Free Roland S-50 Sampler Found

Roland S-50 Sampler

Roland S-50 Sampler

Had an amazing day at the used music shop today. I strolled in not expecting to find anything and walked out with a free Roland S-50 Sampler. The sales clerk in the store knew I liked and worked on old synths so he figured I would find a good home for it. The Roland S-50 had several issues which from his perspective seemed hopeless. First, the Roland S-50 had no operating system disk. He didn’t think you could get them and he certainly didn’t know how to get them from the internet and create a new one. The S-50 also was rather filthy cosmetic wise and seemed like it was in crappy storage for quite a while. It powered up beautifully though and I later found out the floppy disk drive works great. There were also lots of stickers all over it which had autographs on them but none were famous. When I brought the S-50 home I gave it a good cleaning and removed all the stickers. It looks good as new now. The sales clerk didn’t think the sampler would sell at all due to the OS and grime so he gave it to me for helping with some English translation stuff.

Later at home I managed to create a new Roland S-50 V2.0 OS disk and the sampler booted up perfectly. I also have a copy of the S-Director Sequencer software for the S-50 in addition to almost the entire collection of S-50 disks. I also found an old CRT monitor to hook up to the S-50 which is essential to further editing of the samples. It came with a cool Roland hard shell case which will fit my second Roland D-50 perfectly. I really like those stock Roland hard shell synth cases. I’ll probably have to later open up the Roland S-50 and give it a good internal cleaning but for now everything works great. In addition, I’ll probably attach the second HxC Floppy drive emulator that I have in order to use the S-50 without floppies. That should be great to rotate through a large number of sample images.

The sound of the Roland S-50 is really excellent. I am a HUGE fan of the Lo-Fi samplers of the later 80’s and early 90’s. I know the Roland S-50 is not the most popular of the bunch, but with my setup and multitude of samples, it suits me well. One thing I really like about the S-50 is that it’s super quite when powered on. My Roland W-30 is noisy with the power inverter that hums when running. It’s annoying to listen to that all day. The S-50 doesn’t have that noise which is utterly fantastic. My early Roland sample gear now consists of an S-50, S-330, S-760, and Roland W-30. All are fun and interesting in their own unique way.

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64 thoughts on “Free Roland S-50 Sampler Found

  1. Congrats on that deal. I really wonder, how you get those deals. And I even wonder more, where you put all those synths? Do you have a warehouse? Or want to start a synth museum?

    • Hi Andreas,

      I am definitely running low on space for these synths. I actually have a backroom sort of that I can on end stack about 20-30 synths but I can’t play them. I have three ( 3 tier stands ) that I used to rotate them out when playing or working on them. Eventually I will have to sell some but until then, I enjoy playing each one as much as possible.

      Being in the country side of Japan and being a frequent shopper to a select group of used music stores, I eventually find pretty good deals. In Tokyo, stores know their merchandise better and there is more competition between buyers, so the deals a far fewer. However, out here in Nagano I find most sales clerks have no idea what they are selling and if you check often like a few times per week like I do, you can intercept the good stuff quickly. Also, if you buy frequently you get more of the discount or free items like I’ve been getting lately. Sometimes it’s just pure luck.

      There is thing about Japanese used shops that is very important. They do not want any “conflict” with customers. They would rather NOT sell a broken item even if it’s fixable or worth something. I often have to convince them that I’ll take care of the problem and will not create one for them. It’s this trust that I find helps in getting them to sell or even give me old music gear. I have NEVER complained or taken back a single purchased item. They know that and this is a big reason why they don’t have a problem giving me the stuff. Plus they know this is my hobby and that I’m a “maniac” as they say in Japanese about used music gear. They know I’ll either fix it or find a good home.

      My previous experience in the States is that used shops tend to try and pump as much money out of you and the gear you get is not always what they say it is. It’s a much different culture in the used market here in Japan. It’s interesting. The Japanese actually worry if they don’t tell you every little thing wrong with it. If it’s too much to deal with they usually don’t sell unless they meet someone like myself who they know will gladly take the problem off their hands and keep on walking. It also helps that I can speak Japanese and drum up some friendly chat topics. They know they can communicate with me which people here really enjoy.

  2. I called up a friend that I know who also has a Roland S-50. He mentioned he hasn’t been playing it because it recently started to get Static output which prevented him from playing the S-50. Here are the symptoms.

