First Transmission: Roland Announces Release of TR-08 Drum Machine

Our resident gear-head, Andy Weights, takes a look at the little machine based on the original 808 drum sequencer.

TR-08 techno

Roland have released details of their mini-version TR-08 drum machine. The Waveform Transmitter’s Andy Weights has information on the 808’s little sister.

Earlier this year Ikutaro Kakehashi, the father of the Roland TR-808 died, the circle is then fitting that his greatest creations have come back around and have been reborn, smaller, stronger and with just as much analogue quirkiness, now with the new Roland boutique range the founder lives-on in his machines! Allowing a new generation to access the legendary instruments.

Let’s have a look at the most recent addition to the Roland family. The TR-08 rhythm controller, a masterful remould of the wondrous TR-808 drum machine. Nearly 40 years ago, only 12,000 of these units were sold before being discontinued after only 3 years.

This is the technology that helped create seminal electronic, dance and hip-hop tunes (especially of the 80s and 90s) and because of this reputation these machines became expensive, they are notoriously delicate and rare as rocking horse shit! Although. now with this release we all have a chance to get our hands on a piece of that beautiful archaic action for ourselves.

The Roland TR-08 boasts Roland‘s Analog Circuit Behaviour (ACB) technology, which has been used to carefully recreate every detail and quirk present in the original hardware, with each analogue circuit being accurately modelled, right down to the component level, which is the key to getting that sound.

The secret can be found in the user interface, where a plethora of controls interact with one another to realise an array of unique, analogue signals, all geared towards finding new and original sounds to bend our fertile ears. Housed in the faithful cosmetic uniform of vintage burnt colours, with reincarnated knobs, dials and switches, packaged in a unit nearly half the original size and weight, the TR-08 is a good-looking, practical and portable machine for the present- day artist.

As well as showcasing the unique vintage based electronics, the TR-08 introduces a host of modern features to sink your teeth into. For starters, the sequencer has 16 sub-steps per step, allowing the creation of detailed snare fills and intricate, rolling hi-hats.  There’s a track-selectable trigger out, allowing it to work alongside other instruments (such as the TB-03, or modular gear).

A discrete LED display allows for finer control of tempo and shuffle.  There is now no need to stop to change modes as you can program tap-in or step parts in real-time.  It also supports MIDI and audio via USB connection. Creating all the boom and sizzle of the legendary TR-808, in an affordable modern instrument, at a fraction of the cost.

In direct competition to the Korg Volca range, Roland has pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the renaissance of vintage technology blurred with modern applications. The future is looking healthy for electronic instruments makers and their exponents.

Available for pre-order now! The Roland TR08 will cost £339 and both re-ignite live performances and further complete the home studio. Our advice is go and get one!

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