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New Roland D-50

 
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Mages
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:38 pm    Post subject: New Roland D-50 Reply with quote

Got this a few weeks ago. Rules.




Crazy powerful digital synth from roland circa 1987. Possibly the best digital synth ever made.

Check out these incredible patches this guy made:

Link


This guy does a pretty good demo of the more clean/shiny sounding classic factory patches which you've heard all over everything from the late 80s and 90s:

Link


he's playing the keyboard version, the D-50. Mine is the rack version, the D-550. He makes a mistake when he says it was released in '83-'84 (maybe a translation mistake); that was the Yamaha DX-7. but everything else he says is correct. The synth architecture seems like it is based on the JX-10 (or MKS-70) which was two JX-8Ps in the same keyboard. this allowed for some interesting effects but otherwise seems like an odd frankenstein synth. The implementation on the D-50 however made much more sense. Essentially it has four oscillators of which can either be a virtual analog waveform or a PCM sample. The idea was that by combining a short attack sample with a basic waveform you could create realistic acoustic instruments. This actually works surprisingly well although it's hardly what anyone would use it for today. The neat thing is that this powerful architecture allows for quite complex sound-design.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arggh!! should never have watched that first video, it's full of 80's flashback. Whats the riff @~3:37?? one of Jean Michel Jarre's? That is going to bug me now. Jan Hammer?

very nice sounds though!
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Mages
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeah, I was trying to figure out that one out too! I think it's some movie theme. I'm pretty sure a lot of the parts he plays there are made slightly different so he doesn't get censored.

Jean Michel Jarre definitely used one of these though. I never really listened to him before, he always seemed to me like sort of a keyboard equivalent of like steve vai. but recently I saw a video someone posted because he used almost all d-50 on his revolutions album.


Link


way over the top cheese obviously but pretty cool. the lead sound he uses is absolutely killer.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beyond my ken. I'm guessing you plug something into the mainframe looking device? At a wild guess keyboards, but much more than that is a mystery.
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Mages
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

haha, yes. they just took the keys away and put it in rack mountable box. you can plug in a keyboard controller, a sequencer, or like a computer into it.

I'm a bit odd in that I find old obsolete computers and electronics to be really cool. the history of them fascinates me. but this guy is interesting because it was hugely popular in it's time, and people still use them to today because they have a really "professional" finished sound to them. also, a lot of this old digital technology is really robust and lasts forever. people still use yamaha DX-7s for this reason, they're bullet-proof.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

soundbites sound 'authentic'/ Post some sondz of yours? I wouldn't know how to employ it but love to hear how this mother is used.
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Thomas
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the nicest bits of kit I've ever sold/regret.

(keyboard version)
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Mages
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

er... don't really have anything programmed on it yet but I can record a little bit of me just messing around with it. there are a few ways to go about making your own sounds.

a.) get this:



b.) get one of these:

- MIDI Quest
- MOTU Unisyn
- D-50 Librarian - This guy made a free editor for PC.

c.) program from the front panel.

I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on editors and don't have a PC so I'll be programming from the front panel. With a little knowledge of subtractive synthesis and the manual close by it shouldn't be so hard.
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Mages
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

here's a couple cool sounds, just messing around

http://soundcloud.com/heavystrife/messin-round-w-d-50

- factory preset "Fantasia"
- fantasia with PCM partials muted and cutoff filter opened a bit
- factory preset "Future Pad"
- future pad with some partials muted.
- factory preset "Afterthought"
- factory preset "Synth Bass" tweaked a bit
- factory preset "Intruder FX"
- factory preset "Stereo Polysynth" cutoff filter+other stuff tweaked
- factory preset "Stereo Polysynth" again
- factory preset "Spacious Sweep"

I set aftertouch to a slider on my keyboard which lets you control cutoff filter on a lot of patches. and often there's like modulation and stuff in there too. if I spent more time with it I could set it to only adjust exactly the parameters I want it to.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isn't this the keyboard that they used to make the Seinfeld theme song bass line?
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Mages
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dunno but it would make sense. it was frequently used for television, commercials, and movie soundtracks throughout the late 80s and 90s. I always think of seinfeld as like a mid- to late-90s show but didn't it actually start in like 1990 or something? In which case this would have been a very common studio synth at that time, the other one being the Korg M1. just about all roland keyboards from this period on have a slap bass sound like that though.

