Synth DB

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Roland | D-50


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.

Both the D-50 and D-550 (Rack version) 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.

Musitronics in Germany made an expansion kit. The M.EX (pronounced 'em-ex' ) board will change the way you make music with the Roland D-50 or D-550 LA-synthesizer. With a simple installation of the M.EX board, your D-50 becomes multi-timbral, giving you the power to play up to eight tones or four patches at one time. Plus, the M.EX board triples the D-50's memory to store 192 sounds.

The M.EX board adds 10 new displays and 42 new parameters, providing enhanced capabilities for playing live or for use in a sequencer-driven enviroment. All voice-allocation is done dynamically. You can create and save seperate Multi-Mode settings for every patch, giving you instant access to up to 192 Multi-Mode settings.

New functions and parameters for the D-50 provided by the M.EX board:

  • KEY-MODE: In addition to the 9 regular Key modes, there are two new modes: Multi-Mode and Multi-Dual-Mode. The D-50's effects section still only provides 1 digital reverb, 2 chorus units, 2 equalizer and 6 LFOs; however each of the 8 Tones can be individually assigned to the upper and lower effects sections. In Multi-Mode, you have 1 chorus and 1 EQ, while in Multi-Dual mode you have 2 chorus and 2 EQs.
  • MULTI-MIDI: Each of the eight "Instruments" can be assigned to any MIDI channel, or turned "off". Volume and panning can be controlled individually by MIDI.
  • MULTI-TONE: Each of the eight "Instruments" can be assigned a tone between "Lower Tone 11" and "UPPER Tone 88". You can adjust the tuning of each Tone by +/- 24 semitones.
  • TRANSMIT CHANNEL: The D-50 can now transmit on two seperate MIDI channels. Both the lower and the upper keyboard ranges are assignable to independent channels, turning your D-50 into a true master keyboard controller.
  • INTERNAL LINK MODE: When set to "Local on", both MIDI keyboard-transmit-
    channels of your D-50 can be assigned separately to any of the eight MultiTones. Thus, for instance, you may use a DUAL sound (2 Tones) in the lower register of your D-50 while at the same time playing a QUATTRO sound (4 Tones!) in the upper keyboard zone. You can create big layered or fat solo sounds by assigning the same MIDI channel to several Tones.
  • KEY WINDOW: Each tone can have its own and high split point settings. This means you can freely map up to eight "zones" across your keyboard.
  • SPEED SYSTEM: We can add the Speed System for free. This system increases the timing of the D-50/D-550 with 35%. But you have to exchanche a quartz. (soldering required). If you order the D-50/D-550 M.EX expansion, please let us know if you want the Speed System or not.
Engine TypeDigital
EnginePCM, LA
Voices (max)16
LFOYES (3 x 2tones = 6 LFOs)
Engine DetailedDigital LAS (Linear Arithmetic Synthesis) & PCM, 32 osc.
Filter (VCF)low-pass-resonant
Envelope (VCA)ADSR
FX8 Effects
Memory64 patches
DrumsDrums: 1 kit, 63 sounds, 22 user sounds
Key typeKeys
Extra infoProgrammable via PG-1000
Produced:1987 - 1989
Legend: Obvious Y: Yes, N: No, N/A: Not Applicable
VCO Voltage Controlled Oscillator DCO Digital Controlled Oscillator
LFO Low Frequency Oscillator Sub Sub Oscillator
VCF Voltage Controlled Filter VCA Voltage Controlled Amplifier
Velocity As with a piano, the harder you hit a key, the louder the sound, unlike most organs which always produce the same loudness no matter how hard you hit a key. Aftertouch Pressing a key after you activated it. Channel Aftertouch, no matter which key, it will send a Channel message. Poly Aftertouch, sends the pressure per key instead of the whole channel.
Values for OSC, LFO, Filter, Envelope are per voice unless stated otherwise.


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