Roland D-50 vs Ensoniq's Transwaves synths

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Roland D-50 vs Ensoniq's Transwaves synths

Postby milkbath » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:17 am

I currently own a Roland Juno 60 and Ensoniq SQ-80. I love these synths, great sound and easy to use.

I've been searching for some late 80s/early 90s flavor and, no surprise, I am drawn to both the D-50 and the Ensoniq VFX, SD, and TS series (would love the Fizmo, but can't find one or don't have the money when I do) from the very enjoyable from the YouTube videos and soundcloud demos I've heard. I am only allowing myself to get one at a time, and would like some help wrapping my head around which to pick up.

I love the tone of both, but would give the edge to the D-50. The Ensoniqs would be easier for me to program since I am already familiar with the layout.

Thanks!
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Re: Roland D-50 vs Ensoniq's Transwaves synths

Postby commodorejohn » Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:50 pm

Yeah. The Ensoniq is versatile and easily programmable for a parameter-access synth, but the D-50 just has this magic to its sound that you can't get anywhere else.
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Re: Roland D-50 vs Ensoniq's Transwaves synths

Postby seamonkey » Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:36 pm

I've had mine since they both were released and I love them both.
They are different in many ways, so it's hard to say which one is preferable. That is an individual choice, and boils down to what type of sound you're looking for, features, etc.
The VFX-SD is a workhorse. It does a bit of everything including the transwaves.
I've found the drums to be nice and punchy(but quite 80's sounding in a good way), love the brass sounds, the strings are different than typical synth strings but nice and are unique so they don't sound like everyone else.
Basses are good, violins, cellos are also different but in a good way.
Voices are also different, some nice choirs but they don't sound like typical sampled choirs, but again, it's what makes Ensoniq unique and different from everything else.
Tony Banks used the VFX-SD a lot on the We Can't Dance cd. Also used prominently on the first two Magellan albums.
And of course the transwaves. Very nice and by combining them you can come up with some nice sounds.
I also like editing a patch, and then layering it with another or even two more for a nice fat sound.
It's very easy to come up with new sounds by doing this.
You have the recording sequencer which is nice for saving and drafting ideas, but not up to today's standards.

I love it, and it's a keeper in my studio.

The D50... what can you say? love at first listen.
Also a keeper.

Here are two demos, one of each.
The first is the Ensoniq VFX-SD which utilizes the transwaves and demonstrates it's evolving timbre. This is a patch called Wonders and actually this demo is a my Emulator II playing my sample of the patch.

The second is the D50 and original patch I created.
Please forgive the playing, as these are both improvisations.
Also, they are both rather mellow demonstrations, but forgive me I have white hair ;) .

VFX-SD Wonders Emulator II Sample

D50 Improv
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Re: Roland D-50 vs Ensoniq's Transwaves synths

Postby Ashe37 » Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:12 am

On the other hand, a VFX-SD can be acquired much more cheaply, and the fix for the keyboard problem has been known for three decades.
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Re: Roland D-50 vs Ensoniq's Transwaves synths

Postby milkbath » Tue May 05, 2015 12:37 am

Wow, thank you so much for the insight seamonkey. I really appreciate it. I think my decision will be made for me, as I don't think my partner will let me bring in another 61 keys keyboard until one or more goes out, with the D-550.

Thanks everyone for the replies.
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Re: Roland D-50 vs Ensoniq's Transwaves synths

Postby seamonkey » Tue May 05, 2015 12:33 pm

milkbath wrote:Wow, thank you so much for the insight seamonkey. I really appreciate it. I think my decision will be made for me, as I don't think my partner will let me bring in another 61 keys keyboard until one or more goes out, with the D-550.

Thanks everyone for the replies.

You're welcome, glad to share my opinion, and remember, how a synth sounds to someone is subjective, and is based on the sound you LIKE or WANT in your set up.
What I find to be pretty or sweet may sound like absolute rubbish to your ears.

I remember when I first got my VFX-SD, I had sold my Ensoniq EPS sampler and D50 to fund it.
I was terribly disappointed by the sound of the VFX, to me since I was accustomed to the lush full sounds of the D50 it didn't grab my soul in the same way.
It's strings were different, sounded more raw and sampled to me.
I immediately went out and bought another new D50, Roland was having a special on them for a $1000 so it was a no brainer.
I eventually learned to love the VFX-SD for what it is, and I'm so happy I never sold it.
Now some 28 years later it's a vintage synth and one of my favorites.
It sits in my studio alongside the same D50 I bought new. :D
Btw,in the sampled demo of the VFX I purposely sustained chords to show the evolving nature of the transwaves.
That was a pretty one, you can get some pretty grnarly transwaves going if you get into programming it.
In the D50 I wanted to show a little different side of it, since there are so many demos with the lush D50 sound.
It really is a much deeper synth than many of the 80's type sounds we hear.

When you get the D550, there are plenty of patch libraries available for free and can be loaded via sysex.
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