The Roland Aira TR-8 – The Evolution Of The Classic TR-808


2014 NAMM ShowRoland is teasing a new drum machine, the Aira, that it calls ‘the evolution of the Roland TR-808 drum machine”.

Specifications are to come, so it is not yet clear what technology is behind the Roland Aira. But here’s Roland’s teaser video for the Aira, which focuses on the classic analog sound of the 808:

Check out the teaser video and the unofficial image above of the ‘Roland Aira TR-8’, and let us know what you think of the idea of a new Roland drum machine, inspired by the 808 classic!

via aymat, Space Captain, Ben Jarvis

147 thoughts on “The Roland Aira TR-8 – The Evolution Of The Classic TR-808

    1. Wow! I’ve been saying for years and years that they should re-release the tr808! It only makes sense, it was and is still one of the most popular drum machines ever made. I have faith that they wont screw this one up.

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  1. roland if you see this we love you so please train technician and design analog /digital hybrid drum and synth hardware.

    for example, we would love digital controlled analog filter and oscs. more hardware with easy preset recall and memory, yet some analog stage components underneath. then you can make light version which is digital and sell cheaper, satisfying both markets.

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  2. I have it on good authority that Roland will NEVER go true analog with anything. To them its worth more of their time and effort to spread out R and D efforts to more varied products (accordions,home pianos, etc). Sorry but it’s not coming anytime soon.

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    1. i spoke with a german roland official last spring, asking them, why don’t you release an ipad app for example or rerelease some old stuff, and they said that all officials all over the world try to convince roland japan to do so, but their minds are blocked and no one understands that in the company

      “if” they release an analog divide i really would wonder and see it as a very positive sign from roland

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    2. “ACCORDIONS AND HOME PIANOS?!” Right, so we’re more likely to see a Roland V-Kazoo than a proper Tempest fighter in the foreseeable future. Shameful news, but I thank you for the scoop all the same.

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      1. Note: the above all-caps portion is supposed to be read in a high-pitched, enraged John Cleese-type voice. The note to that affect somehow did not appear in the comment as intended.

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  3. The irony is that the TR-808 became something that Roland didn’t intend for it to become. Rogue musicians bought up unwanted 808, 909 and 303 second hand and from pawnshops and gave birth to electronic dance music. So after the $3500 Jupiter 80, I’ve lost all hope that Roland is going to produce anything analog. No worries, my Juno 106 and MKS-70 still work perfectly fine. I have a feeling Korg will re-issue the PolySix or MonoPoly at some point.

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    1. I don’t see Korg making an analog polysynth any time soon. They are rather expensive niche devices, impossible to build in a 6+ voice configuration and made as a true keyboard for the sub-1000$ market. Also, it is my understanding that SSM VCF ICs are pretty rare these days.

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      1. Maybe so, but remember that Korg is not DSI or Moog- they have are a huge company with a lot of resources to get things done (Volcas are all-anallog and $150!). You may be correct that it’s not worth their time or money to make analog polysynths, but they certainly have the resources to have Curtis/SSM-type chips made.

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      2. It’s unlikely, but if Korg was willing to dig up all the components needed to re-issue the MS20, it’s a lot more plausible that they would resurrect the PolySix or MonoPoly than to see Roland do a 180 on analog circuitry. If Dave Smith, Elektron and Waldorf can pull it off with the Prophet 08, Analog Keys and Pulse 2 for one to two grand, why can’t Korg? God knows people want those synths without the headaches involved ie. battery melting into PCB and lack of stock MIDI implementation. I’ve already spent a good chunk of change to have my PolySix upgraded into a KiwiSix (full MIDI implementation) with new wood panels.

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      3. “I don’t see Korg making an analog polysynth any time soon.”

        The Korg Volca Keys is a 3 voices analog polysynth for 150$. Korg could probably cough up something interesting with 6 voices for under a grand.

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      4. take 12 monotrons with a decent keyboard controller and your done, can’t see the problem when you are the company that produce the monotron for 38 bucks

        38×6=228 … i know thats naive but there is a way to produce cheap analog gear, and korg is the inventor of that way so i hold my money for a new synth back till korg brings me the six voice monopolysix 🙂

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  4. Why doesn’t anyone ever release a drum machine that you can actually make drum tracks with?
    I had a lot of fun with the R8, though the memory cards were vastly overpriced.

    There’s a gap between metronome-with-nice-sound and full-blown MIDI editor that noone seems to notice.

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    1. I miss my R8. I wish Roland had compromised and allowed for some song storage with the TR-8. Also, I’m not getting the point of 96Khz output. 24 bit/48 would have been more than enough.

      Still, I seriously sick of my DAW and computer. This seems to be marketed at Techno made on the fly without a computer and I’ll probably get the TR-8 soon.

