Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer

TR Series Drum Machine with TR-808 and TR-909 Sounds
Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer image 1
Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer image 1

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Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer
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The Roland TR Series: Sound for a Whole New Generation!

There's no question about it: the day the Roland TR-808 hit the street marked one of the biggest turning points in modern music. The jaw-dropping punch of the 808 kick established multiple genres of electronic dance music and upped the ante for pop and even rock beats. And a couple years later, when the TR-909 came into the mix, the crack of the snare and hiss of the hats sparked an even greater musical tide. Roland's AIRA TR-8 Rhythm Performer doesn't simply capture the sound and style of these iconic beat machines in all their glory; it offers modern electronic musicians like you a whole new range of tones, textures, and performance possibilities. If you're a high-tech music producer with a love of classic drum machines, this is the groove box for you!

Roland AIRA TR-8 Drum Machine Features:

  • Two legendary TR series drum machines — the TR-808 and TR-909 — in one... and much more!
  • Analog Circuit Behavior technology provides component-to-component modeling for unrivaled authenticity
  • Includes 16 stunning kits made up of 11 instrument types, or you can build kits made of sounds from the TR-808 and TR-909
  • Control the intensity of the Accent function as well as per-step gated reverb and delay effects in real time with dedicated knobs
  • Built-in Side Chain function lets you create rhythmic ducking effects on external inputs with per-step control
  • Two assignable analog outputs plus full parallel outputs via USB offer total mixing flexibility
  • Enter steps manually or record your drums in real time to create grooves on the fly
  • Original TR-REC behavior provides an authentic TR series programming experience
  • Quickly mute and unmute individual instrument to rearrange your beat in real time
  • Perform rolls in 4 different styles to get the rhythmical effects you desire
  • 16 backlit per-step pads make pattern creation easy (supports up to 32-step patterns)
  • Traditional A/B pattern arrangement provides easy switching for maximum flexibility
  • Change Step Count during playback to create different length phrases
  • No separate record and play modes (as found on the originals) lets you seamlessly switch between pattern creation and performance
  • Dedicated Tempo controls and TR-909 Shuffle control lets you create beats that pulse and groove naturally
  • 7-segment/4-character LED display shows the current tempo and gives you easy access to the Tap Tempo function
  • Random pattern generation lets you discover new grooves and get creatively spontaneous during live performance
  • Scatter function with 10 styles and variable intensity lets you inject chaos and excitement into your patterns
  • USB connection provides audio and MIDI communication to your computer
  • Solid MIDI clock sync provides tight timing with external gear, such as the rest of the AIRA series

The Sound of Two Iconic Roland Drum Machines in One

Few sounds revolutionized the world of electronic music like the earthshaking boom of the 808 kick or the staccato build of the classic 909 snare roll. Thanks to Roland's Analog Circuit Behavior technology, the AIRA TR-8 drum machine not only delivers all of the authentic TR series sounds you know, it gives you a level of control and flexibility never before possible. For starters, every instrument on the TR-8 includes Tune and Decay knobs, giving you a massive range of tone and dynamics. What's more, the Bass and Snare instruments feature dedicated Attack and Comp controls, allowing you add impact and punch to your sound, without relying on outboard gear. Add gated reverb and delay into the mix, and you're golden. A collection of 16 kits utilizing 11 classic TR instrument sounds gets you up and running right away, and there's plenty of room to create your own kits as well.

  • Analog Circuit Behavior technology delivers the authentic sound of 11 TR-808 and TR-909 instruments in 16 kits
  • Shape your sounds with Tune, Decay, Attack, and Comp controls to get the dynamics and tones you need
  • Built-in gated reverb and delay effects let you add depth and dimension to your sounds, without outboard gear

" My $4000 antique 808 can now stay at home in the studio."

- Carson McClain, Sweetwater Sales Engineer

A TR-style Drum Machine
You Can Really Play

The original TR-808 was, beyond a doubt, a revolutionary development in the music-production world. It was not, however, a musical instrument in any conventional sense of the term. So, when Roland's AIRA division set out to create the TR-8, they spent as much effort to make it as playable as possible while preserving as much of the style and sound of the TR-808 and TR-909 as they could. The result is amazing! Between RGB backlit buttons, numerous lighted knobs, and delightfully robust faders, every hands-on control on the TR-8's surface gives you something you can tweak or manipulate in real time. And with MIDI I/O onboard, you can connect your keyboard, electronic drums, or any number of other gadgets to the TR-8 and make it even more playable.

