Roland D-70

Roland D-70 Image

Billed as the next in line to the Roland "LA" synthesis crown, the D70 is an odd keyboard. It actually has more in common with the U-20/220 series ROMplers than with the D-50/550, which it was "kind-of meant" to replace. In fact, if you open it up, you''ll find the circuit boards are labelled "U50". Unfortunately, the D70 / U50 was rushed into production, to compete with the likes of the Korg M1 and T1/T2/T3ex series machines, and this lack of design care shows when navigating the user-interface, which could be politely described as "challenging".

So, given the similarities to the rather mediocre U-series sample ROMplers, and the "Super-LA" name....what to make of it?

The D-70 has a sample playback engine married to D50 style TVF filters, together with on-board effects, and a percussion soundset. The filters are resonant, and add some much needed "welly". This is the D-70's redeeming feature, because the filters are actually pretty damn good. It's a shame that (to this reviewer's knowledge) it doesn't seem possible to filter the drum samples though.

Performance wise, the D70 has a good quality 76 note keyboard in a sleek housing, and given its size, it's remarkably light. It is equipped with a large LCD display, to the left of which are 4 assignable faders. There is a fifth controller fader, labelled "C1" just above the pitch bender, in between the volume and brightness (filter cutoff) faders. The faders can be assigned in real-time to the following parameters: Level, Pan, Tuning, Cutoff, Resonance, Attack, and Release, using the keypad to the left of fader 1. The four faders equate to the four tones that can be used to make up a patch, rather like the D50's "upper / lower partials" although the more tones you apply, the lower the polyphony. This gives the performer real-time tweakability for doing filter sweeps, changing the relative levels of tones (for drawbar-style effects), etc. As an added bonus, the faders send MIDI data...

...which makes the D70 an excellent master keyboard for MIDI setups. It has keyboard splitting and zoning options that you'd expect to find on master keyboards. That's if you can decipher the midi implementation and work your way round an interface that redefines the word "awkward". Couple that with a 220 page manual, and it's not something you really want to do on stage, unless you've got it all worked out in advance. The D70 is one of those synths that you'll find yourself both enjoying and cursing in fairly equal measure.

Sound-wise, the D70 raw samples are your typical U20/220 faire. In fact the D70 reads U220 series PCM cards, and has two PCM card slots on the rear of the unit, together with a RAM slot. This may not sound too appealing - if you're looking for genuine acoustic instruments, then it's not for you. But, the D70 has some remarkably good Rhodes and Organ patches, and some fantastic synth bass and lead sounds. Couple this with the on board fx, and it is a bit like a souped-up D50 with much better filters, which provide both squelchy resonance and knob-twiddlyness.

To summarize, it's a nice ROMpler, albeit a little schizophrenic, capable of some wonderful classic Roland synth-noises, and makes a decent performance / live / master keyboard as well. It sounds better than the U220. If you're looking for a "proper synthesizer" you may be disappointed. Real shame actually; a bit more effort on Roland's part and this could have been a right little stomper. Due to the fact that it was never really a success, the D70 can prove very hard to find on the used market. But once you've got one, you probably won't want to let it go - it has JUST enough features in several different departments to redeem itself, and the warmth of the synth sounds belies their digital origin.

Lookup Roland D-70 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.

Related forum topics

Comments

Are you looking to buy or sell a Roland D-70? 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.

60 Visitor comments
Lorentz
June 18, 2012 @ 6:33 pm
I've played a D-70, but own an MV-30, which is the same engine minus the DLM, with an MC-50 thrown in. Sound-wise, almost identical. Both are capable of some great sounds, and the cards add a lot of extras. If you're not prepared to dig in and program any synth, ask yourself why are you even playing a synth - maybe stick to home keyboards in future. But once you get under the hood, you can create some awesome sounds - ranging from realistic to ridiculous. I use the sequencer in the MV to have short loops with random pan and volume values, not so instant, but effective wave sequencing.
looneytoonmusic
June 8, 2012 @ 9:07 pm
So much hate for one of the most overpowered, under-rated synths ever made. The D-70 is a BEAST once you take the time to figure it out. Comments that it is not a LA synth are meaningless, this monster blows simple LA out of the water. I would rank my D-50 in the same class as my DX7, the D-70 is closer to the SY-77 - it can do things that no other synths even today can do. You just need to take the time to learn how to coax the magic out...
Mortenling
May 4, 2012 @ 1:39 am
The Roland U-50 with DLM(differential loop modulation(oldscool granular and fractal waveshaping))'syntese - think it had like 31 tones polyphoni - 5 times multitimbral + drums. I still Iove it !!!
colin
April 18, 2012 @ 5:52 pm
If you are buying this

CHECK

THE

DAMN

KEYS

There are some SERIOUS design flaws in the D-70. Do not buy into any bull [beep] that "it could use some contact spray" because those keys will not function. I've done plenty of research into this and unless you are a technical expert you will not be able to fix these fundamental mechanical problems. Even if you are, it will cost you time and materials. It's got some good sounds, little too bright and pristine and the interface is notoriously confusing.
visceralvoids
September 12, 2011 @ 12:38 pm
The D-70 was Roland's first PCM-based, digital synthesizer with a resonant filter. D-70s filter is a 12db multimode; JD-800's is 24db multimode. I heard that Roland also gave the D-70 76 keys to give it more of a "flagship" model vibe. People compare the JD-800 to the D-50 all the time but it's actually alot more similar to the D-70.
 
VSE Rating

It’s Good

User Rating

Rated 3.68 (347 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 - 30 voices
  • Oscillators - Digital ROM samples and DLM ("Differential Loop Modulation")
  • LFO - YES
  • Filter - TVF FILTER: low-pass-resonant (like D50).
  • VCA - TVA (like D50).
  • Effects - Reverb, Chorus, Flanger (like D50)
  • #Instruments - 5-parts + 1-percussion
  • Keyboard - 76 note keyboard with velocity and aftertouch
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Memory - 10 user sets, 64 performances, 128 patches, 128 tones.
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1990-91
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Review by Jonathan McDougall.

    Reviewed December 2007.

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.