Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

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miercoles
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Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by miercoles » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:34 pm

I'm looking for one of Roland's early digital synths. Looking for something available in a rack version too. Any ideas?

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by visceralvoids » Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:01 am

D50 or D550 (rack)
JD800 or JD990 (rack)

But there is a huge difference between the JD800 and the JD990 in terms of features and JD990's almost cost the same. Also some prefer the D50/550 over the JD line. Some think the D50/550 was more of a "pure synthesizer" because the JD lines used cd-quality oversampled waves. Can't go wrong with a JD990 though.

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by HideawayStudio » Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:07 am

visceralvoids wrote:D50 or D550 (rack)
JD800 or JD990 (rack)

But there is a huge difference between the JD800 and the JD990 in terms of features and and JD990's almost cost the same. Also some prefer the D50/550 over the JD line.
+1 on D-50/D-550 for sure - but just one question - what is it you're looking for in early Roland digital? - I have a D-550 in the studio with a PG1000 (which makes a -huge- difference to the usability of this synth) - I love it for it's pseudo analog, PWM laden, glassy sound with curious spurious harmonics from all that aliasing. I also adore Eric's infamous factory presets on this one - yes, over used, but a true classic!
Last edited by HideawayStudio on Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by Z » Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:12 am

+1 to both synth families mentioned by visceralvoids.

I love my JD-800 - it's one of my "desert island" synths along with Roland Fantom X6 and Jupiter 6. It is so easy to tweak an existing sound or create from scratch. The multi-mode filter is nice, too. (Shameless plug: I've got an extra one for sale, too). I've got the 990, also. The 990 is cleaner sounding and has a few more features. The giant LCD screen makes it easy to tweak your sounds.

Before getting my 1st JD-800, the D-550 with PG-1000 programmer got most of my attention. The D-50/550 is still a powerful and great sounding synth even today once you get past all the cliche preset patches. If you plan on editing sounds, you definately want to look into getting the programmer.

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by HideawayStudio » Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:26 am

I'm still curious to know why early Roland digital and not something like uWave I or Korg M1R which I suspect you're not interested in but I'd like to hear your reasons? I'm a big fan of early digital synths - and especially hybrids - one of the reasons I've finally decided to invest in a PPG Wave.

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by miercoles » Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:10 am

you guys are awesome! I love the advice I'm receiving and I'm definitely going to look further into all that was mentioned here.

and-- I'm specifically looking for a Roland digi synth simply because I feel it would help to round out my collection. ...not that I have everything else I really want. ...but having a Roland digital synth would compliment the rest of my digi/analog collection.

I specifically am seeking an "early digital" synth because I feel the concept that companies were building on in the early digital days changed a whole lot by the 90's. Digital synths were just a whole new creature in the 80's and had their own character, long before they were attempting to be this all-in-one synth solution.

so - that being said - I'd be interested in hearing ANY 80's digi synth suggestions - though I'm leaning towards Roland since I've owned and enjoyed several of their products over the years.

thanks again for all the advice!!!

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by gs » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:27 am

The world of early digital synths (affordable 1-piece units of the mid-80s, not the ultra-early sampling and digital behemoths like Fairlight or Synclavier) largely split into three areas at once: the purely digital FM world of Yamaha DX; the sampling world of Emu and Ensoniq; and the hybrid world of Korg, Ensoniq and Kawai. After the Korg M1, everything changed as the Workstation Era begins, and (to Joe Consumer) the difference between sampling and synthesis becomes hazy.

I think the hybrids were actually the most interesting, because they allowed you modest entry into the world of digital DX-type sounds, while still offering up the analog filters and standard waveforms that allowed you to create traditional analog synth sounds. The DW8000 was my first synth way back in '86 so I have fond memories of those early hybrids.

