Roland Intros TB-03 Bassline Synthesizer, TR-09 Drum Machine, VP-03 Vocoder & More

roland-system-8-synthesizer

As part of its 909 Day celebration, Roland is introducing 30+ new instruments – with more than half a dozen that will be of interest to electronic musicians.

While detailed specs are still to come, here’s a quick overview of the new electronic music gear that they’re debuting today.

The Roland System-8, above, is a new polyphonic synthesizer, based on the circuit-modeling technology that they introduced with the Aira System-1. 

roland-tr-03-bassline-synthesizer

The second synth introduction is the Roland TB-03 Bass Line synthesizer – a modern take on the classic TB-303.

Joining the TB-03 is the Roland TR-09 Rhythm Composer drum machine:

roland-tr-09-drum-machine

The Roland VP-03, below, is a ’boutique’ version of the classic VP-330 Vocoder:

roland-vp-03-vocoder

In the DJ products category, Roland is introducing the TT-99 Direct Drive Turntable:

roland-tt-99-direct-drive-turntable

The most original introduction of the day may be the Roland AE-10 – an all-new digital wind instrument, that’s uses traditional sax fingering and and has a built-in sound generator:
roland-ae-10-wind-instrument

Note: Roland has debuted these product on their site, but not released details specifications yet. We will share the details as they become available.

107 thoughts on “Roland Intros TB-03 Bassline Synthesizer, TR-09 Drum Machine, VP-03 Vocoder & More

      1. Yeah right. Everyone should stop asking since it’s fallen on deaf ears for over 2 decades now. All we ever get is this same digital modeling bullshit over and over and over… Roland just simply does not get it. Did anyone really expect analog reissues of these? Come on. It’s Roland. Let everyone else make what people actually want. Literally; everyone else.
        “We want a new Jupiter 8” OK “Here’s a 4 voice digital toy with a Jupiter 8 paint job. Cool?” “We want a TR-909!” OK “Here’s a rompler in a new sort of 909 case. Cool?” Fuck you Roland!

        1. Amen Brother. We ask for analog…they insult us with this digital crap and say “here you go, this is what you asked for”. They just still dont bloody get it. I hope the dickheads in the product department sink to the bottom of the ocean…with all the lawyers already there. Im as mad as you. And disappointed.

    1. I think if everybody can just shut the F up, keep quiet and happy with your behringers, akais, blablabla, and let people make what they want for people who want too..
      Not happy with it? go listen david guetta

    2. They ARE doing a lot of other things as well. That said, these old machines were darn good, and expensive, so there is a market for them. So why not?

      1. They are. I was told by a guy at Roland that the models have been tweaked a bit since the original Airas were introduced, but essentially they’re the same. What they’re going for with these units is to more closely replicate the tactile experience of using the original machines.

  1. Deepmind will have a huge waiting list while System 8 will have a slow take up and short shelf life,. Roland seem confused these days, with conflicting product ranges, and perenially deaf to what synthesists have been crying out for. The fiddly boutique tb03 is the Tb3 in mini digi drag. Sure it now has a dedicated envelope knob, but only for elven fingers.. Volca are cheap analog and design classics, but Boutique are answering a question nobody asked, namely what if we make cut down crippled minitaurised versions of our legend, and basically p!ss all over our reputation, well…what is left of it.

    1. The Behringer synth is a fancy knock-off of the Roland Juno-106 with the addition of a B&W screen and tarted up effects algorithms stolen from someone’s 1998 workstation synth.

      Not sure why people are getting so wildly excited. Yes, it has DCOs and VCFs. Been there, done that. Dozens of times. Every company on earth started innovating with digital technology because the sound was boring.

      The true innovation in the industry is happening in two areas (a) modular, where an array of innovative *digital* modules is starting to turn heads, and (b) software synthesis, where a few hundred bucks goes a long, long way.

      1. yeah but for a lot of us modules is a little out of reach price and real estate wise. Don’t get me wrong I would love to build a eurorack but it isn’t realistic until I win the lottery

        1. …you don’t have to win in the lottery, sure you need some money for starting your modular system, the main difference is that you can always expand it, so you are not stuck on one maschine….and there are affordable modules since the market is growing . but yes in the end you want this module and that module….so play lottery and get a BIG modular system…you’ll have fun with it ????

          1. I think I would need to win the lottery to build out space for them real estate in the bay area isn’t cheap. I would love to get into it – my intro to synthesis some 20+ years ago was on a wall sized serge but the money and space really does become prohibitive

        2. well 3 random*source serge modules will cost the same or less than your average synth but you will have tons of fun with it – but on the other hand they totally work differnt cause they are not your average synth. long story short, build your own stuff and you can have whatever you like without thousands of euros/dollars.

