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Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer Reviews

4.0 stars based on 46 customer reviews
Questions about the Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Bob
    from Lamers March 30, 2017

    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.

  • Alan Sheltra
    from Toluca Lake, CA July 29, 2016Music Background:
    Sound Editor

    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!

  • Chris Dalton
    from December 24, 2015Music Background:
    Electronic DJ&Producer/Live Audio Pro

    Highly Reccomended!

    I've had this box for a few months and I love it! It is a great deal of fun to use in the studio and for live performances, I even find myself bringing it to work gigs to program grooves on my downtime (stand-by to stand-by, you know)! The integration with Ableton Live is pretty smooth, allowing me to use my APC40 mkII along with the TR-8.

    Roland has brought their special flavor of drum machine into a new era and I am impressed with the results. So much so, that I am looking forward to getting the rest of the AIRA line to make the core of my rig.

  • Tim Ord
    from Toccoa, GA February 11, 2015Music Background:
    Drummer / Hobbyist Producer

    I Didn't Expect To Fall in Love

    Ever since this machine was first announced by Roland, I was eager to get a hold of one. I placed an order for one right away, the day they became available and received it right away from Sweetwater.

    I was a bit disappointed initially with the limitations of the TR-8 after using an Elektron Machinedrum MKII+UW, so, I sold my TR-8 after only two weeks. Over the next several months the TR-8 kept appealing to me as I would see it in action and I finally purchased another one back in October of 2014.

    This time, the TR-8 has won me over.

    With the Elektron Machinedrum, I would routinely spend a lot of time tweaking and searching for the right sound. The limitations of the TR-8 keep things a lot more focused.

    One key feature that makes the TR-8 more efficient is having a knob, button or slider per function. This works incredibly well for immediacy. It is easy to set up and sequence a rhythm beside my drumset in a live setting and not get lost in a lot of programming complexity.

    The 808 and 909 sounds on the machine are amazing, they always sound just right to me, they always fit. I added the 7x7 expansion adding drum sounds from the 707 and 727 drum machines as well. This added a lot of versatility to the TR-8, but I go back to the 808 and 909 sounds mostly.

    Using the TR-8 with Ableton, I routinely use it as my audio interface.
    Using this as an audio interface has had the lowest latency that I have ever been able to obtain without ever a crack or pop in the sound. This is particularly good when triggering software drums such as Toontrack Superior Drummer from V-Drums. This could not be said for several other audio interfaces that I tried over the last few years that were such a pain with either high latency or cracking and popping when trying to get the latency into a usable for drumming range.

    The TR-8 also works amazingly well as a midi controller.
    The sliders and knobs can all be mapped to your software synths giving you a plethora of control over your software instruments.
    I use this as a controller for U-He Diva, for Zebra, and for Moog's Animoog ipad synthersizer connected via a Roland UM-One MKII midi cable.

    So, to sum it up, here is my report card for the TR-8

    Drum Machine: A+
    Audio Interface: A+
    Midi Controller: A+

  • Frantz
    from Gainesville va January 16, 2015

    best drum machine out there

    wonderful product great service

  • Steve
    from New Mexico December 8, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist, Musician, Producer, Collaborator

    Box of fun & then some

    Great sounds, this thing just pops. I love the 808/909 sounds I grew up with, but it seems like software can never quite "get there." This thing does it effortlessly & is pretty intuitive once you get the flow.

    Only two drawbacks as of now -- 1) 96k sample rate is rough on computer when streaming via usb... even with an i7, you can start to get dropouts 2) though technically you can get up to 64 steps, it can be tricky & somewhat sketchy, though maybe firmware updates will make chaining steps easier/clearer

    Hopefully Roland will add more kits for additional flavor.

    Special thanks to my sales rep Aaron Smith for getting my order sorted out. He's been pretty patient & helpful with a lot of questions about various products.

  • AT
    from TXUSA November 28, 2014Music Background:
    PRO Musician

    Great

    This Machine blew my mind. The ease of use is where this thing really shines. It does 2 things really well 808 and 909 with added effects step sync able. My only complaint is the lack of a song sequencer. Anyone who has used any TR style machine knows you can chain patterns however.

