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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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.

164 Visitor comments
May 15, 2014 @ 10:40 am
My first real synth (got it back in the early 90s), lead to my current synth obsession. First all-digital synth from Roland, and was a massive hit back in the day. LA synthesis consist of pretty limited PCM playback (short, poor samples that cannot be filtered), but then there is an awesome proto-analog modelling section that was probably not bettered until the 2nd or 3rd generation of analog modeling synths hit the market. Even then, it has a sound of its own, some aliasing etc that can actually sound pretty cool IMHO. I still have a D-550, and still love some of the signature sounds.
May 4, 2014 @ 11:39 pm
The ROM cards have extra/new Reverb Types (17-32)
which can be copied from the ROM card and saved inside patches…
Just wondering if it's possible to edit those reverbs? Make yer own??
Anybody know about that?
February 21, 2014 @ 10:27 pm
I have owned my D-50 since it's release. The joystick does not spring into the center position. It was not designed to do so. Awesome keyboard even to this day. LOVE IT..
February 18, 2014 @ 7:07 pm
luke......the d50's joystick does not have a spring.....or at least mine doesn't anyway!
the joystick remains in the last used position.
if you do buy a chris nightingales d50 editior, it's free and works in the same way as pg1000 and acts as a library for d50 sounds.
February 17, 2014 @ 9:47 am
I'm interested in buying a D-50, but I have a question I'm hoping someone here can answer -- does the joystick have a spring? As in, does the joystick naturally return to the center when it's not in use? I've been looking at eBay listings, and I'm not sure if some of the joysticks I'm seeing are broken, or if the joystick remains in its last used position. Thanks for the help!
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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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