MATRIXSYNTH: The Roland S-50 on wire to the ear

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Roland S-50 on wire to the ear

"The Roland S-50 was a futuristic looking black metal monolith with a fluorescent screen. It felt long and had 61 keys. Compare that with the measly cheap feeling two octave Oxygen 8 I use now! You could hook it up to an external monitor. I had mine hooked up to a 13″ green CRT poised on a three tier Ultimate Keyboard Rack. It also came with a digitizing tablet and pen similar to a Wacom tablet. This allowed you to draw waveforms but it was more gimmick than useful.

It was 4 part multitimbral and 16 voice polyphonic. It had a 3.5″ disc drive and 750k internal memory. You could sample at 12-bit at 15-30kHz." Click here for the full post on the Roland S-50 on wire to the ear.


  1. An interesting bit is that the S-750/770 had the ability to import S-50 samples. What was interesting about it is that these later units, although they only actually sampled on a 44.1 or 48 KHz clock, did have the ability to play back at 15/30 so that they could play S-50 imported samples at their native rate rather than converting them. And: if you poke through the menus enough, you'll find that this isn't limited to imported samples; it is possible to down-convert any 44.1 or 48 KHz sample to 15/30 KHz. If you had a sample that didn't have much content about 10 KHz or so, down-converting it to the 30 KHz rate was a neat trick for saving some memory.

  2. I remember seeing the S-50 in my local music shop in 1985 (I was 15), and the snot-nosed salesman not letting me anywhere near it (probably because we were both snot-nosed).

    Anyway, I remember him saying "the S-50 would be better if it was your third or fourth synth. Why don't you go check out those Casios over there."

    His name was Eddie.

    Why do I remember all of this so clearly??

  3. It was Brian Guitars in New Haven, CT, by the way. Any New Englanders remember this place at all? Eddie was a real snaggle-toothed looking guy. Completely pompous ass, too....

  4. For years the Roland S-330 was my main axe. It had the same architecture as the S-50 with a few more features. What a sweet sounding unit, and Roland's sound library was free for anybody who wanted to provide media (aka floppy disks).

    The S-50 is one of the sexiest keyboards ever - I will never forget when I first laid eyes on one at Exceltronix - later "XL Electronics" - in Toronto.



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