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
May 20, 2010 @ 12:45 am
Beautiful synth. Far deeper than it's 'PCM' based publicity suggested. It still has that 'rompler' image (wrongly) and is in fact a very capable, unique, gorgeous synthesizer.

Both rack and keyboard are great. I prefer the keyboard for it's classic looks, extra controls (joystick) and it's very nice green/yellow on black LCD display (one of the first synths to invert colours like that - looks great - rackmount has typical normal LCD, hardly important to the sound of course :) )

In fact, if I could find a rack version at a good price, I'd probably buy one also. D-50/550 is one of the greatest synths ever built in all ways.
Never selling this, I know I'd regret it.
May 8, 2010 @ 5:10 pm
Just about *every* popular band/artist in the 80's used the D-50. It's a legend. One obvious miss: Genesis. The Digital Native Dance sound is featured in their remade version of "In the Air Tonight".
April 14, 2010 @ 7:51 pm
didnt the pet shop boys use it?
Peter Kadar
April 4, 2010 @ 2:52 am
These sound great. I had one with the programmer, which made it a lot of fun. If you need one of these in a modern context, get a V-Synth XT. You won't regret it...
March 3, 2010 @ 10:11 pm
I owned one many years ago, and I remember making it bi-timbral without any expansion. I recorded from one channel with a sequencer, and played along from another channel.
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  • 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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