    1. Erratic output that is garbled and full of static when volume is placed about 50% or above.
    2. Sometimes the volume works ok, but when the static output starts it’s difficult to stop.

    The static is not the same as overloaded outputs.

    All output jacks have the static problem including the headphone jack.

    The volume slider has been cleaned and doesn’t appear to be causing the static.

    Other components in the Roland S-50 have been removed and inspected but no sign of soldering issues or blown caps have been found.

    There is one Roland black resin coated chip on the main CPU board that looks similar to the Roland Juno 106 hybrid voice chips. The static sounds are similar to those Juno 106 problems so my friend is curious if that one chip might have a similar issue.

    It doesn’t appear that anyone else is having this issue yet with static outputs on the Roland S-50, however, it’s likely not that many people play their S-50 right now.

    This is just FYI in case any does a search and has the same problem. Perhaps if others comment on any static or noise issues with the Roland S-50, we can eventually find the problem and then the solution.

    Thanks!

    Jim

    • Hi Jim,
      I have an S50, and have the Director-S, but the floppy has corruption. I have a lot of sound disks that are corrupt too. I have static and noise like you and thought it was a hardware problem, but then I found one patch it loads and sounds clean & great (Glockenspiel) although pretty sound it is not very useful. I downloaded Sgroup files I believe that my floppy drive is not working properly (static) and I am waiting delivery of 3.5” 720KB 2DD Floppy Emulator for Yamaha Roland KORG US1, Maybe this is your solution with static in your sounds.
      Thanks for the info! P.S. do you know where I can find a copy of Director-S?
      -Don

  3. I received a reply from a nice gentleman who is experiencing similar static output issues with his Roland S-50. I’ll post the reply here for reference. Thanks!

    *********************
    Hey Jim,

    I pulled the main board, nothing looked “bad”. Gave it a thorough cleaning with spray electronics cleaner.
    Re-installed in S-50, no difference. Someone had emailed me that it may be bad capacitors. They “leak out” after so many years. I’m not in the mood to start de-soldering things. The seller refunded my money, minus shipping, so I’m happy.
    I actually picked up an EMU Vintage Keys keyboard.Which, happily, works perfectly. :)
    The S-50 sadly, is sitting in a corner of the room. Once I clean up, I may start using it as a controller. I really like the Roland feel, plus it is 61 keys, with after touch, which is nice.

    Anyway, on my S-50, I do not think it’s the volume slider. I had them all disconnected, and still heard static. I guess the volume slider is not a direct connection, it just regulates another transistor/other part.
    I even tried replacing my S-50’s two-prong cord with a grounded three-prong. Didn’t change anything.

    I wish I had better news for you. But good luck with your S-50!

    Take care,
    Bill
    *********************

  4. One thing I noticed about the Roland S-50 main CPU board is that there is one lone chip that has a black plastic resin cover on it exactly like that of the Roland Juno 106. With the Juno 106 you can get some nasty static output with chips covered in that resin. One possibility for the static output might be that the chip needs to be removed and the black resin removed to rejuvenate the chip. The chip type is “MD6209″ which I know is different than the Roland Juno 106 chip, but, it’s still possible it could be the problem. I we may try to pull that chip and remove the resin coating. Then solder it back in and give it a whirl. You never know!

    • WOW!! Thank you Andreas very much. The schematics for the Roland S-50 will help dramatically. I don’t have the website owners email to thank him, but please let him know I greatly appreciate his help. Thank you so much!!! Jim

  5. Still no solution yet to my Roland S-50 problem, but I thought I would showcase another example of someone with the same problem. This crackle noise problem appears to be kicking around with quite a few people.

    So I set the old S-50 up and loaded up the piano floppy. Not good. But, some of the keys worked and the volume variability problem seemed in remission. Maybe I would have a few minutes of playability!

    I more formally set the S-50 up right in front of my monitor so I could “do a really good job”. I was immediately faced with a long period of static, crackling, and a great loss of keys. Pressing them down yielded haywire plonks. I went quickly to Ebay and began looking through the keyboards for sale.

