Roland AIRA TR-8 Rhythm Performer Review

This video, via massivebeatzz, is a review of the new Roland Aira TR-8 Rhythm Performer – a modern take on the classic 808/909 drum machines. 

The video takes a look at pros and cons of the TR-8, sequencing, sound quality, DAW integration and more.

The Roland Aira TR-8 Rhythm Performer has street price of US $499. See the Roland site for details.

If you’ve used the TR-8, share your thoughts in the comments!

18 thoughts on “Roland AIRA TR-8 Rhythm Performer Review

  1. This, again? Synthtopia, please tell us you got a contract with Roland and you’re obligated to post about AIRA at least 3 times a week…

    1. As long as there are other stuff coming up, then why care if there are so much Aira. Just dont read it. problem solved.

    2. The Aira line is the most talked about new gear introduced this year, it offers a lot of bang for the buck and has been very well received by the people that have tried it out.

      Isn’t that the sort of thing that you’d expect an electronic music gear site to pay a lot of attention to?

    1. I liked the review – but your link is also very good and covers some details that may not be a big deal to some, but very important to others.

      Roland needs to add an option, like most synths have nowadays, to have knobs either jump to the current position, or to stay at the saved position until you turn the knob past it. The worst thing is when you grab a knob to do a subtle tweak and suddenly your sound jumps with a sudden change!

      Sounds like the 96k audio rate is a potential problem, too. Something that everybody thinks they want, but most people don’t really need.

    1. The UI & lighting design seems like a massive improvement over the 808.

      How would you change the TR-8 design to make it better?

      1. Since all the faders look the same in the dark and the size of the indicators are below par, it would become hard to navigate visually in a dimly lit room.

        I would make the “labels, channels, faders” indicators to have more individual identification via color, larger #, something that can’t be confused easily for another.

        Throw in a couple of beers for the DJ and you may have the remix that makes you rethink the design.

        1. Off all the things you could criticize about the TR-8, criticizing the low-light usability seems really strange.

          All the drum channels are clearly labeled, the buttons are illuminated and there isn’t any choice of colors that they could use that would offer more contrast than the white type on a black background.

          The channels are organized in logical groups, so the function of each channel is immediately obvious. And, any button with a function that’s not immediately obvious based on its position is labeled with reverse type.

          If you compare this to an original 808, the UI is vastly more readable (plus it has faders).

          scott’s criticism’s make a lot more sense to me, especially the way presets jump to the current state of knobs. That does make it more authentic to the original, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

          1. Where are these devices being used for performances? “Night”clubs.

            If you are in the studio, I’m guessing you’d be stuck to having the lights on.

            Not everyone works in those conditions, the device should.

    2. 1. Hold ptn select.
      2. Turn on tr8
      3. Hold depth knob underneath scatter.
      4. Turn scatter to setting 2.

      Low light mode!!

    3. via the Sound on Sound review:

      “The controls are laid out logically and to a high ergonomic standard. Basically, stuff’s exactly where you want it and the right size too. On power?up, familiar step buttons light up in 808?styled red, orange, yellow and white, setting out the TR8?s stall unambiguously. The remaining buttons and sliders are backlit in green, and in low light are far more informative than any display.

      I questioned whether there was a way to tone down the step keys, as I found them rather dazzling after many hours up close in my darkened attic. Happily, Roland have thought of this already, and if you power up holding the Pattern Select button, a dimmed mode, plus alternate colour schemes, are yours at the spin of an encoder.”

  2. I thought briefly synthopia was an off shoot of apple and it might be best to call the site ‘softopia’ So it was amusing to see someone upset about an actual synthesized sound instrument being reviewed. The software is what amuses me.
    Would be nice to know what other drum sounds will be a definite from Roland. I already have two of the Aira range. The downside to this drum machine is it’s small number of out puts? That’s my only gripe.

    1. It’s interesting to me how many people get hung up on technology, instead of what the technology sounds like.

      Why the fear of digital or software? Some of the greatest synths made have been digital or hybrid synths – are people just ignorant of these synths?

    2. So as long as your software comes installed on a dedicated hardware controller then? I don’t really get it… it’s called “Synthtopia”… not “Hardwaretopia”… why would software bother you?

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