Roland TR-08

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The Roland TR-08 release date was expected for a long time. In 2017, the Japanese Brand finally released a truly faithful and improved replication of its well-known TR-808. Back in the 1980s, the original 808 defied sound and genres to become one of the most popular products in the electronic music world. Our Roland TR-08 review demonstrates how its successor brings the look, sound, and feel of the authentic 808 (with technological improvements) back to the forefront.

Roland TR-08 Key Features

  • Ultra-compact recreation of the legendary TR-808 drum machine
  • Programmable via classic Step and Tap write modes
  • Includes DK-01 Boutique Dock for multiple-angle viewing
  • Dedicated, track-selectable trigger output for controlling external instruments
  • Hands-on control including tone, level, tuning, and decay
  • Added Compressor, Gain, Tune, and Pan for selected instruments
  • Battery-operated (4 x AA) or USB powered
  • Sequencer has 16 steps with 16 sub-steps for detailed patterns and rolls
  • Built-in powered mini-speaker

Functionalities & features of the Roland TR-08

Obviously, the Roland “boutique” TR-08 has modernized the original TR-808 with more precise features. Now, you have the possibility to create accurate and intricate snare fills thanks to its 16 sub-steps per step sequencer. Moreover, you can also use the TAP button which allows you to generate any beats you want (as seen in the Roland TR 08 tutorial below).

The TR-08 is also battery powered and incorporates USB (audio/MIDI) and MIDI DIN connections. Additionally, the built-in battery offers lots of comfort in any situation. The drum machine includes a built-in mini speaker as well.

Moreover, Roland has included a built-in compressor. Sound-wise, 11 instruments are present on this new version. 5 of them are switchable, meaning that there are 16 different possible sounds. However, you cannot program 16 sounds simultaneously. Each instrument has its own sound level, some has tone and tuning (for instance, the drum and snare drum have tone and tuning).

You also have to keep in mind that this drum machine isn’t meant to be a drum machine with which you can play sounds easily. Conversely, it is much more like a sound programming drum machine. It has 2 pattern parts. If you use the first one, you can have a 16 step pattern. On the other hand, if you want a longer pattern, you could go into the 2nd part to have a 20 step pattern.

Furthermore, compression, gain and tuning can be added to bass drum sounds using the “menu/substep” button. Essentially, the substep function to give more action in the pattern. Roland also offers a DB step function which further contributes to a deep sound.

Decay and a pan functions are featured as well to let you modify the sounds to your own taste. Furthermore, the instructive Roland TR-08 manual will help you master the drum machine quickly. Another source of useful information is the youtube channel of the brand or videos by passionate users which demonstrate some useful tr 08 tips.

Handclaps cannot go as low as you wish but the idea is that this product isn’t meant to be a versatile and groundbreaking unit. In fact, the primary idea is to simulate the original 808. In that respect, the Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) contributes to this impression and delivers a vibrant and lively sound. With its extensive functionalities and features, the Roland TR-08 price seems completely justified.