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.

Lookup Roland D-50 / D-550 Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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164 Visitor comments
steven pelchat
February 9, 2011 @ 10:07 pm
Why go through the hassel and expense of the upgrade? I hear it can also be problematic.
Grab a D-110 for 40 to 90 dollars and use it for the multi-timbral and drums. Use the D-50 for the mono or bi-timbral main voices.
February 8, 2011 @ 6:41 am
i think you mean over used, not over rated, this synth is in no way over rated otherwise it wouldnt be as popular today, which it really is, i still love it so much, i've done a deal to get another because i missed it so much, and yes the sounds on board were way over used, but come on it isnt that hard to program, just delve in and a little tweaking often brings up unheard of sounds, i myself found a beautiful string/pad sound i called 'phased vox' which i used a lot in music, it was a kind of metalic string, with a breathy undertone.
January 12, 2011 @ 12:16 pm
The source of the D50 D550 Upgrade board is from Musitronics (DE)

Appears to still be available as of Jan 2011
January 10, 2011 @ 1:56 pm
I purchased my D-50 back in the 1980's. Fantastic sounding board but very hard to program without the controller. The only reason I sold it was that the sounds it made were so over used by all the artist in the 1980 and 1990. Now I miss some of them sounds and would like to use them again. The D-50 is a wonderful sounding keyboard. One I will never forget.
November 29, 2010 @ 1:43 pm
Great synth, I believe the pet shop boys used this in the early 90's "go west - I wouldn't normally do this kinda thing" period.
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User Rating

Rated 4.48 (1899 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay 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
  • Resources & Credits
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