          1. yeah but because you are purchasing all the pieces (filter, vca, envelope generators, etc) as well as IO modules those 3 source modules balloon up up in cost real fast to get up and running. and space really is an issue

      2. Whatever Deepmind’s shortcomings, and I haven’t liked any of the demos yet, it is a (relatively) inexpensive analog poly. The irony of which is that it is based upon a Roland design that Roland themselves are inexplicably unwilling to reissue. The high price analog excuse doesn’t wash any more, in fact Tb303 clones have been affordable for many years. I just don’t get what Roland are playing at. If ACB created something sonically new I could better understand their direction.

      3. So where’s the modern 12 voice poly analog synth that can compare to the Deepmind 12 that’s less that $1500?

        The sound might be boring to you, but the amount of people who have been pining for analog synths these days says otherwise.

    2. “Deepmind will have a huge waiting list while System 8 will have a slow take up and short shelf life”

      What is this tribalist bullshit?

      XBOX! PLAYSTATION! MY FOOTBALL TEAM IS THE BEST!

      Grow up.

      1. LOL I think some people are missing a big point, if you know how to program a synth and understand signal path then having more tools at hand is quick and helpful when sound designing, I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad hardware synth. I think people are expecting everything and anything thrown onto an analog/digi synth and costing less than $500 and and and……
        The original TB303 proved that a synth didn’t need to be vast and “all singing/dancing/doing” and expensive to be a ground breaking piece of equipment.

      2. What’s so tribal about it? It’s not a matter of Roland vs. Behringer. It’s a matter of one company delivering what people have been asking for and the other constantly dropping the ball at every turn. The fact that Behringer of all companies can make an analog synth like the Deepmind 12 yet Roland apparently forgot how Analog circuits work shows how out of touch Roland is.

    3. Indeed – Roland has done nothing but make soft synths with custom controllers. This is pathetic, they need to clear house on their product team, hire away some folks from talented companies (Korg, Moog, dsi) and try again next year.

  2. “What would happen if a Technics 1200 and a TR 909 had drunken angry sex?” Apparently someone at Roland asked himself that question……

        1. no, those are synth pedals for bass – I am talking something like an specialized version of the sy-300 that has acid style contouring and drops a couple of octaves to create a “bass synthesizer”

  3. Id much prefer moving forward than constantly moving back with retro clones and the same thing repackaged in a slightly different box.
    Id like a sampler, a sequencer, a drum machine and a synth all in one easy to use unit for live play, live play in that – I can play continuously changing digital music with no breaks that will evolve as I play and take me places i didnt even know we were going to go.

    1. It has been done already: MC 808 and 909 have the sythesis power of an XV 5050, sampling, effects, a decent onboard sequencer and plenty of hands-on control. But lots of people seems to hate them. :/

  4. Well, it looks to me that Roland expands the boutique series to compete with Korg’s volca product line. I think they both try to reach the same target group with newbies, school students, musicians with small budget or limited space, etc.

    I have some volcas and boutiques and they all sound great, no matter if analog or digital. They all have their limitation, but for the price you hardly can find something better.

    If the new boutiques sounds authentic I won’t care the analog/digital question. I just hope that they come with full Midi CC support like the other one after the recent v1.10 update.

    I think the System-8 is a bit too late after Behringer came out with their very interesting DM12

    1. The difference is that Korg is making cheaper gear that sells well, but isn’t anywhere pro quality sound or build. Take the villas – cheap, but also noisy and very limited.

      Roland’s stuff is much more powerful and built professionally.

      1. Roland just take what they have and make it compatible for the entry level market. In this way they don’t need to spend too much development recources for new products. And it’s easier to get such project approved by the upper management 😉

      2. What is “pro quality sound”? The JU-06, for example, sounds almost as good as a Juno-106. With certain settings, it’s indistinguishable. If a JU-06 isn’t “pro quality sound”, then a Juno 106 isn’t either.

  5. I’m still not seeing the point of the 03 and 09. The TB-3 is the same price as the Boutiques and has way more features, and for $200 more you can get a TR-8. Unless there’s some major difference, I can’t think of why you’d go for the Boutiques over the Airas.

    The vocoder might be fun. Makes me wish Korg had a Volca vocoder (that should be named The Volcoder).

    1. Some people don’t like the touch screen sequencer. Plus the Aira line looks like its straight out the fever dream of of a eurotrash, electrohouse, date-rapist on low quality amphetamines.

    2. The difference is that the TB-3 is limited in its waveforms. That is, they are hard-coded in the presets and the ‘effect’ is hard coded per preset. I would love to use preset 3 with the effect from preset 9 for example, but there is no way to change them. Also with the waveform or oscillator fixed, you are starting from a fixed point. With the TB-03 being more in the style of the original, you are not bound by what presets are stored as your starting point.

