Roland Boutique D-05 Linear Synthesizer Recreates Classic D-50

Roland today introduced the Boutique D-05 Linear Synthesizer – a Boutique version of the classic Roland D-50 from the late 1980s.

The D-05 recreates the digital circuitry of the original using what they call Digital Circuit Behavior (DCB), digitally modelling the circuits and using the actual samples of the original.

It also adds features not found on the original D-50, including a 64-step polyphonic sequencer and featuring the complete D-50 Sound Library from rare D-50 Memory Cards – close to 900 preset sounds.

Here’s the official intro video, featuring producer Legowelt:


  • Digital Circuit Behavior (DCB) recreates sound of the original
  • 16-Voice Polyphonic Linear Synthesizer
  • Authentic user interface including joystick control
  • All the original presets plus fresh new sounds
  • Compatible with original D-50 patches
  • 64-step, polyphonic onboard sequencer and arpeggiator
  • Rugged construction with metal front panel
  • Highly portable
  • Battery operated (4 x AA) or USB powered
  • Built-in powered mini-speaker
  • Compatible with optional Roland Boutique accessories

LA Synthesis

The original D-50 used Linear Arithmetic (LA) Synthesis – a mixture of short, sampled attack transient waveforms blended with digitally synthesized sustaining sounds and onboard digital effects. The combination sounded great and helped make the D-50 one of the best-selling professional keyboards in history.

The D-05 brings back LA Synthesis and adds new presets and new performance options, with the addition of a 64-step sequencer.

Here’s a look at the original D-50, with former Roland Chief Sound Designer (and Spectrasonics founder) Eric Persing:

Here’s a deeper look at the D-50 & D-05 with Legowelt:

Here’s Roland’s discussion of their DCB technology:

Pricing and Availability:

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

85 thoughts on “Roland Boutique D-05 Linear Synthesizer Recreates Classic D-50

  1. I am very excited by this. I am almost certainly going to save for one. Also the fact that the technology is called DCB, which is the same initials as Roland’s MIDI pre-cursor pleases my inner keyboard geek immensely.

  2. Any specs on polyphony?

    Whilst I’m really happy to see the D-50 recreated (I used to own one) it feels as though Roland have missed a fantastic opportunity here: most of the Boutique range have lots of hands-on editing knobs & sliders, a feature that was sorely lacking on the original D-50, and which unfortunately they’ve accurately reproduced…

    I would have been really excited to have a D-50 remake with hands on editing for the envelopes & filters – instead of all that real estate devoted to buttons to edit patch names.

    The addition of a sequencer is a nice plus but doesn’t make up for the menu-diving required to edit sounds…

    1. It’s 16 voice (8 voice in dual mode) like the original. I’m disappointed that they didn’t add a better graphic LCD and sliders for programming.

    2. They’ll likely make it compatible with their D-50 plug in so you can edit and exchange patches between them. Unfortunately you’ll need to buy into Roland’s cloud crap to access it.

  3. BiTimbral ? Aftertouch ? Compatible with original D-50 patches means 100% sysex/MIDI compatible and a PG1000 will work ? Need to wait for the MIDI implementation and more detailed specs to define it as a full replication. Here we are 30 years later needing 100 to 1000 times more powerful hardware and CPUs to model the digital circuitry behavior of 30 years old hardware. Is that progress ? Why just not recreate identical hardware in SMD form and add the USB port and more features ? The Intel CPU assembly code has not changed much. We need to wait another 20 years before DCB can emulate the multi-timbrality of a D-10/D-110 ?

    1. Yes, the original supports both bi-timbral 2 channel operation as either split or layer and also robust mode-4/guitar mode support which allows for independent pitch bend control over every string of a guitar when using a guitar controller, which also makes it compatible with MPE and microtunable. If this remake supports that, I’ll certainly get it, but if not, it’s a bit of a problem. Hope they really did copy it. Also they say it is compatible with D-50 patches: I have a lot of tracks with sequenced D-50 sysex embedded in the sequences, it will be interesting to see if it fully supports the original sysex, and also thus allows us to still use remote editors.

      Glad to see they retained the joystick and perhaps the CC voice cross fade (tone balance) support.

    2. BiTimbral: Yes, like the original it supports split and dual modes.
      Intel CPU: The JX-3P has an intel CPU. The D-50 has dedicated Roland specific chips both for sound creation and control. Almost everything the D-50 does is inside those chips.

      Like many others I’m anxiously awaiting Nick Batts review on this. He must become quite overloaded with the rate new synths and boutiques are thrown on the market these days.

