Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer drum machine
Roland have returned to their roots. Their legendary 'small' drum machines from the 1980s turned out to be huge hits later on. Due to the high demand for these retro machines, prices sky-rocketed. The Roland TR-8 Rhythm Peformer drum machine offers the authentic sound of the famous TR-808, the TH-909 and a number of other drum kits in an affordable new product. The TR-8 is part of Roland's Aira series, which features some other old-school gems as well. The TR-8 Rhythm Performer is considerably more elaborate than its predecessors and is equipped with 16 drum kits, built-in effects and USB functionality. The drum machine features a digital sound generator, but Roland have studied their original hardware in minute detail and taken their modelling technology to the limit in order to ensure an excellent sound quality.
Possibilities of the Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer
The drum machine has an impressive-looking design. The backlit buttons instantly take you back to the space pop and synth pop vibe of the 1980s. Like the original Roland TR machines, the TR-8 enables you to edit your drum sounds individually by means of sound-specific parameters. This means the bass drum has different parameters than the hi-hats, for instance. If you are familiar with the layout of the original TR-808, you'll notice straight away that the TR-8 features many more control elements. Each channel is equipped with a fader and several rotary knobs. As such, the TR-8 offers a lot more options for quick and well-organised hands-on tweaking.
The sequencer of the TR-8
Of course this Rhythm Performer is not complete without an x0x-style sequencer. The term x0x refers to the step-time (16-step) sequencer, which was a typical feature in the good old days, and is still used in modern drum machines. Setting a pattern is easy: a natural sense of rhythm is hardly required as you can enter the note events in step time. An interesting feature of the TR-8 is the possibility to set effects per step. This means you can add a good deal of reverb to the first bass drum of a pattern, for instance, and leave the other bass drums in the pattern untouched. The new Scatter function allows you to add effects such as glitch, gate and stutter to your patterns in real-time.
A bit of history
It is common knowledge that the TR-808 and TR-909 have achieved a classic status. The 808 drums have been part of the Sound Canvas and many other series after that since the early 1990s and it is safe to say that everyone has heard their unique sound. The 909 became the definitive sound of Trance, House and other styles of EDM, thanks to its ultra-tight bass drum, its warm snare and its distinctive cymbals. In the 1990s, Roland themselves weren't all that keen to incorporate the typical (and much sought-after) 909 sounds into their own synths and workstations. Odd, considering that vintage machines were already becoming increasingly more popular in those days. With the Aira series the Japanese company are definitely making up for this shortcoming!
- Connector for external foot pedal no
- Number of analogue input channels 2
- Number of analogue output channels 4
- Headphone output yes
- Sound source virtual analogue
- Built-in speaker no
- MIDI I/O in/out
- MIDI controller yes
- Supports USB media no
- Stand-alone yes
- USB port yes
Weight and dimensions including packaging
- Weight (incl. packaging) 2.0 kg
- Dimensions (incl. packaging) 34.0 x 55.0 x 11.0 cm
- drum machine
- step sequencer (16 steps)
- based on the Roland TR-808 and TR-909
- 16 drum kits
- great sound quality
- Analog Circuit Behavior technology ensures an authentic sound
- user-friendly controls
- backlit buttons
- effects per step
- external input with side-chaining
- scatter effect for real-time tweaking of grooves
- pattern copy, pattern randomisation
- four types of rolls: 8th, 16th, VARI 1 and VARI 2
- two analogue outputs
- fully parallel outputs via USB
- can be used with other Roland Aira product via your computer (clock sync)
- dimensions: 400 x 260 x 65 mm
- weight: 1.9 kg
- colour: black
Now the TR-8 isn't all the drum machine I'll ever need or want. It is however an immediately accessible instrument that brings 30 years of classic drum sounds at a good price and a sound quality that beats any purely software emulation.
The ACB tech really helps breathe life into the sounds and so beats using sample packs, plus the immediacy of the hands on control is just a winner.
The effects are usable, as so is the scatter effect, which surprised me as usually that kind of tool is less than useful, and being able to sequencer them is all the more techno-y fun.
If you hanker for classic Roland drum sounds with hands on control and a sound quality to rival the original boxes then look no further.
Also, its massive fun :D
I have a TB-3 running into one input and my Virus Snow/Bass Station II into the other and been experiencing some Major Acid Flashbacks!
Not once have I felt the need to include my Computer DAW in my very Exclusive, very Intimate, (just Me and maybe a Mate!) live experiments/performances, although it does integrate well with Ableton Live 9.6, Maschine 2 and Pro Tools 12.4.
The TR-8 is front and center in pride of place in my Home Studio. Next stop will be a Sub Woofer, so that I can really appreciate the full Bassiness from the Kicks, (and probably get evicted!)... :D
Roland TR-8, TB-3, VT-3, System-1 bundle
Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer drum machine combination discount 5
Roland MX-1 performance mixer combination discount 2
- 1 x Roland MX-1 performance mixer £329.00
- 1 x Roland TB-3 Touch Bassline bass synthesizer £221.00
- 1 x Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer drum machine £379.00
- 1 x Roland VT-3 Voice Transformer £155.00
- 1 x Roland System-1 Plug-Out Synthesizer £389.00
Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer drum machine combination discount 4
Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer drum machine combination discount 2
Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer drum machine combination discount 3
- 1 x Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer drum machine £379.00
- 4 x Devine JACM/3 signal cable mono jack-jack 3 metres £12.16
TR-8 + TB-3 + kabels