Roland Aira TR-8 Drum Machine, VT-3 Voice Transformer & TB-3 Bassline Synth Now Shipping

Roland-Aira-LineRoland has announced that it is now shipping the first three members of its Aira line:

The remaining officially announced member of the Aira lineup – the System 1 synthesizer –  is expected to ship this summer.

More information is available at the Roland site.

37 thoughts on “Roland Aira TR-8 Drum Machine, VT-3 Voice Transformer & TB-3 Bassline Synth Now Shipping

    1. yeah, i kinda want the TR-8 and VT-3, but i can wait.

      the Arturia Beatstep sequencer is first on my list (possibly a few of them)
      then the Moog Sub 37.
      possibly the system-1 if i hear it and have to have it.

  1. i saw one in GC yesterday. As expected in GC it was sitting there not powered hanging out in the keyboard room not selling itself…looked decent but to bad I didnt get to hear it, but no sweat cause I just went home and used the real deal. it does look pretty well built and itsnt too big though.

  2. Am I missing something? There’s no way to store patterns outside of the device? Like a sysex dump in the “old days”. That’s pretty limiting.

  3. Where Korg is kicking Roland’s ass right now is understanding that tactile control and feel has a unique value of its own. Roland’s Aira series is a little bit like Microsoft’s Windows 8: it’s leaping too far towards a future possibility that doesn’t quite exist yet (namely Plug-Out, analagous to W8’s tablet integration) and missing the Here and Now. Like Microsoft, Roland seems to be trying too hard to create a future trend instead of listening to what musicians are asking for…which is of course Korg’s great strength: it listens to musicians, and then delivers.

    1. I agree with you to a point. Yet if the market solely drives innovation and everybody yileds to this pressure and we see genuine 303’s 808’s SH-101’s… in fact nothing but replactions of analog from the 70’s, where will will we see anything genuinely groundbreaking. I recall being amazed at the first PPG…. it was SO different from everything else. Nobody at the time said as they would now….”it sounds so digital”

      1. For me the most ground breaking stuff is coming out on iPad – the cost/function/fidelity triangle is very favourable. Vintage gear sells to people who wants to express their individuality through consumer driven authenticity. It is kind of borrowing someones elses cool in order to publicly assert that you too are cool – if you dress like Neo out of the Matrix that has to mean you’re cool – right? If you post pictures on facebook of your rad new equipment and have strong opinions on equipment that has to mean you’re deep – not digital, not binary but complex, not the same as everyone else but unique (like everyone else) – an individual with authentic passion.

        I’m not saying this is the case for everyone but truth be told free software and some creativity will get most people a lot further sonically than a little 1 Osc synth from the 80’s. Learning how to record, layer and process sounds creatively is a skill that can’t be bought and is rarely taught. But a little 1 Osc synth from the 80’s can be bought, it’ll look better in facebook posts, it will convince people of your authenticity, it will extend the illusion of self for another few years and it just might stop you from being so lonely – and you can always sell it, like shaving a beard, like wearing a long sleeve to cover a tattoo, like deleting old posts to hide the truth.

        Analog is better. Digital is weak. My equipment is deeper than I am. I am the future.


        1. Ridiculous. Using specific pieces of gear influences your creativity in different ways. The SH-101 is a single oscillator synth but when I use its onboard sequencer I create sequences that I’d never create otherwise. Same goes for the MC-202. “Digital is weak” is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard especially since you make music on an iPad. Also, has it occurred to you some people have owned their analog gear for some time. Clearly you just started making electronic music and have all the answers.

        2. This feels like one of those criticisms that actually says a lot more about the writer’s own insecurities, sorry if that’s too personal an observation…

          I just picked up an MS20 mini because I want to sound like Mr. Oizo… because I love Analog Worms Attack.

      2. Isn’t that amazing ? That no one commented about the PPG being digital. I had similar experiences in the 90s selling gear. It was an exciting time Waldorf, Access, Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Kawai and Clavia were all doing really interesting things with digital tech an no one ever said “this sounds digital”. I like the Volcas and the various analogs that are coming out but it’s not very exciting really. I’d rather see Korg remake the Z1 than make an Arp Odyssey. My buddy has had an Odyssey for 20 years and it’s really not that exciting. Most of the digital hate is mostly coming from people who don’t know any better. They just got into synths recently and have no idea what a Korg Z1 or Kawai K5000s can do. Then there’s probably some older Berlin school modular guys who hate everything.

