Is The Roland TR-8S Drum Machine Now “The Most Complete Drum Machine Ever”?

Roland has introduced TR-8S Version 2.0, a free firmware update for its flagship drum machine.

They say the Version 2.0 update makes the TR-8S “the most complete drum machine ever”. The update adds an FM synthesis engine with Morph control, expanded performance effects, and reload functions to speed up workflow.

Here’s the official intro video:

Here’s what they have to say about TR-8S V2.0:

“The newly added FM synthesis engine delivers an array of futuristic tone colors, including silvery metallic hits and other harmonically rich percussion sounds. Users can sweep through sonic variations with the ultra-expressive Morph control, wildly manipulating FM depth, ratio, and feedback with simple knob movements. FM sounds can be freely blended with classic TR sounds and custom samples, paving the way to never-before-heard grooves.

The TR-8S includes many percussion-tuned effects for enhancing individual sounds or entire kits with character, depth, and space. Version 2.0 adds Saturator, Freq Shift, Ring Mod, and Spread effects to the mix, which can be assigned to control knobs for shaping sounds on the fly.

Version 2.0 also adds many reload functions that restore pattern and kit elements to their stored states with quick actions, providing exciting new ways to manipulate beats while creating sounds and performing live.”

TR-8S Version 2.0 is a free update from the Roland site.

Does Version 2.0 make the TR-8S “the most complete drum machine ever”? Let us know what you think in the comments!

27 thoughts on “Is The Roland TR-8S Drum Machine Now “The Most Complete Drum Machine Ever”?

    1. Not entirely true. Doesn’t this have an ACB version of each of the 707, 808 and 909? I think if you add all those up it’s a far bigger number than any of the Elektron machines. Even the Machinedrum. Less flexible perhaps given that you only have only one or two adjustable parameters for each sound

  1. Yeah, cant stand these question mark titles. New pair of sneakers released, “Best sneakers ever made”? Like the nerdy kid in high school screaming for attention. Its like the most complete drum machine #10, and its still not that complete. Analog Rytm MK2 lets you sample in and has a synth engine alongside the other engines. Now thats pretty complete.

    1. To be fair, Roland is the one stating as a fact it’s the “most complete drum machine ever” and the editor is very reasonably, rather than repeating the claim “Roland releases most complete drum machine ever!” is cynically rolling their eyes and framing the claim with “Is the ABC now XYZ?”

      It’s a reference to Betteridge’s law of headlines: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”

      This all said, they did a good job with the updates on this drum machine and it’s better than before.

  2. Watched the loopop vid on this, the only parameter you can change is to morph between three different preset positions for each FM sound? Not really very flexible, then.

  3. It’s like two feature crippled drum machines in one box. So…no. Hell, you could buy an MPC One for what the TR8S retails for, and have a little production studio. Roland needs to look at their pricing.

  4. > you could buy an MPC One for what the TR8S retails for

    Interesting take. The MPC drum sampler’s street price of $1000 is the same as the TR8S’s MSRP of $1000. So even though the TR8S retails for $700, lets ignore that.

    On the other hand the MPC’s good to compare. Mk II is $1200 and has a color multipress touchscreen with a well designed sequencer etc. Also a 4×4 pressure sensitive drum pad grid. And USB 3.

    So for twice the price you get a lot. Not surprising. On the other hand the MPC II is new hardware not even released and the TRS8 news here is a free firmware update to a several year old machine that costs half as much.

    1. The MPC One is $699 street and is smaller than the MPC Live II. You are talking about a different product like maybe you don’t know the MPC One exists?

      1. Who does? They been dropping the same gear in different sizes for a while now. Didnt even give the MPC One room to breathe before the Mpc Live + Speaker and CV. Next will be MPC Live + Speaker + CV + more knobs. Bet me!
        All the while I pu my Force in the box waiting for the arranger cause I just dont want to work on a computer for 10 hours a day then gear up to make music… on a computer. Not even mixing. Standalone boxes with so much focus on integration with software, and as broad as a Marvel movie.

  5. No.
    I’m surprised Roland isn’t charging $150 for the update.
    I’m sure it’s pretty cool and all but Roland has become over-priced regurgitations of the same old crap.
    Seriously, their pricing is outrageous! I’m pretty much over Roland.
    Elektron shits all over this in price, features and workflow.
    Not saying I wouldn’t enjoy a TR8s. I definitely would. But for the price there are way better options.

  6. Roland discontinued the 7×7 add on for the Tr8 and released a new add on for the Tr8s? Since Roland dont respect or listen to their customers, Ill never buy Roland again. In any case, they havent produced anything good since the 19080’s. Theyve not done anything original, theyve taken sounds from their best ever machines and found a way to reproduce them cheaply. Worse than behringer

    1. You’re angry because Roland just released a significant free update for the TR8S? That makes no sense. As for your complaint about the discontinuation of the 7×7 add-on TR-8, it’s a six year old machine. Companies cannot support everything forever.

  7. I own a Machinedrum SPS-1UW+ MKII, Analog Rytm MKI, MPC Live and a TR-8S (and a few more…). No matter how you compare it, this is a bad a$$ update FOR FREE. As an owner of all the above mentioned drum machines, they all do different things very well, and not one of them Sh**s on the other. Jut say’n…

  8. Loving this update. While the morph feature is “on rails”, it’s still very usable and fills a gap. But the new effects & live pattern/knob reset ability would have been fantastic on their own. I’ve never regretted buying this drum machine.

  9. There are a lot of negative opinions coming from people that probably have never used the TR-8s. I decided to go with the Roland over the Digitakt because after owning a Model:Samples and the original Tr-8, I realized I had a lot more fun with playing with the Roland. I think calling the Tr-8s the most complete drum machine ever is a stretch but in my opinion the Tr-8s was worth the money before and this update makes it even better.

  10. You get what you pay for? This drum machine is versatile to whomever knows their depth of ideas? You never get bored of sound’s hence ( own samples & sequencing workflow ) this machine especially for the price? Yes, massive thumb ? s up,,, I run a few of them to experiment etc,,, possibilities????? That’s down to the mindset of owners? Ps An Akai Force is a very nice tool as well,,,, running these machines altogether,,,, mind-boggling nice. Check them out, Happy ? days.

  11. I would consider the TR-8s used if they ever added nudge per step, micro timing, whatever you want to call it. I’m really surprised this didn’t exist in version 1 and I’m more surprised it’s not in version 2. Glaring oversight IMO.

  12. It might be great but only as Roland fancies to support software for OS’es, drivers ad firmware. Roland’s Instrument are not “Built to last,” at least not anymore. Aira is supposed to be ACB machine, but the focus on TR-8S has been on live/sample functionally found in other machines. That fine but the TR8-S has only 5 more ACB sounds compared with an TR-8 with the 7×7 expansion that costed $99 extra and it does not have 2 that the TR-8S has. The TR-8 has 25% of ACB slots left unused and the TR-8S about the same.

    Where are the ACB updates ? No more. because Roland is is making 7×7 expansion unavailable at the end if August so that there is value in to buying a 2nd hand TR-8 w/o the expansion or when your TR8 goes down you want to get a replacement with the same expansion, you are out of luck. And no, it’s not right to obsolete a firmware update even it’s 6 years old. System 1/8 perpetual updated are still available in the Roland cloud, what if they removed those tomorrow ?

  13. Good but I would have prefer a midi cc number for variations as there is no song mode and when you change pattern thru midi you get lag. For that reason the tr really miss something in the composition department. Actually I use it as an expander with Ableton Live without using the TR’s internal sequencer and I think that’s a shame.

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