    The above excerpt was from: http://johnherman.org/tmwwt-album_notes/the_dog_factory.html

  6. Here’s another comment I found just today on Vintage Synth Explorer. Same problem!

    Does anyone have an answer to Jim’s Question? I have the same problem.Has anyone ever heard of static output problems with the Roland S-50. I just acquired one and it’s virtually unplayable due to static, garbled output issues. When volume is around 30% it sounds ok, but anything higher and you get intense static. Static exists on all output jacks including the phones and mix jack. There’s also no noticeable solder issues or blown caps. Any ideas? Everything else works. Thanks!

    http://www.vintagesynth.com/roland/s50.php

  7. One thing I noticed inside the Roland S-50 is that there is one Roland IC chip with the same black resin wrapping as those found inside the Roland Juno 106. The static issue I once encountered with my Juno 106 sounds identical to that on the Roland S-50. My thinking is that it’s possible the resin around that chip needs to come off. I may desolder that chip and send it to the Synth Spa to have him remove the resin coating. It could be just the ticket to rejuvenate the Roland S-50.

    I also had similar static issues with a Roland D-50 that I recently picked up. I basically went through all the contacts on that D-50 board and wiped clean with contact cleaner. I also cleaned the outputs, sliders, and everything else really good. About an hour later, the Roland D-50 was working as good as new with absolutely no static output whatsoever. It works fantastic.

    Thus I may give the Roland S-50 another go around to see if I can knock it back into shape.

    Stay tuned for updates as I progress. Thanks!

  8. I found some Roland S-50 chatter going on here with similar problems.

    http://sgroup.ca/pipermail/sgroup/2011-November/000630.html

    Today I opened up the Roland S-50 again and did a thorough cleaning of just about every contact, slider, jack output/input, etc. The Roland S-50 looks almost brand new now and it works perfectly in every way with the exception of the distorted output. A few things I notice that stand out more clearly now are the following:

    1. The sound appears to be more of a “distorted” sound rather than “static”.

    2. When I press harder on the keys the sound gets distorted more quickly.

    3. When I lower the output parameter in edit mode it seems to calm down the static noise, but it’s still there.

    4. If I play the keys lightly I get virtually no static, BUT, it’s unrealistic to play like that.

    5. It does appear that the first few keys played sound fine and then the distortion kicks in shortly thereafter.

    I’ll keep everyone posted as I continue the research.

  9. Another interesting thing I noticed that was consistent with the Roland S-50 distorted output problem was that if I play “one key” only 14 times in a row, the 15th and 16th note would distort. Then it would cycle again and allow me to play “one key” 14 more times without any distortion. Thus it appears the distortion problem is cycling around. If I play multiple keys, the same thing still happens. Every 14 notes played seem to sound fine, but then the 15th and 16th distort. If play fast, I naturally lose track of notes played and thus it gives the illusion the distortion is more erratic, however I really think there is a pattern going on.

  10. More comments found here:

    http://www.gearslutz.com/board/electronic-music-instruments-electronic-music-production/525391-roland-s-50-roland-proe-korg-sq-8-a.html

    Pretty disappointed with the results from the S-50!
    Powered it up, loaded the system disk got sound out of it but distorted and raspy sounding, one black key was dead…all the others worked fine….so don’t know if that is just dirt or something else. The distorted output may be more serious. Tried loading a few other disks and had to retry several times before they would load….same distorted output…that might be bad menu keys or the disk drive going bad….next step will be opening it up and clean the insides and keys and then try to look into the output noise….

  11. I see the Roland S-50 has Polyphony of 16 voices. 14 working voices and 2 not working adds up to 16 voices. It’s starting to look more and more like a chip problem. I just need to find out what on the Roland S-50 regulates the 16 voices. This is definitely sounding more and more similar to the Roland Juno 106 voice chip problem. Like I mentioned before, there is one chip covered in resin wrapping identical to that of the Roland Juno 106. However, in the S-50 there is only one chip called “MD6209″. Might this be the chip that controls the 16 voices? Not sure. I’m thinking of desoldering that chip and having the black resin removed like with my Juno 106 synths just to see what’s on the inside and whether it would work or not.

    Sure, there still could be a problem with the output jack board or even the keys themselves. We’ll see.

  12. UPDATE:

    A good friend Alex sent me this email update. Unfortunately he bought a spare part that didn’t solve the problem, BUT, we’re one step closer in that the problem is NOT the jack board. This is good news and something I kind of expected. I still believe deep down the problem is on the CPU board and my eyes are still on that black resin wrapped chip “MD6209″. The symptoms are much too similar to the Juno 106 chip problem. Thanks Alex for contacting me with your valuable information.