      3. it’s mesmerizing that you didn’t notice the contradiction. tell me, how come a digital replica of classic devices is evolution and an analogue isn’t? this isn’t so much about the analogue vs digital debate, this is about a company that was lucky enough to have contributed to the genesis of a new wave of music by accident that has failed repeatedly to honor that “accident” (aka as legacy). if you take it “as is”, then you have “virtual analogue” devices that claim (as they always do) to model the non linear behaviour of analogue circuitry; but be my guest and compare it with that particular market – again, VA market; and then it’s easy to arrive at the conclusion that: such lack of features and options only makes sense if you’re talking real analogue, faithful reproduction of the circuits behind the legendary sound most people associate with Roland. Otherwise, if it’s just a digital drum machine or synthesizer or vocoder, unless you’re convinced this new technology is the holly grail of analogue modeling, it should be compared with the likes of Maschine, Spark, MPC Renaissance, so forth and so on, while TB-3 and SH-1 should be judged against other similar products like Virus and Nord Lead.

        I see this appealing only for those planning to have this legacy sound on a live rig, if at all. Don’t see any advantage in having this in the studio where most instruments can replicate the kind of sound scope you have with these, and you have like hundreds of decent sounding emulations of the sound and interface if looking for that retro feel. On a decent mix, no one would be able to tell.

        Analogue is pretty much alive and a lot of innovative devices are being made right now: take a look at the Euro Rack scene for example. Retro machines from the 70’s continue to sell well on second-hand market, and so do modern replicas of the old. Korg does understand the market much better then Roland. So far, Roland was a company that saw their market flops turn into legends and failed to capitalize on them (MC stuff anyone?) and turned their development to digital devices that may sell well but don’t exactly appeal to synthesizer enthusiasts imo.

        1. The innovation in the Eurorack market is happening mainly with digital modules. Euro is flooded with cool digital modules, so it’s hard to understand all the confusion in your comment.

          The Korg volcas are fun – but they are extremely limited instruments. It seems like you’re completely hung up on the analog/digital thing and missing the point. The TR-8 is designed for people that need multiple audio outputs, big tactile controls, DAW integration, a flexible sound engine, hardware effects, the ability to work with the instrument in a dark room in live performances, etc.

          1. Amen. I was trying to make this point on digital technologies influence on Eurorack the other day. Many people just don’t understand the the tech behind stuff, they see a modular synth and right away assume it’s all analog.

            1. You have misread my previous comment. I didn’t mean to take a stand for analogue, let alone analogue being better then digital – not at all!

              What I mean is: if you’re going digital with new devices then just go for it! Shortage of features on digital devices doesn’t hold, even if developers are claiming – as they always have – that this is the holly grail of non linear analogue circuitry modelling of THEIR own classic instruments. And what do we have here? We have digital replicas of analogue stuff, not like your usual software emulation of the goddies of the past kind of thing, no, we have new hardware that can only go as far – sound wise – as the old, but we’re told we have some new digital technology behind it that’s revolutionary in that (this is almost funny) it can sound exactly like previous technology did.

              To my mind this reads like: having computers emulating exactly the written word on paper, with digital emulations of analogue writting and ink’s interactions with paper surfaces?

              While the PPG and other digital synthesizers, even Virtual Analogue (that I own and love btw) tend to offer more options then analogue devices, propel us to explore deeper realms of modulation and sound design and I love it like that! So feel free to enlighten me as to how this particular digital releases offer anything new to anyone?

              As for the Euro rack scene. Look again: there’s plenty of real analogue oscillators by the likes of those you mention. Today it’s pretty common to have Digital Controlled Oscillators, which doesn’t necessarily mean the sound generated is digital, just means its control is; and that’s handy for ensuring tight tunning on a much wider range, even phase retrig options in some cases. So yeah, there’s still plenty of real analogue sound sources being made in the Euro scene, along with digital and that’s what’s special about this times: one actually helps the other, we don’t have to choose, all this stuff is great and offers new sonic realms for those interested. Again, not like this AIRA thing that offers the same old sound, with the same old semantics: get a new machine which can only do what you could with old tech, believing you’re buying state-of-the-art techonology that gets you closer then ever to the sound of old? maybe even better then the original at being the original

          2. Euro rack modules these days display a mixture of current technology: both digital and analogue and combinations of both. No one even cares for the analogue vs digital debate, let alone myself.

            Where’s the flexible sound engine on TR-8? It can only go as far as 808 and 909 sounds with it’s own engine, that’s as much as you can get with any subtractive synthesizer or – even if some of you may claim this isn’t so – with Maschine’s drum synthesizers, included as of version 2. And believe it or not, there’s actually samples in this TR-8, as there was on the TR-909, just you couldn’t (and still can’t) change them.

