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.

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63 Visitor comments
February 27, 2010 @ 3:30 pm
Nothing special??? Maybe, but every Roland that followed was based on the waveforms introduced in the "U" products (even today's Juno's). With the add-on PCM cards, some of those sounds are still to be matched today.
January 30, 2010 @ 7:42 am
When compared to the improved General Midi sounds we get these days the U220 isn't anything special. Not like it was when it was first released; hence the falling second hand prices.

This module is still a classic though and can still hold its own in the studio particulary for its strings, piano and its 80's drum sounds. Performances can be routed through the 2x stereo outs for better mixing results and has a good track record in commercial recordings.
November 13, 2009 @ 9:52 pm
Roland manual heaven here!
August 26, 2009 @ 1:38 am
Hey, Jim. The internal battery is located on the main circuit board right inside the middle of the synthesizer. But you may need to open up the large bottom metal cover, remove a few screws of the circuit board to reach it. The U20 uses a single CR2032 battery type. You can either replace battery yourself or get some expert to do it, in case you might damage any connection wires doing it yourself.
June 28, 2009 @ 2:04 am
I didn't know anything about keyboards, went into a shop and walked out with a U-20 in 1989. I don't think it was right for me at the time- I wanted to be behind the scenes making electronic music rather than perform with it. I remember working that tiny little screen and pressing those buttons around and around, much like today's automated phone services.

In 1992 I hooked it up to whatever mac I was using with software called Perfomer I think and some sound rack. I was frustrated that it maxed out on 6 midi tracks, but looking back on it that was probably pretty robust. I never figured out how to use the memory cards and I wanted it to sample like a Fairlight.

I really liked the sounds- Endymion, Atmosphere, ... um, damn I gotta lay off the leaf. Oh yeah- I liked how they merchandised the bass sounds and some of those were a lot of fun. And it was fun to play through a distortion pedal of any kind.
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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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