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
March 24, 2013 @ 6:15 pm
@adamevans: You need to keep you 80's soap memories to yourself, or go see a shrink and spill the beans there.

Comments posted here need to be relevant in relation to the instrument.
March 24, 2013 @ 12:46 am
Yawn. That best describes the D50s sounds. The most boring synth i think i ever played. And that 80s elec bell piano sound lol THE most overused sound of the time. Of all the dx7 sounds to influence other manufacturers, it had to be that one?! I suppose it was the fashion back then, but itjust reminds me of bad soapys on tv lol
Titty Biscuit
March 8, 2013 @ 12:11 pm
Can anyone give me an idea as to what these sell at for secondhand in the u.k, I have seen 1 on e-bay and wish to make an offer, it is in good condition and full working order, Having seen that Prince apparently used one of these I checked out the demo video, and thought it was really cool and not out of date as some have said, And im 44 Jay!!
jay bacchus
March 6, 2013 @ 11:02 am
I guess my use for the d50 is a bit off the beaten path, somewhat abstract. I use it in producing backing tracks for pod casts that I produce for my own internet marketing campaigns. I do not really play any music on it and certainly don't take it on stage; it is used to generate production sounds and I love it. Sure it's old!

If we're going to hammer the D50 for being 'outdated', hammer away! The typical listeners to these pod promos are middle age. No complaints that my backing sounds are creaky-sounding or obsolete. Also use an Eventide Harmonizer in conjunction.
February 26, 2013 @ 4:02 am
The D50 was a very important synths and its presets still have a great 80's charm.

But it remains most useable today : a D50 with the PG1000 is one of the most exciting, experimental digital instrument you'll ever own (I own the D550 rack myself).
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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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