Early digitals are notorious for the sparse and mostly button-laden control panel, though. So be prepared to get a PC editor or MIDI controller knob-box to get the most control out of these synths.
Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Korg Z1, Alesis Ion, Alesis QS8.2, Kawai K3M

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by Pro5 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:02 am

:mrgreen:
Last edited by Pro5 on Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by HideawayStudio » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:35 pm

In my opinion, as a long time owner/user, the D-50 really deserves to find a special place in synth history - it has several qualities that, like other respected vintage synths, put it in a class of its own. This is probably in part due to it being the first of its kind and hence both technological shortcomings and an unusual synth architecture give it a unique sonic character. The whole notion of splicing attack transients onto synth tails was very clever and worked very well. By today's standards this is considered crude and, what with the enormous amounts of memory we take for granted (which has certainly NOT helped efficient programming or sampling for that matter!), there would be no need to have to take this route but I very much doubt the instrument would be at all the same if it simply worked with large samples.

There is no doubt in my mind that if the D-50 featured modern high definition convertors and modelled filters some of that wonderful glassy nature would be lost.

Like many hardware offerings, on paper it shouldn't be terribly exciting but in reality it has life, movement and a certain magic about it.

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by D-Collector » Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:53 am

+1

Something about that synth that just invites you to dive deep into its guts and create. I love it in every way.

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by Synthacon » Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:25 pm

I would take a D550 over a D50 just for the better timing that can be an irritation on the D50 on occasion. The JD990 is probably the best digital synth Roland ever made so that gets a big thumbs up from me.
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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by madtheory » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:19 pm

Ya, the D50 is a great synth. It has lots of character, as has been said, it's weird, in a cool way.
HideawayStudio wrote:There is no doubt in my mind that if the D-50 featured modern high definition convertors and modelled filters some of that wonderful glassy nature would be lost.
Firstly, I think the filter in the D50 was already a model? Secondly, the V Synth XT can be switched to be a D50 with modern converters. Because the original D50 worked entirely in software, they just ported the code across so it's as accurate as can be apart from the converters. IMO it definitely has that D50 glassy quality when the old converter modelling is switched in, all it lacks is the hiss. Personally I prefer it in "modern" mode you still get the aliasing which is great, and to my ears the tone is still glassy but warmer at the same time, kind of like a D50 through a passive DI. I love it.

Admittedly I've not had them side by side for direct comparison. I had a D50 keyboard for 6 months, about a year before I got the V Synth, so my memory could be flawed. But in my defense, Gordon Reid (owner of many classic synths including the mighty GX-1) stated in his SOS review: "It would be hard for me to fault this emulation."

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by HideawayStudio » Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:27 pm

madtheory wrote:Ya, the D50 is a great synth. It has lots of character, as has been said, it's weird, in a cool way.
HideawayStudio wrote:There is no doubt in my mind that if the D-50 featured modern high definition convertors and modelled filters some of that wonderful glassy nature would be lost.
Firstly, I think the filter in the D50 was already a model? Secondly, the V Synth XT can be switched to be a D50 with modern converters. Because the original D50 worked entirely in software, they just ported the code across so it's as accurate as can be apart from the converters. IMO it definitely has that D50 glassy quality when the old converter modelling is switched in, all it lacks is the hiss. Personally I prefer it in "modern" mode you still get the aliasing which is great, and to my ears the tone is still glassy but warmer at the same time, kind of like a D50 through a passive DI. I love it."
I've also heard good things about the D50 emulation you talk of. It would indeed be interesting to do a genuine side by side test - I still expect the real thing to have a more raw edge. The filters in the D50 are supposed to be emulated but hardly a model as we understand them today (I suspect they were pre-rendered and stored as lookups much like the wavetables in a PPG Wave - there just wasn't enough processing power for that kind of thing in 1986 - especially considering the proposed architecture must have been on the drawing board years before this). Also, I very much doubt that it's 100% firmware based either - it's much more likely to be a bunch of ASICs being controlled by software - as were most of the digital synths/samplers of the era. It really wasn't until the early 90's that DSPs took hold in applications like these.

The early DX's are not 100% digital and certainly not 100% firmware based - again, the processors of the time just weren't up to it, another synth that would be extremely interesting to pull apart and really understand what's going on under the bonnet.

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by madtheory » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:56 am

Now you're making me even more curious! Thanks for the great info. It's a pity all this stuff is proprietary, you can't just look it up in a book.

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Re: Please Suggest an early Roland digital synth....

Post by robotunes » Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:23 am

HideawayStudio wrote:It would indeed be interesting to do a genuine side by side test
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct05/a ... ynthxt.htm

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