    Sound is fantastic. I have owned a lot of drum machines and the past few years have just used drum racks in Ableton because I could not afford anything anywhere near what I wanted. Roland came through. A good machine less than a grand. You can't find a drum machine that can do what the TR8 does for less than a grand. I never owned a 808 but have played with them, and the only difference is the TR8 is easier to sequence. My last Drum machine was a Jomox and I sold it because it was so hard to use. This thing really is easy. The USB interface is great stream every individual channel over midi to Ableton. Their is latency, but i don't know of a USB interface that doesn't and its easy to fix quickly.

  • Customer
    from Asheville, NC November 20, 2014

    Great Value

    Not only does the TR-8 sound, feel, and look terrific, but it has significantly helped speed up my workflow. Sidechaining my Moog Voyager is quick & easy, and the scatter feature helps save time programming interesting drum fills. Fun to play, looks hot, sounds great, and won't break your budget.

  • Achille Davisson
    from United States November 6, 2014Music Background:
    Producer, DJ, Club AV tech.

    Best Drum Machine I have own

    The TR-8 sounds amazing, is easy to use, and has made drums fun again. The best thing for drums short of an 808 or 909.

  • KangolBlue
    from Jacksonville, Fl September 29, 2014Music Background:
    DJ, Hobbyist

    Ole School New Form

    When you first look at this thing you know you're in for a treat! To be honest with you I purchase this thing just for the BOOM.. And it didn't disappoint, for a matter of fact the raw sonicness of the TR-8 was so massive it almost blew my practice sub. I use it in conjunction with my Juno (a studio in itself). A small bit of a learning curve to me but once ! got the grip I was producing beats in a matter of hours after my initial purchase . I love it and so will you.. Ole school in new school form..

  • KangolBlue
    from Jacksonville, Fl September 29, 2014

    Ole School New Form

    When you first look at this thing you know you're in for a treat! To be honest with you I purchase this thing just for the BOOM.. And it didn't disappoint, for a matter of fact the raw sonicness of the TR-8 was so massive it almost blew my practice sub. I use it in conjunction with my Juno (a studio in itself). A small bit of a learning curve to me but once ! got the grip I was producing beats in a matter of hours after my initial purchase . I love it and so will you.. Ole school in new school form..

  • John Croudy
    from Santa Ana, CA July 25, 2014Music Background:
    A bedroom musician since 1977

    Its limitations are by excellent design

    I was starting my music hobby around the time the TR-808 was launched, but I never owned or used one. I did own a Roland CR-8000 (which was more like the rhythm section on a Bontempi organ with all the Latin beats pre-programmed in) so I can only compare the TR-8 with that.

    After half an hour playing with the TR-8, I felt quite at home getting some useful beats out of it, but I had to study the leaflet (not the 'manual'; it's not extensive enough to be called that) in order to really understand how to use all the features. I would say it's essential to read the leaflet section by section while trying out the procedures. Everything you need to know is explained there, albeit quite tersely.

    The sound quality, a subject of great debate online, is quite excellent in my opinion. It might not use real analog components, but neither does it use lifeless samples. I am extremely picky about sound quality and I would have noticed the slightest digital artifact if there had been any. After a while I forgot it was digital and felt like I was back in time with an old 80s analog device. Some of the sounds are just like my old CR-8000, especially the cowbell and rimshot, and the compressor on the bass and snare drums is really effective.

    The user interface is very well-designed, elegant and consistent. The knobs are firm with a rubberized grip. The worst part about the build is the base which is made of the nastiest kind of cheap plastic. But, since you usually don't see it, it doesn't matter. The front panel is really nice and that's what counts. I would have preferred it if the lights had been a little dimmer – they dazzle me and make it difficult to read the labels in a dimly lit room.

    One of the things I really like is the fact that you don't have to remember to save anything. Whatever you change is remembered, and that's that. I also like the fact that the knobs are ordinary pots which have a left and right limit. This makes it easier to see where the setting is without needing a digital display, just like in the old days. People have complained that the device can't save and restore the knob and slider settings, but I feel that's a nonsensical complaint. Look at it this way -- if it could restore those settings it would have to use either motorized knobs (not feasible at this price point) or digital rotary encoders. I feel that analog pots is a better option on a device that is trying to recreate the early 80s analog feel.

