Roland JUNO DS88 Review


This is a great Roland Keyboard with a lot of great tones and synths.

Last Amazon price update was: September 28, 2023 4:47 am
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I got turned on to Roland’s JUNO synths by following the keyboardist Joey Porter out of Colorado and discovered this is one of the best synthesizers.  Joey performs with a band called the Motet and started a side project called JUNO What?!

Anyways, this line of Roland Keyboards are something special and worthy of the best keyboards.  They are easy to use, have great sound and are a lot more affordable than they should be, in my opinion.  The 88 keyboard has weighted-action keys that have an ease of feel that is both versatile and intuitive and allows the keyboard to be portable and light weight without having to have fully weighted keys.

The sounds and features are very professional and of high quality and have built in sounds from the popular JUNO-Di that have pretty solid pianos and organs and the kind of tones most musicians and keyboardists would want at their finger tips.  For new sounds and expansion, there is a wave expansion slot for downloaded waveforms.

There are plenty of knobs and sliders for easy waveform manipulation and editing, with USB storage for your songs and trigger samples.  The eight phrase pads work great and it has an intuitive eight track pattern sequencer with non stop recording, so it’s very easy to build song ideas quickly.  With USB, Midi and DAW control, it’s really built for performances and song writing.

Enhanced Editing and Hands-On Controls

I love hanging out with my friends that own JUNO’s.  I do play keys but it is not my first instrument, so one thing I love about this keyboard is that I can turn it on and immediately have some Superbad (awesome) tones at my fingertips.

It feels like you can accidentally find the coolest stuff on these things.  My friends that own them and take them time to customize their boards are in love with this synthesizer.  The adjustable parameters are vast and it seems like you can really get precise with how you can dial in your tones.

What I like the best is that the front panel is stacked and makes it so easy to create patches and make real time adjustments while you are playing.  The knobs and sliders are well placed and easy to use and there are jacks for hold and expression pedals, which makes this keyboard so good for live performances.

Wave Expansion Slot

The built in sounds on the Roland JUNO DS88 are very solid and you can spend a ton of time in that machine before getting board, however… it is very impressive to have an internal waveform expansion option.  It really makes this board limitless and its so easy with it’s USB connection.  What’s nice too, is that Roland provides a ton of free sounds through their Axial website that range from pianos to percussion loops.  You can also upload your own sounds and perform with those tones with this keyboard.  The JUNO-DS88 comes preloaded with the EXP-06 Suite Collection which isn’t a bad start at all.

Phrase Pads

Samples are a huge part of how music is made and performed in the world today, so having a keyboard that can allow you to trigger samples quickly and easily is super clutch.  The JUNO DS88 can do that and more with it’s eight Phrase pads.  You can load the pads with sounds and samples and trigger anything from vocals to effects and loops…even complete music tracks.  They are trigger in real time which makes this a great feature for live performances.

Vocoder and Auto Pitch

An amazing feature offered through the JUNO DS88 is that the mic input has a dedicated reverb, plus auto pitch and a built in vocoder.  Using auto pitch isn’t just for producers trying to help bad singers.  Some of the best singers in the world are using auto pitch to enhance their music, especially with creating harmonies in a mix.  The vocoder is so much fun to use as well.  If you get good at vocoder, shoot me an email and we’ll get together to play some music!

Pattern Sequencer

The built in Pattern Sequencer is an eight channel sequencer that can immensely enhance a live performance or create a workflow that can help you bring your ideas to life as quickly as you can think of them.  There is a non stop, intuitive flow that helps when you are flushing out ideas.  In the live setting you can use this feature for creating backing tracks and creating live loops.


Roland 88 Keys Weighted Keyboard Features:

  • Gig-ready instrument with pro sounds, enhanced performance features, and battery-powered operation
  • 88-note Ivory Feel-G Keyboard provides weighted-action feel in a lightweight design that’s easy to transport
  • Includes all the sounds from the popular JUNO-Di, plus newly updated acoustic and electric pianos, additional organs, and other stage essentials
  • Wave expansion slot enables users to download new sound waveforms, available for free at Roland’s Axial website
  • Sample import function for playing user WAV files on the JUNO-DS88’s keyboard
  • Easy sound manipulation and editing with hands-on knobs and sliders
  • Eight Phrase Pads for triggering samples and audio songs stored on USB memory
How is the grand piano tone?
I’d say it is serviceable but not the best, but it’s very usable and professional.  I’d say most people going after this keyboard are more concerned with it’s synth features, but even with that said, I’d us the piano tones on this in a live performance.
Does the keyboard have a Leslie effect for the organ patches?
Yes!  Not all of the organ patches have this option but the ones that do are pretty nice, with the ability to adjust depth and speed.

9.3 Expert Score

If your main goal is to have piano sounds, there are other boards I’d recommend but if you are okay with not having the best piano sounds but want a versatile board with a decent piano and some nice organs and synths, with a great feel and some awesome features like the vocoder, live sampling and ability to upload and play almost any any tone, this is a nice value keyboard and synthesizer.

  • Great synth tones
  • Solid Organ Tones
  • Great Feel
  • Good price
  • Great Sampling Features
  • Not the best piano tones

Price history for Roland JUNO-DS 88-Key Lightweight Weighted-Action Keyboard with Pro Sounds
Latest updates:
  • $1,182.05 - September 28, 2023
  • $1,152.19 - September 4, 2023
  • $1,182.05 - August 25, 2023
Since: August 25, 2023
  • Highest Price: $1,182.05 - August 25, 2023
  • Lowest Price: $1,152.19 - September 4, 2023
Price history for Roland RD-88 Professional Stage Piano, 88-key
Latest updates:
  • $1,251.94 - September 28, 2023
  • $1,260.99 - September 18, 2023
  • $1,239.07 - September 4, 2023
  • $1,259.58 - August 25, 2023
  • $1,279.99 - August 22, 2023
Since: August 22, 2023
  • Highest Price: $1,279.99 - August 22, 2023
  • Lowest Price: $1,239.07 - September 4, 2023