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Roland D-05

Linear Synthesizer
Published February 2018
By Gordon Reid

Roland D-05

Thirty years after the launch of the groundbreaking D-50, Roland’s Boutique version offers the same iconic sound.

It’s sometimes hard to explain why players of a certain age go dewy-eyed whenever the D-50 is mentioned. To understand this, try putting yourself into my shoes at the start of 1987. There were no affordable synths based on samples, there were no affordable synths with built-in digital effects, there were no digital audio workstations and therefore no plug-ins so, if you wanted a polished sound, you had to go to a recording studio and pay someone to obtain it for you. The D-50 changed all of that. Whether dark and menacing or smooth or sparkling, it generated a ‘produced’ sound that was a revelation, and it took the world by storm. But, 30 years later, many players don’t appreciate the D-50’s unique character even though there’s nothing else — other than the D-550 or the more recent V-C1 and V-Synth XT emulations — that sounds like it; if you try to obtain its signature sounds from anything else, including the most powerful and expensive of modern workstations, you’ll fail. Consequently, we shouldn’t be surprised that the latest of Roland’s burgeoning Boutique series is another recreation of the D-50.

The Technology

Before receiving the D-05 I was keen to know whether it sounded like a D-50 so, as soon as it arrived, I liberated my D-50 from storage, hooked the two into my mixer, balanced everything and... realised that I would need the factory sounds to perform an initial comparison. Having found the card containing these, I selected Patch 1:1 (Fantasia) on both and... blimey, the two synths were indistinguishable from one another. Digital Native Dance, Soundtrack, Glass Voices, Nightmare, OK Chorale, Intruder FX... all of the D-50’s signature sounds were recreated so perfectly that I could immediately say...

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Published February 2018