Today Roland announced his new emblematic drum machine, the TR-8S. After the Aria TR-8, which came out in 2014, the TR-8S brings sound libraries from five classic machines – the 808, 606, 909, 707 and 727 – and expanded performance capabilities, mostly informed, says Roland, per customer feedback in recent years.
The TR-8S is a rhythm interpreter, designed with live sets in mind. There is a lot new with this version compared to the TR-8, but immediately the more elegant and low profile is noticed, along with the RGB color faders. Dimmers can have individually customized brightness, brightness and color, useful for distinguishing sounds or grouping sets of sounds.
Another essential update: the TR-8S comes with all the sounds of Roland's iconic 808, 606, 909, 707 and 727, along with additional modified versions. These are not sample packets, but they use Roland's analog circuit behavior modeling (ACB) to make everything "sound and behave exactly like the original hardware."
On the back, there are stereo assignable and six assignable audio outputs, a dedicated trigger output and activation track to control external analogue gaging, a multi-channel audio / MIDI interface and an SD card slot to import your own samples and make backup copies of the files. If you load your own samples, the TR-8S allows a maximum of 600 seconds of mono audio of 44.1 kHz, with a limit per file of 180 seconds. This, combined with the massively enhanced built-in library, means that not only are a large number of sounds immediately available, but it's easy to add yours to really customize the hardware.
Also included in the cover are effects such as tuning and attenuation that can be slapped on the master output or assigned individually to the channels. Once assigned, the parameters for the effect, such as filter cutoff, can be assigned to the control knobs on a channel. All knob and effect settings can be saved within a kit, and the TR-8S can store up to 128 of these kits (a kit is a group of sounds with their settings). The sequencer itself can now store 128 patterns, and each of these patterns can have up to eight variations and three fillings. All of these patterns can be activated individually or chained to create longer phrases and more complex combinations. In addition to the 16-step sequencer, there is now a speed-sensitive performance pad on the right side of the machine, allowing accent, flam and speed drilling on the fly.
Automation is another key feature that distinguishes the TR-8S. You can automate any parameter you want, from effects, panoramic, to tone. All motion recording is immediate, and motion playback can be instantly activated or deactivated. Also in automation: while fillings can be customized and made from scratch, there is also an autocomplete option that can automate fillings every 2, 4, 8, 16 or 32 measures, which can leave your hands free to play with other parts of the TR-8S.
Visit Roland for full specifications of the TR-8S Rhythm Performer, available later this month for $ 699.