roland D50 vs JD 800

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.

roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby megamanx » Sun May 04, 2014 4:38 pm

Hello guys I have been interested in getting one of these roland digital synths. What are the differences or similarities among them? Do they overlap too much or just having one over the other should cover the same pallet? Thanks for your knowledge and opions.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby Z » Sun May 04, 2014 6:36 pm

I think this has already been discussed, use the forum search.

Here's a basic breakdown:

D-50:

2 partials (oscillators) per voice. The partial can be PCM or VA. There is no filter for PCM. Ring modulation is available. 16 voice polyphony in WHOLE mode or you can layer or split 2 "parts" (upper & lower) per patch.

JD-800:

1 PCM oscillator per voice (tone). Multi-mode filter. Up to 4 tones can be used in a patch (layered and/or split). 5 part plus "special" (drums) multi-timbral. Additional PCM waves via ROM card. More sliders than you can shake a stick at. Keyboard usually falls victim to "red goo" - epoxy used to secure key weights melts over time making keys sticky and/or unplayable. New keyboards available from Roland for $400.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby synthroom » Sun May 04, 2014 9:24 pm

There's not that much overlap. They sounds different enough to me to have one of each.

Definitely watch out for the red goo on the JD-800. It can be repaired fairly easily, but it's a bit of time to do it.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby Swayze » Sun May 04, 2014 11:27 pm

Here's the other D50 vs. JD800 thread from a few pages back:

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=68705
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby Bitexion » Mon May 05, 2014 4:19 am

The D-50 surely has 4 parts per voice, not 2. It's basically 4 separate 1 oscillator-filter-envelope synth in one.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby Z » Mon May 05, 2014 4:22 am

Bitexion wrote:The D-50 surely has 4 parts per voice, not 2. It's basically 4 separate 1 oscillator-filter-envelope synth in one.


In DUAL mode, yes. D-50's PCM partials have no filter, only the VA partials.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby Bitexion » Mon May 05, 2014 10:09 pm

Yeah a kind of strange design choice, but I guess they had their reasons. The samples are very short anyway, just meant to add some extra realism to brass sounds. Except for those strange loops that are at the end of the PCM table.
And the hammond organ samples with various stop settings.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby 8bit9bot » Sat May 17, 2014 3:34 pm

for me, choosing would be basically "late 80s vs early 90s" - if you have a certain era of music you're trying to capture... that could be a deciding factor - i prefer the D50 for the highly recognizable presets... and if you dont want to sound cliche or dated the JD is probably optimal - i sold my D550 years ago but those great TMNT cartoon presets make me want to buy it again ;)
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby Z » Sat May 17, 2014 10:36 pm

8bit9bot wrote:for me, choosing would be basically "late 80s vs early 90s" - if you have a certain era of music you're trying to capture... that could be a deciding factor - i prefer the D50 for the highly recognizable presets... and if you dont want to sound cliche or dated the JD is probably optimal - i sold my D550 years ago but those great TMNT cartoon presets make me want to buy it again ;)


If you use the presets, then you will get the "late 80s or early 90s" sound. I use my JD-800 every time I mess around with my gear and there's no dated sound on what I use it for.

Wanna hear some "non-dated" D-50 usage in the 90s. Check out Ozric Tentacles.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby 8bit9bot » Sat May 17, 2014 10:46 pm

Z wrote:Wanna hear some "non-dated" D-50 usage in the 90s. Check out Ozric Tentacles.


hey just so we're clear... i am not dissing these synths at all - i like them both - but my primary reason for even liking stuff like this is to get retro sounds - i am fully aware that these synths are not just about the presets - i'm just giving a different angle than what other people have already said... one big reason i like old synths is to do "time travelling", "reverse engineering" old music... make music convincingly from a different era - i know it's not a very popular approach to music but it is mine
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby Pro5 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:31 pm

Neither D-50 nor JD-800 have to sound 'dated' if you program them from the raw oscs upwards. It's all in what kind of patch you make (or tired old preset you use) that makes or breaks it.

D-50 has PWM, JD doesn't - don't think anyone mentioned that.

JD-800 has a 'better' filter, in many ways much much better - however it's also a bit more sterile.

D-50 has live waveform generation (in structs 1/2) which is 90% of what I used my (now on sixth!) d-50 for. In this mode nothing else sounds like it, it's beyond warm for a digital and sounds pretty amazing (and not dated at all). D-50 has the slight edge in tone, but JD-800 has the edge in immediate power i.e the filter.

They are really quite different synths. The V-synth in many ways continues from where the D-50 left off (samples + 'VA' mixing if you wish) while JD-800 was only samples.

These two synths are two of my favourite ever (as is the V-synth), and the D-50 definitely has more character, more warmth, more thickness, more mojo/magic - it's a crazy little thing with a beautiful sound if you stay away from the 80s chiffs, panpipes and all that famous pop stuff from 87-90. It's a 'proper' synthesizer, just like DX7 is and like analogs are. It doesn't have to have any PCM involved at all (and you CAN have 4 oscs of pure synth/non pcm - you can have 4 oscs of whatever you wish - polyphony is still plenty).

