Roland TR-08 Rhythm Composer: the Boutique 808 we’ve been waiting for
It’s 808 day! And in a double whammy with the SH-01A Roland have finally put to bed the rumours of a TR-808 reissue. Roland have announced the TR-08 Rhythm Composer, the Boutique version of their classic 808 drum machine. It looks simply perfect.
We already had the reissue of the 909 last year on 909 day. Did we really have to wait another 11 months for the 8th of August to come around so that it could be released on “808 day”? Who knows, but it’s here.
They are calling it a “reinterpretation of the legendary TR-808 drum machine.” Some of the details are still a little sketchy at the moment so it’s not clear exactly what the sound engine is. We can assume that it’s ACB (analog circuitry behaviour) like the Aira TR-8 and not actually analog or sample based. As we know with the TR-8 Roland’s own analog modelling technology modelling their own analog gear is going to sound as close to the real thing as you can get.
So what do we have? Well it’s an 808, with all the same buttons, knobs and functionality. What I can tell you is that there are 16 oh-so-familiar sounds on 11 tracks (plus an accent track) with 16 steps and 16 sub-steps. There are 16 banks of user memory, 12×16 taken by patterns and 4×16 taken by intro’s and fills. All 11 tracks get level control, the bass, snare and cymbal have tone and decay controls. The toms get tuning knobs. The only obvious difference between this and the original TR-808 on the front panel is the LED display.
On the back many more people will be lamenting the loss of the track outputs than celebrating the inclusion of MIDI and USB sockets. They did with this with the TR-09 and it pissed off a lot of people – but hey, that’s what the Arturia DrumBrute is for. But if it’s outputs that you need then you’ll find 10 outputs are available over USB, which is better than nothing.
It does look simply lovely. The 909 never quite pulled off the iconic look of the 808 – you wouldn’t get someone trying to make trainers in the 909 colours. This looks perfect. With one caveat – beware of the size! The Roland Boutique instruments are surprisingly small, I mean they are weeney. And those great looking knobs and buttons are going to feel pretty small.
However, it’s a flippin’ 808 for hopefully not too much money – what’s not to like about that? Although I imagine it’ll come in at around the TR-09 price of £339.
More information should appear on the Roland website and soon as we come across some sound or video demos we’ll let you know!
- Roland TR-08 rear panel with sadly no track outputs: Roland