The Roland D-50 is a polyphonic 61-key synthesizer produced by Roland, released in 1987. Its features include Linear Arithmetic synthesis, on-board effects, a joystick for data manipulation, and an analog synthesis-styled layout design. The external Roland PG-1000 (1987-1990) Programmer could also be attached to the D-50 for more complex manipulation of sounds. It was also produced in a rack-mount variant design, the D-550 (1987-1990), with almost 450 user-adjustable parameters
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 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.
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
The Gear Rack