Roland D-05 vs Roland D-50 Head-To-Head Comparison

ADSR takes a look at the new Roland D-05 and compares it to a vintage Roland D-50.

Both synths are digital and use the same samples and synthesis method (LA Synthesis), but the synth engine is implemented on different hardware. In addition, the D-05 introduces some new features, like having the original D-50 sound cartridges built in, and offering an on-board sequencer.

Pricing and Availability:

The Roland D-05 is available to pre-order now, with a street price of US $350. See the Roland sitefor more details.

70 thoughts on “Roland D-05 vs Roland D-50 Head-To-Head Comparison

  1. expecting the same digital synth engine to sound different on different computers is the same as expecting a calculation to have different results on different pocket calculators.

    there may be differences in data depth and therefore in aliasing, but then it is not really the same engine any more. if you do not change parameters, results are identical.

    since the D-50 has no digital outs and no USB yet, this test uses the analog outs of the synths compared. these are analog components (A/D converters), so there may be some slight differences.

    1. While the sum of 2 + 2 will always be 4 how the sum is displayed is an important component. While I prefer the value displayed in the warm glow of a Nixie tube, others prefer to see the result printed on paper.

      I can definitely the heard a difference. The D50 has a je ne sais quoi, a joie de vivre and a les carottes sont cuites that the bland digital recreation lacks.

      Roland really should ditch the digital circuit modeling nonsense and give musicians the all analog D-50 they demand!

    2. Just wait 10 years and people will be arguing that a re-issue of a VST doesn’t sound as analog and natural as the original VST.

    1. As Peter Kirn is saying over on cdm, it’s time for them to innovate more within the boutique form factor. Off the top of my head I’d say there’s a ton of room for new products:

      – a Volca Sample / MPC competitor
      – a portable mixer / 4 track digital recorder with analog tape compression and performance looping features (almost an OP-1 competitor)
      – a full fledged midi sequencer (call it a boutique MC-500?)

      1. I would love a multitrack midi/CV sequencer in a Boutique case. And also a drum machine that could load different samples and algorithms – – not just an 808/909 sound alike.

    1. I disagree about the joystick. Its helping to sell me on one, because blending the right patches is a lot of how you get many of the bigger sounds. Its a good, intuitive tool on the fly, if you learn what each Structure is about. I have some real D-50 time under my belt, so I appreciate how accurate the model is. Using DigitalNativeDance at this point would make you a digital weinee, but I love blending synth under acoustic samples. Its a bit ironic to use Jete Strings as a member of a soft-orchestra string section, but that kind of layering is a lot of the D-50’s charm as a stand-alone instrument to begin with. I’m not looking to use it for obvious solos; I want it as a secret sound design ally.

  2. seeing this, just convinces me all the more they could do a JD-800 in this format.
    two banks of sliders, like the JP-08, with button select/sequencer control on bottom for what the sliders edit. overlap the TVA/TVF and pitch envelope sliders in one row, LCD off to the left in place of the joystick, and then another bank of sliders to the right of it. variable number of faders per function edit could be visually indicated by disabling LEDs of sliders not in use for that part (ie TVA & TVF having 10 & 11 sliders respectively) when that function edit is selected
    16 buttons on the bottom enables the sequencer they love to add to all of these, and also doubles as function edit selection button for the sliders.

    1. The D-50 was totally digital. That’s the first time I’ve seen a vintage gear purist admit that digital could sound analog.

    1. It’s not about re-using already over-used presets. Though it’s cool they’re included, they sound pretty cheesy. It about using another type of synthesis, that’s not much used these days, to make new and different sounds.

      I feel the same about CZ synths. They have such a unique sound, but are under-appreciated for all what’s possible with them. Would love a remake of that, but happy with VirtualCZ.

  3. Where will Roland take the Boutique format after this? I can’t think of too many other Roland legacy products for them to revive that would work. Maybe a Jupiter 4? I’d really like to see a sampler that’s not just another SP. Maybe something akin to the S750/S770. I’d like to see more original ideas like the A01 too.

