Roland D-05 Synthesizer Review

In this Sonic Lab review, Gaz Williams takes a look at the new Roland D-05 synth module.

The Roland D-05 is a ‘Boutique’ recreation of Roland’s D-50 synth from the 80’s. 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 audio samples used in the original keyboard.

The Roland D-05 adds some 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.

Check out the D-05 review and let us know what you think of it in the comments!

17 thoughts on “Roland D-05 Synthesizer Review

  1. I’m down with this one, as the D-50 has a unique ‘grain’ partly born of RAM & CPU limits of 1987. The famous presets are being overemphasized, because with some care, ‘lesser’ patches with only a couple of partials are layering monsters. I once layered a Juno-1 with a Mirage sampler and it made both really blossom. I also look forward to sampling this thing, steadily building folders of the best building blocks for my DAW. The other Boutiques are nice, but this one has about 5x the depth, for both emulative sounds and sci-fi patches. BTW, Gaz and Nick Batt are about even for killer fan reviews. Good job(s), guys!

  2. Always loved the D-50. As a kid I remember it feeling even more special. A huge instrument capable of amazing sounds that was completely out of reach, both financially and in skill level. But it was fun to drool over it. Music stores were great to visit in the late 80’s/90’s, so much to be excited about. I’m sure I still can’t program a D-50 (probably don’t play much better than then either) but will definitely be adding one of these to my collection! Great review as always.

    Wonder why there’s no VST with a similar architecture to the D-50. Seems like it’d be pretty easy to replicate the basic idea of attack sample + VA sustain/release (or the other 3 modes). Doesn’t even need to be a cheesy clone, I think it would stand on it’s own. Heck, take it step further and let the user pick from a variety of synthesis methods for the attack and release sections. I nominate local VST superhero u-he to do it! Even better put it in Zebra 3, I’m sure it’s just a few minutes of work (just kidding about the few minutes I promise, but not about u-he being a VST superhero).

    1. Hi Mike – there is a Roland d50 vst – only available via Roland Cloud however, but it sounds identical, and can import sysex from the originals etc

    1. You can evidently connect original PG-1000s to this and they will work. So absent Roland taking your sound advice, that would be the way to go. Not sure how much PGs are going on eBay though.

    1. dated?! theres no such thing with synths. maybe romplers but not synths. just dont use the f***in presets. although even the presets can be cool in the right context.

    2. A synth is only as “dated” as you allow it to be. All too much of the market IS about “dated” instruments. That’s partly because there are only so many ways of producing sound, so a group of fans inevitably gathers around each one and fights for territory. I’ve played a real D-50. Its a PITA to program in depth, but if you turn off the effects, review the waveform options and figure out the top layer of the quirky envelopes, it becomes its own creature, like any other synth. The famous presets are just the show-off sounds.

  3. It sounds like the original in the vid. I loved my d-50 and could find all sorts of uses for its many layered lush sounds. I had a pg1000 and that made programming the d-50a lot easier. Being poorer now I find it alluring but can’t even afford that. Something to dream about and I hope some experimental creative people get their hands on this as it is made for soundtracks and cool space rock but would be wasted on the EDM movement where subtle is lost in the frantic use of the same old sounds and rhythms(my opinion after programming and playing since the late 70’s.) I am glad they are coming out again now maybe others than Tejano music will use them.

  4. An extra button press. George Jetson First World problems. How many people went without food last night?

    I have a D-05, and I very much like it. It is my only new synth. I’m not an iPad enthusiast.

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