Roland crams classic 80s drum machines into more playable flagship
After a brief teaser campaign, Roland has revealed a new addition to the company's iconic digital drum machine portfolio – the Aira TR-8S Rhythm Performer. As well as emulating classic 80s drum machines, the 8S lets users import their own samples and allows more hands-on control.
A welcome update to 2014's TR-8, the Aira TR-8S brings together rhythm sound recreations from Roland's TR drum machine arsenal, including the iconic 808, the 909 and the 606, while adding a number of modified versions of classic rhythm sounds, too.
Roland promises a huge selection of preset samples to choose from, with ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) technology reported to make emulations sound and behave exactly like the legacy originals. If the supplied samples are not enough to satisfy beat-makers, users can also load in their own mono or stereo samples via the SD card slot to create custom kits with infinite sound possibilities.
Key sound parameters such as decay and tuning now benefit from hands-on control, and on-the-fly effects processing gives beats an extra dose of character, increased depth and a more spacious sound.
And Roland has treated the 8S to an enhanced TR-Rec step sequencer, with 16 buttons and a velocity-sensitive pad for complex groove making. Up to 128 patterns can be stored, each with eight variations and three fills, and tempo and kit can be saved together with knob positions and effects settings for easy recall.
Elsewhere, a 16 character, 2 line display and LEDs help users keep track of what's going on, there are stereo mix and trigger outputs, the latter having its own sequencer track, and six assignable audio outputs that allow for individual drum sounds to be fed to an external processor or mixer. Stereo inputs allow for cabling up external sound sources, the device can function as a multi-channel USB MIDI/audio interface, and it's capable of interfacing with other Aira hardware courtesy of Aira Link support.
The Aira TR-8S is due for release shortly for US$699. You can get a feel for what's on offer in the promo video below.