    Some people have said that Roland dropped the ball when they designed the TR-8 but I disagree. Yes, the device is limited just like the devices it's trying to emulate were limited, but that’s a good thing! As an older guy who embraced the limitations of 80s equipment, I've often felt daunted in the digital world where everything is unlimited. I always seem to spend more time browsing menus than making music and I end up feeling drained and unmotivated. The TR-8 seems to be aimed at people like me who need some limits in order to be able to get anything useful done. People who prefer to twiddle knobs rather than scroll through menus and don't mind accepting the limitations that go with such a design.

  • Robert
    from San Diego CA July 9, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    Great new toy

    great right out of the box this drum machine is fun easy to use loaded with great sounds have not stopped using it since it arrived

  • Gabriel Chance
    from Austin, Tx July 8, 2014Music Background:
    producer, musician, engineer

    Magic

    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.

  • Starscrm7
    from Outside Philly July 1, 2014

    TR is fantastic

    This will be a classic! It may not be "exactly" like an 808 or 909 but for those of us that cant spend roughly $2000-$3000 on an original its money well spent. I have been playing this nonstop for 3-4 weeks since i got it and although im a synth guy this thing has consumed the majority of my attention. Its very easy to use and fun.

  • Daniel S.
    from St paul mn June 25, 2014Music Background:
    synthesizer, bass, guitar, drums, vocal, remix artist.

    love it!!!

    First off, the service was so fast I couldn't believe it!!! I order a lot of merchandise monthly and this by far the fastest. And what was also cool is when I opened the box up there was 3 to 5 lbs of candy.... It made me laugh! !! As far as the drum machine it's the bomb!! 80's sound, like loose ends Jimmy jamm Terry Lewis! Fun to play up all night tired at work that's how you know what's good. Soon as I pay this off I'm buying more. U should too.

  • Ted
    from San Diego June 18, 2014Music Background:
    Semi-pro musician, producer, songwriter

    TR-8 = A Great New Product from Roland

    The TR-8 is a very fun and creative instrument at a great price. It's well-built, gorgeous looking and sounds excellent. I've heard many 808 owners admit it sounds as good as the original, maybe better. There is a lot already written about the TR-8 so I'll just mention two lesser understood features that make it truly special.

    First is that Roland will be releasing new drum sounds for the TR-8 so it can also emulate other classic Roland drum machines like the 606 and 707. They have left room for additional sounds and OS upgrades as they develop new circuit models.

    Secondly, the limit of 16 patterns is interesting, but it explains why kits can't be saved with the patterns. It lets you jam on the drum machine freely without having to worry about selecting the wrong pattern and changing the whole vibe of your song. This feature essentially allows you to have 16 patterns times 16 kits in a performance situation. I think it's a big plus on a machine like this, but not something we're used to.

    Depending on how you plan to use the TR-8 the lack of a song mode may also be a limitation. Not for me; but Roland may still yet add this feature. They are soliciting upgrade ideas, so let them know what you want to see changed - now.

    I think that Roland made some very bold design choices when designing the TR-8 and they nailed every one. The TR-8 is a no-compromises live performance machine and excels at the task. I predict this will be the next must-have drum machine for DJs just like it's classic [less affordable] cousins.

    Comparing the TR-8 to Maschine is an apples to oranges comparison. This instrument is made for the non-PC, OTB crowd who reject software when performing or jamming. I haven't tried the USB audio features yet, and it should be excellent when recording into my Mac, but no computer is required to have endless fun - and that's exactly how I like it. Ditch the mouse and get a TR-8!

  • Miguel
    from June 12, 2014Music Background:
    Electronic Musician

    Roland TR8

    Perfect i recevied the gear in perfect conditions. and its working perfectly

  • Jade
    from Beirut April 28, 2014Music Background:
    Musician, Producer, DJ

    PERFECT INVESTMENT

    Was planning to purchase an 808 before i heard this is coming out / checked the demos and placed a pre-order. The TR-8 is an amazing piece of gear at an incredible price ! Big thanks to the sweetwater family for their amazing customer care, their quick feedback and advices, and fast and reliable delivery.

  • Larry David
    from United States April 24, 2014Music Background:
    does it matter?

    zomg

    My 12 year wait is over. I'm not just giving a generic 5 stars because I love it. I'm giving 5 stars as this is Rolands best take on the classic machines. I can't think of one thing to improve. The classic look and solid feel is great. The sound is on point with my drumstation. No crazy Roland dbeam or 512 kits. I'm so surprised by Roland. This is pure fun, like music should be.