  4. Funny nobody’s mentioning the V-Synth XT which has an excellent built-in D-50 emulation. It even has two modes, a lo-fi original D-50, and a hi-fi V-Synth (I think the filters change very subtly and the internal sampling rate goes to 48kHz instead of 41.1kHz).

    So this is actually Roland’s 2nd public attempt at cloning the D-50.
    (if you ignore the D-70 and JD-800 which is a D-50 on steroids)

    But I think they’ve really messed up in not providing sliders and pots for editing.

    1. [quote] So this is actually Roland’s 2nd public attempt at cloning the D-50. [/quote]

      If you count in Roland’s VariOS module (anybody remember that one? Early 2000’s…) it might be their 3rd attempt.

  5. Interesting that Korg has such a different approach to most of their old relases on iPad for $20-$30. For the physical synths they release, makes sense to make analogue synths that you can’t recreate on the iPad.. Seeing these digital hardware recreations in hardware form, really the only benefit is that they are more tactile than an iPad, if that’s your thing. Hopefully they make more lik the SE-02 which so far is the only one I would consider.

    Maybe another analogy should be buying CDs in 2017. Vinyl yes, but a CD?

    1. I buy CDs in 2017. Better audio quality than lossy files, streaming eats my data cap and I’ve noticed that my music has been disappearing from the iTunes library too which bothers me on principle.

  6. I love the boutiques, I just wish roland could license other manufacturers to make some non-roland gear too – like a boutique esq-1 or mono/poly…

      1. seriously, the mini concept is awesome for those of us with limited space. Maybe some people have a warehouse to build racks and racks of shelves to hold all of our full sized keyboards, but others of us have nowhere near that kind of space.

  7. Where this differs from the other boutiques is that the original vintage hardware can be bought second hand for less than the boutique version.

  8. The owners manual is now on Roland’s site, together with structure of the engine. No TVF for samples. Seems It only support bulk sysex dump/load. (that should mean no sysex per bank and not per patch and ofcourse not per parameter). Well at least that is progress compared to the TR-8 , System 1 which did not support sysex at all)

    For for some weird reason Roland never publishes the sysex implementation which most Boutiques do support over DIN. It could be it does support it. Just waiting for someone to make an editor. or connect a PG1000..

    1. > The owners manual is now on Roland’s site …

      Ah… check out D-05_ParameterGuide_eng01_W.pdf pg 35.

      Supports guitar mode, and in guitar mode each channel responds separately to notes and pitch bend, just as with the D-50. So it’ll work with guitar controllers and is also fully microtunable, just like the D-50.

      And if you look in the sysex protocol documented there on pg 39-43, it does seem to have full individual parameter support just like the D-50, and therefore will work with my PG-1000, according to the D-05 manual.

      And if it doesn’t match the manual spec … I’ll simply return it.

      Based on the manual though, I officially endorse this product! 😛

  9. I love the idea of these instruments. In general, I wish they had made slightly larger, more robust hardware, but in the case of this instrument, because it doesn’t depend on the spacing or feel of knobs, this might be the best one yet. Add to that that it has sixteen voices of polyphony, and that’s pretty cool!

  10. It’s identical, great! Now there are two versions of the same hard to program uninspiring synth in the world because Roland is too daft to understand that the appeal of hardware is dedicated user interface, not sonic quality. We’ve already got D-50 vsts in the world, having a hardware box means nothing.

  11. Having it in hardware form means I can play with the joystick and giggle like a maniac. That’s what its for. Also, its not that hard to program. That goes double if you add a software editor. Like old E-mu sounds, the D-50’s add a unique sort of air and breadth to layered patches. Its not the obvious ‘vintage’ 80s sounds that count as much as the added beef you get by painting with the thing more subtly. I don’t need for it to be ideal; I just like the left-field input of using a quirky tabletop. It’ll be like an Oblique Strategies card with buttons.

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