Roland delights us with a bit of historical wallowing as they pull out their old TR-606 and gives us two updated hardware versions and an authentic software recreation.
I kind of thought Roland was done with all the nostalgia and was moving forward with ZEN-Core in everything and the future of synthesis. So it’s quite remarkable that they’ve decided to revitalise their historic TR-606 Drumatix drum machine especially since the arrival of a plethora of Behringer clones. Or maybe it’s exactly for that reason and they want to give people the option of having Roland stamped on their drum machines even if they are “authentic emulations” rather than boxes of analogue components.
First up is this adorable TR-6S Rhythm Performer which takes the concept of the TR-8S and shrinks it down into a cool little rhythm box. It has all the same functions as it’s older sibling but over 6 tracks rather than 11. That means you get detailed circuit models of all the TR drum machines with a large preset sample library and room for your own samples. It has an FM sound engine for really messing things about and you can mix and match to create your own hybrid drum kits. The sequencer has sub-steps, flam, step-loop, motion recording and all sorts of creative interactions for live performance. It has a bunch of digital effects and it will run on batteries and fit into an oversized pocket (yeah, ok, maybe your backpack).
It’s a cool little box, colourful and playful that’s usefully compact when compared to the TR-8S and loses none of the functionality.
The classic TR-606 Drumatix makes it to the Roland Boutique format for which it is ideally suited. Using their ACB circuit modelling technology Roland has computerised the heck out of this drum machine served up an authentic 606 experience with the added flourish of some extra features.
Unlike the TR-6S it’s not trying to be anything other than a TR-606. You get all those sounds plus some variations and the ability to do a little bit of tweaking. Each instrument can be tuned and panned, have its decay played with and you can push it all into drive and distortion. An onboard compressor adds the punch you usually have to do afterwards and a delay effect gives you a bit of controlled chaos.
The sequencer and pattern creation is the same as you’d expect but with nice additions like the sub-steps for ratcheting, step-loop for pattern slicing and per-step probability. It also has five trigger outputs for routing into other gear and trigger input to keep it all together.
The TR-06 is a solid recreation of their old drum machine with enough tweaks to make it feel modern and relevant. The pricing on the Behringer RD-6 clone is hard to beat but it looks like Roland has managed to offer something different and somehow more authentic while being digital. It’s probably all an illusion but that’s half the battle isn’t it?
The software that’s running the TR-06 hardware can also be found in the RolandCloud TR-606 plugin version. But this is a recreation of the original rather than the enhanced hardware version. You can the sounds and the control of the TR-606 in a picture-perfect GUI with the additional advantage of an expanded pattern editor for the sequencer.
This is a great bunch of releases that are going to make a lot of people very happy. The TR-06 will make a great companion to the TR-03 Bassline just as the original 303 and 606 were meant to be together. The TR-06S will please people who don’t want to be cornered into one kind of sound and want a bit more versatility whereas the TR-06 is perfect for some desktop jamming. The pricing is hard when you consider what Behringer offers but it’s good to have this level choice in the market. The TR-06 and TR-06s are $399 and will be available in October and November respectively. The TR-606 plugin is available now in your RolandCloud account as part of a subscription or $149 for a lifetime key.