  • Ron Sunsinger
    from Santa Fe, New Mexico April 11, 2014Music Background:
    Space musician, electronic musician, film scoring.

    Gorgeous sound, Easy to use!

    I've been looking for a drum machine for a very long time that I can work with. It has been a 20+ year search. I've had just about every drum machine you can think of, but not the 808 or 909. Most modern machines leave me cold with the sounds, and the difficulty involved programming them.

    Sometimes I just wished drum machines did LESS. I've got a very large Moog style Modular synth, and I've been looking for a drum machine that would sound natural with this synth... and be easy to program.

    I took a chance on the TR-8. WOW! first it had great sounds. The sounds work beautifully with the modular. It sounds like the old style drum sounds used in 70's style electronic music to my ears. I put a few effects on like a analog delay, reverb or flanger, and I'm back to Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultz, Vangelis.

    It has beautiful deep rich tones that sound very analog to me. I'm in love with the sounds, and I love the ease of use. I found the TR-7 to be very open and accessible. Within just a few hours over a couple of days, I felt like a power user. This has been impossible for me with other DM's in the past.

    Hat's off to Roland for making this! Get yourself one, and you won't be disappointed.

  • Earl Blakely
    from Seattle, WA USA March 26, 2014Music Background:
    Recording and Live Sound Engineer, Sound Designer, and Artist.

    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.

  • Andrew Van Es
    from March 25, 2014Music Background:
    muso, engineer, producer

    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

  • Tommy J
    from Oxford, AL March 24, 2014Music Background:
    DJ, Producer

    TR-8 = Fun!

    I've owned many drum machines and sample based sequencers through the years including the; Elektron MDUWMK2+, Korg ER-1 MK2, Roland MC-303, Roland TR-606, Elektron Octatrack, Akai MPC 1000, NI Maschine, Korg EMX1SD, Yamaha DX200. The TR-8 has been the most fun and best sounding of all. The sound is clean and punchy without any need for additional processing. I was up and running in a matter of minutes, and learned more intricate parts of the workflow in just a few hours. There are just a few button combinations to learn for certain tasks, but for the most part you can perform a set without them, which I did after owning the machine for a few days. I know a lot of gear heads are on the fence with this machine being digital, and not analog like a lot of the current offerings, and the Aira's predecessors. After blasting these through a QSC full PA, and Event Opals, I'm telling you the Airas sound amazing. You just have to experience the sound live and hear them for yourself.

    Build quality is solid. Although all plastic, they are on the same level and rigidity as NI's Maschine and S2/4 controllers. They are light, and solid. Faders and knobs have a nice resistance (not too tight or loose).

    Cons: 1. A problem in the dark is that you can't read the writing on the panel so you have to memorize where everything is if there isn't a backlit button for that parameter. The writing also gets drowned out because of the machines brightly lit buttons. You'll notice in the live set video I was hunched over a few times trying to read the buttons.

    2. I wish that the gain for each instrument could be adjusted and that sounds could be switched between channels. For example, I like the first ride, and the alternative crash when you switch that channel's instrument. I don't like the second ride as much, so it would be nice to replace that ride with the crash from the other channel. I would love to be able to use the 808 kick and the 909 kick at the same time on two different channels instead of having to decide between them. I haven't hooked it up to the computer yet so that may be an option I'm missing, but i doubt it.

    3. The knobs are pretty close together so you have to be careful when moving them. Not a huge deal, but you may be bumping other knobs at times. I kicked up the volume on the TB-3 on accident a few times.

    Lastly, the most important thing. The fun factor. The Elektron boxes are deep machines, and require a lot of dedication to learning their workflow. The Korg ER-1 was a bit too simple and lacked control of the sound parameters. The TR-8 balances well with a quick learning curve, easy access to useful features, and professional sounding results. All of the live sets I've recorded have been straight to tape without any processing other than limiting to bring everything up to a good level. So to sum it up you get clean classic sounds, quick sequencing ability and control over each parameter, no menu diving, and don't need processing to make it sound better.

