Roland D50 is it a classic or out of date?

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Don Solaris
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Post by Don Solaris » Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:43 am

Automatic Gainsay wrote:This thread is like an alternate reality.
It is a manufactured context wholly outside of the context within which the D-50 was created.
It's good that people can be happy, though.
Please elaborate a little bit. So far it looks like a troll hacked the above account.


You know TB-303 was created in a context to emulate a bass guitar player. Yet people on forums talk about some completely different things when they talk TB, not to mention they DO NOT use it at all in a "context" in which was manufactured.

Just a closer look reveals linear architecture synthesis wasn't even the topic here. Content was about: the synth in general, the noise issues, patches and its sound. If you find some false information, feel free to correct it.

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Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:42 am

Wow. I have never seen so many people excited about the D-50, and now I've never seen anyone so ardently defend it.

No troll hacked my account, I'm merely amazed that a synth that was reviled for over a decade is suddenly treated like it is something wonderful, and always has been.

It's delightful that like the DX7 people are actually starting to program these synths which brought about the total democratization and dumbing down of synth users worldwide.

And you don't want to know what I think of the TB-303, Don. :)
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Post by D-Collector » Sun Apr 20, 2008 12:24 pm

I'm not quite sure what you meant in your first post, but I take it you don't really like the D-50.

Reviled? I didn't know the D-50 was such a hated synth.
I can see people dislike the overuse of factory presets by countless artists (just like the DX7) but the synth itself?

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Post by elmosexwhistle » Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:58 pm

as long as you can make insane sounds on it (and you really can with the D50) it isn't out of date ^.^ x

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Post by CS_TBL » Sun Apr 20, 2008 4:51 pm

Sorry to disrupt the party: but I'd say it's outdated. I don't see any advantages compared to later synths which could do the same. Some synths have been great at the time of their release, but when modern variants can do the exact same thing there's hardly any reason to use the old machine.

I've only played one briefly (we used to have a musicshop so I knew/played lots of synths), but isn't it just basically short attack waves (samples) combined with analogue waves? To create, say, a flute by combining a flute attack sound and a square wave or something? How is this different than -say- a JV1080, or just a decent (soft) sample player?
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Post by gcoudert » Sun Apr 20, 2008 5:17 pm

CS_TBL wrote:isn't it just basically short attack waves (samples) combined with analogue waves? How is this different than -say- a JV1080, or just a decent (soft) sample player?
Not all PCM samples are just attack portions of sound. Many are perfectly usable continuous loops, and I am not just referring to the rhythmic loops Roland added for G-d knows what reason, and they have plenty of character. The synth section is VERY good indeed, including its resonant filters, and hey, you can control PWM width with an LFO or an envelope. How many digital synths can do that? If it'd had oscillator sync, it would have been a serious competitor for the JP8. Feature-wise, that is.

I got rid of mine because I grew tired of always using the same few PCM samples and I didn't like the envelopes. I now have a JV1080, which has a different character but I have successfully reproduced some of my favourite D50 patches on it.

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Post by replicalex » Sun Apr 20, 2008 6:37 pm

wow..looks like I've created a monster in starting this topic.
I think its great to have so many opinions on show though, if nothing it shows that people here are both passionate and knowledgeable.
In the end I didnt buy a D50...decided to put the money towards getting a ProOne instead.
Totally different synth obviously :D

Oh and to the mod ClubbedToDeath if youre reading, I'm not 'perchance' AlexE

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Post by 8bit9bot » Sun Apr 20, 2008 6:58 pm

i had a d550 and pg1000 - i loved those things... the d50 sounds great on its own but sometimes its too powerful for the whole mix - i did eventually sell mine off since it was worth a lot of money - the complaint that some people have about the 8-bit pcm is exactly why i like it more than any newer synth that does the same thing

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Post by Cycom » Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:13 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:Wow. I have never seen so many people excited about the D-50, and now I've never seen anyone so ardently defend it.

No troll hacked my account, I'm merely amazed that a synth that was reviled for over a decade is suddenly treated like it is something wonderful, and always has been.

It's delightful that like the DX7 people are actually starting to program these synths which brought about the total democratization and dumbing down of synth users worldwide.

