Roland Intros SP-404A Sampler & Updates TR-8 Drum Machine

808 Day: Roland has introduced the SP-404A Linear Wave Sampler, a sampler designed for live use.

The company also announced a firmware update for the Roland AIRA TR-8 Rhythm Performer, adding MIDI out support so that it can control the SP-404A sampler.

All of the functions and features of the SP-404SX are contained in the SP-404A, including its distinctive 16-bit linear sampling, 29 onboard DSP effects, smooth FX switching, and 12 professional performance pads. Plus, a new library of sounds by sample-industry leader Loopmasters are provided via the included SD card.

Here’s a preview of the SP-404A & TR-08 combo in action:


  • Sample anytime, anywhere with the built-in mic and battery power
  • Can be triggered from the 16-step sequencer in the TR-8 Rhythm Performer (TR-8 system version 1.50 or later required)
  • AIRA black-and-green color scheme to match existing AIRA hardware
  • “Sounds by Loopmasters” SD card includes over 100 new stereo samples, effects, and one-shots
  • 29 DSP effects, including filter, delay, unique voice effects, subsonic, looper, and more
  • Three control knobs, 12 trigger pads, and Sub Pad for rapid-repeat triggering
  • Seamless effects switching for smooth, perfect performances
  • Pattern sequencer with quantize mode and shuffle feels
  • Import audio files from a computer and assign samples to pads with free Mac/Windows software

Pricing and Availability

Details on pricing and availability for the SP-404a are to be announced. See the Roland site for more info.

37 thoughts on “Roland Intros SP-404A Sampler & Updates TR-8 Drum Machine

    1. The old 404s had sample velocity via midi control, not by the 12 pads. Hook up a keyboard or sequencer & you’ll get velocity.

      But yeah, velocity pads on the face of the 404A would be a better option.

      *edit* D’oh, can’t type my pseudonym right (not that it matters).

  1. wow really?
    that 404 is such a wasted opportunity. people are waiting with money in hand for a new roland sampler and you gives a reskin?

  2. This is perplexing. I own an sp-404 and when they released the sp-404sx I though well what’s the point in that. This thing though… honestly they probably would have been better off releasing a boutique sp-303.

    1. Yeah, I’ve actually been looking to get a sp-404sx and now I’m wondering if there’s any added benefit to having this one instead of the sx, outside of it being able to be triggered by the TR-8 (which I don’t have). I compared the spec sheets and the layouts and they are exactly the same.

      1. Exact same. I’m pretty sure the 404SX can be midi triggered. Dont quote me on that since I dont have mine anymore but I swear I was playing pads from an MPC 1000 at one time. Like accidentally until I turned it off and just used the midi clock to sync.

        1. Randy- correct, the 404OG & SX are both controllable via midi- pads only though. I normally sequence my SX via the Squarp Pyramid or AS Europa & it’s fine with both. Weirdly each bank starts on B, not C though.

      2. According to the support documents on Roland’s website, the SX works the same as the A with the new TR8 firmware sampler sequencing update. The rebrand and included samples are the only changes in the new 404, but the ‘dumb upgrade’ allowed Roland to pay for the sequencing update.

    2. Dam good idea! Sp303 back at it. That would have made more sense that a new faceplate and letter. Maybe they think people are dumb or just trying to move new units with better marketing than “More 404SX’s for yawls”. This sounds like a new product for anyone without google looking for that Fisher Price- My first Sampler. Only thing great about it is that the original 404 and 404sx are already great.

  3. They took the sp404 sx and dropped the Sx and put an A on it. Sounds like there is absolutely nothing different at all about it. You can still find new Sp 404sx’s on amazon so im not even sure they stopped manufacturing it, so why make a new one kind of.

    Can be triggered from the TR-08. The old one could be triggered as well.

    Anyone know if anything is new about this besides the “A”.