    So how good is it? I'll say that I'm not missing those other drum machines at all and have cash to splurge on other gear. I think the Aira series is a home run based on the fun factor alone. It's really nice to make music again instead of reading manuals and constantly polishing sounds.

  • Bob
    from Florida May 11, 2017Music Background:
    None

    tr-8

    Great machine for the money. New to this but really like it.

  • Rick Law
    from Cleveland, OH USA December 31, 2014

    classic 808/909/707/727 sounds

    I've owned the real versions of everything but the 727. And i will say that while it's not 100% accurate, it's about 99.5% to my ears. enough that you'd be hard pressed to tell in a blind A/B test let alone an actual SONG.

    Once you get passed the worry about this sounding like the classics, you can sit back and enjoy the ease of programming. Very easy. Plus you now have a range of sculpting controls that the originals didn't have.

    I wish it had 8 analog outs. And the Scatter function is pretty lame. But aside from those, it's a FANTASTIC drum machine!

  • Nathan
    from Denver December 15, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    I love you Roland!!

    Always wanted an 808 but could never afford one. Easy to learn, went right home and was doing LL Cool J "Going Back to Cali" within about 10 minutes. Boooom snap Boooooom Boooom snap.

    Design and the way the LEDs dance is absolutely beautiful.

    More than anything I love that it is standalone. I have an Arturia Spark, and while it has the 808, 909, 707, and honestly alot more sounds than the TR-8, I hate that it is dependent on a laptop. I am kind of stuck in the past, and play my music live, for people. Not into DAWs, recording or clicking on mouse and laptops interfaced with my instruments, except for updates...like this one (Roland you rock)

    And then I hear that the 707/727 sounds will soon be available, and the 707 is actually my favorite drum machine. I applaud Roland for listening to its customers on this one. A standalone machine, but with a USB port that can assimilate all the old Roland Classics, Quality feel, very cool design, I couldn't have imagined a better product for me personally.

    Now all they need is an update for CR78 sounds and I'll be totally set!!!

  • Lengai
    from New Orleans, LA June 12, 2014

    SOLID

    I have a TR-808 so I was real "iffy" about the TR-8. There are so many samples and other means to get 808/909 drum sounds into a track already. After finally getting one and using it I agree that this is definitely worth getting.

    It does not have the "exact" same sound as the 808 (mine anyways), but it is very close. And for use in a song it will never be noticed by listeners, it fits into the mix instantly without the use of additional components, and you will be able to make songs very quickly. The kick drum romps big time. Definite bass-in-the-face so if that is a concern you can forget it.

  • Jason
    from California March 27, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Producer, Studio Owner

    Never owned the original

    Having played with an original 808 but never owned one I have always used samples to create my 808 (or used a sine wav generator with a gate). After purchasing this I spent about 8 hours comparing it to my samples and I have got to say that any sampled 808 I have I could easily match sounds in a minute. The knobs feel solid, the controls are easy to manipulate, the only complaint I could find is that the TRS plugs on the back feel like plastic. The reverb was a little disapointing on the snare until I found that you could switch reverb styles! I just love this and I am glad Roland is going this direction instead of reissues.

  • John Martinez
    from Georgia March 11, 2017

    Tr-8

    Was very happy to have purchased this one!!! Looking forward to next purchase!

  • Customer
    from New York August 2, 2016Music Background:
    New York

    my first drum sequencer

    very happy and satisfied with it. i owned it for two months and played it in a show after purchase within 2 weeks. very easy to use intuitive and fun to explore possibilities.
    Expansion packs are recommended .

    I didn't care much myself for the design, however playability and use makes up for everything else. the green backlight is good in dark club environment n live situations

    i would like to be able to add my own samples into it, I hope roland will add a software in the future to complement this machine.

    amazing tool to send midi in and out to battery sounds in ableton.

  • Rob
    from Chicago, IL June 17, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist, Producer

    Great buy

    Have owned it for about a month now, and can't say that I have many complaints. Love the midi multi-tracking, and the drums are really damn close to the 808 and 909s. Would really like Roland to release additional kits in the future via firmware upgrade.

  • J-Dub
    from USA April 21, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Pro Musician

    minority report: I don't hate it!