            As for saying this is better laid out for performance, I’d have a hard time understanding how velocity and pressure sensitive pads are worse for that (performance) then sequencer-based laying down of patters, even with the rest of the controls considered here: mixing faders, knobs for editting parameters on each sound and all of that. Just don’t see how it’s any better then Spark or Maschine or any of the others on that department. So that’s another strong argument, I guess.

            Multi-outputs? Just compare this new one with the older holding that thought and let me know what you think.

        2. First of all Make Noise, Harvestman, Intellijel and Malekko are leading the charge in Eurorack and it’s mostly due to digital technology and creative DSP. Why don’t people get this? There is so much misinformation on the web when it comes to digital synthesis it’s really mind blowing. Give me a complex digital oscillator over a VCO any day. I’m a synthesizer enthusiast of 20 years and digital tech appeals to me quite a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, I love analog, mostly when it comes to monosynths, but I also like multitimbral polysynths. Also, why would a TR-8 be compared to Maschine, MPC Ren etc? It’s a dedicated piece of hardware, not a controller w/software and it’s not sample based. I plan on using it for recording and live performance along with a TR707, A4, Octatrack etc. Also, have you considered the actual hardware of the TR-8 at all? It’s certainly way more conducive to performance than Maschine. I suggest anyone who doubts digital tech in synths go check out the Jexus demos on youtube and then cry yourself to sleep.

          1. Again, what I was implying here was that for a digital device it doesn’t come close to the competition in richness of features and options. Doesn’t matter if it’s got its own DSP or not. DSP means digital sound processing and usually means more options then digital, that’s all. Physical interfaces and thought for live or performance devices or controllers can be inspiring and no one questions the interaction is different, I mean, by all means, just go for it and have some fun with it!

            But my opinion holds that digital technology usually means more options and that this is a money grab by Roland where use of semantics and historic value is used to present us with old products made new again without even going the extra mile and profit from the new technology being used.

    2. This is completely off-base. You mention tactile feel and control but what has Roland done in that department? They’re given you more individual controls, so I don’t get your point.

      If anything is clear right now, it’s that something is not right in the Korg camp. They seem to have serious manufacturing issues. I know people that have been waiting for their Volcas since last year. The new MS-20 mini has some serious quality control issues and the kit will most likely be a limited run.
      The new Odyssey is just talk right now and is their supply line issues continue who knows when it will come out. You also have to understand that people completely overestimate the demand for analog gear. There is a lot of yelling going on about how many people want it but the sales do not add up.

      I’m also a bit confused as to why you or others can’t see that Plug-out is just a marketing term. All it means is that the System1 will be able to load future models of synths that they will make available for a some cost.

      This makes compete sense for Roland to do this with the state of the global economy. They create hardware that doesn’t need to be revised every year with some incremental model number since the market will not buy it. They save money on R&D, and dev costs and just focus on software until something new they are developing merits release. They are, after all, a public company and have to deal with shareholders.

      If you guys spent more time doing some research before throwing around “opinion” we could avoid the A vs B crap.

    3. Makes zero sense. The TR-8s got the best tactile control I’ve seen on a drum machine since the original TRs. Korg Volcas (love them) offer goofy little metal contacts things for programming in sequences. And what’s not to understand about plug-out tech? Also, I don’t think Microsoft has ever tried very hard to create the future.

  4. And no one gives a shit because there’s way better gear in the same price range. I’m not sure if you heard or not Roland, but no one makes electro breaks or acid house anymore.

    1. This is stupid.
      When you say “there’s way better gear in the same price range” at least name some of them, that could open a real debate.
      I will not even react on the no one makes blabla.

  5. Those who make acid are like the wanker metal heads from the 80s still hanging onto their long mangy hair and their awful music. Grow up and get a life. Acid has been dead for years punks.

  6. Missing from the Roland TR-8 is a decent onboard sequencer. There are hardly any products with ‘song mode’ sequencers allowing long enough pattern sequences for a whole song. The nord beat 2 is a nice idea on the iPad and works trouble free with the nord drum, but you can’t sequence a whole song. You could use the excellent DM1 from Fingerlabs with the nord drum (or the Roland TR-8) but DM1 can be glitchy when connected to hardware (even with the latest update). Are the samples in DM1 good enough to use it as the source of audio? There is a gap in the market. Roland could have created (they still might) an iPad sequencer for the TR-8. TR-8 + iPad at its price point would then probably kill the rest of the market. Korg could do the same with their volca beats.

    1. How do/can you change patterns on the tr8 over MIDI? Program change?

      Anyway try Sunvox. If the tr8 can respond to MIDI PC you could just assign modules in Sunvox to MIDI program changes and then trigger those modules. If not it’s still a great MIDI sequencer/sampler/effector.

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