Roland TR-8S Rhythm Performer Pairs Classic Drum Machine Sounds With Your Samples

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Roland today introduced the TR-8S Rhythm Performer, a new drum machine they call ‘the most powerful drum machine ever made’.

The TR-8S features Roland’s iconic TR drum sounds, plus a wide selection of samples from Roland’s vast library. In addition, the TR-8S lets you load your own custom mono and stereo samples.

Here’s the official intro video:

Key Features:

  • x0x sounds – Included in the TR-8S are all original sounds from Roland’s classic 808, 909, 707, 727, and 606, as well as modified versions. The sounds are based on Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB), component-level modeling of the original device’s circuits.
  • Samples – The TR-8S also includes a range of effects, tailored to use with percussion. There’s a Master FX knob, for processing the entire kit and a control knob for each channel. Both can be configured with favorite effects parameters for sound shaping on the fly.
  • Updated TR Sequencing – The “TR-REC” step sequencer has been enhanced and modernized to be better than ever. Via the 16 TR-REC buttons and velocity-sensitive performance pad, users can develop intricate grooves and build detailed fills with velocity, accents, flams, and adjustable sub-steps. The TR-8S sequencer is able to store 128 patterns, with eight variations and three fills contained in each. These patterns or variations can be triggered individually or chained together for evolving sequences. It’s also now possible to save the tempo and kit assignment (along with knob positions and effect settings) in patterns.
  • Flexible connectivity – A stereo mix output is provided, plus six assignable audio outputs that allow individual drum sounds to be processed and mixed externally. There’s also a dedicated trigger output with its own sequencer track, and the assignable outputs can be reconfigured to output trigger signals if desired. Stereo audio inputs are provided as well, enabling users to connect and mix external sound sources. The TR-8S also functions as a multi-channel USB audio/MIDI interface, and supports AIRA Link for interfacing with other AIRA gear.

Here’s an overview of the new Roland TR-8S:

Here’s a look at Roland TR-8S sound design:

This video takes a look at sequencing on the TR-8S:


Pricing and Availability

Pricing and availability are to be announced, but some retailers are showing a street price of US $699/699 Euro. See the Roland site for details.

75 thoughts on “Roland TR-8S Rhythm Performer Pairs Classic Drum Machine Sounds With Your Samples

  1. not comment on “selection of samples” and “most powerful” irony … but what’s up with that squarp pyramid design??

    1. what update were everyone asking for?
      I don’t own a TR-8 so I don’t know of any issues it got.
      But they could not update that display on to it, so in terms of functionality the old hardware was limiting.

      1. Was a very long thread of people asking for sampling and pissed they had to pay extra for the other drum machine sounds. I owned one for like a week and took it back to guitar center. It couldnt do anything, was like a drum machine from the early 90’s with a colorful interface and steps. Once you touch an analog rytm, you kind of cant go backwards with drum machine, even with the learning curve, its learning well worth it.

        1. What one buys is what one gets.
          If they leave bugs in there, that is not acceptable.
          But if one wants features that wasn’t announced to come with the unit, then the buyer is to blame for not making an informed decision upon purchase.

          I wasn’t that interested in the original, because of the limitations.
          With this they added a bit too much on the pricetag, I feel… So I will see what happens with the price in the future.
          The digitakt is tempting in that pricerange.

          Analog rytm, sure, I would rather own that, than a TR-8S, but the pricetag of that is quite high.

        2. “Was a very long thread of people asking for sampling”

          it’s too bad companies can’t wave their magic wands and add capabilities to gear like that.

  2. finally an aira product with… A DISPLAY! makes you glad you’ve lived this long. but the presenter played deadly dull music. why couldn’t he come up with some interesting beats? *facepalm*

      1. system 8 is not aira imo. too expensive to be aira.
        roland, please come up with an “aira ultra” groovebox, including the awesome jd-xi factory content from axial. combine everything you have now, and you get a mc-909 on steroids. i would purchase one in a nanosecond. i swear.

  3. Roland = Reuse, Recycle, Redo. Can see this are great enhancements for live use (The ID is close to their DJ consoles) , but sound wise, there is nothing much under this “rainbow” than sample memory. Still no new classic drums sounds from other Roland gear which current users have been screaming for years . For studio use no value add. , SD’s card sample loading instead of MIDI sample protocol. No MIDI Sysex saving of patterns and parameter data. That is FAIL. Roland found a way to add $200 to TR-8 price adding a 1980’s US$3 1602 display, parameter recording, some sample memory , 8 individual analog outputs, some trigger outputs , LFO, Effects , 128 steps and a rainbow color scheme. Anyhow won’t sell theTR-8 , monetary wise it has become worthless even with the 7×7 update, but sound wise as valuable as the TR-8S. when you buy, expect no added features or enhancements until the TR-8SX in 2021.

