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The TR-8S from Roland offers a welcome step up from the already-formidable TR-8. It adds sampling, a much deeper effects section, and improved hardware and sequencing power to its predecessor’s tremendous sound quality and unparalleled playability for a perfect blend of retro sounds and modern features.
At the heart of the TR-8S is Roland’s powerful Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology, which digitally recreates the circuitry behind the famous sounds found in the TR-909, TR-808, TR-707, TR-727, and TR-606 drum machines in order to more faithfully emulate the sound and feel of the originals. The added ability to layer samples from the TR-8S’s internal memory or SD card sets its sounds apart in a sea of Roland clones.
In addition to their sounds, Roland’s classic drum machines are famous for their ease of use in a performance setting. The TR-8S offers a huge upgrade to the classic x0x-style sequencer, allowing for rolls, sub-steps, and polyrhythms galore. A velocity-sensitive performance pad and motion record of all parameters lend a tremendous ability to program huge, dynamic drum tracks on the fly. What’s more, the TR-8S allows a user to program a pattern while another plays, making it the perfect improvisational tool for live house and techno.
The TR-8S’ usefulness extends into the studio as well, though. Like the more fully-featured Roland machines of yore, it has eight analog audio outputs for use with outboard effects, along with a dedicated “trigger” output for MIDI-less syncing and 24bit/96kHz conversion quality ensures these drums hit analog preamps with the same characteristic punch. The ability to store 128 patterns on the machine and entire machine snapshots on an SD card makes the TR-8S a superior machine for rhythm composition as well, and ensures a pulled plug or spilled drink won’t spell the end of the next club classic.