Roland AIRA TR-8 & TB-3 Review

Nick Batt at Sonic State has the first reviews of the new Roland AIRA TR-8 Rhythm Performer and TB-3 Touch Bassline Synthesizer.

In the first video review, above, Batt takes a look at the TR-8 drum machine.

Below, Batt takes a look at the TB-3 bass synth:

Here’s the full series of AIRA products that Roland has announced:

You can get more of Batt’s take on these AIRA boxes at the Sonic State site, on the entire AIRA line at the Roland site

30 thoughts on “Roland AIRA TR-8 & TB-3 Review

  1. fail for me if it really cant record its own midi cc parameters: that does indeed make this retro !
    Rolands own mc909 , yamaha rmx/rs7000 and Korg Electribe motion sequence next generation of grooveboxes all brought us parameter automation ( before Elekton @Nick ! ) , now even Volca beats for 1/4 price I believe records knob motion.

    1. That’s crazy that you can’t record parameter automation in the sequencer! Isn’t that what digital is for?

      Nonetheless, these look like fun units that you wouldn’t be afraid to let the kids play with– like acid done by Fisher-Price.

    2. People are going on about the lack of parameter locking but for me I could give a crap. I only use my equipment in a studio setting, so parameter recording is not important to me.

      I give the TR-8 a glorious thumbs up for it’s look, sound, & interface. Best $499 I ever spent.

    1. Uh, it’s not a sample pack? It’s actual hardware with a ton of knobs and sliders. It has limitations which I find are conducive to creativity. It’s a lot more interesting live. Why do so many people assume that anyone who makes electronic music uses a computer for anything more than recording and editing.

      1. Because using a computer as a sequencer is more versatile? Plenty of people do it. Orbital, as an example, uses Live in place of a couple Alesis MMT-8s. Just because a computer is playing the samples doesn’t mean you have to touch, or even look at, the computer. A decent controller with whatever DAW you like will get you the same thing as this.

        I had been hoping for something more than a controller that looks like an 808 with a built-in frequency shifter on an LFO. I’m not entirely sure what I was hoping for in this device, but what was reviewed in this video isn’t it.

        1. It may be more versatile but it’s odd when anyone asks “Why would you want this piece of hardware over a piece of software?” Over and over again for every piece of hardware that comes out multiple people ask that question. I don’t know, why drive a car when you can drive a ride a motorcycle? Why scramble eggs when you can hard boil them? Maybe personal preference?

          1. In this case, we already have a lot of things that “simulate” the sound of the 808. The only people who can actually reprint the circuits to bring the 808 back to the market is Roland. They’ve chosen, instead, to make something that simulates the sound of the 808, albeit with an algorithm instead of samples. So, for me, that is at least a smidgen underwhelming and leaves me wondering why I would want to buy one when I already have multiple sources of samples.

          2. Some people are more hands on the like the fact they have the physical object right in front of them. A computer in my opinion you are just stairing at a computer screen. Kinda boring stairing at a computer screen theres no fun in that when you are in the studio or live. These boxes put the fun back into fun like the original x0x boxes. Roland has done a great job and put a lot of detail into these new boxes. To make the originals again would cost like 3000.00 or more per unit cause of the circuits parts transistors etc are scarce to find and cannot be made on a fast scale. With this new ACB technology Roland is headed in the right direction.

          1. *shrug* It’s not like I can call them up and ask them “hey, what’re your thoughts on this” before writing posts. It was just an easy example that can be verified with simple internet searches.

    1. it’s actually cheaper, especially if you add up audio interface MIDI io costs. and it’s neat the the tb3 is pressure sensitive. tbh i like keyboard and mouse over smooth glass.

    1. Is this two year old speak or are you trying to imitate Cookie Monster? We know you like it and want it but I am pretty sure that your post did nothing to further the conversation around this device. Maybe you just need some acknowledgement …. I here you and acknowledge that you wantee.

  2. This seems like the interface is very immediate to get stuff done and it sounds way better then I thought it would. The price is also very reasonable. If i didn’t have an Electribe I would buy that instead but since I do have an Electribe this will be a very nice addition to partner with my MX.

  3. I just got my TR8 the other day. As a owner of both the Tr808 and Tr908 I am very impressed with this piece of kit. Roland did a fantastic job with this unit. The goal was here for them to recreate the originals but giving them a new spin with more features for today’s industry. This is there first drum machine sine the R8MKII. I don’t care if it’s digital or modeling. If it were full analogy expect prices like the original because the transistors and components in the originals are scarce and cannot be built on an assemble line like the new boxes. They are able to curve cost to users by using digital. I would much rather use this new machine as oppose to samples cause this comes right from the Roland stable. I cannot tell the difference in sound other then the new tr8 has a warmer sound and more punch. The TB 3 I think they did a great job on too. Stop being so critical unless you go get your own or have at least given it a test run. There are rumors of a Roland sync box to sync old gear with new. I am sure Roland will probable release a tr9 at some point of time. Maybe a step up with more features. I like the fact these are stand alone boxes and not all in one like the MC series.

  4. I am sending my TB-3 back now
    This is more than retro, it is rubbish.

    They should have made a VST to talk to this thing properly, the USB setup is a nightmare and hard to get to work in a DAW with an external sound card.

    For live: OK via midi
    For studio: get something else

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