    I should also add you are very lucky to get a part from Syntaur Productions. They don’t update their website and I’ve bought things there that were not in stock and later got a refund. It’s very frustrating when companies like Syntaur Productions don’t update their stock on their website. I guess the S-50 part had been sitting around for a very long time. I usually don’t buy from Syntaur because they never have the parts in stock I need. Great find!

    Hello, Jim
    I’ve just read your new comments at the S-50 thread.
    A week ago I received another jack board from syntuar, but problem remains the same.
    I really don’t know if this board is also broken, or the problem belongs to CPU board (as you guessed).
    I confirm that my S-50 shows all the symptoms you’ve described in your last posts.
    I’ll try to found some information about specific CPU board parts.
    Thank you for your effort! Keep me in loop, please. I believe the solution is almost reached.
    Alex

  13. Hello Alex!

    Thank you very much for the valuable information. I’m sorry the spare jack board didn’t work, but I suppose you’ll have the spare parts for later use which is always good. On the bright side, it is good news in that it eliminates the jack board and perhaps focuses more attention on the CPU board. I think it’s highly likely that if we replace the CPU board in our S-50 samplers the problem should be clear.

    I have a friend named Allen who runs the Synth Spa and fixes Roland 106 chips. I plan to pull the black resin covered “MD6209″ chip from my S-50 CPU board and have him remove the black covering. I then will re-solder the chip and see if it makes a difference. In case you are not aware, the black resin covered chips in the Roland Juno 106 although different, cause the exact same problems in the Juno 106. I immediately recognized the problem with my S-50 and when I saw the chip covered in black resin plastic I knew that “could” be a problem. Allen soaks the chips in some sort of 99% alcohol for a few days that lifts the plastic off and exposes the hybrid chip inside.

    In 9 out of 10 cases, the chip comes back to life and is 100% perfect. The Roland Juno 106 is then brought back to life and works excellent. The Roland S-50 is “hopefully” the same. The insulation of the black resin wrapped around the chip causes the chip to malfunction. The symptoms are exactly what we are experiencing on our S-50 synths.

    I’ll keep you posted and hang in there! We’ll get this solved!

    Best regards

    Jim Atwood
    Nagano-city, Japan

  14. Hello again Alex!

    One more thing is that it is amazing you were able to get the part from Syntaur. They usually don’t update their website when parts are sold. You were lucky to get one in stock. Many synth part sites do not update their websites and Syntaur.com is one of them. Buyers need to beware! This has happened to me with Syntaur in the past and present. I either have to email ahead or lately just don’t buy from them.

    I’ll keep you update on my Roland S-50. Best of luck.

    Jim

  15. Hi Jim ,
    My name is Nigel . I live in Nagoya , Aichi . I find your site really interesting and informative . When I was in the UK I used to have an S-50 ( sadly it died after many years of use and abuse ) , here in Japan I have an S-550 , but sadly don’t have the scsi interface so I am still using floppies with it .I was reading with interest that you use a HxC Floppy drive emulator to use the S-50 without floppies. would that also work with the S-550 ? I have found this usb – floppy emulator and wondered if you have heard of this ?

    http://www.plrelectronics.com/lab/usb_floppy_emulator_technical_details_and_instructions.php

    http://www.plrelectronics.com/forum/roland/659-roland-s-5xx-s-7xx-floppy-disk-usb.html

    By the way I have a spare msx standard mouse that works with roland samplers if you are interested ? I have 2 it seems a waste that the spare is not put to good use , you are welcome to it .

    Best regards Nigel

    • Hello Nigel! Thanks for the comment.

      Yes, the HxC would work fine with the S-550. The HxC has a Shugart Floppy Drive setting which most of the older Roland Samplers use such as the Roland S-50, W-30, S-330, and the S-550. The USB Floppy Drive I am familiar with but to my knowledge it is untested. In fact, I researched this before I even considered the HxC and I ultimately settled on the HxC because Plreelectronics seemed fishy to me. I have yet to hear of anyone who has successfully used that device with the Roland Samplers even though they indicated it works at the link you posted. The HxC is proven to work though and it does work very well with my S-50, W-30, and S-330 samplers. The S-550 uses the same drive as the S-50 so it should work just fine as well. The key to these floppy drive emulators is that they must be compatible with “Shugart” 720KB DD Floppy Disk Drives. Many of the emulators you find on Ebay are not compatible with Shugart drive systems. So you have to be careful.