The PWM adds a bit more magic again, the quirky filter which isn't like anything else is also part of the character, as is the mild hiss :) The keybed is one of the best roland ever made (also used on the Alpha Juno 2) and is much better than the one on the JD-800. It's sleek, beautiful, and does things NO other synth can, inc software, not quite the same way.

It's a classic and 5/5 from me (for contrast I'd give the DX7 4/5 and the m1 1/5 lol).

JD-800 - Now, this is more a choice about the interface and the cool filter. The sound quality from this machine is a lot higher than the D-50, more pristine, 48k PCM short samples used as building blocks - that's very high quality for 1991! The interface is of course a beauty, the synth is extremely impressive and fun looking, it's not quite as sexy as the D-50 due to it's sheer size, but instead is just very impressive and cool looking. The hands on is fun and allows not just much easier editing but real time tweaking without any stepping (super smooth/resistant sliders).

Sound wise it's more static than the D-50 and is definitely, firmly digital. However the filter kinda makes up for it as it's smooth and can be quite aggressive and analog like. You can make some very cool epic pads and sci fi textures, punchy basses, weird fx. I think your ears will pick out it's digital nature faster than with the D-50 in 'synth mode' (non pcm).

It's really quite hard to compare as while you can get the JD to kinda emulate some D-50 stuff, they can both do things the other can not. And the D-50 has a more complex engine when you looking under the hood, with the aforementioned ability to combined two oscs within a tone and work some magic on them, while JD is a straight ahead 4 separate layers/synths (pros and cons to each engine really). So D50 has 6 LFOs and JD has 8 - but per sound/osc JD has only 2 while D-50 has access to 3 (though shared with it's other partial) so you can see tradeoffs all round.

This is why you should get both and see which makes the best sounds for your ears. I often find it hard to chose between them, when I want clean filter tricks and epic lows and scary sounds, I'll go to JD-800 (as D-50 doesn't/can't do 'scary'), but If I want a sweet thick analog style lead that sounds just as good/better than some analogs then I'll go D-50. It's early 'va' engine somehow sounds nothing like VA (In a good way) and retains character often missing in modern digitals. I don't know how they made that chip inside sound so good...

Anyway D-50 is closer in engine to something like a JX-10, and JD-800 is a newer breed.

sorry if anyone got bored part way through, I could ramble on about Roland's digital flagships (D-50, JD-800, V-Synth) all night.

Ultimately my choice is V-synth from the 3, yet I still own the other two. Roland made great digitals.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby synthroom » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:01 pm

Pro5 wrote:as D-50 doesn't/can't do 'scary'


What!!?? See Patch 81 - Intruder FX

That's one scary patch, especially when you grind it down into the lows with a lot of aftertouch!
I played that patch on the first D-50 I touched in 1987 and it sold me on it.

But re: D-50 vs. JD-800, they are both really cool sounding. Get them both!
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby Phil303 » Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:58 pm

After collecting pretty much all the classic Roland gear (Juno's / Jupiters / TR / TB / MC / JX etc) I've ended up with the 2 synths I thought I'd never ever keep - the D50 and JD800. I've owned both before and sold them, but there is something about them that drew me back. As mentioned above, they are different enough to warrant having both. Think of the JD as a German sports saloon and the D50 as a slightly older Italian sports car. Esoteric and quirky but greater than the sum of it's parts - it's got soul.

I really like the JD800 but the D50 is one of the warmest and most characterful digital synths I've heard. I never thought it would sound as good as it does. There's no versus required; if you have to choose between one or the other you will be sorted for digital goodness.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby scottrod » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:54 am

^^^
What he said. The vintage roland synths I ended up with are a D-50, a D-550, a JD-800, and a JD-990.

The D-50 is brighter and more digital, a sparkly and crisp sound with lots of unique textures.

The JD-800 is more bread & butter synth, but has plenty of depth and character as well. Mine stays parked on a modified Crystal Rhodes patch which is the digital EP sound I always return to. The Yamaha EX5 is more realistic, but there's something about that Roland patch that pleases me across the entire velocity band and keyboard scale.

Don't know if I could choose between them. I use the JD more, but I'd say I like the overall sound of the D better.
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Re: roland D50 vs JD 800

Postby Pro5 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:37 pm

synthroom wrote:
Pro5 wrote:as D-50 doesn't/can't do 'scary'


What!!?? See Patch 81 - Intruder FX

That's one scary patch, especially when you grind it down into the lows with a lot of aftertouch!
I played that patch on the first D-50 I touched in 1987 and it sold me on it.

But re: D-50 vs. JD-800, they are both really cool sounding. Get them both!



Lol that's not scary! I meant AGGRESSIVE - like 'smack my **** up' prophecy filter sound or really filtery/dark ambiences. I didn't mean 'creepy' as in haunted houses :)


as an aside I really hate all the 'intruder fx' style D-50 patches, they remind me of the wavestation in a bad way. I love the D-50 for it's fat, warm, leads and pads and effects that don't sound like looping samples. Never been impressed by intruder fx, nor in fact any of the original patches on the D-50 except for "Soundtrack" (That includes the 4 factory rom cards too), they do nothing but show the D-50 in a bad light (in 2014 - not in 1987 when they sounded glorious of course) compared to what it can really do in a more modern, less over-used way.
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