This is possibly the drum machine that we’ve been waiting for Roland to build for quite some time. The Boutique recreations of the TR-808 and TR-909 have been pretty awesome but have felt more like an homage than an innovative move forward in beat making. The TR-8 Rhythm Performer introduced in 2014 was a bit more like it but we’ve had to wait until 2018 for something really special.
The Roland TR-8S Rhythm Performer takes everything that was great about the TR-8 and refines it, evolves it and opens the whole thing up to new possibilities. Along with the 808 and 909 sounds it brings in all the other drum machines too — 606, 707 and 727. These are all “ACB” (Analog Circuit Behavior) models of analog circuitry, replicating their exact behavior for the most authentically Roland groove making experience.
You’d think that was plenty to play with, but Roland has also incorporated a comprehensive sampling section. It ships with a large collection of presets but you can start crafting your own signature beats with your own samples fed in via SD card. You can build an entire kit from samples or mix and match from the classic ACB modeled drum machines. Feed them into the 11 instrument parts ready for sequencing.
The classic 16-step button sequencer is just as intuitive and easy to use as it has always been. But now you can record in velocity changes, accents, sub-steps, rolls and ratchets for each step. Drop in effects like Reverb and Delay or insert drive and crushing onto the track of your choice.
You can create fill patterns to trigger manually or let the TR-8S drop them in at a predefined measure, keeping your hands free for tweaking or waving at the crowd. You can automate everything and save up to 128 patterns in the internal memory.
This is really Roland at the top of their beat-making game. It has the sounds everyone wants, with the interface that everyone knows, with the versatility that everyone needs to make it their own.
Street Price: $699