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

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163 Visitor comments
Daniel Fletcher of DS
October 26, 2013 @ 2:49 pm
Used by Chuck Lorre & Dennis C. Brown to create the famous TMNT theme song from 1987
and sounds/songs through the episodes in the series...
carpmouth
October 26, 2013 @ 2:46 pm
the first time I spend time with this I thought the room was filling with some sort of gas. it has this transparent, etheral sonic quality. reminded me a bit of the Kawai K5000S, but then, the D50 sounds more digital, yet more vintage. very charismatic synthesizer.

it is one of the boards *every* synth nut must have. and no, I am not writing this because I want to put mine on ebay and push the price up. there are virtually millions out there and they cost f*** all.

get one. it might not end up as your workhorse, but it will add something you won't know about until you heard it.
R Bell Music
June 10, 2013 @ 7:55 am
Its great to see so many people still discovering this classic. and it was exactly that. it had a real gritty unique sound and it was for me, the best example at this time for melding one shot samples to synth tones. if you can break past the need to judge it for its over used presets, get some sysex banks online and discover what it can REALLY do in todays context.
it still has the stones to produce some stunning pads and fx patches. and they are practically giving them away on ebay.
dee-j
May 31, 2013 @ 10:41 pm
This synth is nice. As stated a million times or more, it is noted for it's warm thick crystalline digital sound that is unique amongst all other digital synths. It actually has a sonic personality onto itself that can be likened to a dream about walking into an alien crystal cave and just hearing these pleasant sounds all around you. It's just soothing and ethereal. The presets are a bit dated, overused, and the whole synth is overrated in some instances but contrary to what most people believe, the 'dated' factor all depends on how you use it in a composition.
bobby h.
May 30, 2013 @ 5:18 pm
Phil Collins used one of these fine boards around the time of 'But Seriously'. The intro to 'Paradise' was played on the D-50 as well as the chorus. It was used more sparingly on other parts of the record as well.
 
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  • 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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