Roland D-20

Roland D-20 Image

The D-20 makes a great budget or alternative D-50. It's more closely related to the D-10 and D-110 synthesizers but adds an 8-voice sequencer with a rhythm track. The D-20 is a digital synth that employs linear arithmetic synthesis (LAS). It's a confusing synthesis / editing method composed of tones, partials and timbres. Basically it all boils down to tricky programming which, if you know what your doing, can have interesting and unique results. Reverb effects and internal / external memory storage are also available on the D-20. Definitely worth a listen.

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79 Visitor comments
January 11, 2009 @ 2:40 am
Used it as a learning tool for composing and sound engineering. Ring modulation can be used with synth tone and PCM tones. Can make unique tones with the tone structures. It is more versitle than the D-50 as far as partial structure. The D-50 chip is faster and fatter I think. Sounds are nice and D-50ish. No chorus. Reverb and Delay are primitive but make their point. Seperate envelopes for Wave Generator, filter and AMp make interesting sounds. Synth waves have Saw, square and PULSE. PWM is possible. Has pattern memory and pattern rythem track. Could also use a seperate track to add manual percussion or drum sounds or whatever. Basic songs structure/ideas and execution could be done on this quickly even after a bad day at work. Work could be stored on floppy disk drive. I only exceeed polyphony and not cpu resource on this so it is great.
January 2, 2009 @ 5:18 pm
I've had my D-20 for 20 years and it is a fascinating and complex synth. Essentially it's a D-50 workstation (multitrack sequencer + dsk drive) that is multi-timbral with more than double the PCM sampled sounds (256 vs 100), double the number of partials (4 vs 2) to construct tones and more LAS structures (13 vs 7). I had to map out the sound structures and buy a separate programming book to effectively program it. The English translation of the user manual must have been over a weekend and it's a struggle to work with. I've had a lot of fun with my D-20 over the years and it's unique synthesis capabilities make it as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. If you like complexity, you'll love the D-20 and will also like the Korg Karma.
November 6, 2008 @ 5:29 pm
It is a very interesting synth...the presets are bad but if you start programming you ll love it.I don't use the internal fx ,I run this through a fx unit and it sounds awesome!It is so similar to A d-50 and i can say it has more updated features:the waveforms structure,more samples and drum sounds:)Don't forget to mention it has AM and PWM.A major weak point is that it has only one LFO which can't affect the filter but only the pitch,bad :(...oh and is only polyphonic you can't make mono lead sounds on it (strange?)
October 15, 2008 @ 8:49 am
This is, quite simply, the greatest synth ever made.

The presets are based on short PCM samples stored within the synth memory, but you don't have to use these.
You can base your sounds on 'structures' that only use synth waves as the oscillator sound sources.
This effectively gives you a 4-oscillator vitual analogue synth, which is 8-part multi-timbral (or 9-part if you include the excellent drum kit.)

There's a basic but useful 8-track linear sequencer, with a parallel pattern-based drum machine (storing 32 user patterns), and individual track buttons for selecting/muting tracks on the fly.
Coloured lights on the track buttons flash when they are triggered by sequencer notes or incoming MIDI information.

The disk-drive stores voices and sequences, and a card slot can be used to double the voice memory by using a RAM card.
Software voice editors are available online (if you can find them.)

(Continued below.)
October 15, 2008 @ 8:47 am
(Continued from above.)

The reverb is basic but effective, and MIDI is well implemented.
The keyboard is velocity sensitive and the synth is very compact considering all the features it contains.

Above all, the sound-engine is superb - filter sweeps are particularly cool.
It may be difficult to program, but when you get it right the results are stunningly atmospheric.

It was released at the same time as the Korg M1 and people tend to praise the M1 while denigrating this machine.
But for pure sonic power and richness, the D-20/D-10/D-110 has no equal.
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  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 32 voices
  • Oscillators - Digital LAS (Linear Arithmetic Synthesis) & ROM Samples
  • Effects - 8 Effects
  • Multitimbral - 9 parts
  • Drums - 1 kit, 63 sounds
  • Memory - 128 preset patches, 64 user patches 128 performances
  • Keyboard - 61 keys with velocity
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1988

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