    1. “No MIDI Sysex saving of patterns and parameter data.”
      Don’t know what you mean by that. He says in one of the demos that the sound settings can be saved to to memoryslots, and there is pattern storage as well.

      SD card sample transfer is much more praticale than MIDI sample transfer.

      The added value for studio, will depend of workflow.
      Some people like to have hardware in the studio, that can hold typical sounds.
      But for those using it as a Midi-controller, well then there are much cheaper alternatives.

      Lately there has been a trend with drum-machines to not come with user sound storage, at least not in an easily managable way.

      Sample memory vastly expands the possible uses for this.

      When it comes to sounds, what is it that you feel this i lacking, in terms of being a virtual analog drum machine?

      What king of feature enhancements are you expecting from a virtual analog drummachine, with storage and even sample memory?

      The price increase it quit steep though.

      1. MIDI sysex dumps can be sent to an external sequencer by a simple button push or by the device responding to a sysex request, which means that you can record all the settings in the device’s buffer (or its entire memory) on an old-school hardware sequencer or a DAW track as MIDI messages, and all you need to do to recall them is press play on the sequence. Onboard patch/pattern memory, while handy, is not the same thing because it’s finite (unlike sysex) and it requires a more cumbersome backup, recall, and organizing process than sysex. The Aira range’s lack of sysex capability is my single biggest gripe with all of them. This used to be standard on Roland stuff.

        1. So glad there is someone else in the universe understanding this. Companies are trying to brainwash users so that they will never ever know there is/was Sysex (like they will do with MIDI-CI as well)

          As said, no additional emulations of older Roland gear (CR series etc..) Maybe great for live, but not for (additional) sounds. Thousands of other products can do sample playback

  4. This looks great. I have been looking at various drum machines lately and while they have nice feature set. A lot of them are plague with bugs and build issues while costing a fortune. Not sure why the hate for this device, maybe they should replace Roland with Elektron in the faceplate and people would be happy

  5. Would need a lot more control of those “virtual analog” sounds to even be close to elektron. People fail to realize that you could own an elektron machine for years and just scratch the surface with it vast feature set. You can do a lot with a computer and VST’s, that’s elektron in a nutshell. Play with this for about a week and you’ll see everything it can do. Like an sp404 to an mpcX.

    1. I have an AR, and I love it. It’s a bottomless well of impossibility… And in a way, that’s sort of the issue… There’s something to be said about a more “curated” approach in terms of product design, UI, workflow, etc.

      Roland calling this the most “advanced drum machine” is retarded. It’s no where even close to that… What they should have focused on is how it’s more “performance” oriented… More of an on the fly, improvisational machine with more hands-on capability…

      Personally, I solved the “issue” of the feel of the Rytm being like building a ship in a bottle due to everything behind multiple menus, screens, etc. by pairing it with the Amazing JLCooper CS32 MiniDesk. Map top sliders to each voice’s volume, map bottom to each voices aftertouch (yes, you can have 4 parameters tied to AT on Rytm) so you have morphing for each voice, and tie the 6 knobs to Perfs… Then map some of the track buttons to things like mute, solo, etc…

      Yea, you have to route the midi through a DAW or iPad/Midiflow to do this mapping but that’s trivial. And the hand’s on control it gives you is astonishing.

      So this TR8, with all those surface knobs/sliders, and the ability to load samples to expand sound, seems to make it a good performance tool rather than a production tool…

  6. the old tr-8 has a great interface with direct knob control. its nice to combine this with sample playback. the 8 variations per pattern means, you can easily create patterns with 128 steps, which is great. the digitakt has only 8 voices instead of 12 and no individual outputs, but it can sample on the fly and has the ability to adjust the envelopes for the filter and amp, so for soundmangling the digitakt is probably more flexible, but this one has a more direct approach for perfoming live. really nice

  7. This one looks pretty good to me. I will be checking it out. I didn’t like the TR-8’s responsiveness.

    I want something with the 808/909’s sound playability with the R-8’s responsiveness, plus a good modern drum sequencer. Too much of this VA stuff has lousy latency.