      I appreciate the offer with the MSX Mouse. If you’d like to sell it I’d be interested for sure. I kind of gave up looking for one a while back so I’m not quite in touch with what they are worth, but feel free to send me what you would like to get for it and I’ll be more than happy to consider it. I really appreciate you making one available.

      If you have any other questions, please let me know anytime. Happy New Year!!

      Best regards,

      Jim Atwood
      Nagano-city, Japan

  16. Hi Jim ,

    I hope you had a good New Year !!!

    Thanks for your advice about the Usb flpppy , I also have the feeling Plreelectronics are a bit dodgy .

    The Msx mouse is a spare I have had lying around for years , It would be nice if it was being used rather than being wasted so I do not want any money for it , you can have it for the cost of postage and packaging . I don’t know how much it would cost to send it to you ?

    Best Regards

    Nigel

    • Hello Nigel! Thanks again very much for the offer. What’s the best way for me to send funds? I can do Paypal if that’s easy for you. Cost of shipping I am not sure about but I can check. Happy New Year by the way!

      Jim

  17. FINALLY fixed my Roland S-50 with the distorted and static output problem. I was also losing 4 voices now every time I cycled through the keys. After downloading and studying the PDF Roland S-50 Service Manual I came to the conclusion that I needed to remove the IC14 MD6209 chip. That chip is the one with the black coated resin on it from the main CPU board. I then removed the black outer plastic coating and then re-soldered the chip back into the CPU board. Presto! The Roland S-50 now doesn’t have any static or distortion coming from the outputs. Plus I have all the voices sounding as they should. I also adjust the Trim on the CPU board and it seemed to adjust everything quite nicely. Now I can finally enjoy the Roland S-50 Sampler.

    Case closed!! Finally!

  18. Congratulations, Jim! Really great work – another common synthesizer problem is solved:)
    Could you describe what do you mean when you talk about adjusting “the Trim on the CPU board”?
    Thank you again!
    Alex

    • Hi Alex! There is a plastic trim cap on the CPU called VR1 if correct. I used a driver and adjusted the trimmer as I played the S-50. The sound difference is very noticeable and you can adjust from a clean to a more gritty sound if you like. It’s pretty cool. Before I fixed the IC14 chip, I tinkered with the trim and noticed that it cleaned the distortion quite a bit but it did not remove the static. The static was a result of an insulation problem in the IC14 chip. I knew when I saw that chip that it could be the problem because the issue was exactly the same as my Juno 106. Although the chip is different, the concept was the same. A black resin coated wrapper was used to conceal the hybrid chip from competitors copying the chip. ( So the story goes ). The S-50 works flawlessly now since I removed that black wrapper. I’m going to test again on another board I’m getting soon. The Roland S-50 may be limited but with today’s recording technology you can record tons of tracks no problem. Thus the S-50 keeps me interested. Thanks! – Jim

    • Hello Alex! I just wanted to update you and say on the second Roland S-50 I was working on, cleaning the relay worked and cleared all distortion, static, and voice problems. The Jack Board “could” then be the actual problem. It’s good that you have a backup relay.

  19. A friend of mine in Japan is sending me a free Roland S-50 CPU board and Jackboard for spare parts. THANK YOU!! I plan to desolder the IC14 chip and use acetone that I ordered from Amazon Japan to remove the black covering again. The process is exactly the same as the Roland Juno 106. The same deal was done on both of my Juno 106’s on all voice chips. The symptoms on my Roland S-50 were EXACTLY the same as what I experienced with the Roland S-50. I’ll try to take photos next week when I get a chance. The Roland S-50 is working really well now but would like to tinker more on a spare board to see if I can tweak things a bit. The Roland S-50 really sounds great and it’s quite fun to use now. I’ll update next week with some photos hopefully of the removed chip.

  20. I just picked up an s-50 in great physical condition but the LCD doesn’t seem to be working so I’m using the composite output for now. I’m also getting a disk load error 08 when loading the system disk. Has anybody come across this problem? Does it sound like the drive has gone bad? I have tried several disks with no success.

