Roland D50 is it a classic or out of date?

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Post by iProg » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:25 am

I really like the presets on my D-50, more than any of my other synths.
They are varied, distinct, original and mixcutting! :D
To be honest, I don't use the PG controller too often.

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Post by Don Solaris » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:53 am

i_watch_stars wrote:The key to the sound of the D-50 is how it tries to emulate something else, but misses the mark.
+1


This was exactly the reason why i bought D-50 now for the third time. To finally enjoy the LA synthesis. My previous D-50's were strictly used with their "analog" engine, i absolutely never used its samples - i hated them.

But now I just love the concept of taking one of those sampled sounds that starts the initial part of the sound and the rest is continued with the analog synth engine. I like the way it fulls you - i.e. you hear a glass or a pipe sound at the start which suddenly morphs into a PWM pad. No other synth gives me that feature.

Additional bonus is a low bitrate and unique sounding DACs. Two previous owners that were selling the D-50 (they don't know each other) mentioned either the word "glass" or "crystal" when describing it. And i must agree. Some of the samples for some reason sound so glassy / crystal. I've never heard such sound coloring on any other digital synth i own/owned (total some 40 hardware synths).

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Post by Dano » Wed Apr 23, 2008 3:16 pm

iProg wrote:I really like the presets on my D-50, more than any of my other synths. They are varied, distinct, original and mixcutting! :D
I've heard the D-50's presets described in many ways but never before as being particularly mix cutting. :)

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Post by solderguy » Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:25 pm

Didn't the author of that Keyboard mag review of the D-50 (from 1987) state something like "Roland engineers told him that the D-50 attack samples had the fundamental deliberately removed".... ?

This I find puzzling... perhaps the "analog" engine is intended to supply the fundamental, even during the attack, maybe it's part of the LA methodology. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the "crystal" sound? The attack samples (or some of them...) only have harmonics but no fundamental?

Re: the filter
If you use an oscilloscope to watch the waveform change as the filter cutoff is swept at high resonance, some very non-analog behavior is seen. When using a square wave for input, the normal "high-Q" ringing is seen both on the leading and trailing edges of both half-cycles of the square wave. Also strong distortion is seen in the sinusoidal ringing when the filter cutoff is just slightly above the fundamental of the square wave signal. This brief period of distortion as the filter is swept is very audible (and good sounding... nice sounding digital distortion oddly enough)

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Post by iProg » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:34 pm

portland wrote:words are very
unnecessary
they can only do harm
Enjoy the D-50 thread :lol:

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Post by ARP » Fri Apr 25, 2008 5:38 am

I purchased my D-50 back when it first came out and was viewed as cool sounding synth. Nowadays people say meh..why do still keep that thing.
After dealing with hunting for a replacement for a lost power cord (stupid 2 prong roland design) dead keys, losing all but 2 of my ram-rom cards
during a move. It would be easy to un-a*s the aging roland. But their is
something special in its sound that keeps it in my studio. Long Live The D-50

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Post by bgi » Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:25 am

Between a JD-990 and D-550, I like the JD-990 a LOT more. However, sometimes I go to the D-550 for those gritty bright sounds that I just find easier to get out of the D-550. As cheap as they both are, no reason not to get them both. But I do agree with the previous posters - the JD-990 is MUCH more capable and has a much nicer more musical sound for me.
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Post by elsongs » Fri Apr 25, 2008 7:41 am

The D-50 is more of a real synth than the M1. The M1 is a rompler. The D-50 is a full-fledged digital synth that just happens to have sampled attack transients. If I had to choose between either, I'd go D-50 all the way.
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Post by Don Solaris » Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:49 am

bgi wrote:But I do agree with the previous posters - the JD-990 is MUCH more capable and has a much nicer more musical sound for me.
Well i own both. And they are two different worlds, actually. Neither can JD sound like D-50, neither it has the features of D-50. And vice versa.


elsongs wrote: The D-50 is a full-fledged digital synth that just happens to have sampled attack transients. If I had to choose between either, I'd go D-50 all the way.
Greetz old mate Elsongs. Couldn't agree with you more!