      1. Meanwhile there’s an interesting side by side comparison review by ADSR on youtube. In that it is stated by the Roland representative that the D50 and D-05 are sysex compatible and that he has done a data dump betweeen them.

  4. I wasn’t overly excited when I heard about this having never owned, used or especially wanted a D50 – the closest I came being some D50 sounds on a cheap Roland soundcanvas and a sample of a D50 sound on my old FZ1.

    That said, I thought the same about a DX7 and I love my Volca FM.

    It will be interesting so see the sequencer detail and SOS and Nick Batt reviews.

    Who knows? Maybe it can deflect me from a Roland SE-02 or Toraiz AS-1.

  5. The Boutiques are starting to win me over………
    Dunno about you but I don’t have much room here in my little bedroom ……..
    There’s the argument why not use a VST but I guest you can take this to your living room……
    Wish it had a sequencer in it that’s all.
    That joystick is sure cute.

  6. If it’s compatible with the iPad Patch Base editor for the D50, then I’d definitely consider. Been considering D550 rack version but this is a much smaller package. First Boutique I’m considering since it’s digital remake of a digital synth. The other boutique don’t inspire much especially they are not analog but at the same time have limited polyphony for no reason.

    1. Legowelt said in another video that you can send original Sysex to it, so Patch Base might work. Actually excited about this one.

      Yes, I replied to myself.

      1. The Korg FM Volca said it supported DX7 sysex but it turned out to be only patch and bank sysex and not parameter sysex. So saying it supports sysex doesn’t always mean it supports the full sysex protocol of the original. Whether it does or not is a pretty important matter to determine for those planning to use remote editors or retain compatibility with old sequences that had embedded sysex.

          1. He has his PG-1000 in his studio there but he never touches it once in the above video. Is there another video where you saw him editing the D-05 with it?

  7. I hope it’s multitimbral. I still might buy it regardless (unless there will be a D50 for iOS). I won’t buy anything until after the Winter NAMM 2018 show.

    1. Within their Reface line you mean? Mwah, that could be a nice one indeed. Peculiar is that their Reface YC, the organ one, seems to be the one most sold. See lots of people around me using that one instead of the big boys, far easier to transport and still playable and well sounding.

  8. Yes and with each Boutique the sequencer seems to get better it seems.
    I’m with you on the small space issue. I’m not anti their form factor as space is a real issue for me so long as turning the knobs, pushing sliders etc. is still practical even if a little different.

  9. Roland are giving everyone access to their vintage synths so I don’t know why everyone complains. The small form factor is actually a bonus for the normal music lover who cannot dedicate an entire room to large keyboards. The d-05 sounds great. I just hope there is an iOS editor or some kind of portable tactile editor. I don’t really want to edit patches on the pc or mac. I love the small form factor.
    I have
    Roland jx-03
    Notation circuit
    Yamaha reface CP and CS
    Korg microkorg
    Korg Volca sample
    When you think about it this gives me a great variety of sounds that can fit on my coffee table. The D-05 really fits that warm smooth sound I love but I really want to make my own patches with ease.
    The circuit is the only unit I hav to edit on a Mac and now I can do it on iOS. (I would love a sample loader as well, like the volca has.)
    I like the idea of less menu diving and a smaller form factor.
    Why edit with a tiny screen when you have an iPad.
    This thing just sounds lush.

    1. How do you know the D-05 sounds great? There is almost nothing available on sound at the moment. For me I’m assuming that it will sound very similar or even identical to the D50 cloud version, and that’s awesome enough. I’d like to here a few more actual sounds though.

      1. I listened to quite a few demos this morning.
        I have of course not played it myself but I have played a d50 and I really liked the sound. The boutiques have been good if not great emulations so far and therefore I have no reason to doubt this d-05 will sound very similar to the d50.

    2. You’ll be able to edit sounds on the D-05 itself very similar to editing on the D50. Should it be midi compatible with the D50 you could also use the PG1000 programmer. Of course we’ll have to wait until Roland brings out that too in the boutique form factor, and bundles it with the D-05 for a nice price.

    3. I’ve been doing the same. I love having a lot smaller units that cover a lot of different bases. I was hoping for a Volca Wavestation, but I’ll take this instead (or both if Korg does make one).

  10. Cool! I’ve been on the scout for a mint D-550 and keep coming up short, this may just fit the bill. Rack mount adapters for these would be cool.

  11. Ohh my pre-orders are already up at Sweetwater! This was a no brainer for me .. I’m in! It may use the same exact samples as the original, but we’ll have to see what kind of character its D/A converter gives it compared to the original. Fortunately these things are small enough that if you don’t dig it its not going to break the bank in return shipping cost. The 5pin Midi In/Out and the fact it DOESN’T have tiny little knobs sealed the deal for me. So who else pre-ordered one this morning? Were you a D-50 owner back in the day?

