The Roland D-50

Out of every Digital Synthesizer I’ve ever played, or thought about, the Roland D-50  has always held some kind of “Mystical Aura” in my mind. “What is this crazy LA Synthesis, and why does it sound So Good!” I would think. I have always dreamed of owning one, along with the PG-1000 programming module that complimented this beautiful digital legend. 1987 is when I started my “Synthetic” Musical Journey, and was the exact year this Legend was released. Unable to afford the D-50 during that time, I settled for an affordable alternative, the Kawai K1, which of course I still have to this very day, and will never part with.


My 30 year wait has finally come to an end! Roland’s Cloud has finally released what so many have been anticipating, the Software equivalent of the Roland D-50, and after so many comparisons I have researched online, this is as close to the “real deal” as it gets. Complete with a built in PG-1000 programming console!


I was hesitant to join Roland’s Cloud, but after news of this release, I took the dive. I’m not a fan of subscription based services, as the basic introductory price of $19.95 per month just to play this instrument is a bit daunting, but considering the first 30 days is free, I had nothing to lose, well, for at least 30 days 😉 I have actually witnessed a Roland D-50 along with a PG-1000 in pristine condition go for upwards of $900.00, and $500.00  respectively on eBay. The first year including a free month on Roland’s Cloud would be $219.45, just a thought.

Beside the financial aspects, I have had the chance to spend 3 days learning Linear Arithmetic Synthesis, the internal engine that drives the D-50. After years of Synthesis Programming, it became second nature within an hour of “Tweaking” presets to gain familiarity. I’m especially impressed with the “TVA/TVF” Envelope Generators. Not your normal “ADSR” and more akin to Casio CZ, 8 Stage Generators than anything I’ve encountered, but with much more flexibility.

D50 plugout

I must state, this isn’t a review, this is more of a celebration. For anyone reading this who hasn’t done so already, I encourage you to hop on over to Roland’s Cloud based service, and claim your free month to delve into not only the D-50, but they have much much more! Available as of this writing:  The Roland System-8, System-1, Jupiter-8, SH-101, Juno-106, System 100, Promars, SH-2, Sound Canvas, as well as sample based Rompler’s like: Anthology 1985, 1987, 1990, Guitars, Piano, and much more …All for a FREE MONTH! Thank You Roland, you finally came through, and one of the check marks on my bucket-list is filled! 😀

Roland D-50 VS Control Panels:


Lower and Upper Common

Lower and Upper Partial Select

As an add to this post, and delving into the Roland D-50 learning curve, I found a great resource for those who ever get stuck programming this legend. I highly recommend the “Roland D50 Creative Book” available there: The Cult of D-50. Now available within the “Sound & Instrument Resources” link list to your right 😉


Update 6/26/2017:

Delving Deep into “LA” Synthesis, and finally understanding the Roland D50 Architecture, a few sounds have emerged. Think I’ll finish a bank at this point 😉 All sounds “Raw” using only on board effects. Sounds in Sequence:

Galactic Pad I > U:Saw String L:Airy String – Modulation:Pressure
Galactic Pad II > U:Tibetan L:Hi Q – Modulation:Pressure
Crystal Tines > U:Cathedral L:Chime Pad – Modulation:Pressure  (My Version of Fantasia)
Synergy Pad > U:DK Synergy L:DK Synergy – Modulation:Pressure

Update 7/1/2017:

For those who need assistance programming your own sounds with the Roland D50 VS, a great video tutorial has been created here:

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