Roland have this morning announced a brand new flagship drum machine: the TR-8S Rhythm Performer. With the TR-8S, Roland have incorporated feedback on their excellent TR-8 to add sample import, eight analogue outputs, trigger outputs for connection to external sound sources and a multi-channel audio/MIDI interface.
Instead of just offering 808 and 909 sounds, the new TR-8S includes sounds from the iconic 808, 909, 707, 727, and 606 drum machines, as well as several modified versions. All of these sounds are recreated using Roland’s well-regarded Analogue Circuit Behaviour (ACB) modelling, meaning that you have a greater degree of control over the sounds than you would with a regular sample.
Sound-shaping tools are quickly available on the front panel of the TR-8S, too, including decay, tuning, and per-channel percussion-tuned effects. Master FX, meanwhile, can be applied to the entire kit, as with the original TR-8. The TR-8S also provides a colour-coding function, letting you easily group sounds visually — something that will come in handy for live applications.
Sequencing is handled by the ubiquitous TR-REC 16-step sequencer but this has been augmented with the addition of a velocity-sensitive pad letting you quickly create more movement in your parts.
The TR-8S sequencer is now able to store 128 patterns with eight variations and three fills contained in each. These patterns or variations can be triggered individually or chained together for evolving sequences. It’s also now possible to save the tempo and kit assignment (along with knob positions and effect settings) in patterns.
The TR-8S is equipped with a plethora of connection options — a stereo mix output is provided, plus six assignable audio outputs that allow individual drum sounds to be processed and mixed externally. There's also a dedicated trigger output with its own sequencer track, and the assignable outputs can be reconfigured to output trigger signals if desired. Stereo audio inputs are provided as well, enabling users to connect and mix external sound sources. The TR-8S also functions as a multi-channel USB audio/MIDI interface and supports AIRA Link for interfacing with other AIRA gear.
The Roland AIRA TR-8S will be available this month and carries a US price tag of $699. See a full, hands-on overview from Roland below.