Could You Make a Beat on This '90s Sampler? | Fess' Find

This week's Fess Find is a gem as far as lo-fi samplers go: it's a Roland JS-30. It's an eight-bit(expandable to 16) sampler workstation originally released in 1995, which served as the upgrade from its predecessor, the MS. The JS-30 boasts an improved sequencer and various additional sample parameter functions that laid the groundwork for the SP line.

Roland JS-30

This classic sampler does not possess abundant sample time or effects. However, other noteworthy elements make the JS-30 still stand out from its successors. For example, you can mix input sources with internal sounds using a dedicated input fader, enabling external audio to be blended seamlessly with internal samples. Additionally, an amplitude envelope feature is included—something which didn't reemerge until the recently released SP-404MKII.

Though far from revolutionary, this device's sequencer is reliable and also set the stage for later SP models. It offers four tracks with up to eight-voice polyphony which is more than enough power for sample-based loops. You can also MIDI out of another controller or workstation like the MPC for external sequencing while still retaining the good old dusty sound of the JS-30. At $299, you can get your hands on this authentic lo-fi sampler without breaking the bank.

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