Roland’s latest Aira instrument is set to become a classic in its own right.
The space on the review bench left by Roland’s Boutique TR-08 barely had time to cool before it was filled with a new instrument bearing yet another combination of those iconic letters and numbers. The TR‑8S is ostensibly an evolution of the TR‑8: the first-generation Aira performance drum machine that digitally emulated the 808 and 909. The ‘S’ is for samples, which this new TR can play alongside the original ACB (Analogue Circuit Behaviour) modelled synth drums. But the TR‑8S is not just a TR‑8 with samples, it is a more capable and sophisticated instrument all round. This comes at the price of some of the simplicity of the original, so is it a worthwhile trade-off?
Although the TR‑8S follows roughly the same panel design as the TR‑8 (channel strips for 11 drum voices, and a row of big colourfully lit trig buttons) it looks surprisingly different: more modern and grown up somehow. Only a centimetre bigger, it packs in more buttons and an extra row of knobs. The original’s large Scatter knob is gone, giving way to a more conventional cluster of mode buttons, display and data dial. (Scatter is still a feature, it’s just folded into the general Fill controls). The most striking impression, though, is made by the colourful fader strips. While the original gave off a uniform glow in Scooby Doo Green, the new model can use individual colours for each fader, customised for each Kit.
It’s not just the front panel that’s been beefed up, though; there’s a lot more action from the back section. In addition to the main mix outs, there are now...
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