  8. LOL – I like that this was posted without a hint of irony:
    “Roland found a way to add $200 to TR-8 price adding a 1980’s US$3 1602 display, parameter recording, some sample memory , 8 individual analog outputs, some trigger outputs , LFO, Effects , 128 steps and a rainbow color scheme.”

    From everything I’ve read about the TR-8 on-line, this is literally a list of the most requested features I’ve seen for the TR-8. Seems like Roland did a good job of listening to their customers.

    1. For those of us that actually compose, produce and release music… Yes, it really does have pretty much everything a lot of us have wanted in a single drum machine. I’ve pre-ordered! This is going to be a huge compositional workflow booster, and a great live workhorse.

      1. Maximum 600 sec sample time is about 200 MB memory depending in bit-depth.+ a U$3 character based display + some lines of software code + added DAC(s) for US$200. Lots of irony in that hardware change price wise. Does not take away it’s still a nice machine,except for the missing Sysex implementation. If they add that, may buy.

  9. Argh, I am such a sucker for any sampler. WIth the Digitakt, I really enjoy sequencing the sounds/melodies moreso than the drums. Whereas this would probably be much cooler for drums, but not as much for melodies.

    If I can chromatically tune the 808 kick per step, this might be a purchase. A sampling drum machine with 808 bassline sequencer.

    1. Per-step tuning is possible. I don’t believe it’s explicitly chromatic, rather a simple semi-tone detune. One of a number of great features that elevate the TR-8S to true greatness I think. It’s destined to be a classic, and a studio + live workhorse.

  10. Looks cool, will they charge to “unlock” new sounds like TR-8? I like the TR-8 so this looks good but not exactly innovative if you have a Rytm.

  11. I can get behind this. Looks like Roland is finally learning. D50 boutique and now this. I might have to get eventually. Don’t care for ACB but this is the right direction. So much easier to add samples via SDCard, why are Elektron against SD card?

    1. Because elektron machines a way more complex… An SD is too slow for things like paramter trigs that change complete presets including the wave… maybe you learn something more about the machines before you write something… Look at the new octatrack there is also NO SD….

      1. Octatrack mk1 and mk2 uses a compact flash card, which tops out at a transfer rate of 160 MB/s. UHS-II / V90 SD cards are up to 280 MB/s. So Susanne’s point of comparing the OT to the AR is moot. The difference of course is the OT allows for either loading the sample in it’s memory (flex) or streaming off the compact flash. AR knows when you pick a project what samples are being used an could preload them into memory for performance. It isn’t a technology limitation, it’s an Elektron design choice.

        Elektron made their boxes slightly better but really the mk2 versions are place-holder upgrades. Octatrak is a great machine but the workflow and memory limitations feel dated and overly-complex even on the mk2. Adding a few new buttons and a better screen is nice but they’re still stuck with their hard-to-update-without-breaking-everything original OT operating system (their words, not mine).

        AR is super powerful but this looks like a drum machine anyone could pick up and learn in a day. Knob per function for performance is very appealing.

      2. Based on the manual, I’m pretty sure the TR-8S does not trigger the samples from the SD card – they need to be imported into the TR-8S memory.

    2. I would really like to see another D50 style boutique with 16 note polyphony, or at least 8, but with a System 8 style engine. Having that much power – and patch names!! – in the boutique form factor might actually convince me to buy. But I don’t like the D50… 😛

      1. I don’t know that you could get all the system 8 functionality but the boutiques essentially do have the ‘same’ ACB engine – what would be neat though would be if it had a little LCD screen like this one and just rows of knobs and took plug outs – that would be super cool.

  12. I’m so glad I didn’t get the original! This is looking like a GREAT second go at the TR-8…..ALTHOUGH ROLAND…You still need to update the TR-8 for all the TR-8 users that want sample playback abilities!

    ROLAND please don’t CHARGE $699…PLEASE! This will sale off the shelf at $499, then drop the TR-8 to $399.

  13. Looks pretty good to me. A sampling drum machine that does most things the way it should with with a nice amount of variation. The mixer channel interface is also better than that button pressing nonsense Elektron go in for. A winner!

      1. not when you have an Analog Rytm since 4 years… Show me one example that these machine can what the Analog rytm cant….

          1. Ok if you need so much stereo samples than buy this great machine. Sorry but you missed the point im talking about the synth and ACB technology … if you are happy with the sound design features on this machine get it…

  14. What we want are true recreations of the 808 and 909 (303 would be awesome too) but with new and wanted features.

    1. Like the ability to use any xox sounds, individual outputs, user samples, improve sequencing, gate sequencing, and parameter locks?