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  5. I dunno guys, if this thing is a VA drum synth in box (or FM! How cool would that be) then it’d be filling a niche untouched by anyone other than Nord (and their drum box, while neat, isn’t really that great) and I’d have to start saving my pennies.

    Haha who am I kidding it’s probably a ROMpler with built-in effects and arranger/backing track functionality.

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    1. Oh god I just realized, this is Roland’s “answer” to Maschine (or, more accurately, Arturia Spark). Oh no, oh no no no please don’t Roland I’m sorry for making fun of backing tracks

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  6. If it’s at about the same price-point as the Volca series then I’m definitely interested. The one thing stopping me from buying a Volca Beats is the single output. Analog is king in sound, but for the flexibility this seems to promise you have to pay quite a bit.

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  7. 100+ Posts
    I doesn’t really matter what this is, Roland should see their is interest for some form of analogue/VA hardware machine. I think Spark, AKAI and NI Machine have the software + controller based drum thing covered pretty well…..

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  8. Casio, Korg, Roland, EMU and Elektron (not to mention a thriving DIY market) suggest that… a digital drum machine can be cool?

    The interface has very few suggestions at an unecessarily indirect groovebox way of programming, and the second demo floating around didn’t entirely suck so… I’m hopeful that digital or not, it’s simple, it’s solid and sounds good. Having spent money on entry-level analogue gear and enjoyed some of the shortcomings that come with that (I had an unlucky Monday Minibrute) I’m happy if it achieves the aforementioned. I’ll save my analogue pennies for some of the other things NAMM is promising, like a SUB37, or yannow, wait another NAMM. Paraphony is going to be big, we’re all going to get used to it, and let’s make use of it!!!

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  9. If they make anything like the DSI TEMPEST it could be quite amazing. This should be an analogue 808 , 909 , and 303 in one. With MS-20 synth as well. And it should be FM and analogue.

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  10. i read this from WIRETOTHEEAR:
    UPDATE: Analogue Ryhthm Machine, 6 Analog and 4PCM-based Drumparts, Loop- and Step-Sequencer, Stutter-, Active Step and Step Jump-Functions, Multitouch Trigger Pad / Step-Button, LED-Display, Build-in Speaker, Sync I/O 1/8? Mini-Input female Mono, MIDI In, Headphone-Out 1/8? Mini-TRS Stereo, Power via 6x AA Battery or optional Power Supply (KA-350; not included), Dimention: 193 x 115 x 45 mm (WxHxD), Weight: 372 698 Euros”.
    So…. maybe we still have hope that we will receive something that isn’t easily replicated or surpassed by anyone who has any skills in programming software and/or virtual instruments.

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  11. i think the main point is, the tr808 as intended was a way to have some sort of electronic drummer for musicians, was overpriced and didn’t hit the marked at the time of production

    so what roland will try to do is to emulate this story

    they will introduce a digital box for the price of a tempest and no one will buy it, the only difference will be that this time thy built two storage facilities for storing spare parts in case this thing will be big in 2045 hehe

    oh no its digital, they can always emulate it and have the original back …

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  12. Surely Roland would attempt to cash in on the prestige of their original analogue machines by releasing VA machines with names that are linked to the originals but sound nothing like them?

    PS MC303 and Juno G for sale….

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  13. it will probably have 3-4 oscillators, and a sample store: so you create the sound, record the sound, store it, then sequence it, then switch the oscillator to the next track. with that approach they could even get away with 1 oscillator. and if you wanted to, you could record single part directly into the DAW from the oscillator. there is no need for 12 oscillators anymore, you can synchronize each part in DAW. and if you need 12 parts playing together live, then recording and storing the sample as i described at the beginning should be good enough. now add all the digital outs and what not on top of that, and a mixer, there you go. stop f**ken wining!

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  14. How come the video unit has keys in the keyboard (303) style but this wouldn’t be possible on the origonal picture? More than 1 unit, or we haven’t actually seen the real thing yet?

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  15. From Roland’s Aira Microsite:
    “AIRA is the new series of products designed to meet the evolving needs of today’s electronic musicians.”

    Not really feeling the “teaser” video myself however … Thoughts ?

    Teaser Here:

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  16. hello , don’t know if those infos are out already : there will be a TR-08 , a TB-3 , a VT-3 and a keyboard called SYSTEM 1 . the TR-08 should be priced auround 300 euros .

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  17. As I get older and now have the dough to buy all the crap.New and old,you name it,Iam starting to realize that I aint really about what someone has,but what you have,and what you do with it.Nothing does everything,and everything has a place one a hole in your sound,used the right way..BUY THE OLD AND THE NEW. CANT AFFORD IT.GET A JOB. THE BEST MUSIC HAS BEEN DONE WITH SHIT EQUIPMENT AND LOT OF LOVE…

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