:thumbleft:

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Post by seamonkey » Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:22 pm

My wife was with me when we purchased the D50 brand new, she has told me, "you will NEVER sell the D50!"...I have to agree. :D
Mine is as clean as the day I bought it and looks brand new. I see so many on ebay which have been passed around through the years and look all beat up it makes me sad. :(
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Post by bgi » Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:38 pm

Don Solaris wrote: Well i own both. And they are two different worlds, actually. Neither can JD sound like D-50, neither it has the features of D-50. And vice versa.
So true.
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Post by Synthaholic » Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:11 am

logicalhippo wrote:How in gods name does the resonant filter work!? Any complicated stuff should be way out of range for such low processing power...
The "filter" is simply an algorithm applied to the synthesized waveforms. It isn't a full fledged filter, which is why it can't filter the PCM samples. Adding resonance or filtering to a square or sawtooth at the point where it's generated isn't that hard to do.
The real question, however, how such a cheap instrument can do digital PWM so well!
PWM of a pulse/square wave is easy to do algorithmically as well.

A = pulse width (0-50)
for i = 1 to 100
if i < a then
output high part of pulse wave
else
output low part of pulse wave
end if
next
repeat ad infinitum

Note this algorithm is grossly over-simplified but it gets the idea across. Modulate the value of "a" with an LFO and bingo, PWM.

PWM of the sawtooth is doable because the D-50 saw is simply a cross modulation of a sine and the pulse wave.
Two VCO: thanks to the push rods, one can choose several forms of waves at the same time!
(from a Babelfish translation of a Jupiter-6 site)

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Post by Phollop Willing PA » Mon May 05, 2008 10:59 pm

Synthaholic wrote:Classic. Get one. The only thing "dated" about it is the presets, and they're still wonderful. With the PG1000 you can create killer sounds.

Maybe it was killed by the M1 when it came out, but which would I rather have now? The D-50.
Agreed! I had one and with the PG 1000 it's wacked!
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Re: Roland D50 is it a classic or out of date?

Post by Pro5 » Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:18 am

Sorry for posting in an old thread.

I can totally understand why any player who merely 'trys out' a D50 for a day or so, especially knowing it's glorious (and overused) history of stock sounds would regard it as 'almost worthless' by today's standards.

I have a D50 (and M1) and the M1 is nothing special to me.. .yet in theory it's a more advanced 'rompler' (as is the SY85 even moreso; which I do love but for a whole set of different reasons). It's precisely for the opposite reasons (the D50's not so good use as a rompler) that makes it my favourite digital synth, because it really is a proper synthesizer which I think most people overlook when saying it's worthless today.

I'm not even the type who uses synths for accoustic simulations.. which is why I bought OLD romplers that weren't that good at it rather than modern ones which are very good (because I will use computers/samplers etc for 'real' instruments where needed).

M1 is a typical rompler with not much to inspire you (in my opinion) - but still capable of more than it's presets.

The D50 is different entirely. Sure we all play around with the famous presets from time to time and enjoy the history of the synth but when it comes time to make our own music, I guess a lot of people dump them or at least tweak them a lot.

In my case the D50 is as valid today as it ever was due to it's 'structure 1' type programming (saw/square wave - essentially virtual analog). I rarely touch the PCM sounds when creating stuff but believe me they do have their uses as partials alongside that virtual analog stuff. The main problem is when someone who doesn't understand that the D50 was Rolands attempt at a Digital JX10 (in my opinion) with some 'enhancements' (at the time) of using short samples for added realism.

I must stress it's NOT the realism (or lack of it) in those PCM samples that gets me excited about the D50.

It's the PURE SYNTHESIS ability of it, just like an analog synth but obviously with the usual differences.

As a user of the synth today, some 20 years later, I can say I will not be using 'Digital Native Dance' or 'pizagogo' presets in any music I record, and to think that's what fans of D50 would only use it for is short-sighted.