    • Hello Roy! Unfortunately I probably am not much help with your two issues as I haven’t had those problems on my S-50 yet. However, I can say with reasonable certainty that your disk drive is likely in need of replacement. You could try using a different system disk or even the S-Director boot disk. I used that once when I first got my S-50 because I didn’t have an original startup disk. It worked fine. However, the original system disks should work regardless. Unless your system disk is bad, you may need to replace your floppy drive or get an HxC Emulator which I also use.

      The LCD I am not sure about. If you find out please let me know.

      Jim

      • Well good news. After cleaning the S-50 a bit I got the system to boot up. Looks like the drive is working fine for now. The LCD is still shot but that’s a problem for another day. The bad news is that I have the same static/distorion issues that you had. I know that you fixed them by removing the resin on the MD6209 chip. Is there a way to remove the resin on the chip without removing the chip from the board? Also can you let me know what you used to remove it? Appreciate it.

        Thanks,

        Roy

      • Hello Roy!

        Great news about the floppy disk. It’s hard to diagnose those without actually seeing the condition of your board, but your idea of cleaning was an obvious wise choice. It’s now likely that your floppy drive is fine and just needed cleaning. I’m sorry to hear about the static problem. Indeed I fixed mine by removing the chip, black cover, and then soldering it back into the S-50. I am now actually this week trying the process a second time for a Japanese friend of mine. So you might say I’m testing the process for a 2nd time.

        The first time I actually had trouble removing the IC14 chip. It was soldered on both sides of the board and there were quite a few delicate pins. Ultimately I had to wiggle and snap off the chip but luckily the legs were all intact and long enough to re-solder back into the board. ( Although the legs are shorter now ). On the second S-50 I tried a different approach by adding fresh solder to the holes which allowed me to this time remove the chip 100% intact. That trick works I now see. Currently I am soaking the black resin in acetone which takes a few days. I’ll then re-solder the chip and will let you know if my second S-50 works without the static distortion.

        Basically, the S-50 chip is tough to remove. I’m not great at de-soldering but I’m also not that bad. It was a bit tricky and after straightening the pins and then adding fresh solder, the chip was much easier to remove.

        Although the first S-50 was fixed with removing the black resin on the chip, I will confirm with my second repair job whether indeed the static is coming from the chip.

        Thanks!

        Jim

  21. My soldering skills aren’t great either. You are probably better than me. I’m wondering if there’s a way to remove the resin without removing the chip. I might try just turning the board upside down and dipping it in acetone. Any particular brand of acetone that you recommend? Thanks for all your help and I love your blog!

    Roy

    • Hi Roy,

      The Acetone is 100% acetone. Your idea sounds great but unfortunately this second one is really tough getting the black coating off. I’m still soaking it and so I’m not sure if you’re idea would be feasible considering the time and possible knife work to remove the outer jacket. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

      Jim

    • Hello Roy! Something I found that you can try which might fix your static problem.

      Excerpt found on Vintage Synth website.

      “Output distortion on the S50 can be caused by dirty contacts of the relay that switches the outputs on power up. Due to the outputs being hard wired to voices, it will then only appear on certain voice groups. In my S50 the first 8 voices where fine but the second 8 sounded distorted. If your relay is slightly better it can also be the upper 4 or 2 voices that are affected.
      This was fixed by cleaning the relay and resoldering its contacts to the board.”

      • The relay in the Roland S-50 is a Matsushita Aromat NL6X-DC5V which seem to be impossible to find. There is one from Panasonic EW/Aromat NL6X-DC5V but I’m not sure if that will work or not. For now it’s best to try and clean the one currently in the S-50.

  22. Today I fixed a Roland S-50 sampler by removing the plastic cover from the Matsushita Aromat NL6X-DC5V relay and cleaning the contacts with alcohol contact cleaner. After re-booting the S-50 I found the static distortion had disappeared and that all voices played perfectly. I would thus recommend cleaning your relay FIRST before attempting any sort of IC chip removal.

    Please comment if this works for your Roland S-50. Thanks!

    • Hey Jim, I’ve been busy attending the NAMM show so I just got a chance to clean the relay. Unfortunately that didn’t solve the problem for me. I’m not sure if I cleaned it right though. I cleaned the legs going into the PCB. Was I suppose to clean the inside? If so, could I just spray contact cleaner all over?

