Roland D-50 / D-550

Roland D-50 Image

The D-50 is an all-time favorite digital synth that's still just as popular today as when it first came out in '87. Once Roland's hottest digital synth, it competed against the Yamaha DX7, and was much easier to use. By joining 8-bit PCM samples with "LAS" synth-generated sounds, the D-50 is capable of unique and complex sounds. The PCM samples contained the attack transients, while the rest of the sound came from the Linear Arithmatic Synth (LAS) section which sounds very analog, with subtractive-style synthesis and low-pass-resonant filters. Built-in chorus and (for the first time) digital reverb are also included for giving your sounds space and life! It also has a joystick controller for real-time timbre manipulation. The D-50 was great for new and non-acoustic, percussive, ethereal and beautiful pads & sounds.

Roland D-550 Image

Roland D-550 Rack Version

Both the D-50 and D-550 benefit from the PG-1000 external controller which gives you very plain and simple slider/fader type control of all adjustable parameters of the synth. The D-50 includes MIDI on all 16 channels but because it is monotimbral you can only use one channel at a time. There is an upgrade which will give the D-50 and its rackmount version a full 16 channels of simultaneous MIDI multitimbral data communication. This popular synth has been widely used in all forms of music. Eric Clapton, Enya, 808 State, Jean Michel Jarre, Vince Clarke, Apollo 440, Eat Static, LTJ Bukem, Fluke, Information Society, Lab-4, Gary Numan, Rick Wakeman, Kitaro, Rush, Vangelis, Richard Barbieri, Boston and Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran are just a few of the many satisfied users.

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152 Visitor comments
June 26, 2010 @ 12:49 pm
The D-50 is also incredibly sturdy. Once I was run over by a taxi cab going to a rehearsal on bicycle with my D-50 in a thin gig bag (not too wise). The keyboard fell hard on the street and on the keys side. It was still working flawlessly. That was in 1992. Years later in 2001, I was working in a tree planting camp and had brought the same D-50 with me to jam with the people there. Well one day, a strong gust of wind blew off the tent where the D-50 was plugged and it was held by the plug and fell flat on the ground again. No damage again and it still works to this day in 2010. Not to mention what a sound!
June 24, 2010 @ 1:10 pm
It was also used by David Sylvian.
June 22, 2010 @ 10:18 pm
Well, the Pan Flute of the Enigma flagship song "Sadness" is a D 50 patch. The Pizzicato of "Orinoco Flow" by Enya is a patch of the D 50. There is a song by OMD called "Big Town" again, another patch. And so on. Every sond of the D 50 has been a lead sound of a mayor song.
June 22, 2010 @ 10:11 pm
The D50 is amazing, I am downsizing my studio and keeping the D50 specially because it has the multitimbra upgrade and the 2 extra internal memory banks. Mine is in perfect shape, the sounds have personality and texture, the keys are sweet to the fingers, it has a special bounce that prompt you to keep playing.

If you can get one, do it, at least to have the experience.
June 18, 2010 @ 1:00 am
I just got one of these a couple days ago for 100 USD. It's in 9/10 shape! Aftertouch still works, came with some cards and everything! It looks as if someone overwrote the entire default patch bank with a patch card (one that I don't have), so I'm a bit disappointed about this, since there is no built in factory reset apparently. That's alright though, I got this specifically for the challenge of programming some amazing sounds! Loving it so far - and for that price I would've been crazy to turn it down!

Great digital synth, lots of dynamic atmosphere - and I'm hoping to unlock some of the analog-esque aspects people claim to find in this beast.
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Rated 4.47 (1837 Votes)

  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 16 voices (32 partials with 2 per voice); 8 voices (using 4 partials per voice in Dual or Split Mode)
  • Oscillators - Digital LAS (Linear Arithmetic Synthesis) & PCM, 32 osc.
  • LFO - YES (3 x 2tones = 6 LFOs)
  • Filter - low-pass-resonant
  • Envelopes - ADSR envelopes
  • Effects - YES
  • #Instruments - Monotimbral (can be upgraded for multitimbrality)
  • Keyboard - 61 note keyboard with velocity and aftertouch
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Memory - 64 patches
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1987-89

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