Roland D550: Patriarch

Best for: Cindy Lauper Ballads

 

Several times I have tried to buy a D550 and each time some piss ant has set up a robot to add five bucks to everything. After a while my moaning drove my colleagues mad, and a D550 was loaned to me to stop that sound like a balloon running down.

 

At last I have the Alpha and the Omega. At last I can hear for myself whether there is something different about this so called Linear Arithmetic Synthesis. And there is, at least in the generated waveforms.

 

The D550 is the rack version of the D50. It is a big deep box, heavy. Obviously more metal inside than the younger racks. The illuminated displays are well known for falling dark, and this one is no different – very hard to read what’s on the screen. Never mind because the programmer is here as well.

 

If the programmer looks diabolical, that’s because Satan fed the Roland engineers crack cocaine and they ecstatically added any slider that came to mind. To be fair, this is from a time long before a computer was there to do the job, but if you are reading this you have computer and you should really use that instead.

 

It takes an awfully long time to peel off the layers in a typical D50 patch. There’s reverb, under that chorus, under that two pairs of tones, and then finally when you get just one tone by itself you can hear what the hell is going on. A square wave, probably straight out of some digital counter, which can have the pulse width altered. It is very raspy and irritable. If you change to a ‘saw wave’ you get some kind of deformation of the square (probably like Casio’s phase distortion) that roughly approximates a saw, but not when the pulse width is too thin. And thus the ‘saw’ can also be pulse width modulated.

 

When I played the ‘D50 Saw’ from my JV1010, it wasn’t a close match at all. In fact the best match is a reed wave.

 

I keep reading that the filter is not a ‘real filter’ but rather another distortion of the waveform. Whatever the case, it sounds quite like the filters in the JV but with the resonance kept in check. It doesn’t self oscillate, or have peaks and bumps. It’s very musical, much better than the one in the XV series, although there’s only one per pair of tones, not each tone, or two in a row. Probably you could make something similar with care.

 

And that’s the summary – you could make similar sounds in any of the Swords And Sandals but not exactly the sound. I think Roland were a bit embarrassed about how clunky the underlying mechanism really is, and that’s why the D series has so few members. But it is a distinct sound, a bit brute force, and made to be hidden under the clangs and strums of the sampled sounds. Did the job, now hide the evidence.

 

As it turns out (a) the original owner seems not in a furious hurry to retrieve his beloved. But (b) the V-Synth has a D50 included. It never rains but it pours.

THIS TOY IS DIFFICULT WITHOUT AN EDITOR

 

IT MAKES CRYSTAL BELLS & STRING SOUNDS

THE SOUND QUALITY IS OK

IT WAS MEDIUM PRICED AND IS COMMON

 

ITS RATING IS 80's BALLAD

It was either this or a red car and I think I chose wisely.