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
April 16, 2011 @ 4:50 pm
The D50 is pretty much a boring worthless piece of crap compared to today's ultra hyper realistic and pristine sound technology..........unless you get into its architecture and meticulously start programming and then you will discover the wonders that lie therein. One of the best synthesizers in history.
April 4, 2011 @ 11:42 am
I owned one of these in the 80's. I know technology changes and things are supposed to "get better" over the years, but this thing sounded as good (if not better) than some of today's synths. Especially the atmospheric and breathy patches. I've gone totally software now and regret ever getting rid of mine. As already stated, programming is complicated, but there are so many presets on this synth that I was very happy to play as-is or by making very simple adjustments to. If your looking for the "sound of the 80's" this is what you want.
Bill Hemp
April 3, 2011 @ 3:48 pm
Also used by Dymaxion Vehicle.
March 5, 2011 @ 6:31 pm
A wonderful synthesizer. I am fortunate enough to own one in mint condition and it is still a useful keyboard. It has more significance to musicians like me in their 40's because we lived the history of its unveiling and were able to compare it to other keyboards at the time. At our age we have developed a special set of ears to enjoy the sounds coming from older technology. Don't expect any pristine audio or hyper realistic samples becasue it is again, old technology. However you can expect fat leads, horns, strings hammond B3 emulations, ethereal effects and even techno sounds
February 17, 2011 @ 11:35 am
The musitronics expansion gives only 8times multi, not 16. But the more important parts of it is the "speed-system" which accelerates the D50's system, so it reacts faster to MIDIevents and percussive sounds are tighter. Plus it comes with two additional bankmemories for patches, which can be completely controlled over MIDI.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.48 (1897 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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