). The only shortcoming on memory expansion is that the JS can only accommodate another 4Mb, which is a reasonable amount, but you can always do with more!

As for actually sampling sounds, the word 'problem' doesn't exist. Just hit the small, but effective record button to get a level, then push the big sampling button on the front panel, at the start and the end of the sound. As soon as the sampling's finished it's already looped for you, and depending on how accurate you were with your start and end points, you shouldn't have any problems. Just top and tail the opening hiss and end noise, and set the loop point till everything is A-Okay.

The sound quality thereafter will depend on the chosen bandwidth. At a lower rate you use less RAM, but it does take the edge off the tops of the sounds. But if you're only recording drum loops and vocal parts from your old record collection, you should be OK. When using CD for sampling higher quality sounds, such as synth pads, drums and clean sharp hi-hats, you will have to trade up to the higher bandwidth. The extra 4Mb upgrade available from Roland will slacken the leash, and give you more room to experiment.

"The time taken in setting up the workstation is half the fun"

The loop facility has three options: Loop, which will repeat over and over what you have just sampled; Single, which plays the sample from beginning to end; and Reverse, which starts at the end, and finishes at the beginning, repeating over. As for the editing facilities there are a few routes you can take, such as ADSR envelope shaping (attack, decay, sustain, release) pitch and BPM, volume levels and the master BPM. All of the above can be quickly scanned with the 'data entry' wheel, which has a jog/shuttle action. Unfortunately, this can get tiresome, if you're having to scroll through many 4 digit numbers.

To make life easier, Roland have included a built-in SCSI interface, a laudible move on a machine at this price. JS-30 users can now hook up a CD-ROM or hard drive; very handy for loading and saving sounds, though you'll probably want to get the memory upgrade before either of these options.

The JS-30 also has a 4-track sequencer, which is handy when playing live, especially if you had an organised set of samples to go with your mixing. Because the JS has a cue function which enables you to hear a sample through your headphones before releasing it to the crowd, it's just like having another deck, but a lot smarter. But I still prefer running a separate sequencer to the JS, to do anything more manipulative.


For the studio market, the JS doesn't quite cut it. It lacks the editing features and functions of more complex machines. But if you just want a quick and easy way to grab some snippets of sound and get something down onto your sequencer though, it's great.

Roland have cleverly designed a sampler for the club or home DJ. Even inexperienced DJs will love the JS, and get into it straight away. With such an indispensable DJ accessory, Roland may just have struck gold.

The essentials...

Price inc VAT: £899
More from: Roland UK, (Contact Details)

Spec check

Sampling Rates: 44.1 kHz/22.05kHz
13 x Pads with Numeric Entry & Fader Control
4 Track Sequencer with RPS Function
Polyphony: 8 Voice Polyphonic (8 samples simultaneously)
Sockets: SCSI port, 1 x Midi in, out
Memory: Memory 1Mb as standard expandable to 4Mb
Audio connections: 2 x input RCA-type
2 x output RCA-type
Sampling Times: 1 Mbyte RAM (Standard)
22 seconds (44.1kHz)
44 seconds (44.1kHz)

4 Mbytes RAM (Expanded)
44 seconds (22.05kHz)
88 seconds (22.05kHz)
Dimensions in mm: 480 x 272 x 95 ( W x D x H )
Weight: 4kg

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Publisher: The Mix - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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The Mix - Jun 1995

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Mike Gorman

Control Room

Gear in this article:

Sampler > Roland > JS-30

Gear Tags:

16-Bit Sampler

Review by Pete Berwick

Previous article in this issue:

> Retro active

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> Heads together

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