In 1987, one of the most influential keyboards of electronic music was ever made. The Roland D-05 would go on to define the sound of the late 80’s and way beyond. Easily recognizable by its mix of sampled attacks and quality sounding waveforms, the built-in effects (chords, reverb, eq) will also greatly contribute to your sound design. Moreover, a wide range of presets is included. These include sounds which stem from synth pop, new wave, new jack, and R&B.

Even today, the sounds of this mythical synthesizer can be heard on countless film scores. With the aforementioned descriptions, you can seize the iconic sound which is delivered by this synthesizer. What you get with the Roland D-05 is a model that scarily well emulates its illustrious predecessor. Furthermore, it has the modernity and versatility which the D-50 lacked in certain domains. This model has a lot of features and is very well designed and has the benefit to run both on USB and battery power. On a side note, this synth is particularly famous because of its appearance in the intro of Michael Jackson’s “man in the mirror”.

Pros & Cons


Vocals voice-over


Clear and balanced sound


Comes with a pop filter and shockmount


It has a small unit (including the print)


The package doesn't include a hard case.

Roland D-05 Key Features


Perfect sonic recreation of the D-50


Authentic user interface


Rugged construction with metal front panel


Built-in powered mini-speaker


Compatible with original D-50 patches


Compatible with Roland Boutique accessories

Roland D-05 Review

Sound Quality

As mentioned earlier, Roland decided to release a new version of the very well known Roland D-50 from the 80’, with the desire to bring back and modernize its recognizable mix sampled attacks, synthesized sustaining waveforms, its built-in chorus, reverb and EQ. Furthermore, the synthesizer offers a wide panel of genres including synth pop, new wave, new jack and R&B. This is made possible with its digital circuit behavior (DCB) technology which accurately recreates all nuances and details. Roland’s intention was to restitute the classic vintage synthesizer on the market in a modernized fashion. The result is truly satisfactory.


Super compact and portable, the dimensions of the Roland D-05 are an undeniable asset. Indeed, it is much easier to carry around and therefore is a considerably more portable device than its predecessor. This can come handy if you are a producer which is constantly on the move. Very resistant, this model seems to be durable on the long term. Manufacturing is qualitative with a rugged construction and a solid metal panel.

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The Roland D-05 features a 64-step polyphonic sequencer that proves to be a really great tool for performance and the birth of new ideas. Moreover, a built-in arpeggiator allows you to add movement to the Roland D-05 sounds. Possessing a 16 voices polyphony, this synthesizer will allow you to create powerful patches (preset patch: 64 x 6, user patch: 64 x 8, pattern: 64). Sounds which can also be created are smooth pads, and staccato sequencer sounds. All of the sounds are considerably unique, and every musician looks for this kind of uniqueness. All the musicians who have tried the D-50 will receive all patches and a wide range of new modules that come with the Roland D-05 synth. The module is extremely user-friendly with its joystick for sound manipulation.

How does the Roland D-05 compare?

1. Roland GAIA SH01 Review

We can definitely say that the Roland GAIA SH-01 has the specificity to be considered as a high-performance synth whilst retaining a fair amount of old-school charm. This extremely capable synthesizer also comes at a highly competitive price. Nonetheless, the control panel is very user-friendly and allows you to create great new sounds. It offers huge sound with three virtual analog engines onboard. Each of them features an oscillator, a filter, an amplifier, an envelope, and an LFO. In addition, it has a powerful synth-engine that is capable of delivering 64 powerful voices and complementary effects. More specifically, it comes with 5 effects (distortion, flanger, delay, reverb, low boost). Thanks to its compact body (37 full-size keys), the SH-01 is very light and fairly portable. All those features and characteristics make the synthesizer a real pleasure for any music producer out there.

2. Moog Minitaur Bass Review

This monophonic analog synthesizer has the particularity to reproduce the most iconic sounds in modern music. Compared to the synthesizers listed above, the Minitaur Bass stores more presets than its competitors (128 presets) selectable from 6 different modulation waveshapes. You can trigger the synthesizer via MIDI or via CV input. This makes it very easy to integrate it into your existing system. Furthermore, the dual-oscillator and the Moog filter recreate legendary synth sounds. Moreover, you have also the possibility to independently control the decay and the release times from the front panel. Finally, thanks to its compact design, the Minitaur synthesizer will suit your studio.

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3. Novation Bass Station II Review

Novation had the same intention as Roland – reintroduce an old model to the market. The Bass Station II synthesizer came out with lots of new features like the brand new acid filter. However, these additional features are combined with the effective original Bass Station filter. Other features include the possibility to create aggressive sounds with the analog distortion and the filter-modulation effects. You can recreate a tremendous variety of sounds with the step sequencer, the arpeggiator and the 2 oscillators. The synth is shipped with 64 factory presets but also has space for 64 of your own sounds on the memory chip. Last but not least, this synthesizer also comes with a full sized 25-note velocity-sensitive keyboard and a fast synth-action and aftertouch.


The bottom line is that the Roland D-05 can be a very worthy addition to your existing setup. Reassurance in your purchase can be given by the fact that dozens of professionals have used this product over the years. In fact, its popularity stems at the same time from its quality which is undeniable but also by its never-ending modernity. The D-05 takes the original D-50 and transforms into a surely special and successful synthesizer.

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