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Roland TR-08 Rhythm Composer

Drum Machine
Published March 2018
By Simon Sherbourne

Roland TR‑08

The 808 needs no introduction, but can its diminutive descendent deliver the same punch?

The 808 is the most influential drum machine ever, and its sounds continue to form the foundation of whole genres of music — try defining trap music without name-checking it. Roland had already largely satisfied the need for a modern, reliable and freely available hardware 808 with the TR‑8 Aira (see SOS April 2014), and of course there’s no shortage of sampled kits. But this Boutique option does bring something new, or rather old, to the table: an almost completely faithful recreation of the original instrument, shrunk down into this gorgeously small and usable format.

Compact & Bijou

Like all the Boutique range instruments, the TR‑08 is incredibly cute. Pictures, and even videos, don’t quite convey how small they are. The TR‑08 is certainly not toy-like, though: it’s a solid and surprisingly heavy chunk of metal. It feels more like a giant guitar pedal than a shrunken drum machine. The adjustable tilt stand that it’s housed in is, by contrast, a rather flimsy plastic construction, but is very useful nevertheless.

The front panel is a miniaturised recreation of the original 808, with the addition of a numeric display and a Menu/Substep button. The controls have been jiggled about and slid downwards to fit the front panel’s considerably elongated...

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Published March 2018