#909Day Rumors: Roland Introducing System-8 Synthesizer, TR-09 Drum Machine, TB-03 Bass Line Synth & More


Roland recently announced that it will be celebrating 909 Day (9/09/2016) with a 24-hour online music festival and the introduction of 30+ different pieces of gear, including five new synthesizers.

Images have leaked out that suggest that among the synths that Roland will be introducing will be:

  • A Roland System-8 polyphonic synthesizer – based on their Aira Plug-Out technology;
  • Roland TR-09 drum machine, styled after the original TR-909; and
  • Roland TB-03 Bass Line synthesizer, styled after the original TB-303.

None of these images are official and no specifications have been released. But if they are real, then Roland will be unleashing some serious new synth firepower on #909day. 

The first image, below, is reported to come from a Sam Ash ad in Keyboard magazine. It shows the Roland System-8 Synthesizer – clearly a more powerful version of the existing Aira System-1:


Two more images have been shared on the German site sequencer.de, that show a Roland TR-09 and Roland TB-03:

roland-tb-03-bassline-synthesizer roland-tr-09-drum-machine

Note: None of these images are official, and we’ll have to wait until Sept 9 (#909day) for the official details.

But the possibility of a high-end Plug-out synth, new versions of two of Roland’s most iconic pieces of music gear and a total of more than 30 new introductions suggest that Roland’s 909 Celebration may actually have a lot of electronic musicians celebrating.

via matthew pfeiffer

108 thoughts on “#909Day Rumors: Roland Introducing System-8 Synthesizer, TR-09 Drum Machine, TB-03 Bass Line Synth & More

    1. Roland Boutique series have lower resolution audio than the AIRA series, plus they’re tiny and not really suitable for performance.
      The AIRA TR-8 does 808 and 909 sounds, and can be loaded with 606, 707 and 727 sounds as well.
      So, unless these boutique 909 don’t cost more than $150 or they’re analog, I don’t see how they’ll make people forget about the TR-8.

    2. learned its lesson? these are digital toys. If Roland had “learned their lesson” they would be proper analog instruments like the originals.

      Learned their lesson? hardly.

      1. lets see if these are acb´s.
        after aira roland put out the modular system and that awful analog hybrid.
        maybe i´m an optimist but i smell analog.

      2. You haven’t heard or seen them, but you’re passing snap judgement simply because they’re digital. That’s irrational.

        *You* might want a $2000 analog reproduction of these instruments, but the reality is that hardly anyone would buy such a thing. These? They’ll sell in the tens of thousands. Who cares if they don’t have magical pixie dust.

        1. hardly anyone would buy such a thing?

          One Word…VOLCA. Selling by the truckloads. Killing it.

          and it would not cost $2000, Korg proved that.

          1. Umm, no. Korg did not “prove” that a modern duplicate of the 909 won’t cost $2000 by releasing the volca series. They’re tiny, affordable plastic-cased machines with cost-reduced circuit designs. Most of the pots don’t even have knobs.

            Yes, the volcas are wonderful. No, that doesn’t mean Roland could make a modern TR-909 reproduction for $159. Heck, the digital TR-09 they’re about to release will most likely retail for $299.

    3. So, no individual outs for the 909 replica. I guess they didn’t learn much from the TR8. A cheap little 303 would be cool, but shame the input seems to labeled ‘mix in’ rather than a VCF input. Is that the kind of thing purists would have lost it over?

  1. Sure they look nice, but If the 303 and 909 are digital ACB then ill pass. There are plenty of cheap real analog clones that would sound better than digital clones. So apart from the name they would not be doing anything special if that were the case.
    Dont forget the Boutique-sized Vocoder on the site too.

  2. I was hoping for a $999 System 8 to compete with the Behringer but it’s a bit too much at $1499 for a VA that hosts emulation plugins.

  3. These will be ACB and I think that is disappointing. Surely an analog version cannot be so expensive as to make it non-viable.
    People want the real thing. Other folk are making 303, 808 and 909 analog clones and there is a market for them. Korg have done the MS 20 and the ARP stuff as remakes. Oberheim, Sequential Circuits, DSI, Moog and Elektron are all successfully making analog gear profitable. Yet Roland persists with disappointing emulations of something great they once made.
    Time for management change at Roland. Roland, drop me an email and I’ll sort you out!!

    1. Yes, to Roland management – if you are going to re-make one of your great synth or drum machines from yesteryear don’t make it a VA in a box. It will never be the original. It may come close but it will never be. Remake the original or forget it. It can’t be that that expensive seeing you own the design. There’s barely anything to do!!!