  12. ?he D-05 is Roland’s good move, but I have an objection about the price. In the used instrument market, everyone can find the D-50 in a fairly good condition and relatively low price. Even under 350$. So why can someone buy the D-05 when with the same or lower money can buy the original D-50? Only for the step sequencer, the arpeggiator and the extra patches;
    For Jupiter-08 Juno-06 the price is fine, since the respective original synths are expensive but for D-05 I have my objections

    1. Thats a good point actually. I decided months ago for a mid-life crisis gift for mysef I wanted a D-550 in mint condition. I sold them in the 90’s when I worked for Jim’s Music Center, but never went for one myself .. I went straight into a D-70 and JD-800 at the time and bypassed the D-50. If you don’t mind an old D-550 that is all scratched up, smells like tar and nicotine (and who knows what else), has a back light thats non-functional or close too it, a battery thats going to need replacing soon, as well as uncertain condition of voice boards and possible cold solder joints .. then yeah you can find the original cheaper than the D-05. The D-550’s I’ve seen however in mint condition (which are rare) are going for quite a bit more than the D-05. Also for me with my Sweetwater card its only two cups of Starbucks coffee a month with no interest .. that ain’t going to happen buying John Doe’s D-550 off ebay.

    2. I think space IS a big issue.
      How many 5 octave, 10+kg keyboards do you have room for in your studio?

      Also D-50s in good condition are hard to find (certainly in Europe).

      That said, the D-50 had a great keybed with aftertouch.

      1. Yep. For me space for another keyboard is a big issue. I have a Korg Triton Studio, Korg Triton Pro, Korg Kronos X88, Korg Karma, Roland Jupiter-80 and a Roland JP-8000 in my keyboard studio. Absolutely no more room for any more keyboards. Had a D-550 back in the day will definitely be getting this.

    3. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. Since everyone used the D-50 for playing cumbia, the price skyrocketed and it’s actually possible to sell a D-50 in Chile for $1,000. Hey, for us Chileans it’s only $100 more expensive to a) buy a D-50 in the US including b) the air tickets from and to Chile, than to actually buy a second hand D-50 in Chile. That’s how extremely overpriced is this synth, and that’s what we’ll see corrected with the D-05. (loads and loads of D-50 presets here)

  13. As a D50 owner my big questions at this moment are:
    – Are the patches truly D50 compatible (as suggested by Roland)?
    – Will the data dump facility of the D50 operate with the D-05?
    Should these be answered with a big YES then this will certainly the big little brother to accompany the original.
    What a surprise, Roland.

  14. For me, the Boutiques are ruined by the hideous looking and oversized pitch-bend and mod touchstrips. I imagine they could have cut the width of space taken up by half. Like the SE-02, they should have left them off and just let people’s use their own midi keyboard for that. Takes up too much valuable real estate.

      1. Eurorack would have been the economical option to get to bigger controls, but that would not sell, at least not in volume. that why we don’t see anything new in System1-m form factor. Yes, there are euroracks with keyboards to fit them, but talking to a sales rep, Boutiques sell good because they look cute, don’t cost too much and are a kind of disposables. (leave on the shelf after use and be forgotten, why you think the packaging is like a book). We are living in a period were many brands try to open access to consumers all over the world that have not been doing music and don’t know what a synthesizer is or euro-rack means and don’t want too spend much money.. Thus the form factor is not a concern. Roland choses to target the Q in P*Q. other brands focus on the P to get their revenue. Different market segments. Roland is definitely smart form a marketing perspective, but the real question is how this will impact their image on the long term = How long they can sustain this strategy until the demand saturates.

        1. I dont agree that “small” drives volumes. I do not understand why 20% bigger units would not sell the same. Not enough space in studio ? Well, if you want the gear, you will make space !

    1. Those two strips actually could cone in very handy, for instance sitting on top of a Kawaii VPC modi controller that has no pitch or mod controllers, or for instance in one of my studios the two contollers are a Roland RD-700gx and Roland JD-800 .. both keyboards have only the classic Roland pitch/mod stick, so the mod always springs back to zero which is a bummer with a lot of orchestral libraries that use the mod wheel for controlling expression .. with these D-05 pitch/mod strips I can now just move the little thing on top of a controller when needed and not have to rely on mapping mod to a foot controller anymore. Looks wise? Hadn’t really thunk about it till you mentioned it lol.

