The Roland TR-707 Rhythm Composer is a programmable digital sample-based drum machine built by the Roland Corporation, beginning in 1985. The TR-707 was a staple in early house music, particularly with acid house. It is also a staple of almost all electronic Arabic pop music (al jeel). Because the TR-707 offers a limited number of instruments sampled at 12 bits, its sound is considered dated by modern standards. However, it is still in use because of its versatility in synchronizing with other hardware and its fully featured interface, comparable to that of high-end Roland drum machines such as the TR-808 and TR-909.
The TR-727 is visually identical aside from having blue highlights on the case, but it contains a different, Latin-inspired sample set. The TR-505 contains a subset of samples selected from the 707 and 727.
The TR-707 has fifteen digitally sampled sounds. The instrument is capable of 10-voice polyphony. The individual bass drum, snare and hi-hat sounds cannot be triggered simultaneously. The instruments are labeled as Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Low Tom, Mid Tom, Hi Tom, Rimshot, Cowbell, Hand Clap, Tambourine, Hi-Hat (Closed or Open), Cymbal (Crash or Ride), as well as an additional function labeled accent, which serves to rhythmically modify the volume of the other instruments.
The TR-707 provides four levels of shuffle that operate globally on the rhythm, as well as flam that can be applied to any step. The device offers 64 programmable patterns, which are editable via step-write or tap-write, that can be sequenced together into any of four different tracks. Patterns and tracks can be stored on the device (providing that two AA batteries are inserted) or onto an optional memory cartridge with twice the capacity.
The TR-707 is particularly sought after by users of Roland gear from the same era because it can synchronize with other hardware via both MIDI and DIN sync, although it cannot do so when controlled by other hardware. There is also an output that allows the Rimshot to trigger hardware that accepts a voltage pulse. There are individual volume sliders and output jacks for each instrument group, which is unusual for digital drum machines.