    For what it is, I think it's great! If you automatically are going to hate the TR-8 because it's not an analog drum machine, then don't buy it. Go get an analog drum machine! Obviously Roland is not interested in doing anlalog replicas of 808/909 so just accept that and move on. Get a Tempest [which I also have] or a RYTM or a Jomox or a Miami or something.
    To me it sounds much closer and punchier to the originals than the many differnt samples banks I've tried in Maschine. My 808/909 samples are not anywhere close to the punch and clarity the TR-8 is throwing down in my mix, especially in the kicks and snares! It must have something to do with the 32bit output, or this ACB technology. I don't really care, as this is product is everything I ever wanted in 808+909 **emulation**, oh and I paid $500 for it instead of $8,000.
    And let the haters bash on 'Scatter' all they want. I've heard all this 'why would anyone want this stupid useless scatter button, the original 808 didn't have a Scatter button!' Well, because it's frickin' cool thats why! I am creating some really cool and usable fills and breaks when using the Scatter feature CREATIVELY and in moderation. Yes, it does get carried away if the USER lets it go into cheese factory territory. Used sparingly and gently, it's a killer feature of this product!!!
    I knocked it a Star only for a few little gripes about functionality/memory. I should have more than 16 patterns, it's 2014. Also the fact that "kits" aren't really saved as "kits". A kit saves the 11 instruments you have assigned. But it doesn't save the SETTINGS! So all that dialing in instrument pitches and decays doesn't save with a kit.
    FWIW, I have a Tempest and Maschine and I still think the TR-8 is a fine product that will get used just as much!

  • S. Rightoeus
    from April 6, 2014

    Some pros and cons

    Pros:
    - It sounds great, no need to be bothered that it's not real analog, it sounds real good.

    - Controls on top make it easier to use than most other drum machines.

    - Its a lot of fun.

    Cons:
    - You can't save your edited kits. You can only save the set of instruments you used to make up your kit. All your knob editing is overwritten when you re-load a kit. So effectively, you can't save kits.

    - Kits are not recalled with patterns. This is a way some machines allow you to save kits, but not here. Reloading a pattern never sounds the way you remember, because you have to figure out which kit was loaded when you wrote it, then adjust all the knobs back to how you originally had it. Current knob settings always over-ride anything you load, a kit or a pattern.

    - Can only hold 16 patterns. You won't be able to have a number of songs programmed on this thing until they change that.

    - USB integration is limited by the fact that it's output is set at 96k/24bit. If you could change that, it could integrate with more DAW set ups. Your audio interface may not support 14 channels of 96k running at 24 bit. Converting 14 channels of 96k to anything else (44.1?) while recording into your DAW takes a serious amount of CPU, and your system might not be able to handle this.

    - Responds to 'midi start' command, but not the start of midi clock. So hitting 'record' in your DAW will not start the TR-8 for you to record it's output in sync with your songs.

  • Customer
    from New York September 18, 2014Music Background:
    Music Fanatic

    Really Good for the Money, BUT....

    Let me first start by saying that I got this really wanting to love it. After seeing all the marketing and positive reviews online (some written by owners of the original TR 808) I bought this without having heard or seen it and had high expectations. The price is GREAT and the unit itself is really good IMO, but it doesnt compare to the original 808. Its close enough in SOME ways but the sequencer doesnt even come close to the original. The sounds are really good IMO but again, close but not quite there. Whats missing from this is the "organicness" (is that even a word?) of the original 808, which I believe was due in part to the lack of precision in technology, design and components available to the industry at the time, and not by intent. Looking back on vintage gear I think its the imperfections inherent in the components/designs etc that make these machines so special today and (so far) no one has been able to reproduce it in the digital world. But for $500 I think its a great buy and worthy to stand on its own merit and not as a clone of the original. Its definitely been inspired by the original TR 808 but its not a copy for sure, and anyone expecting a copy for $500 is not being realistic IMO. Full disclosure, I own 2 original TR 808's and Im keeping the TR-8, for now at least.

  • Patrick Lando
    from Corning, N.Y. August 2, 2014Music Background:
    pro

    TR8 Rhythm Performer

    My only beef is it needs an external output for a start/stop pedal. Played as single act on B-3 for 42 years. Need to be able to use a foot switch to start and stop rhythm unit

  • Joel.
    from Santa Barbara, California. March 24, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Live Sound Engineer, Pro Musician.

