Making its debut in 1987, the D-50 was the first fully digital synthesizer from Roland. Linear Arithmetic (LA) Synthesis, which combines traditional subtractive synthesis with harmonically-complex sampled (PCM) waveforms, proved to be a sonic breakthrough. And, as the first performance synthesizer to integrate DSP effects, the Roland D-50 delivered instant studio-quality sounds to keyboard players around the world.
Well ahead of its time, the D-50 combined samples and synthesis, resulting in sounds that ranged from warm analog to dynamic acoustic and cutting-edge digital; all given a wonderful spacious sparkle by the integrated digital effects. D-50 preset patches such as “Fantasia” and “Calliope” showcased the potential of LA synthesis and, along with many others, became signature sounds for some of the biggest pop hits of the era (and continue to be used by artists today).
Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of this legendary synthesizer, this page explores the history of the Roland D-50, and features interviews with some of the original engineers, sound designers, and musicians that brought the iconic instrument to life. Now, join us as we revisit how it felt to be Designing The Future way back in 1987….
Korg M1 61
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12
61 velocity and channel after touch sensitive
2 Band semi-parametric EQ, Reverb, delay, chorus and flanger, Sound Source-LA Synthesis
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