And it's not even a case of 'modern stuff can do it all but better', you also have to take cost into account (my D50 cost me £80 fully working and beautiful), for that price nothing can touch it. I was pleasently suprised when I realised just how powerful/fat it could sound for purely synthetic/electronic sounds, this is what I had intended it for but it actually surpassed my expectations. It is definitely a SYNTHESIZER in the true meaning of the word. It is NOT 'just a rompler' or even one in my opinion.

And as for it contributing to the 'dumbing down' of synth users... sure maybe the presets and ease of calling up a range of beautiful sounds WAS a kind of 'dumbing down' at the time, but users today are obviously not buying it for that same 'ease' (we have VSTS and modern tech to do that).

To say it sounds 'just like it did in the late 80s' is also wrong. It's the presets that sound just like that, as they were over a lot of records. However, I'd love people to try and place the million other possible sounds (many free on the net) that specialise in the more electronic area of the pure synthesis engine, in many late 80s songs! The kind of sounds we can create on a D50 simply weren't used in the late 80s as the whole genre/style of music that can utilise those sounds didn't even exist (or if it did, it had died out in the early 80s with analog synths, but certainly wasn't around the late 80s when most people asscoiate the bells/pianos/strings/pads of a D50 with typifying that era). The sounds you CAN create on a D50 are similar to the sounds you can create on any valid analog synth that is used in multi genres today. Combine that with the fact that, for digital, it somehow sounds warmer, fatter and less pristine than you'd expect and you have a winner. A digital synth capable of not just amazing pads but great cutting analog stuff too.

It's a machine at the end of the day, one that allows you to call up a waveform, apply a filter/envelope, layer it, sitck a little bit of sample on *IF YOU SO CHOOSE*,then pump it out through the rest of the limited technology and hear a genuinely unique (in the world of digital synths) sound coming through.

And it does remind me of those that say a DX7 is dated due to it's presets. These people are the very people who want that ease of calling up 'modern' sounds. I'm interested in FM (and I use FM8 quite a bit) thanks to the many unique/weird sounds it can create (even a DX7 mk1 could create a new sound today that couldn't be heard in an 80s song).

I think it's time people stopped using the term 'Synthesizer' when they mean 'Presets'. You bet the presets sound dated, not because of the tech but because of music and how it's moved on and changed, but a machine capable of proper synthesis (as the D50 is, just like a Jupiter 8 is) will only sound dated if needed or if used in a dated style.

The pure romplers are the only ones that can sound dated (if they have little room to change things around) and even in the case of the M1 you can still do a lot with it that is only dated if you make it that way (same applies to the other big rompler of the early 90s the SY85 - though that has some wicked filters and sounds in some cases even more 'big' than the D50 while still being imperfect enough to have uses today).

Sorry for the long reply, I guess I could have just said that until you've really got inside the D50 and discovered that it is basically a 'proper' synth and not at all a rompler (unless you choose to use it as such) then you can't understand why it's still usuable.

To say it is inherently dated is like saying a Square or a Saw wave are dated because when you peel back the layers and remove the (totally OPTIONAL) PCM samples that is what you are left with. Pure waveforms, just the same as on any classic analog but created slightly differently - stack 4 of them up, detune them, run them through resonant filters and the unique sonic stamp of the D50s early tech/hardware/outputs and you have synth magic! Not magic that is completely impossible elsewhere, but one that is as valid as any you can find elsewhere and usually at a much better price (these days).

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Post by crystalmsc » Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:55 am

Pro5 wrote:I rarely touch the PCM sounds when creating stuff but believe me they do have their uses as partials alongside that virtual analog stuff.
agree with you and most of the appreciation of the synth. the PCM stuff are useful as an additional feature that I even like those 8-bit samples. made me feel like playing with a vintage non volatile sampler inside of a powerful synth. the result is just so playable that I keep coming back to it for many type of sounds such as hybrid string/pad, eps, bells, animated lead/flutish, etc. the tone are just so playable and right on the ears.
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