      You say it’s all about creating the future but at the moment it’s not even about the past. It’s about trying to make a safe-bet low cost copy to move units. It’s mediocre at best. Give us the new bit of gear that defines a music genre or era.

      While you’re at it, what this computer generation needs is an all-in-one hardware piece to process their VA tracks. Throw in ‘true’ variable sampling bit rates and analog filters (multiple) and what ever else you can think of!!

  4. Damn,
    All of these synth companies are turning out like these old cheesy bands from the 80’s that keep touring and touring on a couple of hits they had 30 years ago.

    It’s like… write some new material!!!

  5. TB-03 and TR-09 is nice if they’re inexpensive enough. They’re most likely ACB, not analog, inevitable.. The thing is, both machines, especially TB-3 should have improved the sequencer interface! I also wonder how many patterns TR-09 can have and song mode etc (not hoping).

  6. Ehh, another digital 303 from Roland within a couple of years? 909 was part of the TR-8. Not too thrilled. Wish they were analog. Just small Boutique versions of existing products. The System-8 looks cool, but too expensive for a VA.

  7. As great sounding this gear might be, the Roland X0X’s with all their clones has become some of the most worn out cliches in electronic music by now. There’s nothing innovative in this at all.

  8. I love Roland gear and they did fetch out a low cost line with Aira.
    What I hope for is more than four outs on their drum machines and the sampler (fingers crossed for one of those)
    8 outs is important for drum machines.

  9. Complaining about Analogue being better than ACB is ridiculous. If ACB was available in 1982 or 1984, then that would be the standard. ACB modelling can sound as good as analogue. The snobbery is pathetic really. New gen out, enjoy it!
    In 30+ years people will complain that it is not hologram instruments..

    1. The issue is that digital synths can sound like great digital synths and can do a ton of things analogue can’t, but they just don’t sound like analogue synths. It reminds me of that five year period in the 90s when everybody tried to convince eachother that “low fat” stuff tasted the same. It didn’t taste the same, and it turns out it was mostly poison garbage. If you’re going to make digital synths, stop subjecting them to arbitrary retro limitations and pretending they sound as good as the original. They don’t.

    2. Does the “snobery” termin in your post mean that you never actualy had oportunity (should be readed “money”) to create a song with analog?

  10. Nice, I have over longer time considered Roland system-1 , but thanks god I didn’t buy it 😀 (I hope the keys are better quality, than system-1 and nice…not a knob as pitchbend, but a real pitchbend stick!)

    Hope Roland will make more plug-out systems too for this System series. 😀

  11. Is the TR09 going to do something extra compared to the TR8 ? If the Tr09 is a digital box then what’s the reason of it’s existence ?

  12. Who says they’re not analogue? It’s all speculation until they release the spec. However, I’m going to indulge and say if they are analogue my tb3 is getting replaced!

  13. Omg, so many people, oh it’s not analog it’s acb. Have you heard a TR8? I defy anybody to hear the difference. If you can then either you have not got a clue what you are on about or you are a pretentious twat who says these things to sound like you know what you are on about. Get over it, digital can sound analog and has been able to for quite some time now

    1. There’s a huge difference. Trust me, I’ve been producing tracks for 21 years. That being said. I like the TR-8 for what it is. A modern live performance friendly drum machine.

  14. if i wanted digital i would use a VST plugin.

    If i wanted to buy a synthesizer keyboard then let me see…Deep Mind 12 Analog synth …or Rolands System 8 plastic controller surface with a digital plugin underneath.

    Another Roland FAIL. Sadly.

    +1 for the Roland management change. Soooo overdue. Korg are laughing at you. And you keep making it so easy for them. I can just see the Korg boardroom smiles and high-fives all round with this news!

  15. Yawn, the old Roland 909 from 1984. Used in house music over and over and over and over again. I’m sick of the sound of it. It’s been done. To death. There’s nothing anybody can do on a reissue that hasn’t been heard thousands of times before. It’s 2016 – how about a brand new drum machine Roland?

    1. There is no reason why they cant do both, there would always be a demand if they really listened to feedback
      and followed what some of the better companies are doing.

  16. I’m pleased enough, but probably not buying for a good while yet as I’m saving for a Sub 37. I would imagine they will be ACB, and I imagine they will sound pretty darned close to the originals if the reviews of the other Boutiques are anything to go by. However, if they are analog I can just see a thread a mile long about how they don’t sound *quite* the same as the originals, along with A/B scopes etc.

    Hardware looks cute – strange positions for the volume knobs, and the sync/cv stuff on the 03 – surely the back would have made more sense? Or is it something to do with fitting into the keyboard case?

