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JVC NS Series

The NS series probably consisted of just the NS-50 and the NS-70. I suspect that further models where intended but the NS-50/70 where released right around the time that JVCs musical instruments came to a sudden end thereby leaving just two models in the series.

NS-50
Description
The NS-50 is essentially a KB-800 housed in a organ body, with just a few changes made to it's operation. Here I will just cover the difference that the NS-50 has over the KB-800. For further information see the KB-800 page. Also see the NS-70/50 catalogue below.

Here are a list of differences:
- The addition of a second keyboard, turning the Orchestral Presets 1 and 2 into Lower and Upper Presets.
- The bass sounds can be accessed with the pedal board.
- The digital effects section had been changed. It is no longer possible to pan the sounds and the effect amount pots have been replaced with effect on/off switches. Like the KB-808 the Rhythm part (i.e. drums) can be put through the effects. As well as having the Long/Short setting there is also something call Full, but I don't know what that does.
- Like the NS-70 the 50 can use the NS-T90 Organ Expander.

NS-70

JVC NS-70

Description
Well here it is quite a monster. Almost definitely the most advanced model JVC produced. The only chance of competition coming form some models that I don't know about in JVC's Victron organ range. Much to my surprise I own one! These seem to be pretty rare and I was expecting that perhaps I'd never have one in my clutches. But one day searching the Trading Post (an Australian classifieds newspaper) there is was. It came with the stand, NS-P10 pedal board (smaller than the one pictured above) and the bench. It came with some pretty poor quality speakers and a cheap amplifier (which I managed to blow up the same day I got it home due to turning the NS-70 up too loud!). Unfortunately it didn't come with any of the other groovy accessories like the Organ Expander or Memory Pack (I can still store one full set of sounds on board though). At AU$600 (about 330 Euros or US$350) I thought the price was about right and so my holy grail of JVCs was conquered.

For me the biggest advance over other models is the ability to edit and save your own sounds. The addition of not one but two velocity sensitive keyboards is pretty impressive too. The synth architecture isn't as rudimentary as one might expect either. For each patch you get 2 DCOs (detuneable), noise generator, VCF with resonance and a separate EG and simple LFOs (sine only), VCA EG, velocity sensitivity for both VCA and VCF, plus a choice of 7 different preset effects combinations can be programed into the patch.  Each of these effects combination uses up to 3 different effects types which are - stereo, reverb, HPF, ensemble 1 & 2 and phaser. Sounds are edit with 2 buttons ("value up" and value down"), no sliders or knobs unfortunately.

I was expecting it to sound like the JVC KB series but with editable voices, but I was a little disappointed to find that it doesn't. They both DCO > VCF > VCA architecture but where as the KBs have a short of a cheap yet charismatic warmth the NS-70 sounds more like a standard analogue synthesizer and a little colder. Also unfortunately a lot of the parameters don't go to extremes. For example even at it's maximum setting white noise is still a good deal quieter than the oscillators and some of the effects are pretty subtle. Still it's a great machine to have, you get 5 parts (4 accessible over MIDI), with reasonable polyphony and good analogue sounds. On top of that you get the same PCM drums sounds as the MIDI KBs.  [reading back on this I think I was a bit harsh. No it doesn't sound like the KB series but it's a very fine sounding analogue synth in it's own right. It's got a very 80's sound to it, it's got quiet a "strong" sound. In summery basic but high quality analogue sounds.]

Here is a list of the different sound types, for each half the patches are preset only, the other half can be used to store edited voices.
 
Voice Group No. of patches Polyphony
Solo/Arpeggio
30
1
Upper
48
8
Lower
26
8*
Rhythm Accomp
14
4
Bass
14
1
* Reduced to 4 when Fascinating Chord (ie auto accompaniment) is on.

Notes
- The MIDI implementation chart indicates that the NS uses System Exclusive. Using MIDI monitoring software though I haven't been able to get any sysex out it though apart from when pressing any of the 8 custom combination buttons. The purpose of these buttons is to store settings such as which voices are selected. But I find it odd that the same sysex data is sent no matter which of the 8 buttons is pressed and that I can't get the JVC to react in anyway when I send the same sysex data back to it. The data it sends is: F0 48 30 20 01 00 F7. JVC's sysex manufacture code is 48 and F0 and F7 are the start and end bytes of any sysex message but I don't know what any of the other bytes mean. Of course if anyone knows how sysex works on this machine please email me!

- The NS-70 was also released as the Victor NS-7 in Japan with all it's accessories also dropping the last digit.

- There is a plug on the back labeled System Out which the manual states is for a Tone Cabinet that would be available in the future.

- It doesn't tell you in the instruction manual but it is possible to change the receive channel of some parts. Send channel is not effected. To change the receive channel for Upper use parameter number 82, to change Lower use parameter number 83 and for Bass use parameter 84. These are not memorized after power down.

Downloads
NS-70 MIDI Implementation Chart
NS-70 Specifications
NS-70 Sound Charts

Here is a catalogue about the NS-50 and NS-70:
Page 1 / 2 and 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 and 7 / 8 and 9 / 10 / 11 / 12

Mp3s
ns70_1.mp3 1:00, 235kb
Produced using a MIDI sequencer controlling the NS-70. No other gear used. Please forgive the less then perfect quality.

ns70_2.mp3 2:19, 954kb
A rough jam but I think (hope!) it has some merit. Produced with custom patterns on the "digital sequencer". No outboard gear used. You can hear a filter sweep right at the end produce by pressing the data entry button repeatedly.

Pictures

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