I can't think of too many famous uses of it, besides Enya lol. but Eric Sera used it all over the La Femme Nikita soundtrack.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome! Mages, sorry I left you hanging in the other thread when I mentioned my interest in the D-50. I was thinking I wanted the keyboard version for the aftertouch, but I've since acquired a second Ensoniq ESQ-1 as a spare and the last thing I need is another giant board. I think the D-550 is a much better option for me now. The only bummer is, I always see plenty of D-50s in the $200 range on local CL, but I can't remember ever seeing a D-550.

Great demos. Love what this thing can do from a sound-design perspective.

For programming, one thing I've been experimenting with quite a bit is TouchOSC on an iPad (or iPhone) with iRig MIDI. You can essentially design your own interface and assign interface elements a CC#. I've made templates for the Moog Little Phatty and the ESQ-1, and it's really quite simple. There's an Android version of TouchOSC as well, but not sure what's available for MIDI I/O.

rps-10: Skip to about 19:00 here. It felt like a sound-alike of that melody to me.


Link

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UlricvonCatalyst
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mages wrote:
I'm a bit odd in that I find old obsolete computers and electronics to be really cool.

You'd probably enjoy a root around in my 'retirement home' cupboard where I keep my D-110, Kawai K4R and Atari STE. I had a plug-in sampler module for the Atari at one point. State of the art, early '90s style!

My pal made most of his album (bits of which can still be heard here) using its main rival, the Amiga something-or-other.

Don't think I'd like to go back there myself, but never say never.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there is a D-50 editor available for iPad. they posted about it on the Linear Users Group but now I notice they've also spammed the D-50 ebay listings with it. looks like a kind of simplistic and underdeveloped interface but it's a real sysex patch editor not just control change messages so it could be pretty useful. a couple things I've now setup on my midi controller is tone-balance and portamento. the portamento on this thing goes to the extreme and again, it's so smooth sounding, it's amazing. you can do some real THX style pitch sweeps.

I've done a little bit of editing via the front panel, it's actually not that hard. you have to edit each partial (aka oscillator) individually but there are buttons to immediately switch between the same parameter you are editing on each partial so it's not too difficult. if you had to back in and out of a tiered menu every time it would take about 10X as long. you can also save shortcuts to menu screens you use a lot.

tips for editing on the D-550: print out the parameter reference chart so you know what you are looking at. editing envelopes is simplified if you identify the parameters that are equivalent to a simple ADSR envelope. this would be T1, T2, SusL, T5. control the overal level with the 'Depth' parameter. if you think of these as the basic starting point and the other half-dozen parameters as just extra ability, there if you need it, then it simplifies things a lot.

another feature that is interesting is the Chase function. which is kind of like midi echo. interesting uses of it arrive in the extreme settings where you can do things like play a whole melody and have it repeat over and over. it wont repeat infinitely but it will go something like 100 times in the extreme settings.
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Mages
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

UlricvonCatalyst wrote:
Mages wrote:
I'm a bit odd in that I find old obsolete computers and electronics to be really cool.

You'd probably enjoy a root around in my 'retirement home' cupboard where I keep my D-110, Kawai K4R and Atari STE. I had a plug-in sampler module for the Atari at one point. State of the art, early '90s style!

My pal made most of his album (bits of which can still be heard here) using its main rival, the Amiga something-or-other.

Don't think I'd like to go back there myself, but never say never.

nice dude! the kawai k4 is brilliant. this demo blew me away:

Link


I like the d-110 too. more simplified than the d-550 (in some ways, although multitimbral so more advanced in others) but still extremely capable and nice sounding to my ears. this guy's comments on vintagesynthexplorer.com had some great uses for it:

lorentz wrote:
Still got mine - haven't used it for a while. Originally used it as a bread and butter multi-timbral module, but as I got more and more gear, it ended up become a mono-synth - I'd have the same patch across the eight parts, with panning/tuning variations. Think 32 oscillator mono-synth, with resonant filters - you get the idea. It was big, very big.