    Okay,

    The Roland TR-8 sounds like Virtual Analog or a software emulation. You're not getting a TR-808 or TR-909 sounding drum machine, i'm sorry. I currently own a TR-808, TR-909, DSI Tempest, Maschine, Jomox 999, and TR-8.

    This is a machine designed for DJs and Live users. I don't see this being used in my studio. However, I will take it on tour with me for pratice sessions, so I don't put extra wear on my other drum machines.

    I think Maschine sounds better, if you want an honest expert answer, which i'm giving you here free at no extra cost. The reason I mention this: I'm not feeling the analog vibe, out of the TR-8. Real Analog has this aurora around it, that most vet producers, like myself, can feel. Analog warmth makes me feel good inside, and it also sends vibes through my body. Any expert producer will tell you this. See, the mind isn't use to hearing perfect sounds. And Virtual Analog is perfect to our ears. Whereas Analog isn't perfect and it causes our minds to comprehend the sound.

  • Jim Jones
    from Jacksonville, Florida October 8, 2014Music Background:
    Producer.

    It's okay for live users.

    This drum machine sounds nothing like a real TR-808 or 909. I own a TR-808 and TR-909. It sounds truly convincing next to a TR-808 and TR-909, but when you start recording, that's when you start getting disappointed. The TR-8 is already digital, so it doesn't have to convert to digital when it enters your software daw. True analog has to convert to digital when it enters the digital World of your software daw. This is why people use analog when they record.

  • Brandon
    from Harrisburg, PA April 20, 2014Music Background:
    Musician, Producer

    Roland Misses The Mark Yet Again

    There's a ton of hype surrounding the TR-8 and sadly enough, I'm super disappointed. The TR-8 interface is fantastic and it's a very intuitive unit, but it just lacks in overall sound. It does not carry the same punch, vibe, or thickness of the original 808 and 909. As some other reviews have stated, it passes as a good alternative to spending a ton of $$ on the classic analog units, but it does not hit home for me.

    With already owning Maschine, this didn't add enough for me to keep it around in my home studio. If you want immediate access to some classic acid drum sounds that are emulated fairly good, the TR-8 will work for you... especially in a live setting, thanks to it's interface. Otherwise, you may want to stick to something that is actually analog.

  • Davis Howard
    from NYC April 20, 2014Music Background:
    musican.

    Okay, but NI Mashine is better.

    It's okay if you're looking for a real drum interface. But, NI Mashine sounds better and you can do a lot more with Maschine in the studio. I don't see the TR-8 being used in the studio as much, when you can get better samples sometimes even free. Roland made this for mostly Fruity Loops Musicans, hence the name, Aria. The interface is really cool but the sounds are very softwarish sounding.

  • Matt Houston
    from California. April 16, 2014Music Background:
    Producer, singer, and song writer.

    Really good interface but doesn't sound like analog.

    This machine has a really good inteface but it doesn't sound like analog. This machine sounds like Goldbaby samples or a NI Maschine. The TR-8 sounds like a good VST. The real analog deal sounds creamy and fat. There is nothing creamy and fat about the Tr-8. However, this machine is awsome for gigs and live use. But, I wouldn't use this machine for studio work. Because, you can get better VST software samples for a fraction of the cost. If you're serious about your beats, pick up a NI Maschine or DSI Tempest.

    Suffice to say, I love the interface on the TR-8 and it feels like a real drum machine but sounds like VST software. Don't feel yourself!!

  • Fossil Man
    from Lowell, MA July 13, 2014Music Background:
    30 years as producer

    Almost a Good Thing

    I've had almost every drum box Roland made, from the 606 to the 707, 808, 909... So I was looking forward to this new box.
    What a disappointment.
    Although the sounds are "right" they don't have the separate drum outputs for processing. 2 "assignable" outputs just doesn't cut it. This is a major blunder, as it's imperative for recording to be able to track drums separately, not just for processing, but for proper mixing once all the tracks are done.
    And there's no Trigger Output for interfacing with analog synths. Another major blunder.
    And where are the 707 or 606 sounds? They are still some of my favorites.
    Who are they trying to sell this to? If it's the hardware people, they want the above features. The software people already have great emulations for 1/4 the price.
    This could have been great. But it missed the mark.
    They did give it good build quality, and an attractive design. But what good is it without the features you need?
    There are plenty of software emulations of these boxes for 1/4 the price. So why pay so much for so little?
    I was really hoping this would replace my cranky old boxes, but it doesn't.
    I'll just have to keep praying the originals don't break down on me... which they haven't in almost 30 years!
    Perhaps that's why they command higher and higher prices these days.

