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. Are Roland back ?
    I hope this is the beginning of a new phase of their gear.
    Knobs and sliders,memories,a new synth like the 106.A new 303.
    This is great news and it is a really a great time to be into synthesizers and drum machines.
    The SHO9 ,MC202,106,606,303,808,909.If Roland start back with realtime control and analogue/digital hybrids it will be stunning.

  2. The big question, analogue or digital? I’m guessing digital, but well done to Roland for finally doing something that modern electronic producers might actually use.

    If its analogue, I suspect it’ll be a Tempest type scenario where DCO’s are digitally manipulated.

    Hope its analogue, maybe we’l all be shocked!

      1. They’re right, it is going backwards. Backwards to a more desirable, and for the most part superior form of creating electronic sounds.

        They can sell 50,000 digital drum machines, or 100,000 analogue ones. It’s up to them.

  3. The Roland website shows , a further seven boxes (the aria being box one of a list of eight) .
    They have a padlock icon on the other boxes and it says ‘coming soon’ ? So is there a series of new equipment coming out in the same vein?

    If the new machine is a computer dependant midi controller,then that will be hilarious.

    1. i don’t think they will release 8 products at once. only some videos are coming – the first one is about 808. i don’t believe that means that they will release an 808, but rather by what they were saying in the video that people were using the 808 as a lead instrument and by the looks of the mixer sliders, i’m guessing that they will present more products from the old days that will all blend into a great new one. unless it’s a MC808 remake.

  4. Let’s just keep in mind this is Roland, Before we get excited let’s remember this is Roland.
    Under that flashy drum-machine like interface there might be just another accordion.

    1. Modelling actually surpasses the limitations and even sonic limitations of analogue when done properly. You were spot on. Don’t be discouraged by these morons whom continue to spew rubbish about this idiotic debate of analogue vs digital.

      1. The way they are introducing this – with the shots of analog circuit boards – makes me think that they have to be doing an analog drum machine.

        We’ll see next week!

  5. I bet there will be something missing on the final product so that we can curse Roland into the ground like we did in 2013,2012,2011,2010,2009,2008,2007,2006,…
    We did this even when the tr-808 drummachine came out,everybody thought that this was a toy.
    Probably we will be going crazy on the 2002-2013 stuff in 2023.
    I hope they leave the stupid workstation menu diving a la roland behind on this one.

      1. Analog still has it’s place in the studio. Current digital stuff is more accurate, powerful, and easier to integrate in a computer based studio… but analog synths (especially the filters), outboard processing (especially compression), and mixing (especially summing) are all still better in the analog realm.

        1. Goku,

          No one said that analogue does not have a place in the studio. Yet this debate of analogue vs digital is silly! The real problem is that from my own personal experience, 90% of those whom take sides on this issue, hardly understand the science behind the art. Certainly analogue has a place, and it always should. My dream synth would be a hybrid synth, Modelling coupled with analogue circuitry.

          And it is not as expensive to develop as some people think. Yet that is another debate. Yet for an educated man such as yourself to say something so subjective is “better” seems out of place.

          1. You are right. The whole analog vs. digital debate should remain striclty in the academic/professional sphere. If I hear one more guy telling me that he needs and analog synth to make “filthy wob bass” I might shoot myself. 🙂

            About the cost of production: it’s a tricky thing… high quality components and through-hole construction means really high prices. The small manufacturers (who, in my personal opinion, are doing more adventurous things) have higher assembly costs than a large corp like korg or roland. The IC/system on a chip/DCO thing is kind of the middle ground, where many manufacturers have gone to lower cost at the price of losing some of that vintage vibe. It’s cheap analog alright, but analog controlled by digital increments (kind of like how a digital camera’s photo, no matter how great, is still pixelated,)

            Back to my using “better.” You are right. I meant better for me. YMMV. After using pro hardware, I cannot dream of using a plugin over my SSL MINX, TwinQ2, etc. I hear an audible jump in quality when I sum with my Dbox (or my friend’s Shadow Hills unit… OMG that thing rocks!). I love digital synths like massive, but the filters on my voyager, M3x, Sherman, etc… sound decidedly more alive and musical to me.

            Regarding Roland’s new 808 thing: I see a ton of people bashing Roland lately for holding their course and not giving us a new analog with the new Jupiter and Junos. I’m more apt to bash them for their user interfaces than anything else.

            That said, I think Roland are late to the game here, and would be taking a step back by re-releasing a new 808. Roland’s MV-8000 and 8800 were incredible machines with a fun workflow and amazing UI. Their capabilities far exceeded anything an 808 could do, and even included a ton of 808 kits onboard…

            1. Goku,

              I agree with you wholeheartedly on nearly everything you said. And even though subjectively I may disagree with some of the hardware choices based on my own preferences, I agree with you again. Well stated young lad, well stated.

              I do however think that Fabfilter for instance and a few others are doing amazing things that simply cannot be done with analogue synths and their venerable filters. However again that is subjective.

              I enjoy reading your perspective. Someday we shall have to figure out how to exchange info and I will let you in on what I am working on. I have come to respect your opinion.

              Imaging that, first we disagree, then you inform me I have not won the internet and now we are actually agreeing.