lorentz wrote:
The other trick was get a pad tone, turn partials 2/3/4 off, so you have a 32 voice tone, create 3 or more slight variations to LFO, TVA, TVF and pitch envelope, and assign across the 8 parts, you get a rich, lush 4 voice poly analog killer. Still worth hanging onto.


to me it seems the use of these sort of old-school MIDI setups would be live use. I've thought about getting an atari st or commodore 64 w/ midi expansion and like a cheap mini-monitor and using it as a sequencer but the cost comes out about the same as just using one of the cheap little laptops you can get now. so while very cool and I would love to play around with a setup like that, the time, energy, and money involved in obtaining and learning it is just kind of excessive for what it is.
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rodvonbon
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Mages, What are your thoughts on the JD-800?


I've been eyeing them online lately, but have never seen one in person. From everything I've read it looks like a cool rompler with a built in programmer (check out all those faders and shit). Vintage synth explorer states the sounds are based on an updated D-50. There have been a couple go for $500 and under the past few months, I've been watching them, but I'm still iffy on pulling the trigger.

JD-800 at vintage synth explorer
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Mages
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw one on craigslist around here recently for $350. should have got it! I really don't want a big'ol keyboard right now though. =]

I think it's a top synth though. Like the D-50 it's known as a pad machine but it's capable of all kinds of stuff. I think the JD-800 and D-50 really tower above just about everything Roland has made since (well until the last few years with the V-Synth and Jupiter-80/50). they are super-synths with vast sound crafting ability. people describe the JD and JV series as ROMplers but I'm not sure if that description ever came from a knowledgable perspective on what these sort of things can do. there are some sound modules that truly all they do is play ROM samples. however, the JD-800 is really a full blown subtractive synth that just happens to use a digital source for it's oscillators. it's little brother, the JV-80 was meant to cover more bases and so could be used as a box of preset sounds but also had a somewhat reduced synth engine built in as well (half of the waveforms on the JV-80 are instrument samples, and half are synth waveforms from the JD-800).

the relationship of Roland digital synths, is something like this:
Hidden: 

Code:
D-50 --> MT-32 --> D-10/110/20/5
                                          JD-800 --> JD-990 ------.
                                           ^                      |
                   U-110/20/220 --> D-70 --|                      |
                                           v                      v
                                          JV-80/880/90/1000 --> JV-1080*


*[JV-1080/2080/1010 & XV-3080/5050 & XP-50/60/80/30] --> [XV-5080/88 & Fantom workstations]

and as far as I can tell the V-Synth, Gaia, and Jupiter-80/50 are all new technology.

looking at the samples on a JD-800 you can see how they are cultivated with the intention of being used as a tool kit for creating your own sounds, not just simple samples of finished sounds. Some are raw waveforms including pulsewave variations, some are short attack transients like on a D-50, some are classic digital waveforms like you'd find on a PPG, or Fairlight style vox samples, and much more that are wholly original creations for the JD-800.

the JD-800 manual is full of great knowledge including a basic introduction to synthesis. you can tell they were trying to get people excited about hands-on synthesizers again (and I've heard of roland product demos in music stores at this time where they were trying to show how easy and fun it is to use). it looks like they took technology developed with the D-70 (which had flopped) and just tried to build the most badass synth they could. The JV-80 was a more direct evolution from the D-70; it's basically the same idea as a D-70, they just tweaked everything to be simpler.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, that's a ton of info. Thanks.
It looks a bit intimidating with all the faders, but the whole reason I was looking at them is the ease of editing.
The Gaia appeals to me for the same reason. I know they're completely different from each other, I just like the hands on aspect of programming. And, while older, the JD-800 seems like a monster of a synth. Of all the demos I've watched of the stock patches it sounds very lush.
Right now I've got a Juno G expanded with an ultimate keys card, Juno DI, Poly 800 mkI and a Poly 800 mkII. I love the way each of them sound, they're all just a pain in the ass to tweak the sounds.
I'm going to keep looking and if I ever see a JD-800 go for $350 - $400 I'm going to jump on it.
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Mages
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

others you may want to look at are korg ms-2000, roland jp-8000 or roland SH-32.

and this just came out, everyone is shitting themselves over it, arturia minibrute

it's like a next-gen roland SH-101. completely analog. $500
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