My goodness! This Roland S-50 Sampler of mine has really been an interesting ordeal in getting the board back into shape and in near perfect working order. Probably if you do a Google search about the Roland S-50 Sampler Static Output problem you’re likely to easily find both my blog and name attached to it. You’ll also likely find several comments about what I “think” is the problem. After several weeks of really tackling the problem “again”, I finally think I have found the solution.
If you are getting static output, especially when playing hard on the keys or at high volumes with the output set to “H” on the back, then likely the problem is as I expected…the Aromat NL6X 5V DC Coil Relay located on the Jack Output Board. You can see the attached photo of the exact “pain in the neck” part. It is this relay that appears to be both the problem and answer to ALL of my issues with the Roland S-50 output including static, voice skipping, and any distortion in the sound. I have done significant testing to determine that the relay is the checkpoint of just about everything and in my opinion the “heart” of the Roland S-50.
How do you fix it? Well, first of all, the replacement part is virtually non-existent. I have called Roland in Japan and have been searching both Ebay and Yahoo Japan Auctions for over a year. Absolutely nothing has materialized. I then bought a second Jack Board off ebay as replacement and got the exact same problem. So it was obvious the guy selling it to me couldn’t get his Roland S-50 working probably for the same reason. So I ended up buying the problem all over again…laugh. The good news is that this purchase gave me a second test board to hack away at and that’s pretty much what I did. So, here is what I accomplished.
1. First I removed the output jack board from the Roland S-50 for easier accessibility. I then removed the plastic cover of the relay. For now I plan to keep it off because during my testing I found out that moisture or residue ( whatever you call it ) will build up inside and it “seems” to be a part of the problem. So eliminating the cover appears to have helped. Don’t throw it away, but just keep it safe somewhere just in case you need to put it back on.
2. This is hard to explain, but I then had to pry or bend the clamps ( left and right at the bottom and at the metal cross at the top ) in order to lift up the square metal piece holding the middle copper coil. The does NOT come off, BUT it will bend upwards allowing you to both squirt some Deoxit and using a Q-tip to clean each copper contact leg sufficiently. There are 8 copper legs in total and you need to THOROUGHLY clean each leg contact and the little metal round contact points they rest on. If you accidentally bend the copper legs, that is fine but do try to bend them back so they lay flat.
3. Now bend the copper coil with metal frame back down and using some tool of your choice, try to bend the clamps back into place so that the relay is in position and will not pop out. This is tricky. I never got mine back in perfectly because the left and right clamps are so small, but I did get it pretty firm back into position. After that I leave off the plastic cover and then slid the jack board back into the Roland S-50.
Now, when you power the Roland S-50 back on, it should start right up and boot off your floppy. You should experience “ZERO” static when you play the keys right away. If you still get static output, you then need to repeat the entire process of cleaning. I did this procedure to two Output Jack boards with unbearable static and distortion. They both work 100% now. It took an absolute thorough cleaning of the Aromat Relays, especially focusing on the “eight” copper legs and 4 contact points in between. I then left the plastic cover off. I used CAIG Deoxit for the spray which works very well. You should also spray the output jacks and the L/M/H toggle switch on the back.
I usually have the Roland S-50 output toggle switch set to the middle “M” position. I then have the volume slider set at the 7 mark. From there I set my mixer to get a good volume. Now I tend to play VERY HARD on keys. I have big hands and I when I get a funk groove going, I really get into it. I found a fantastic RHODES disk for the Roland S-50 that has great bark with a really gritty sound. It’s a superb sound which is one reason why I have been at it fixing the Roland S-50 for such a long time. It’s a great sampling keyboard and I really love the sound. When I now play the rhodes sound I get zero distortion or static output. It’s clean, clear, and very analogish sounding. It’s got that super funky rhodes sound now and I love it!
I truly believe the problem with static output now is the relay. Fortunately it’s big and built tough, because it definitely requires one to scrub and get in there with a Q-tip to get it properly cleaned. You wouldn’t want this to be a delicate piece to clean. It definitely requires a major wash. It took three rounds of cleaning to completely eliminate the static. Yes, it may take multiple cleanings, but you’ll hear the progress as the static will start to diminish and stay that way. I wouldn’t put the screws back in until you’re satisfied. Just keep cleaning that relay and it will eventually come back to life “hopefully” as good as new.
I should also clarify, the problem is NOT any bad chips on the motherboard. I thought it was, but after further testing I am utterly convinced it’s the relay.
Please comment if you have any knowledge or experience with bad relays on the Roland S-50. I’m confident I have fond the problem, but I’m still not sure exactly what aspect of the Relay is causing the problem. Thank you!!