    I’m sort of with the “why not use a VST instead” crowd, and I have some lovely mappings on my controller keyboards, but let’s face it – a 1:1 hardware mapping to a VST, such as the lovely Soundforce controllers, costs probably about the same as these will sell for.

    1. wait for the 16-pad sampler/workstation. it´s coming also next week. according to one highly credible source–gearslutz commenter “tha knoq”–, “a maschine/mpc killer”. the guy already saw a promo video last year.

      1. I hope you are right.
        In my opinion mv8800 Roland is still the Best hardweare sampler workstation out there and i dont need nothing more just les wight and space and i’ll buy it.

  17. Looking at the current street & 2nd hand prices for Korg’s “new” analogue gear, Roland isn’t exactly missing any trains they’re not already on. It’s no surprise that there are a bunch of new Volca’s coming out all the time, they must be making a mint on them. The ms & odyssey are just there to be loss leaders. The music market is not like the automobile market, so Roland probably does the right thing but keeping to their own niche, regardless of any analogue vs. digital debates…… Remember the Mac vs. PC? Apple didn’t exactly lose by keeping to their own track.

  18. These must be ACB, which is close but no cigar – sold my TR-8 after precisely one day as it did not sound good enough (plastic sheen, bad high frequency sound) and the serious flaws in its design (16 patterns, no kit memory, no song mode), made it laughable as a modern drum machine, though ok as a DAW add-on I guess.

    The big selling point here is have Roland replicated the sequencer functions accurately. The TR-909 was (still is) a fantastic midi sequencer in a minimal setup and the TB-303 sequencer is at least half of its quirky charm. No doubt these will sell in boat-loads to hipsters, but seriously why bother when there are far superior alternatives out there for cheap (TT-303, Nava etc)

    I am interested in hearing the vocoder though, if it’s half as good as the real thing I might be tempted to try it.

  19. Roland have become the Nintendo of Synthesisers. The same bloody thing.. over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

    1. “over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.”

      and still not getting it right.

  20. Unless the 03 and 09 are analog (or the Boutique range is headed for a price drop) I can’t see any reason for them versus the Aira models.

  21. More Roland minitoy copies of their finest moments. Weird. They are most likely to be ACB – which sounds good agreed, but there will be few sales to Aira users like myself, who are hardly going to buy the same thing twice. If they do turn out to be analog, if they are shrunken down to the boutique scale, they will have operational issues, those mini knobs will be ridiculously awkward and unsatisfying in use. The restyling renders them bland, pale imitations as well. Why is it beyond them to stop messing about and remake the originals full size, with usb et al, I wonder?

    1. Announce a boutique JV-010, the size of the 4×2 lego brick. 🙂 with all the SR-JV card sounds included, except replacing the lawsuit samples with new samples of unreleased Rob Base & MC Hammer tunes.

  22. Original 909 it huge. These knobs are smaller then a character on a shitty led screen. It’s gonna be impossible to jam out with tiny knobs. The hole left side is wasted space.

  23. to all analog die hards : what do you record your work on today ? A DAW ? And if you can afford 3000 USD reissues, fine. But for there rest of us who are not obsessed by hard to hear differences or are looking into new synthesis methods, Roland is doing a fine job.

    1. Henri please stop trying to disqualify the whole argument with your outrageous suggestion of high price for analog.

      Korg have proven it doesnt need to cost that much by a LONG SHOT. Especially not these days with SMD analog design and manufacturing.

    2. Henri are you saying that AD converters is makeing analog things sound digital?!? 😀
      I hope you are not doing your mixes by your self.

  24. I was waiting for the TR-9 since the TR-8 came out. I knew they’d rehash it. I just didn’t expect it to come out as a TR-09 in the Boutique Series. I’m very disappointed. I can live with the ACB sounds. I like the TR-8 for what it is. But this is exactly like when they came out with the MC-303 and MC-909. Just a waste of time and resources. Toys for people just starting off who don’t know any better. The TR-09 is way too small for live performance. The tiny knobs and sliders on the rest of the boutiques are horrible unless you program and leave them alone. Any real time modulations are next to impossible.

  25. The bigger problem is droves of people will buy these expensive toys. Just check out jams on YouTube. (Hating on products not music, use what you want.) At least Volcas are 1) most are analog 2) much more affordable. This is overpriced nonsense. And to think, people hate on VSTs, I’ll take VSTs over all these ACB microsynths.

