Today, the drum machine experts over at Roland are officially unveiling an updated version of the TR-8. The new TR-8S is designed to continue the company’s tradition of providing music makers and performers with some of the most iconic electronic drum sounds in history.

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The previous generation Roland Aira TR-8 Rhythm Performer offered both 808 and 909 drum sounds along with a host of programmable effects and Roland’s classic sequencing. This time around, the company is including every sound from its previous generation TR-drum machines with authentic recreations of the 808, 909, 707, 727, and 606 sounds. According to Roland, the TR-8S is a “detailed, component-level model that sounds and behaves exactly like the original hardware.”

That all sounds like great news to me, but we are also able to access an “extensive selection of samples” provided by Roland. There are loads of presets built-in here, but we can also use the SD card slot in order to expand our library of sounds even more.

As for sampling details, you’re looking at 600 seconds total in mono at 44.1kHz with an individual sample time of 180 seconds. Nothing crazy here, but that’s more than enough to work with. While the machine is also a fully functioning USB audio interface, it has 3 stereo outputs which will more than likely come in handy for external processing, live gigs and more.

Clearly the ability to layer all of the modeled and sampled sounds with our own allows us to create some very interesting and extremely customized drum kits and the like. In fact, we get up to 128 memory banks in order to store our kits, settings and routing. Each of which offer 8 variations that can be chained together in real-time (or not).

We are also getting a more extensive lineup of effects this time around as well:

  • INST FX: THRU, HPF, LPF, LPF/HPF, H BOOST, L BOOST, L/H BOOST, ISOLATOR, TRANSIENT, COMPRESSOR, DRIVE, COMP+DRV, CRUSHER
  • REVERB: AMBI, ROOM, HALL1, HALL2, PLATE, MOD
  • DELAY: DLY, PAN, TAPE ECHO
  • MASTER FX: HPF, LPF, LPF/HPF, H BOOST, L BOOST, L/H BOOST, ISOLATOR, TRANSIENT, TRANSIENT2, COMPRESSOR, DRIVE, OVERDRIVE, DISTORTION, FUZZ, CRUSHER, PHASER, FLANGER, SBF, NOISE
  • Other: SIDE CHAIN (for EXT IN), SCATTER (as one of AUTO FILL IN function)
  • …More specs here.

Here’s what Roland had to say about the built-in sequencer:

Roland’s famous “TR-REC” step sequencer has been at the heart of electronic music production for decades. In the TR-8S, it’s been enhanced and modernized to be better than ever. Via the 16 TR-REC buttons and velocity-sensitive performance pad, users can develop intricate grooves and build detailed fills with velocity, accents, flams, and adjustable sub-steps. 

There are no details on a release date thus far, but you can expect a $699 price tag when the Roland TR-8S Rhythm Performer finally does hit.

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