Roland U-20 / U-220

Roland U-20 Image

The U-20 is nothing special. It is a digital synthesizer that uses ROM samples of pianos, brass, strings, bass, drums, etc. However it is built for professional use and is truly a quality instrument, even though its sounds may seem like dated-eighties synth pop cheese. It's got nice piano sounds, but they're not the real thing.

The U-20 features 6 part multitimbrality with a 7th drum part, plus 2 direct outputs and 2 stereo outputs. The 30 note polyphony helps if you take advantage of this synths multitimbrality for creating entire performances and ensembles. Digital reverb, chorus and delay effects liven up your sounds. Editing is simple, but there are no filters. With several performance features, the U-20 has a full 61 note keyboard with velocity and aftertouch. There's an on-board arpeggiator, a chord-memory feature and the U-20 accepts Roland SNU-110 sound library cards. It has been used by Prodigy and Astral Projection.

Roland U-220 Image

The Roland U-220 (pictured above) is simply a rack-mount version of the U-20. It has all the same sounds and features packaged in a compact single-space sound module.

Lookup Roland U-20 / U-220 Prices

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63 Visitor comments
November 14, 2008 @ 12:04 pm
Flamin' Caucasians out of philly was the first time I ever saw one.
Needless to say...I went out and bought 1. I still have till this day.
Piano sounds are nice considering I couldn't afford a Kurzweil.
Joshua Y
September 23, 2008 @ 4:52 am
I snagged one of these at a Philadelphia thrift shop years ago. It had an "orchestral" pcm card in one of its slots, so a bonus there...It's truly nothing special as the review says but if you want some vintage hardware "real instrument" sample sounds then pick one up...actually, with the right touch of the on-board chorus or reverb, some of the sounds (especially strings or pads) are surprisingly nice. Even better through a external distortion effect (in a soundcard or what have you), if you like....the drums can be fun too...

And yes, the user interface is a nightmare - tiny readout and nothing but buttons (in endless combinations) for input - we're talking 1989 "non-visual interface" old-school here...the one I bought came with a 3rd party manual for "deciphering" the functions and it's still mostly a mystery to me....

All in all, a non-essential but fun little gadget...
August 30, 2008 @ 3:24 pm
My band uses the u-20 for organs, choirs and such..
It has a very warm, somewhat analog sound and many samples.
quite tricky to program though..

ps: the patch called "synthvox" or something like that is very warm, analog and expressive.
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  • 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 - 4MB ROM samples
  • Multitimbral - 6 parts + 1 drum part
  • Filter - None
  • Effects - Reverb, Delay, Chorus; arpeggiator
  • Memory - 64 patches, expandable to 128 with external RAM card
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (w/ velocity & aftertouch)
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1989
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