  4. The SP 555 gets slept on so much. I like the battery feature too but its become a marketing thing. Like everyone cant wait to take their gear outside and get it stolen! Anyways, the 555 is like the 404 beast, the Super Filter is the best, more effects, and the looper was great for capturing performances and throwing them on a pad instead of the tedious resampling.
    The 404 is great as well but I never understood why the 555 got slept on. Midi in and out, phantom power for a real mic, more pads, more FX. Maybe people really like AA batteries.

    1. Each of the SP series was killer in it’s own way. I love the 606 so much I bought it twice- those things were way ahead of their time. Can’t think of a standalone sampler predating it that could also act audio interface & DAW controller. The 40+ FX in it were amazing & the secret synth was actually pretty useful for bulking up sounds. It wasn’t as quick to use as the 404 or 555, but the 4 track sequencer & microscope sequencer edit made it easier for building whole songs.

      Reckon the 555 got slept on because it didn’t really match what the market wanted back in the day. Is that stating the obvious enough? I remember reading keyboard warriors bitching about the lack of screen, the loose mark/trim/chop method, lack of pitching etc. Most people buying samplers a decade ago didn’t interested in anything that wasn’t an MPC or imitating an MPC. Their loss, the SP series made their users think through the limitations & find workarounds (couple the chromatic pitch shift & tempo stretch to imitate turntable pitching, resample with compression & reverb to smooth out the result).

  5. I am curious about its pricing as compared to the Elektron Digitakt. If it is $499, then I would say it is worth spending a little extra for the Digitakt. $399 might be tempting, if you have the TR-8 and really want to use the two together. Still, what you have is a piece of tech inferior to the Digitakt by quite a margin.

    1. The effects are tremendous for performance effects in a sampler. The KP3 is close but its just an effects box. With effects and resampling, you can go for hours with one sample and mangle it to a hot beat. Another great feature which people overlook is switching the FX with no blips. I mean absolutely no blibs, not the tiny one you act like you dont notice.
      The digitakt has the p-locks which highly surpass most sequencing in my opinion. But only reverb and delay kind of blows. I’ve been using it mangle samples with the p -lock and its great to see the wave, unlike the octatrack with slices n such. But im running the digitakt into the OT for effects. Some people put full tracks in the SP and use it as a live performance FX box. For the price, not a bad gig. But this re-release with a different name is pretty garbage from a massive corp like roland.

      1. With all due respect to the KP3, it was also a sampler & looper. Using a similar workflow as the SP series (resample everything) you can make microwave beats all day on the KP3.

        The Digitakt & 404 are very different samplers & that’s a great thing. Each covers the other’s weakness- Digitakt lacks FX & immediate workflow, the 404 lacks sequencing & precision. These 2 would be a killer combo, maybe better than the OT mk2.

        1. “Digitakt lacks FX & immediate workflow”

          I wouldn’t say the Digitakt lacks Immediate workflow at all. It’s basically designed to be as hands on as possible. Everything is easily accessible and not complicated to learn.

  6. Pedestrian video clip featuring generic 90’s video game style samples. Give me a stronger presentation, otherwise-pass.

  7. so lame. still no bpm detection of .wav loops possible. laughable. the mc-808 was able to do that. where´s the damned “16-pad sampler workstation” gearslutz whistleblower “tha knoq” talked about 2 years ago? the guy
    a) saw an actual promo video of that new mv-9000 with his very own eyes,
    b) broke several nda´s and
    c) lost his job because of it.
    i hope roland didn´t shelved it, but only postponed it.

  8. Still waiting on a CR-78 emu on the TR-8 before I buy one. I thought after the 707/727 and the 606, we’d get it for sure.

  9. Reissuing the 404 as part of the Aira line makes it look like the SP series is obsolete. Pity.

    They didn’t even put a D-beam on it. *wipes tear*

  10. Ive got a 404..irreplaceable. If only the guys of Roland put and internal memory with USB port to load the samples on it… that could be enought. The black skin is awful!

  11. this is probably only important to a small amount of people but, can it now arpeggiate/gate an audio signal, with the tr8 (like an electribe)… that would be a big selling point

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