  26. The CV and Gate outputs on the 303 could indicate potentially an analogue device. Can’t see why they’d go to the bother of making only that part of the device analogue and then making the rest ACB. If it it’s all ACB then Roland are the biggest fools in the synth industry at the moment. Same goes for the 909

      1. The system-8 is presumably designed to be compatible with the rest of the aira range, that would include the modular gear. So in that case, it would need CV/Gate. I see no reason why they’d go to the bother of making these, after all the market research they’ve probably done, and then completely fuck it up

  27. SYSTEM-1M or Modular Fx it’s ACB but these have in/out CV Gate, in this new TB-03 you can use the sequencer for a modular or analog device or as a fx unit , drive distortion + delay for processing internal sound and external input from other device. And System-8 have 3 Plug-Out + sequencer and many patches preset… No bad!

  28. Either rerelease your great analogue machines as great analogue machines or do something new and interesting with digital. Stop making boring digital versions of great analogue machines. It’s like using one of those sepia tone filters on an iPhone.

  29. VERY BAD!! like modern cinema; only remakes, bringing back the SAME IDEAS but also the original limitations without adding creative or contemporary options and advances. SO bad.

    Im still waiting to see if the release a samplers like the Roland MV.

  30. I don’t really wanna join the pile on but can’t help but feel like this group of products, presuming they’re real, feel a bit cowardly.

  31. i met the founder ikutaro kagehashi a few years ago in his home . he said roland sees no reason to go back in time and come up with old analog drum machine again. i agree even i love that old stuff more than anything. roland will evolve and the new series ( like TR8 ) are awesome products. the new stuff will be great again. rolands industrial production standards are high five all the time.

      1. What’s the point of making analog copies of old gear?

        The ONLY reason to do that is to make money on people’s nostalgia.

        The smart thing to do is to make new types of synths – digital synths and analog/digital hybrids – that can do what the old synths could do, but also do new things that extend the range of sounds that synthesists have available to them.

  32. I’m probably starting the Third World War but, in the end, all your analog synths will be digitally recorded and usually distributed and played in a lossy MP3 format. The fact of having a real analog synths nowadays do not make significant difference when compared with ACB or good VSTs in the final mix (in electronic music production)

    1. there’s a lot of opinion here for things that haven’t had a release yet. And can I say I am apalled by the idea that as a 58 year old who was making electronic music with my first SH-3A in 194 and having made a career of running a studio, that I can only guess I have more experience in my 40 year career and my name on more albums and produced more Grammy award wining artists than you may ever have. I also have no fat old friends, I am much in demand for my expertise from many of my predominantly young clientele.

    2. You are right that it does not make a very big impact on the final product. If you are doing EDM or pop or something along those lines then i don’t see any reason to get an analogue synth at all.

      And not all analogue sound the same. Some i like the sound of, some i dont.
      But there is a sound difference, and for me its with getting an analogue synth for the simple pleasure of how it sounds when its played. It makes me want to play more and make more music. And its not even more expensive. You can get cheap used analogue poly synths around the same prices as the little roland boxes, so its not about snobbery.

      The system 8 synth looks great! .. great fun VA synth like the JP8000.
      Just wish they would stop with constantly stealing their old gear names and trying to sell something with the glory of the past.

    3. What the hell are you talking about AD conversion, in the box digital mixing and converting to mp3 do more or les the same damage to the audio spectrum and its mudding lows a litlebit hi passing very low spectrum litlebit and lowpassing very highs it also taking away timbral unstabilyty of tape recorders etc. wich they are replacying. It do not have magic abilitys to take awey the diferences in sound of a source. I dont know maybe that can be done like taking away the vocals from the mixdown stereo file but why? As far as i know mixing is about taking away as litle as its posible and makeing things sound good at the source. I mix like that with very good results. If you dont have any idea on topic dont post.

  33. They’re going to be virtual analog (just like the Aira series), they’re going to be absolute failures (just like the Aira series), and they’re going to push up the value of the real 909 and 303 another $1000 (just like the Aira series).

    Move on, nothing else to see here. Those who take electronic music serious will invest in the originals. Why settle for mediocrity?

  34. Both of these machines will be virtual analog (just like the Aira), will be miserable failures (just like the Aira) and will push the value of the original 909/303 up another $1000 (just like the Aira did).

    It’s ok though, us producers who take our craft serious already have the original ones, because we know getting “90% of the way there” with these toys isn’t going to cut it.

    And did I see only two outputs on the back of the TR-09 instead of one for each instrument? Fucking LOL

  35. Roland makes three clone of tb 303: mc-09 ; tb 03; and now the tb 303 aira.
    Why they don’t build a tb 303 like the original with midi cc ?

  36. Roland System 8 and Roland JD-XA – that sounds like a great combination! Yep – add another synth to my ‘to buy’ list…

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