      • Hello Roy,

        I can confirm that in my case, cleaning the relay has solved pretty much all of the static issues and voice drop outs. What you need to do for starters is to carefully pop off the plastic cover on the relay. The copper strips are the contacts that I cleaned under the central copper wiring piece. The first two strips of copper are easy to clean on both sides, but it’s the central ones that are more difficult. A Q-tip cannot reach that area. Instead I used Deoxit with a pin size straw and shot a bunch of cleaner in there. I then warmed it up for a few minutes and the distortion appeared for about 15 seconds and then completely disappeared.

        One thing I did notice is that on some patches I got a bit of distortion back but it was different. I then switch the back from H to M and it solved that problem. I think Alex above swapped his Jack board but reported no change in his static. I actually think the replacement jack board likely had the same dirty relay problem. These relays are VERY sensitive and may require cleaning again if the sampler is not used often.

        In your case if you try to get in there and clean the copper contact directly you “should” hear improvement. Then you can continue cleaning until it completely disappears. If you hear improvement but can’t quite get it 100%, then you may need to remove the jack board, de-solder the relay, and then clean from the bottom. This may require dismantling the relay.

        Finally, I haven’t been able to locate a replacement relay part for the Roland S-50. It’s a real pain to find so likely we are stuck with making sure the relay is clean. My first S-50 did have a chip problem, but I think my situation with that was unique.

        The Roland S-50 is an excellent sampler. I also have the Roland W-30 and while it has more features, it has a terrible humming or whining sound coming from a converter or something like that. I had the same thing on my Yamaha SY-77 and was able to replace that by changing for a newer 3rd party LCD. The Roland S-50 is super quiet and nice to use. ( Note I’m talking about the machine itself and not necessarily the 12-bit samples…laugh ).

        Please let me know how it goes. Thanks! – Jim

    • I was the one that originally posted the relay cleaning to Vintage Synth. I can add that I have never found a replacement myself either, although mine hasn’t gone bad again after cleaning.

  23. Today I had some luck connecting a newly acquired portable TwinBird LCD TV to the back of the Roland S-50. This worked beautifully in allowing me now have a monitor that would sit nicely on the S-50 while playing or using the S-Director Software. I originally bought the portable TV for watching while on the go, but I completely forgot that Japan recently changed 100% to digital TV broadcasting. The TwinBird LCD TV was originally made in 2004 and is not compatible with Digital TV signals. So, it was nice to be able to salvage the TV and use it with the Roland S-50. It can be run off an adapter or charged which is nice too. While it’s true that using a portable TV can render the screen print small, I actually found the TwinBird LCD TV to be crystal clear and quite easy to read. Perhaps it is because of the LCD screen, I’m not sure. In any event, I look forward to diving into the insides of the S-50 and sequencing a few tracks using the S-Director sequencer.

  24. Roland S-50 SYS-503 Director-S tip. For those who don’t have the dongle for the SYS-503 you can always record the sequencer data via midi to any external hardware or software sequencer. Thus you can use the S-50 Director-S as a scratchpad. Then you can playback or edit the data via an external sequencer which is probably much better for editing anyway. The Roland S-50 is excellent for creating grooves and sequences on the fly. The dongle doesn’t allow you to save the sequencer data to a floppy disk for later playback and editing. I have found sending the data instead to an external sequencer to be a better feature. Then you can just save the sound data and you’re set. The mult-patch settings are done via the OS 2.x system software and not the SYS-503 so playback of the midi data via an external sequencer is no problem. Forget the dongle!

    • I finally got back to my S-50 issue. I did what you did, sprayed a bunch of contact cleaner on the relay but it made no difference on my s-50. I didn’t use Deoxit though, I used PureTronics contact cleaner. I’m wondering if the MD6209 could actually be the culprit. I might try to remove that and see if it makes a difference.

      • Hi Roy,

        I’m sorry to hear it’s not working for you. I remember when I cleaned my relay I had to pop off the plastic cover. I then reached down with a cotton Q-tip to gently rub the copper contact with alcohol contact cleaner. I remember some static still prevailed. However, later I sprayed Deoxit and over the course of an hour the static distortion gradually disappeared. I have now been using the S-50 for over a week without any issues. It’s now silent and clean as a whistle. Perhaps you’re not quite getting in deep enough to clean all the contacts or as you mentioned using Deoxit may help like it did with mine.