  • Dominic DiMartini
    from NY USA May 6, 2014Music Background:
    Musician, Synthesist, Mixing/Tracking Engineer

    Lukewarm drum machine

    I picked this machine up about two weeks ago because I thought it would add something to my current setup. I create music using a computer running Ableton Live 8 and Native Instruments Maschine 2.0. While I use and enjoy the flexibility of software (NI Komplete 9 owner as well), my main instruments are hardware synthesizers.

    After a week or so, I realized that this type of product is more suited to those who might integrate it in a DJ setup rather than for modern studio work.

    The build quality is nothing to write home about, and the sliders feel like they won't be able to take hard use.

    The sounds themselves are great, although there aren't enough of them. I feel like a modern approach to the 808 should do much more for the money.

    I know that the TR-8 is supposed to be the new 808, but we live in an age where you can buy Maschine with thousands of sounds, more effects, dedicated drum synths, flexible routing, and more for a similar price (and better build quality). Although pricier, hardware drum machines like the KORG EMX and Elektron Machinedrum let you record knob movements into the sequencer. This is becoming the standard, and I think Roland missed the memo.

    The effects on the TR-8 were less than stellar. The reverb does not do subtle well. The delay sounds cheap, and the scatter function is difficult to control live. Too unpredictable sometimes, and doesn't always catch the beat when you want it to. The sidechain, however, is implemented well and works fine for a built-in compressor.

    Due to these issues I give the TR-8 2 stars. For $499 of your money, there are simply better options out there. For guys who must have an 808, I'd suggest trying Maschine or saving up for a true analog machine such as the Acidlab Miami, Tiptop Audio Modules, Jomox xbase series, or Elektron Analog Rytm. You get what you pay for.

  • Tony Anderson
    from Lexington, KY April 30, 2014Music Background:
    Composer, Producer

    As Confusing as a Woman

    Women look incredible, but they are not easy to figure out. ENTER Roland's TR-8. I'm a composer and producer, and like many of you, I don't have time to figure out the intricasies of everything I purchase. I need products to make some sort of sense because time is so limited. The TR-8 looks amazing, sounds great and feels wonderful, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how it works and I've owned it for over a month. Every time I switch it on, I forget where I left off, how to move to a pattern, edit an existing one, etc. THEN comes the confusing recording phase...the only thing that makes sense to me in Logic Pro X is to record the TR-8 as stereo audio then place it on grid...

    Non-intuitive and aggravating. Unfortunately stole some of the thunder and joy I had when I initially opened it!

  • DR. Dean. Smith.
    from Georgia April 20, 2014Music Background:
    Drummer.

    Boring

    This drum machine is really boring and bland. Like the other poster said, Mashine is a lot better for production. I didn't notice a difference, when I used my TR-808 and 909 beats in a mix VS the TR-8. To be honest, both sounded like digital samples. But, when I warmed up my Jomox and and Tempest, I was able to get fat and creamy sounds.
    I like analog matters in drum machines, and I think Roland messed up on this one.
    I love how people can say: Analog vs digital doesn't matter, lol. They're wroung, because it does matter if you want fat and creamy sounds.

  • Jeremy
    from Hatcher Pass, AK February 3, 2015Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    BUYER BEWARE TR8 DOA after 7 months on a desk under a dust cover

    I used to be a huge Roland fan, I swore by the sp 202 (my first piece of new gear ever) and later the sp 404 as the ultimate sampling solution. I would proudly put my 404 up against any MPC producer who claimed that their gear was superior. I would have been a life long fanatic of Roland if I hadn't picked up the TR8. I loved my TR8 for the 7 months that I had it before it inexplicably stopped working one day. Went to fire it up and... Nothing, DOA, not even a light. Never even took it out of the studio. When I contacted Roland they told me it was not their problem and if I wanted to pay to repair it they could direct me to an authorized service center. Simply unacceptable customer service for a new piece of gear. THANK GOODNESS for sweet water and their 2 year warranty (not to mention excellent customer service).

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