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Roland D-550

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The ROLAND D-550 is very different from any other synthesizer,
past or present, and as such heralds the dawn of a new era in
synthesis. In the past, synthesizers have progressed through several
very diffrcnl stages. Firstly, there were ANALOG synthesizers, which
relied on a variety of components, such as, VCO's. VCF's, and
VCA's. These analog building blocks were relatively easy to
understand and program, and they could produce sounds of remarkable
warmth and character. However, when it came to accurately
simulating acoustic sounds, the process could easily become too

On the other hand, the next breed of synthesizers, known as DIGITAL
synthesizers, could easily simulate acoustic sounds, yet they were far
more difficult to program. Furthermore, the digital technology behind
these instruments seemed to imply that a different type of sound
should occur. In general, just as an analog synthesizer would be
described as "warm" in character, the digital counterpart was very
often "thin". Essentially, the two types complemented each other, one
being easy to program, the other capable of accurate simulation.
The ROLAND D-550 has now changed all that. Thanks to a new
custom disigned Integrated Circuit known as the 'LA CHIP*. Here, LA
stands for Linear Arithmetic synthesis which is the heart of the new
technology. LA synthesis involves a great many technological
advances resulting not only in a superior sound quality but also an
improved ease of programming. In this way, Roland has succeeded in
maintaining a high degree of familiarity to the user despite the
technical wizardry involved.

To explain the D—550 in a very simple manner, we must begin by
saying that it is the next step in DIGITAL synthesizers. This means
that the sound is entirely computer generated. In fact, the D--50 has
four distinct sections :

Remember, first of all. that this isa totally digital instrument,
even though the sound would seem to
suggest far more. Through LA synthesis, the D-550 appears, to have
four powerful synthesizers built in. Each of these hypothetical
synthesizers could behave like a conventional analog synthcizcr,
or a PCM sampled synthesizer. Consequently, they are referred to as
PARTIALS. since they are far more than just a pure synthesizer.
These Parlials are combined in pairs to form a TONE. A Tone could
cither be a mix of the two Parlials. or they could take advantage of
the LA version of cross modulation. In this way, some of today*
s more popular digital sounds are remarkably easy to achieve.

However, it is the performance characteristics such as after— touch, and
the control of every aspect of the sound that makes the D — 550 a
totally new instrument. These things and a sound that can only be
described as unique, the LA sound.


Technical Specifications
Type: Digital
Synthesis: Linear Arithmetic, ROM
Oscillators: 4
Waveforms: ROM
Envelopes: 1
Evelope Paramerters: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
Filters: 1
Types: Low Pass
LFO: 1
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 16
Timbrality: 1
Tuning: Standard
Modes: Mono, Polyphonic, Split
Patches RAM: 64
Patches ROM: 64
Storage: Internal, RAM Cartridge, ROM Cartridge
Editing: MIDI
16 reverb types
Case: Rack
Rack Size: 19", 2U, Full
Controls: Aftertouch, Velocity
Display Type: LCD, Backlit
Display Count H: 2
Display Count V: 40
Dimensions (WxDxH): 18 – 7 / 8 x 16 – 1 / 8 x 3 – 7 / 16
Weight: 14 lb 6 oz
Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack, Stereo Main, Stereo Headphone
Audio Output Count: 3
Power: 15w
Year Released: 1987
Manuals & Documents
Used Price: $275-450 - convert

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