        Jim

  25. I have a Roland s-50 sampling keyboard I bought in a used music shop in Lagos, Nigeria (It was actually imported from Japan) and I found out that the CPU is bad and the screen doesn’t display, but when it does it tells you “insert system disk”. I’ve tried all I could to fix these problems but no success, pls is there anything i can do to make it work? This machine is too powerful to be a mere decoration in any music studio. I will appreciate your kind assistance, Thanks.

  26. Hi everyone,

    I have a Roland S-50 sampler that’s been plagued with Relay problems. I acquired a second output jack board and it had the same issue. Similar to my Casio CZ5000, the relay takes a short while to power up properly and during this time I get static throughout all outputs. I replaced the Casio CZ5000 relay and now it works perfectly. I want to do the same with the Roland S-50, but I have a big problem. Unlike the Casio CZ5000 relay, the one for the S-50 is no longer made and extremely rare it seems.

    What I need is the following:

    Aromat NL6X 5V DC relay.

    Now, I have found on Ebay some new Aromat NL6X relays, but they are 12V DC. The relay size and build look identical except that it’s 12V DC. Both relays are Aromat NL6X but just different voltage.

    I don’t know much about relays, but is there any way to either convert or swap out a component in the relay to create a 5V DC relay? Given that both are identical, my thought is that there might be if lucky, just one component that I can modify or swap out to get a 5V DC relay.

    Here is the photo of the 12V DC relay. The S-50 uses a 5V DC. When comparing this photo to my S-50 relay, it’s identical in appearance and with the schematics written on the top plastic piece.

    Any creative ideas would be greatly appreciated. I’m 99% certain my problem is the relay and I need to swap it out. Right now I’ve cleaned it thoroughly and it has worked in allowing me to play the S-50 with a clean sound after about 15 minutes of static after power-up. ( Identical to my CZ5000 problem from before ).

    I’m hoping an electronics guru here can point me in the right direction. Note that I know with the Casio CZ5000, one could bypass the relay completely as a substitute fix, but I’m not sure if you can do that with the S-50. The relay definitely looks more complicated.

    Thanks very much!

    Jim

  27. Hi Jim, i’m Gabor from Hungary. Your blog is fun to read, and a great source of info about those old musical instruments we so love… ;)
    I have a Roland S550 and i’m courious if the SYS-XXX Dongles are all the same (and are maybe interchangeable), or they are not matching. Could you please making a short test, and checking, if the SYS-503 dongle is working with the ROLAND S-330 sampler and SYS-333 software (if you have all the tools for this)?
    Thanks in advance, regards:

    Gabor

  28. Hi, sorry if this isn’t proper etiquette, but I have an S50, in great condition with original box and disks for sale. I was hoping to transfer my old S330 samples over to it, but it turns out it’s a little bit of a faff. So, I’d rather it went to a good home, and this seems to be a bit of a hub for S50 enthusiasts. Pick up only, Central/East London. Drop me a line if you’re interested.

  29. Hi Jim. I just picked up an S-50 thru eBay and am really enjoying it. I have a question about your post. You say, “In addition, I’ll probably attach the second HxC Floppy drive emulator that I have in order to use the S-50 without floppies.” Did you swap out the S-50’s internal floppy and replace it with the HxC? Or is there a way to connect the HxC using one of the ports on the back of the S-50?

    • Hi John,

      You have to disconnect the floppy drive and then use the flat ribbon cable along with the power cable to connect to the HxC floppy Emulator. Thus you can’t use both, but I usually leave my floppy drive inside and simply dangle the Emulator outside. The reason is that I actually use my floppy drive more than the Emulator these days because my setup consists of a Roland W30, S50, and S330. I found that for converting purposes, the floppy drive was a bit easier for me. If I need to use a lot of sounds, I use a CD-Rom drive connected to my W30 and create CD Roms when needed. My only wish was that the S-50 had an active SCSI port, but unfortunately they don’t. The CD Rom drive is way faster than floppy or the HxC.

      Regards, Jim

      • Hello Jim,

        I am interested in how you get rid the resin from the MD-6209 S – chip. I desoldered it from my Roland Sampler-Board but it looks like that the material is something like “Stone”. I put it in Aceton for 24hours, but nothing happened. Feels like Stone.

        Thanks for your help.

        Regards,

        Volker

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