  • 16 RGB-backlit pads provide instant visual feedback as you play drum sounds
  • A full set of grippy knobs and smooth faders let you tweak nearly every parameter on the fly
  • MIDI I/O coupled with sophisticated MIDI implementation lets you play the TR-8 as an instrument

Old-school Step Sequencing Updated
for the Twenty-first Century

Modern step sequencing would never have come about if it weren't for the original TR-808 drum machine, and the AIRA TR-8's rank of 16 backlit, per-step pads instantly conjure up images of this beloved analog classic. While this iconic look was one of the first things about the TR-8 that turned heads here at Sweetwater, we quickly realized that this updated groove box has a lot more to offer. In addition to the old-school TR-REC recording method that set the stage for many drum machines to follow, the TR-8 includes intuitive hands-on controls for programming each step with its own accent, gated reverb, and delay settings. Choose pattern sizes up to 32 steps long, with A and B parts and simple chaining to create longer progressions. What's more, thanks to its flexible architecture, you can seamlessly switch back and forth between performing and sequencing to create and tweak your grooves on the fly.

  • Full step sequencing capability for up to 32 steps with A and B parts and sequence chaining
  • Traditional TR-REC recording method gives you the feel and recording workflow of the iconic TR-808
  • Record individual accent, gated reverb, and delay settings for each step to create wildly dynamic grooves

Meet the Roland AIRA Family!

Flexible, affordable, and built for today's electronic musician, Roland's AIRA series delivers old-school simplicity and hands-on playability to a range of instruments designed to integrate in your high-tech live or studio rig. The AIRA series kicks off with four amazing instruments: the System-1 Plug-out synthesizer keyboard, the VT-3 Voice Transformer effects processor, the TB-3 Touch Bassline synth, and the TR-8 Rhythm Performer drum machine.

Roland AIRA
System 1
Plug-out Synth

Learn More    ▶

Roland AIRA
Touch Bassline

Learn More    ▶

Roland AIRA
Rhythm Performer

Roland AIRA
Voice Transformer

Learn More    ▶

The Perfect Dose of Random to
Spice Up Your Groove

Now that we've covered all of the great ways you can make the AIRA TR-8 do exactly what you want it to do, let's explore the totally unexpected things you can get it to do. You can kick things off on a super-creative note by simply engaging the TR-8's pattern randomization function. This lets you inject a bit of spontaneity into your groove, and it's an excellent way to find a starting point when you're stuck for ideas. Cooler still is the TR-8's Scatter function. With 10 different types of real-time randomization and a fully adjustable depth control to set the intensity, Scatter lets you add anything from a touch of randomness to full-on glitchy meltdown effects.

  • Random pattern function lets you create cool and unique grooves that spark your creativity
  • Fire up Scatter mode to spontaneously shake up your groove in real time with a dose of randomness
  • 10 types of Scatter modes and a variable Scatter Depth control knob provide a wide range of results

Old-school Drum Machine for
Your Modern Music Rig

Don't let its throwback style fool you — when it comes to integrating with the rest of your rig, the TR-8 is every bit as sophisticated as any other modern Roland creation. For starters, the TR-8 integrates entirely into your computer-based rig via USB, transferring both audio and MIDI via a single cable. You can even run analog audio out of the external outputs as you send audio over USB. And Roland didn't forget about those of us who like to cut our computers out of the equation, so they also outfitted the TR-8 with traditional 5-pin MIDI I/O as well, plus rock-solid MIDI clock sync that lets it play well with other AIRA instruments and the rest of your MIDI hardware.

  • USB provides both audio and MIDI communication to your computer-based system
  • Traditional 5-pin MIDI I/O lets you connect to your other hardware synths and keyboards
  • Rock-solid MIDI sync keeps your groove locked in time with the rest of your gear

Analog Circuit Behavior technology provides component-to-component modeling for realistic sound and feel.

Roland's AIRA instruments bring back the sound of four classic electronic-music tools... and a whole lot more!

