Roland D-550 Linear Rack Synth with a D-50 Memory Card, $499!

Overview: The Roland D-550 is a rack-mounted version of the iconic D-50 synthesizer, released in 1987. Known for its distinctive sound, the D-550 utilizes Linear Arithmetic (LA) synthesis, which combines sampled attacks and synthesized waveforms to create rich, complex tones. The D-550 quickly became a staple in the music industry and is revered for its lush pads, dynamic leads, and unique textures.

Key Features:

  • Synthesis:
    • LA Synthesis: Combines sampled waveforms with synthesized sounds to create complex, evolving textures.
    • Waveforms: Includes a wide range of PCM samples and synthesized waveforms.
  • Polyphony:
    • 16-Voice Polyphony: Allows for complex and layered sounds without note drop-out.
  • Oscillators:
    • Dual Oscillators: Each voice has two oscillators that can combine different waveforms and samples.
    • Partial Structure: Each tone consists of up to four partials, which can be mixed and matched to create intricate sounds.
  • Filters and Envelopes:
    • TVF (Time-Variant Filter): Digital filter with resonance for shaping the tonal quality.
    • TVA (Time-Variant Amplifier): Controls the amplitude envelope of each partial.
    • Envelopes: Advanced envelope generators for detailed control over pitch, filter, and amplitude.
  • Effects:
    • Built-In Effects: Includes reverb, chorus, and EQ, enhancing the overall sound quality.
  • Performance Controls:
    • Patch Memory: 64 user patches and 64 preset patches, expandable with external memory cards.
    • MIDI Implementation: Full MIDI capabilities for integration with other MIDI devices and software.
  • Connectivity:
    • MIDI In/Out/Thru: Standard MIDI ports for communication with other MIDI gear.
    • Audio Outputs: Stereo outputs for connection to amplifiers, mixers, or recording equipment.
    • PG-1000 Programmer: Optional external programmer for detailed, hands-on editing of parameters.

Sound Characteristics:

  • Rich and Complex Tones: Known for its lush pads, dynamic leads, and intricate textures.
  • Expressive Synthesis: LA synthesis allows for highly expressive and evolving sounds.


  • Genres: Suitable for pop, rock, electronic, ambient, film scoring, and more.
  • Usage: Ideal for studio recordings, live performances, and sound design due to its versatile sound engine and powerful features.

Country of Manufacture:

  • Japan: The Roland D-550 was designed and manufactured in Japan, known for its high-quality build and innovative design.

Notable Features:

  • LA Synthesis: Combines sampled attacks and synthesized waveforms to create unique and expressive sounds.
  • Advanced Editing: Deep parameter editing capabilities for detailed sound design.
  • Compact Design: Rack-mounted format saves space in studio and live setups.

Notable Users:

  • Jean-Michel Jarre (Electronic/Ambient): The pioneering electronic musician has used the D-550 in his lush, atmospheric compositions.
  • Vangelis (Electronic/Ambient): Known for his expansive soundscapes, Vangelis has incorporated the D-550 into his film scores and music.
  • Michael Jackson (Pop): The D-550 has been used in various pop productions, including those by Michael Jackson, for its rich, dynamic sounds.
  • Enya (New Age): The D-550 has contributed to the ethereal and layered textures in Enya’s music.

The Roland D-550 is a powerful and versatile rack-mounted synthesizer known for its distinctive LA synthesis, rich sound, and deep programming capabilities. With its 16-voice polyphony, advanced filters, and built-in effects, the D-550 remains a valuable tool for musicians and producers seeking complex, evolving sounds. Whether used in studio recordings, live performances, or sound design, the D-550 delivers exceptional performance and creative potential, solidifying its status as a classic synthesizer in the music industry.

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