Historic Synthesizer: Roland D-50 (2)

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The Music Telegraph
Text 2019-11-09


▲ Roland D-50

© Roland Corporation


Historic Synthesizer: Roland D-50 (2)


Roland's L.A. Synthesis is derived from the synthesis method of analog synthesizers in the past. The designers of synthesizers struggle with how to arrange and organize the variables necessary to make sound so that users can easily understand it. To quickly control and accurately program a voice, you need to know which variables affect how the voice changes. Although synthesizers can theoretically create infinite tones, the tone to make is determined by the ability of the performer to edit with given variables.



Before the D-50 came out of the world, there was a significant difference between the intuitive relationship of the parameters in the synthesizers and the results that could be checked by the performers' ears.



In general, the most commonly used synthesis method for analog synthesizers is Subtractive SynthesisSubtractive Synthesis allows you to create new tones by removing harmonics from basic waveforms such as sawtooth and square waves. This technique generally employs EG (Envelope Generator) such as VCO (Voltage Controlled Oscillator), VCF (Voltage Controlled Filter), and VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier); these elements work differently depending on pitch, tone, volume and time. Subtractive Synthesis does not offer a variety of variables, but it allows the performer to operate tone-making intuitively.



Another popular synthesis method widely used is Additive Synthesis. By adding each harmonics, you can create a new tone. While this method has great potential in creating various tones, it requires quite a lot of complex variables to achieve this possibility. Many synthesizers, however, do not provide enough variables for the best results.



Knowing digital sysnthesis methods such as FM (Frequency Modulation) and PM (Phase Modulation) are also important to understand D-50's synthesis mechanism. These digital synthesis can  create various tones with only limited number of variables. The disadvantages of these methods are that it is very difficult to combine harmonics and predict the effects of a given variable in advance, and it is difficult to program with an intuitive understanding of variables  so it takes a lot of time in tone-programming.



A Digital Sampling is then developed. This technique is to record a realistic instrument and play it at a desired pitch. In the implementation of realistic sound, this technology provides excellent performance, but there are many limitations in tone-modulation. In other words, there is a limit to provide effective tone-modulation depending on the nuance of artist's performance. 



In a broad sense, the L.A. Synthesis of the D-50 actually includes two synthesis methods: Subtractive Synthesis and Digital Sampling. Roland’s D-50 is a complete digital synthesizer, meaning that the sound is made up of a series of very complex internal calculations. The internal calculation is done with +/- (addition & subtraction). For this reason, the name of the D-50's synthesis method is 'Linear Arithmetic'. In Roland's D-50, partial and tone are combined (addition, +), and unnecessary harmonic components are removed (subtraction, -), and Ring Modulation is generated by sum and difference (+/-).






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