      1. For that amount of money you may at least expect a metal case etc. Now it’s just a cheap plastic case with an absolute minimal amount of metal. And for such a price I think you might expect automatic sliders, knobs etc. But no, nothing of that.

        Drum computers are milk cows for Roland.

  15. I like the feature of an external trigger sequencer+external in+sidechain… So you could sequence sayyyy… A Volca kick or even better, a Vermona Kick Lancet, send it back into the unit and use it’s signal as a sidechain on compression… At least that’s how I read it…

  16. Nice work Roland. Looks like a solid, pro drum machine.

    > The TR-8S sequencer is able to store 128 patterns, with eight variations and three fills contained in each.

    Brilliant.

  17. This looks awesome. I don’t understand people complaining about the price… compare it to the Digitakt. It sounds like this one has time stretching too, which aside from the great sounding digital synth engine, makes this a much better value.

    I haven’t been that interested in anything Roland has done in a while (aside from the collaborations), but this looks awesome and fills a hole in the market.

    1. you never used a digitakt? Tell me something about trig conditions on the tr8s or maybe change the complete preset per step, granular type of sounds an overdrive, lfo, env per voice … I think the tr8s will not include any of this features… Instead of a display that looks like even the flinstones wouldnt like to use it…

      I think the only place for this machine is in a live setup because of the fader… Every well known informed studio guy will take the digitak.. And by the way I have buyed a new Digitkat a few months ago for 502 euro NEW on musicstore…

  18. I quite like it. I had a tr8 did the very awkward job of painting out all the green and it made me love it more. So top job on removing that. In terms of the features it looks fast to use and most of all playable, which unfortunately elektron’s aren’t. The tr8 was great for being able to play the sounds with amount of control always available.

    Price wise seems about right too. With the multiple outs’s allowing triggers to be sent, the modelling sets, which are fantastic ( yes if you really listen for hours you notice they don’t drift and breathe as much as analog gear )

    All in all, I’m pretty excited about this one. Plus a hell of a lot more accessible than the tanzbar I have

  19. I don’t get why people complain about the price. Precut pineapple costs $4.28 a pound and a ten gallon fish tank with a filter and some fish will run you about $150, so you can get a full functional fish tank and 136 pounds of precut pinapple for $699 but no one says that’s expensive! I’d rather take the drum machine with sampling than the fish and the pineapple because I don’t want the fish and what would I do with the pineapple so I don’t get why people think this expensive, mean while they’ll spend all of their money on a Modal 8 to make polyphonic fart sounds but that’s not expensive for them! JIMINY CRICKETS!

  20. A $700 drum machine, wow! Not sure why it is being compared to the Digitakt in some discussions – Yeah they’re both round and come from a tree, but they are apples and oranges.

  21. Admin: ‘BigJim’, ‘EurorackClavinet’, ‘SynthSandwich’ – your comments are being flagged as spam because you’re using multiple user names to comment with from.

    Using a consistent identity, and keeping your comments on topic and constructive will avoid this.

  22. The feature set of this unit is so far beyond the TR-8 that it’s ridiculous. It addresses all of the issues I have with the TR-8 and adds a butt ton of additional features. $200 for this type of step forward is surprisingly low IMO. I recently sold my TR-8 and picked up a TR-08 and TR-09, but I think I’ll be adding this to my collection…

  23. I had the tr 8 and sold it. I kinda miss it. Actually what I miss morenis the mx-1. That thing was so much fun.
    I have a digitakt now and am absolutely in love with it !!! This looks interesting and fun and immediate but I’m pretty happy with the digitakt.
    I’d buy a digitone before I’d buy this.

  24. The point is that using an SD Card is easier for transfering samples, instead of freaking sysex. Understandable that it would utilize them in memory.

  25. It’s a nice upgrade to the tr-8. It looks like a great performance oriented drum machine. I’m very thankful for the color scheme and overall layout.
    The price may be a little high but it’s not ridiculous.
    The comparison to the digitakt is silly. If your looking for a drum machine to use live with lots of controls and the ability to load samples get this. If you want a fantastic drum machine, sampler,and sequencer that can be the center hub of your dawless setup then get the digitakt. This is a nice drum machine to add to your setup. The digitakt could be your only piece of gear and you could make great tracks only using it.
    I wish it had real pads though

  26. I think this machine is a big deal as it is now a sample player and useful for those of us hardware people who need eight outputs. It will replace the MPC regards sample playing as its small and lightweight and now has professional specifications. Well done Roland at last!!

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