Synth Site: Roland: D-20 keyboard: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 3.7 out of 5
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wiredog a professional user from US writes:
Well, I bought it in '87 new, because I couldn't afford a D-50 or an M-1 (wish I had bought the M-1 instead...) so I spent the next 5 years convincing myself that it sounded better than it did.. It was OK in a band situation, though. I think it would have been a fantastic keyboard had it come out in, say, '85, instead of '87 (after the *D-50*)...the factory patches were all very weak and thin, and brittle. There was nothing smooth about the D-20. As I got into the instrument more, some of the best sounds were made by making huge layers...that helped at the expense of polyphony.. The programming...? More complicated than it needed to be...you know, when you have to push 7 buttons 15 times repeatedly to get to the TVA level for the 4th partial...or whatever. But, you get used to it..

Lets see...stripped down LA synth. 32 voices (partials), up to 2 partials per program, and 2 programs for a "patch" ("play mode"..in performance mode, you only got the basic 2 voice patches..)Jeez...three layers of sound building...crazy. The voice was a simplified D-50 set-up..either a "synth" or a "sample" partial, (the "synth had a filter in the loop, the "sample did not.."

Similar to the D-50, the D-20 used structures to determine the type of oscillators the "pairs of paritals" used...it also threw in some ring-mod type structures..not good for much as i remember..

Other than that...one vanilla LFO per voice, simple filter, simple rate/level envelopes... Crappy reverb and tap delay FX, they didn't help much.

It had that goofy 8 track sequencer....very limited. Frustrating. Many times I used a 4-track and live recorded overdubs, rather than mess with the D-20's sequencer... Years later, I did find a good use for the seq...I did long, "ambient" looping 8 track pieces of sound FX, such as "night-time" bug sounds, "startrek-bridge" sounds, etc...very nice and convincing, although I'm sure Roland didn't have that in mind...LOL

Nothing was terribly realistic, unless you were trying to model the sound of "a thin, brittle, stripped down digital synth". In that case it did very well. it works well for music "played by a musician who couldn't afford an M-1".... The onboard FX are slightly better than the old spring reverb in peavey amps... The D-20 had attack velocity, and nothing else...

*you could do some nice sounds if you carefully composed and layered huge mutli-patch stacks together..ofcourse at the expense of polyphony..

About the 3rd year I owned it, many of the panel buttons stopped working...also some of the keys lost tension and became "physically" and "sonically" unstable (wrong velo triggers, etc..) The cost to repair was not very cheap, if I remember correctly...

It was a price point, something Roland rushed into market to get people "into the stores"...lets just say, many Roland Engineers probably won't put the D-20 on their resume'.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jun-21-2001 at 01:31
sovan a professional user from india writes:
I'm a full timer pro player and at this time though i haven't got D-20 but i had owned it once. and the feeling i got was fantastic. the rich sounds corroborate with the MIDI of D-20. it is one of the best synth of ROLAND. at this moment i'm using D-80 and it is also a good one. well guys if u wanna go for D-20 don't delay get it now its one of the best i've seen. i've done numerous programm with it and it had never given me a problem! thank u bye-sovan

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-May-23-2001 at 12:54
Latif Abbasi a hobbyist user from South Asia writes:
I bought a D20 in late 80s and still have it. I never regretted my decision then and neither do I regret it now.

In those days, it was hard to find something that HAD IT ALL: Sequencer, Disk Drive, Synth, MIDI, etc.

Although the synth and sequencer are not as powerful as many latest products available today, I'd still say; it is not a bad keyboard and if you already have it, don't sell it cause you can still do a lot. For example, it can be very useful if you use it in combination with something else, such as SB Live. The powerful effect processor of SB live and rich sound of D20 pads can give you a new world of sounds. Overall, it is not that bad at thought by most musiciians and you know, many a times, it's the man behind the gun.

posted Monday-Sep-04-2000 at 06:35
Mark Farrell a hobbyist user from USA writes:
I brought the old D-20 out of the closet the other night after reading some of the reviews here. I had never really like the way it sounded years ago and I moved on to different boards. This time I hooked it up through an effects pedal that does a variety of tricks (chorusing, flanging, etc..) and what a world of difference !!! Now the downside.. I decided that things were sounding so good I'd go after some patches on the internet. Found a bunch, downloaded them and began loading via sysex. Excellent variety of patches until... tried loading one set and the D-20 went into la-la land. Total lockup !! Blank display on powerup and the d#$m thing would not reinitialize. I had found a warning along with one set of patches that if the board had ROM version 1.03 or less this could happen and the internal battery would have to be removed to get out of the fatal crash. Bummer !!! A multitude of screws to remove, but the process did work. The ROM's are user installable, but the Roland site has no way to contact them for "support" (surprise, surprise) to find out if they are even available. Has anyone else run into this and did you get it fixed ? Other than this problem I may start playing the D-20 again since its resurrection with external effects.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jul-06-2000 at 09:11
Erwin Jr. from Argentina writes:
I have my D-20 only one month ago, but I love it. Although I don't still manage very well it, I dedicate him hours and hours to learn all their functions. I interpret the keyboard in a band of here of Cali and it was behind a sequencer, until I gave with the D-20, and now I am devoted to learn their handling, because inside little we will record and I need to manage it very well. If somebody can help me to get the manual or to tell me in wich pages of the internet I find it, i would thank infinitely him to write me to my address. Also if somebody wants to communicate with me to discuss on the qualities or the handling of the D-20, he/she can also write me, because I have already learned enough envelope their handling. Excuse my english, but I speak spanish and this translated it with a translator of the net. Thank you Erwin Jr.

posted Tuesday-Apr-11-2000 at 18:56
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