    1. no, its not a good thing, as it means its an arturia style controller for some shit*y app and/or DAW like the new akais, or machine etc

      i bet its no hardware, just a controller

      and it look UGLY !

      sadly, roland products look cheaper and cheaper from year to year

  6. The design looks awful, who has designed it? The TR-808 is a damn classic, but it’s been years Roland hasn’t done anything comparable to that old TR series, or even decent analogue synths. It’s a shame to see that taste-less image of that drum-machine.

      1. its all harman 🙂

        if its a controller or an app or even a VA, roland is done

        its not “all” about digital vs analogue, its also a question of what do i get as customer

        the tr808 is not a classic because it was the best drummachine when it came out, but because it had a signature sound that people recognized, especially producers. the only way to bring back the vibe is analogue.

        its not about which technology is better suited for instruments, its about whats the point of buying a classic.

        look at korg, people wanted the ms20 back. so what did korg do? release an updated ms30 based on va ? no, they just did what everyone was asking them for, they released the original, they didnt even add aftertouch 🙂

        if i buy a classic i want the classic, include all the mods ever done to a 808/909(i bet they release a 909 too) and add all digital fun stuff to the sequencer, parameterlovk styled recording, whatever … but dont make the soundsource itself digital

        i love my machinedrum which is obviousl a VA, but sorry, Roland is different story

    1. Sorry, I don’t get the “ROMpler” hate. Quite a few legendary synths have fixed soundwave sets, but that’s irrelevant to their musicality, IF PROGRAMMED AND PLAYED WELL. Its the quality of the paint that matters. Being mad if this is all-sampled but sounds good is like yelling at a modular for having no presets. Its just too anal-retentive to screech about the small stuff when what you gain is so broad.

  7. Before we get too excited, remember Roland’s recent commemoration (bastardization) of their classics: Jupiter 80, Juno-G, SH-201, and so on. Although I have a Juno 106, JX-10, MKS-70, JX8P, TR-707, and TR-505, I don’t have much hope for modern Rolands.

  8. I feel like this is perhaps a year too late.

    Unless of course, they bring back features that users loved, add enhancements, and meet the price point that consumer are willing to pay.

  9. It’d be tragically hysterical if Roland created a drum machine that “modernized” their 808 the way the Jupiter 80 did: layering acoustic drum kits for a full and natural sounding drum set.

    1. i guess they have not heard of jarre or moroder, their opening statement really makes it hard to take this seriously. although roland has a history of making silly statements like “Analog modeling monosynth creates realistic TB-303 -like basslines” with their mc 09 phrase lab. i do hope this box is full of awesome though

  10. Interesting. Perhaps Roland has been “late” to the retro game for a reason. i.e. maybe they were waiting until they could put out a really refined product, even if it is a “reboot” of a legacy product.

    1. no they saw what korg did and picked out the wrong information. korg vice president was something like: ” .. we found out that people want the classic ms20 and analog back so we brought you the ms20 mini, complete with the classic design, a lot of style and fully analog style for even less money then the original”

      and roland understood: “.. classic ….. money …. money …”

      would be cool if they at least understood “classic design” but sadly … its roland hehe

      1. Yeah it’s going to cost a fortune like everything else Roland does and yet the market is really already full of more functional devices than they could put out.

  11. I’m betting it’s going to be weird, like the drum equivalent of a banjolin or guitarpsichord or some other syrupy Roland hybrid. And it will be overpriced. And SUPERNATURAL!



  13. Judging by the link below AIRA is a brand name & not a product name, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see several products launched at once.

    My guess would be several analog drum machines/synths based on the x0x classics, hopefully they’ll have an analog audio path & digital control for sequences & saving pathches, but who knows?

    As for the 8 teaser slots on the AIRA webpage, my guess is we’ll get 4 vids of engineers reminiscing over the ‘classics’ followed by 4 videos of the new ‘equivalent’ products.

    But this is all guesswork, so who knows? Fingers x’d for some killer analog gear from AIRA!!!

  14. there’s new boss overdrive (OD-1X) and distorition (DS-1X) tell me the TR08 isn’t going to be analogue and that their not making some whizz bang analog 303!!

  15. it most likely will be some digital monstrosity, but they couldn’t be that insane, it does look way too digital though. If they gave me a design job I could make them millions “yeah I think that would look better in an 808 case, should chuck that one in a 303 case, put some wooden ends on that”

    1. totally! they own the design, they own the name, they own the circuits, and what are they doing with it ???

      is there a roland 303/808/909 ios app? no
      is there a roland 303/808/909 plugin ? no
      is there any decent analog gear from roland since those classics ? NOOOO

      so why should this ugly like a 90ies zoom guitar multieffect looking thing be an analog device ? ^^

    1. “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” ~ $948.93.

    2. That link is obviously a fake, check the url in the picture, the last words are “aira-dal-culo” which in Italian means “air from the arse” aka. fart…

  16. Roland – don’t make a digital version of the 808, that would totally kill anything you produce in my eyes. BTW hasn’t some one else already done the 808 tho, a little drum machine by a company starting with the letter K… Come on Roland bring out something “cool” for a change.

  17. Haha look who finally woke up.

    Pity I don’t need an $800+ drum machine.

    Roland never were affordable, that’s why I never bought their stuff.

    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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    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

    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.

      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.

  20. 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.

    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.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      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 🙂

  21. 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.

    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.

  22. 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.

    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

  23. 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.

  24. 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…..

  25. 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!!!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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 …

  29. 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….

  30. 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!

  31. 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?

  32. 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 .

  33. 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…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *