Approximate reading time: 3 Minutes

The Roland TR-09 is here: All last week, rumors and leaks popped up everywhere on the net. For the 30th anniversary of the legendary TR-909 drum machine it was rumoured, that Roland would present reissues of their TB-303 Bassline and TR-909 Rhythm Composer. To make a long story short: that happened last night!

Being a proper knobhead myself, I was of course thrilled when we got the opportunity to get our hands on the TR-09 and TB-03 at the time of introduction. Together with our colleagues from bonedo.de, we got the opportunity to have a first quick look. So I called around and organized an original TR-909 from Synthesizerstudio Hamburg and a TB-303 from no less than trance artist Kai Tacid (thanks guys – really appreciated. Unfortunately, mere mortals can no longer afford these precious oldtimers).

TR-09 and TR-909 in comparison

TR-09 and TR-909 in comparison

The new Roland TR-09 Rhythm Performer

Cosmetically, the new unit again looks almost identical to its 909 predecessor, in keeping with the Boutiqe series paradigm to shrink the stuff down. New is the addition of the angling mechanism at the bottom of the units (unfortunately made from plastic) and a speaker (bit lame-sounding, sorry Roland). Power supply is possible via 4x 1.5 AA batteries or USB (last moan: due to hum potentially introduced by USB connections, pleeeassse add a power connector with the next products).

bottom side of the unit: Battery compartment, speaker and angling mechanism

bottom side of the unit: Battery compartment, speaker and angling mechanism

At the back of the unit there’s MIDI-IN and OUT, and 3,5 mm sockets for Mix In, Phones and Output. So unfortunately no separate analogue outputs for the sounds (but digitally via USB-audio), and only these mini-sockets for audio connections. But now to the key thing: the sound and feel of this unit makes (at least me) … happy! 🙂 Like with the other ACB-modeling units by Roland it is not 100% identical, the originals still win – but it is more than just close enough for comfort. The TR-09 is simply fun!

Video: Comparison of TR-09, TR-909 Rhythm Composer and TR-8 Rhythm Performer

For a quick comparision, we programmed idential patterns into TR-09, TR-909 and TR-8 (that also features 909 models). The TR-909 still wins with its merciless push and has the fattest sound of all. Snare and clap are still somewhat slightly cooler and cope better with a 4 on the floor 909 kick drum. To my ears, Roland have improved the models over the TR-8 implementation in the TR-09 however – it sounds closer. This might also be the case, because the sound parameters are identical with the ones on the TR-8. But hey – this machine is a sheer joy to use! It would have been great if we had had more time for this – but an hour later we had to send the units on to get them to one of the bonedo.de reviewers. Bummer.

Bottom line: a great new product. If TR-8 owners like me need a TR-09 in addition, I can’t decide on yet. I’d definitely like the (perceived) sonic improvements to make its way into the TR-8. If I wouldn’t own a TR-8 yet, I would definitely be interested: Nice look, compact – and with approx. 450 EUR street price a steel compared to the original’s second hand asking price of around 3.000 EUR!

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