Roland TR-808 vs Roland TR-8 – A Producer’s Perspective

This video, via Roland U.S., captures LA producer & performer Daedelus sharing his take on the Roland TR-808 vs the Roland TR-8 – and the TR-808 plus the TR-8.

Daedelus focuses his attention primarily on what the two devices mean as tools and instruments, vs focusing on whether the TR-8 ‘clones’ the 808.

Along the way, he also shares audio demos, his perspective on some of the pros and cons of each drum machine, and explains his idea of searching for the ‘humanity’ in the machines you use to make music.

This talk was originally delivered at the 2nd Low End Theory Festival on 8.08.15.

14 thoughts on “Roland TR-808 vs Roland TR-8 – A Producer’s Perspective

  1. The 808 “is on every classic record you heard… just about”
    Not sure I agree with that. My classic record taste must be broader than yours.
    The 808 is definitely a classic, though.

    1. He’s actually a classically trained musician on the double bass. Clearly when he meant every classic song, it was to electronic based compositions. Especially since he said it was invented around the 1980s..

    2. Oops! Forgot to put “classic electronic record” in there.
      I can see how people may have assumed I was referring to those classic records made prior to the invention of electricity.
      Stay calm people.

    3. good lord. petty little comments like this just make me tired. they give me the internet blues. anyone who’s not a total brick gets what daedelus is trying to say.

  2. I think within the context of this conversation about drum machines we can safely assume he is talking about electronically produced forms specifically. It seems obviously unnecessary to debate semantics in this case. At least, to me it is.

  3. Real question is the creativity of the artist that use them
    the 808 and 303 originally a practice type machine for musicians to practice their songs without having a full band with them.
    the 303 after not selling that well was dumped at 50 bucks a pop , that’s right 50
    dance music makers got hold of them, played around, and got you the classic 303 808 sounds

  4. Great Talk- nice to see someone talking about how similar they are. also how he touches on the 808 of Legend vs the “Real thing” (and So do I ) One minor Quibble though and that is that the TR-8 does not use Samples. It is analog modeling via virtual Circuit emulation. I see that goes in to detail on that later but just to reiterate- the TR-8’s 808 and 909 are not samples.

  5. Really thoughtful and well presented. I especially like how you address our perceptions and expectation of the sound based in our memory of hearing it in classic tracks. It’s totally true, and is a big reason why there is so much hysteria over analog gear. It does sound amazing but requires quite a bit of processing, and in the context of a mix, I’d challenge anyone to know whether it was analog or analog modeled. Would love to see this as a series, comparing software to hardware. I love my Jupiter 8, but having just received my Roland boutiques, I’m starting to think of all the stuff I could buy if I sold it.

  6. One things that’s pretty critical here is that he plays the Tr-8, by that I mean plays it like an instrument. It’s one of the weirdest things that everyone seemingly has overlooked with it. The 808 / 909 were loved in many ways for being hands on machines, which is probably a lot to do why their sounds were cemented in the psyche as they are. Everything is exposed per drum, every step exposed so they were played like instruments rather than just left in a pattern. So we are used to performances from them, not just a beat.

    I’ve got a TR-8 and recently got a RYTM thinking I would sell the TR-8 to fund it, but that hands on feel is the reason it’s getting kept. The RYTM is a wonderful machine, but it lacks the ability to grab a fader or see at a glance where everything is and where you want it to go to. As he says the sounds are like we want them to be in many ways, which is totally true as well. Most 808’s were pushed through compressors, desks, mpc’s and in most of the classic tracks things that we simply cannot replicate in most home studios, so roland has given us 99% of what in a blind test we would say is “a classic 808” or a “classic 909” out of the box.

    Another great guy to check out on youtube for the TR-8 is Kink, although maybe not to everyones taste he performs with it in ways that are quite inspiring. The comments in the videos he mentions most of the processing is simply overloading the desk, so it’s that case of pushing what is there to an advantage rather than relying things we don’t have.

    For me, this video’s given me 2 things. A: a real 808 is massive and probably I’d get fed up with the part selector turning B: I need to really start turning the shuffle up more.

  7. It’s kinda weird that this video from an official Roland channel on Youtube. I mean, that pretty much makes it marketing. Strange kind of marketing. Also weird and kinda misleading that there is no Roland logo on the video itself, as if this was not put up by Roland, if you just watch the embedded video without knowing that it’s from a Roland U.S. channel.

    Still, interesting video, I hope Roland will do more of these.

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