      I have a bunch of the AIRA stuff, and lots of old analog synths, but give me a modern, clean audio that is reliable and portable any day. With the CC control on the boutiques now, just use your MIDI controller keyboard and you don’t need dwarf like fingers to control.

      The whole, analog is better than virtual analog argument is just snobbery. My fav synth of all time is my Supernova 2, which produces some of the warmest sounds out of anything.

      Everyone has wanted a re-issue of the 303 and yes there are lots of clones out there, but Roland have answered and I think thats fair enough.

  6. What happened to the Roland Sampler that has been rumoured the last year that was rumoured as a Maschine and Push killer. I thought thats what the deal with Serato was going to be but how wrong was i. Instead they made toys. Why would they release that tr09 and tb3 when they have the Aira tr8 and tb3. It doesnt make any sense and the turntable and mixer is a joke.

    1. Different design teams; different implementations.

      Aira = high quality; 96k sampling rate. Taking past designs and moving them into the future. All about highest sound possible.

      Boutique = retro implementations of Aira technology but lower sampling (44.1) and implementing past designs on a small, retro design.

      There are many who simply wanted a little recreation including the interface (boutique). Many also complained about the 96k sampling rate (hence the boutique limited to 44.1 – the most common rate people record with – strange but true). People can argue costs and what they think something actually costs to make, but I can tell you from experience, all of those sliders, knobs and such really add to the cost quickly. Especially in a custom size/design.

      So pick the line you would like – original implementation: boutique. New implementation: Aira.

      Not going to debate old analog vs new digital. Each have their place. As a professional, they both sound great! While not totally perfect, Aira is still the most advanced modeling yet. Only when you push it to certain extremes or conditions can I find faults.

  7. i got into computers in the 90’s to get away from the drum machine step programming tedium.

    hopefully lots of folks will have fun and make good music with these anyway

  8. The vocoder is actually a dedicated hardware vocoder that humans can aford, based on a legendary grail of a machine. In my opinion it really fills a void.

    1. everyone is freaking out before they know whether or not they are analog. first off, they look way bigger than boutique stuff. there’s a promo video for the DJ808 out there and about a min in, dude uses the new 303 and it’s about the size of the original. if roland really did repackage the ACB version in this box, yes they deserve all the flak, but I’m actually thinking it juts might be analog

  9. Has it been 100% confirmed that the new TB-03 and TR-09 is Roland’s Analog Circuit Behavior engine versus true analog? Cause if they are true analog and they hit the same sound as the original that would be really cool. Then again track record wouldn’t indicate this :(.

  10. I really like the Roland boutique stuff because of the ability to send/receive midi and receive audio via usb. Quick and easy to set up as external instruments in Live. It’s like running a vst/au synth but with no cpu overhead and with dedicated controls. Easy to record control automation. Excellent!

  11. Thinking: why almost people can’t just shut the F up, keep quiet and happy with your behringers, akais, blablabla, and let people make what they want for people who want too..
    Not happy with it? go listen david guetta

  12. While I’m not hugely interested in most of these, I’m VERY interested in that vocoder! (mainly for the strings and choir sounds, if it’s anything like the original)

  13. This is actually quite sad, and smells badly of a company who have both run out of ideas, and drive for innovation. But it’s not just Roland, it’s also Korg and Yamaha. All three equally guilty.

  14. FINALLY. Maybe Roland re releasing these classics (909 and 303) will finally put an end to the endless stream of knock-off clones and sample packs. For that reason alone, I am thrilled to see these come out. Plus it will bring these devices back down from ‘holy grail’ status, to ‘marginally interesting’ status. Your over priced collectible just lost a whole lot of value!

  15. Roland achieved their Godlike legacy in electronic music in part by accident. For some people – remember? They didn’t know how people would be using their machines because its to some extent people’s “missuse” of the machines that made them legendary. You know? I don’t have advice for them or anyone on here but let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope they accidentally make something not to bad again.

  16. The Japanese synth makers haven’t been innovating for a very long time. That being said, there sure is a lot of hate here from people who haven’t even played with the gear being announced. Then again, that’s business as usual, isn’t it?

    1. Yep agree. And the thing is, new products don’t always have to be innovative. I for one am loving being able to access hardware like this at not-so-crazy pricing. I don’t need sound quality to the nth degree because I’m not a producer. I just enjoy playing them. I don’t care that they’re not analog.

  17. As usual,people around the world complain when they got the news it’s gonna come and the same people say :”it’s great,it’ll be mine.”when they read the test later.