And you don't want to know what I think of the TB-303, Don. :)
The dumbing down of synth users worldwide....except you, I'm sure.
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Post by Don Solaris » Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:23 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:And you don't want to know what I think of the TB-303, Don. :)
Personally i hate the 303. If you hate it too, that makes us two. Still i don't see the point of discussion about the "context" of some instrument. Correct me if i'm wrong but i think that part should be left to the musician and / or application.

Although i strictly prefer analog synthesizers (and own a lot of them), D-50 along with JD-990 are the only two digital synthesizers i will never sell. I have just one reason for it: SOUND.
elmosexwhistle wrote:as long as you can make insane sounds on it (and you really can with the D50) it isn't out of date ^.^ x
There are no synths out of date - just musicians.

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Post by Don Solaris » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:14 am

CS_TBL wrote:I don't see any advantages compared to later synths which could do the same.
As a "sound designer" you should have known by now that you can NOT recreate the SOUND of D-50 (you can just nail some patches, but that's it.). Because you 1) do not have the same synth engine 2) effect processors 3) DACs - no synth was ever released after D-50 that had such unique crystal/glass sounding converters 4) PWM - no digital synth offers this.

I was wondering are you aware how limited the technology was in 1987 compared to today? Do you know how limited the waveforms, effect processors and D/A converters in D-50 are? You know what is the result of all this? Unique SOUND!

You should also know that todays D/A converters / samples / bit depths / efx processors and other components are superior to those 20 years ago. As a result majority of these new digital synths "sound" just the same. They might have different waveforms and different patches, but there is no sound coloring of any kind. Because new D/A converters are almost transparent. They are too perfect! This is where the problem is!

CS_TBL wrote:Sorry to disrupt the party: but I'd say it's outdated.
I didn't know a synth be outdated. Do you judge a synth by presets or by your own sounds? If you were playing those crappy preset patches, i think you just wasted time with it. They show absolutely NOTHING of what this synth is capable to do. First thing to do with D-50 is to completely erase its memory and program your own patches. Soon you will realize no other digital synth sounds even remotely close to it! This is where the treasure starts to reveal itself.

BTW, this "outdated synth" reminds me of a guy who sold a couple of minty looking MiniMoogs back in 1991 for $150 a piece, because they were "outdated".

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Post by OriginalJambo » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:23 am

Don Solaris wrote: As a "sound designer" you should have known by now that you can NOT recreate the SOUND of D-50 (you can just nail some patches, but that's it.). Because you 1) do not have the same synth engine 2) effect processors 3) DACs - no synth was ever released after D-50 that had such unique crystal/glass sounding converters 4) PWM - no digital synth offers this.
Don't forget about the V-Synth - it can do the D-50 spot on...D/A converters and all.

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Post by solderguy » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:56 am

The D/A converter in the D-50 is based upon the old Burr-Brown PCM54 chip which was very popular for many years (used in many of the earliest CD players, my old Digitech DSP128+ fx unit has the related PCM56). Burr-Brown was bought by Texas Instruments, production of the chip was discontinued last year. From the schematic, Roland attempted to turn it into a 20-bit D/A by adding four analog switches and precision resistors with trimpots.

Another part of the reason for the "nice grungy" D-50 sound is that the attack samples become very noticeably slower as you go down the keyboard, and alias and become shorter as you go up the keyboard. From an electronic perspective, a very crude way of doing it, but not necessarily bad ( and often sounds good).

The fact that the PCM attack samples cannot be filtered is an advantage in the sense that it helps to maintain contrast between partials in layered sounds. Having an option to filter the samples would be nice though.

These and the other quirks and deficiencies seem to add up to produce an overall character that is very appealing. Would like to see a switch to select between Classic (grungy) and Modern (clean modes) though. D-50 is the only synth I have ever sold that I ended up missing : D

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Post by OriginalJambo » Mon Apr 21, 2008 1:55 am

solderguy wrote:Would like to see a switch to select between Classic (grungy) and Modern (clean modes) though. D-50 is the only synth I have ever sold that I ended up missing : D
Which is exactly what the V-Synth's implementation allows you to do. :)

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Post by solderguy » Mon Apr 21, 2008 5:18 am

Wow... didn't know the V-synth D-50 implementation had that feature. Does it simply provide "better" conversion eg. newer D/A converter using higher sample rate + more bits (plus larger samples to provide more bits in the first place)? Or does it also address other "problem" areas like only single samples (no multisampling) for the attack transients?

Any idea which mode most V-synth owners prefer to operate with?

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