    2. @Mike: I guess I understand your comment about the touch strips, but they are very useful for others. First, when using the boutiques standalone (batteries and speaker, without controller) the touch strips are the method for triggering the sounds of the units. Without them or a controller, I’m not sure how you would trigger the patches.
      In my all-hardware studio, I use a sequencer/controller without a pitch or mod wheel (electribe 2), so I am using the touch strips quite a bit and really appreciate them being on the boutiques.
      I’m pretty sure this will be my next synth purchase from Roland.

    3. Agreed. I think the size in general is a bit too small. I was heading to a local shop here in Sydney to pick up the Juno version and was shocked at the size in person and had to back out. They are sooo tiny. Sound pretty good but size and cheap build quality have made my decision. That keyboard is ridiculous as well.

    4. @Mike: Agree with you on the touch strips. On the other hand I find myself actually using the few boutiques I have very frequently for their sound and overall form factor. What’s a shame is the K25M keyboard, which is way to pricey. The Arturia keystep provides far better value (keybed, transpose etc). for price.

    5. I agree with you about those features being the main issue with the Boutique line. Had a JX-03 that sounded lovely and that I couldn’t fault in any way except for those stupid touch strips. Not only do they look silly – they are also useless. Sold the JX-03 when I decided to get rid of a bunch of random synths and get something more versatile and bigger. Got a System-8. Wonderful. Still waiting for the JX-08 plug-out…

      D-05 is super appealing, by the way!

      1. I have Jx-03 that I use with a keystep and I agree it sounds great. I think the system 8 sounds great but I would prefer a rack version.
        Tiny knobs and sliders are better than menu diving.

  15. “The D-05 recreates the digital circuitry of the original using what they call Digital Circuit Behavior (DCB), digitally modelling the circuits and using the actual samples of the original.”

    The original circuit was digital (albeit with some custom PGA’s or DSp’s).
    So DCB to recreate / digitall model the original digital circuitry !!!
    Also the samlle were all in PCM so easy to reuse those in a wave ROM.

    1. I will tell you more:
      1. ACB is more software than just digital. It’s not a reproduction but modeling.
      2. DCB is completely other history and this time this product is really good, because
      2.1. Its recreates, as you said. They took old algorhythms, old samples but new components and recreated the logic. By this way, they got rid of shortcomings of mid-1980s circuits.
      2.2. It is 16-voice!
      2.3. Its presets are compatible with initial D-50.
      2.4. they brought us all cards+internal presets into this tiny box.
      This is the first Boutique device I really want to buy. Instead of original. If it will cost the same as the D-50 card for my V-Synth 🙂

      P.S. DCB/ ACB have roots in V-Synth… Nobody blames V-Synths, isn’t it?

      1. The may got rid of the shortcomings of mid-1980s circuits, but they most certainly haven’t got rid of the shortcomings of mid-1980s front panel ergonomics.

  16. I’ll be looking at this seriously. Once you suss the structures, you can make it roar. I had a D-50, so I get it, in a big way. I could go for an ergonomic module about now, especially one that has its old esoteric library cards included. Those always contain many generally unknown gems. Korg’s software Wavestation nails that well. If there is a D-05 editor for it so I can build a master patch set early on, I could be a serious candidate. I’m not keen on the tiny form factor, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to cope, c’mon! I understand people’s minor dislikes of certain aspects of it, but F that, its a $350 D-50. Since I’m not going to buy a vintage D-50 again, even with that superior keybed in it, this thing strikes a good chord with me at a good time. Roland mostly got it right and the small blems are secondary in the face of the POWER.

    1. It was NEVER analog you twat, these vintage fetishists are ridiculous, you’re even trying to complain about digital recreations of DIGITAL synths… like, what???

  17. I love the enthusiasm for a digital synth. And I hope this is the start of a digital synth wave of interest. You can leave your old, boring less-desirable analog beasts with me.

  18. I just picked one up and yes it sounds spot on like a D-50 having owned one briefly many years ago. Theres an internal function which allows the user to have the output audio in “original” output mode with grit and some noise i.e. like the original or a “clear” mode which is crystalline and quiet thus surpassing the original in audio quality. Theres also 8 user patch banks which I can attest will load all the D-50 patches you will ever need + the PG-1000 will work with the unit. For $350 your getting alot for your money!!

  19. I love the poli sequencer, it is the only boutique that has that, and I love the small size, being so portable IS a huge deal for an artist that want to take its live around, what I would really love, is an editor like the isotonic for the Novation circuit to work with, also for the PG-1000, small case here…

    1. Agree re the sequencer, which is fun, easy and deceptively powerful. Still, find myself missing being able to change sounds with knobs or transpose easily and regret in some ways not getting an SH-01A.

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