  18. More crapy products from Roland… seriously, I have the 808, 909 and 303 at the studio, but that’s really some overrated products. The only reason why we still keep them is because they’re overrated. It’s been years they didn’t even been turned on. And the new TR-08, TR-09 and TB-03 are going the same way… Roland clearly lives on his past, from Juno, to Jupiter and TRs, they’re clearly out of touch. Thank god, other manufacturers are actually doing some interesting products.

  19. Apart from some interest in the System 8, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – here that interests me. I think Korg will launch their response with some seriously cool synths at next year’s NAMM.

  20. Lot of whiners here, call the wambulance.

    I think the sax controller looks interesting. No comments on a new take on wind controllers? Oh yeah, forgot, knob twidlers can’t actually play an instrument so no commentary. BTW electronic music is more than knob twiddling and drum machine programming.

  21. Save your judgement for after you’ve had a chance to use these things first hand folks. As someone who was actually at one of the Roland events today, and got a chance to play with some of the new gear. All I can say is that what I heard sounded great. I mostly played with the System 8 and the VP03, and both sounded amazing, (the VP especially so).

  22. I think these will be great quality and great selling synths. I’m not mad at Roland for not changing their course. Roland is a corporation! They are beholden to shareholders to turn a profit every three months. What they turn out is working. They have been on a roll for a while now. Just because analog is superior to digital sound wise, doesn’t mean they should stop running their business in such a profitable manner. This way of thinking is strange to me consider how many affordable analog alternatives are out there. Minilogue, Microbrute, Minibrute, Minitaur, Mother 32, Tanzbar Lite, Grendel Grnadier RA-09, Reon Drift Box.. These are all 600$ or less. Not to mention what you can get for less than 1500$.

  23. the greatest revolution in the musical arts has been making it easier and more affordable for people to get their hands on the instrument that calls out to them.
    How many mozarts have we missed because the piano cost too much?
    Music is the goal.
    Spend what you can afford and blow my mind with it.
    This is the gold rush.
    $3000 or 50£
    Just play it.

  24. It’s funny, all the complaining about all the companies remorphing the classic and selling them. If any of them made EXACT clones of those classics NOBODY WOULD BUY THEM because they would be more expensive than the actual. Everyone wants the world but none you guys want to pay for it. If you want a 303,909, prophet, ms20, or juno, buy one. otherwise, stop complaining.

    1. Spot on… as an owner of many [now pricey] classic analogues I can tell you even if Roland recreated these icons [except for maybe the cheap TB303 which has been recreated to death], the cost would be as prohibitive as the day they were released for most average users… Roland have obviously just responded to what will sell for them & at a price point that the vast majority will accept. Another point would be that if companies like Roland, Korg etc can shift tons of these little boxes then maybe they’ll be in a position to invest R&D into some of the future monster synths we can look forward to.
      Personally, as a kid in the 80’s I would’ve killed to have had such a wide selection of synths we have today [& that includes the vast array of secondhand & superceded technology]. It has never been cheaper to have fun making electronic music! I love the sound of my cheap Kawai K1r as much as my Oberheim or Jupiter in a mix & have been quite happy to give my TR808 a well earned rest & use a reliable Aira TR8 & have as much fun…
      Basically I want to HEAR these new machines before passing judgement… I mean I can remember the flack the now desirable Juno-106 received after being released after the Juno-60 [DCO vs VCO argument back then]… & TB-303’s were so badly received when released I bought 3 for 30 quid each!!
      Buy the machines you like at a price in your budget & just have fun…

  25. For all the complainers about what Roland are doing, there is an excellent French version out there

    http://www.cyclone-analogic.fr/en/34-bass-bot-tt-303-0701980493430.html

    Price is OK and this is fully analog as well. Sounds great on Youtube demos. No I don’t work for them, but I think they did an excellent job. Doesn’t sound harsh and stiff like the TB-03 demos on Youtube either

    Monophonic selectable (saw, square) VCO with 24db 4 pole analogue filter.

    User or Bot generated programmable patterns with InstaDJ ™ sequencer.

    MIDI IN by default / MIDI IN and OUT (with provided splitter cable).

    13 Colour LED display with user definable console and individual pattern labeling.

    Auto Tune and VCO calibration on demand.

    Arpeggiator.

    Generate new patterns using one of seven unique personality algorithms.

  26. I’ve been making electronic music for more than 21 years now, and I’ve always been unsatisfied with digital imitations of analog equipment until Universal Audio and Roland did their homework with the UAD plugins and the Boutique line.
    With modern electromagnetic physical analysis & simulation and superb programming the time has come for this technology to be unleashed at full potential.
    The TB-03 sounds surprisingly good. It’s also rocking solid and a joy to play.
    Had somebody said me it was analog stuff I would have believe it without questions.
    It’s fat (the distortion #2 is my favourite), and wow no audio or midi cables if you use Usb power. 😀

    don’t believe me?

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