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 15, 2011 @ 8:03 pm
Check out A-Ha using this synth!
Cameo Culpa
May 25, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
I own a great lot of synthesizers, from very analog beasts like the Korg MS20 to modern stuff such as the Karma, but the Roland D50 has always been my absolute favourite. Even a quarter of a century after its release, it still is a gorgeous instrument.
margus kiis
May 20, 2011 @ 10:23 am
Synth which made the end of 80s sound really horrible and invented Enya. Enya is some quasi-medieval female vocals plus Roland D50. Nothing more.
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.
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Rated 4.47 (1832 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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