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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The link above will take you to a 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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Are you looking to buy or sell a Roland D-50 / D-550? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

152 Visitor comments
September 16, 2011 @ 12:31 am
the d50 of the 21st century? the vsynth gt. very similar architecture, with the advantage of being able to sample its own pcm attacks (and so much more).

vsynth gt goes way beyond the d50's abilities but couldn't wow people the way the older machine did -- in 1987, the d50 didn't have to compete against softsynths.

long live the d50!
Neil B
September 15, 2011 @ 12:28 pm
I couldnt afford a D50 when they were released but played and programmed my friend's until my fingers hurt. Since I've owned / own an Ensoniq VFX, Roland JV90, Access Virus Ti, Korg R3 and Blofeld. The D50 blows them all out of the water. The synth architecture is unique and for some reason never re-used by Roland. Beautiful breathy pads, deep warm strings, realistic pianos, wierd industrial drones I could go on forever. The sound is just so *Rich*. I've just bought one on Ebay: For me no other synth even comes close to a D50 even after all these years.
August 20, 2011 @ 11:48 am
A software controller has just been made available for the D50 and D550:
August 19, 2011 @ 8:40 pm
has authority. a no brainer for current price tag.
August 18, 2011 @ 4:39 pm
just acquired one of these. cheap, but well looked after. I did not expect to find a new source of inspiration, but rather a cheap board good for some late 80s. boy was I ignorant. to start with, this things pure signal quality alone amazes. the sound....cristalline, lush, "expensive", huge. does not have 54 knobs&sliders, but fine once you get a grip on its structure. anyone who is into synths, even if you are in it for the properly weird stuff: you need one. for me, it adds something musically that I did not know how to access before.

up there with the all time greats.
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Rated 4.47 (1829 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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