Tech Specs

Kits 16
Patterns 16
Pads 16
Inputs 2 x 1/4"
Outputs 5 x 1/4"
USB 1 x Type B
Power AC adapter
Height 2.5625"
Depth 10.25"
Width 15.75"
Weight 4.25 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number TR-8

Customer Reviews

Based on 46 reviews
Write your review

Comparing with TR808 and TR909

Very funny., a friend of mine was comming to hear my TR8 and I blinded him - just asked him to tell by 10 tests if it was the TR808/ TR909 or TR8. Het is real pute analog freak I as am for a long time, but times do change. from the 10 test I did 6 did went wrong for him ., in 6 cases he did hear the TR909 and TR808 while it was really the TR8 ;-) I ready did sound the TR808 and TR909 for 4 times. In two cases he was thinking it was the TR8 while it where the originals. So purists.. nothing can beat the analog things - well you van be wrong.


As someone that grew up listening to house, techno, and electronic music from the early-mid nineties and onward, I have dreamed of owning a TR 808 and 909 for many years but that has only been a dream. Enter the TR8, a dream come true. Purest might might disagree, but the TR8 brings back memories of that time. Seriously, the difference between the TR8 and the original machines is negligible. We are talking fractions of a percent here. Although the TR8 is not analog, that analog feel is there, in the sound, in the spectrum, it passes through walls will ease, cuts through a mix like nothing, and it has accelerated my music making drastically. I use to spend days, weeks, months even to get "that sound" right. Now, it just takes minutes. Recording drums for a new track takes little time with this beast. What I get with this is "that sound" that I am looking for, right at my finger tips, with the added 21st century features that brings the TR8 above and beyond it's heritage. That's right, I said it, I would rather have a TR8 than the originals, for the sound, cost, and functionality, it's hard to beat.
Music background: producer, musician, engineer

Great TR Sounds

Sounds like the origin TR 808 and 909 with more bells and whistles than the originals had. Roland did a great job with this. It's fun to play with too!
Music background: Sound Editor

TR-8 is great mate

I own several Roland products and owned the original tr-606 and TB-303.I have used the TR-808 in a studio before and to compare this new TR-8 is irrelevant.This is a different era and Roland have nailed the features and price point in my opinion to give a whole new generation of electronic musicians the impetus to use their new range of products.The minute I heard about this product I emailed and rang my Sweetwater sales engineer Dennis Konicki and he put me on the top of the list and as soon as it came in stock it was out the same hour.There's one reason I keep coming back to Sweetwater.Service and Fedex delivery is second to none.The TR-8 is the perfect addition to my jupiter-80 and Octapad.I can side chain a pad and play some fills at the same time.Rolands logical workflow of left to right is paramount to me.A very stylish piece of equipment.I wouldn't call this a fun factor piece.This is a serious piece of live performance kit.Great work Roland and Sweetwater.Dennis… you got my trust and another order is on the way.Cheers
Music background: muso, engineer, producer

Excellent job Roland!

All of the classic sound with modern features. If you want to finally have the 808 and 909 sound in hardware, look no further. The sound is spot on but clean and punchy. If it's too clean for the "Analog Purist" in you, I suggest you run it through analog tubes to give it those overtones acquainted with the "analog" sound. One thing of note, if you do buy one, make sure to use it with some background lighting because the 16 bottom button LED's are BRIGHT! Great job Roland! Great Job.
Music background: Recording and Live Sound Engineer, Sound Designer, and Artist.

Sweetwater Advice

Jordan Clohessy

Whenever I program anything with electronic instruments, the last thing I want are limits on flexibility and creativity. Fortunately, the Roland TR8 allows me to dial in sounds and explore all of the possibilities of the TR808 and TR909. By adjusting the tuning and decay, I'm able to get a wide range of electronic drum sounds, and the reverb and delay give me additional tweakability and depth of sound. It's easy to look at a step-sequenced drum machine as a tool, but the comfortable and expressive faders make it play like an instrument, and the variety of sounds make it just as expressive.

Brian Lowrance

The TR-8 is a home run. I'm very meticulous about my workflow and have yet to find any flaws with its layout and functionality. It's been a great tool to work with - the layout of the controls are easily accessible and never slow me down. I can also create new tones with ease.
See also: Drum Machines, Roland, Roland Sequencers, Roland Drum Machines & Samplers