Synth Site: Roland: D-20 keyboard: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 3.7 out of 5
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Reptile a part-timer user from South Africa writes:
I bought a D-20 about a month ago for R2200 (about half the price of an MC-303 groovebox. I must say, it's great value for money. My style sits somewhere between rock and prodigy-style dance, mixed in with some trance, industrial, you name it. A couple of shortcomings: -Crappy presets (but who uses the presets anyway - that's cheating!) -No realtime filter effects -Disk drive is painfully slow and takes only double density diskettes -Synth "forgets" sequenced data when switched off, but remembers previous part settings, etc, even when a new song is loaded (why I don't know!?!) -Shoddy sound quality.

I overcame the shoddy sound quality by running the D-20 thru a Korg pandora guitar multi-fx box. It is amazing how the sound quality is improved just by adding a little compression and a decent eq. Tip for other frustrated users: cheap guitar pedals (eg Zoom 505, Boss ME's) CAN and SHOULD be used for keyboards :)

Good Features: -A nice enough anal-og synth which can easily reproduce generic trance sounds. -Customisable drum machine (TIP: shift some of the drum sounds 3 or 4 semitones up if making dance or rave music) -8 track sequencer -Numerous net resources expand your capabilities immensely.

Long live dead technology!

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Feb-25-1999 at 18:18
Jussi Väisänen a hobbyist user from Finland writes:
Ah, learn to program well this thing - and there is little to learn after that! Had a D-10 back then, years ago, bought today a D-20 with 800 finnish marks (um, about 1/5 in bucks). This one gives me sounds any other piece of equipment can´t... Not many realistic sounds to be found but who cares?

posted Tuesday-Sep-22-1998 at 17:51
Bruddah Max a professional user from USA writes:
not the cleanest sounding digital synth - actually a bit gritty, but i like it. no real LFO to speak of like the D50 has, but otherwise nearly as programmable, and the filter does indeed have resonance (sweepable if you have your lead patch in the programming buffer). handy programming guide stenciled on the front - why have synth manufacturers given up on that? who cares how "sexy" the damn thing is - how does it SOUND? back to the edit buffer: if you memorize (or stencil, as i did) which button each parameter on each edit page is (makes my baby-d look like a korg dw8000...) you can do some astoundingly expressive stuff with the edit slider...

one interesting thing i leared early on (got mine in 1988) - any sound in the internal bank of 64 "partials" (up to 4 oscillators, sportfans) can be mapped to the drum kit. any sound. also can really tune the internal waveforms all over the damn place, since most of them are not multisampled. i assign the bare essentials drums to the low keys, then have one or two zones of bass patches and maybe a lead patch in the upper registers. then you can use the drum machine generator to program arpeggiations and such - very nifty for dance tunes. drum machine patterns are also able to drive external modules, even if the internal sound (ie key in your drum kit) is muted, so you're not just stuck with the internal sounds. sequencer is crap as there's no copy function, but you can record all 8 multitimbral channels at once, so dump from your computer into the d20 for playback on stage. i use the d20's drum machine to trigger arpeggiatted patterns, which is nice because the patterns can be all sorts of time signatures and the BPM is controlled by the data slider even if the BPM display isn't up - tres niftique! with a custom set of partials, drum layout and drum patterns loaded in for each song (from MIDI - the disk drive is INCREDIBLY SLOW and should only be used as a backup) the d20 can hold its own as a all-in-one dance machine, although the internal effects are, ahem, limited to say the least.

as you can tell, i get a lot from my baby-d, even though on the surface it is rather limited compared to, lets say, the korg m1. if you can find one, get the PG-10 programmer - the extra sliders mean that much more control in edit mode, and the display is better. also, consider the LA Audio output/reverb upgrade, which adds an extra output set and cleans up the hiss from the reverb. i got this back in 1991, though, so i don't know if they have it available still. without all that extra effect hiss (which was there even when the effects were set off) gone the d20 has great bottom end.

worth trying is overloading the digital filter - digital clipping in an almost musical way, especially with reedy oscillating synth parts and really low chugga bass. low end clock noise from sub-bass tuned notes (especially sawtooth) can be used to ring modulate another oscillator - makes up for the lack of LFOs on this thing.

sorry for the long review - just thought some of these ideas might give your baby-d some new life.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Sep-17-1998 at 03:50
Stefan Prechtl a hobbyist user from Germany writes:
I love my D-20! I bought this keyboard 10 years ago and used it as a homestudio-kit with the basic sequenzer on it and I used it for live-performance in a art-rock-band. Strings and Bass are good and You can push up the organs using a Flanger. So, I won´t miss my D-20!

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-27-1998 at 07:47
Magnus Andersson a professional user from Sweden writes:

Well, what can I say? It was my first synth, so it has a very special value to me. Now, nine years later, it´s still has an important part in my production. I´ve got to know it well and must say it´s easy to use, and still sounds really good!!!!! (Compared to newer synthesizers) The funniest about it is the strange sounds and noises I can creat with it. God bless D-20!

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Aug-06-1998 at 00:11
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