Roland TR-08 Drum Machine Review

In the latest Sonic Lab video, Gaz Williams takes a look at the Roland TR-08 Drum Machine.

The Roland TR-08 Rhythm Composer is a Boutique-format version of the original. It uses analog circuit modeling to recreate the original’s sound and has a scaled-down version of 808’s interface.

The TR-08 offers 10-channel audio via USB, trigger out and can run on batteries.

Pricing and Availability

The Roland TR-08 is available now, with a street price of about US $349. See the Roland site for details.

22 thoughts on “Roland TR-08 Drum Machine Review

  1. Maybe not 349GBP but definitely 349USD is a good price. I love all of these boutique drum machines from Roland. Sure they’re not analog, but it’s 99% there, and literally 10% the going rate of an original.

  2. Like 40% the size too. I’m out of the loop on why the 808 drum kit is still so sought after. I just don’t understand. Its a singe drumkit with sound limitations but it somehow keeps catching everyones fancy.
    Anyone care to explain why the 808 and 909 kits are still so sought after? I’m not even trying to be a douche, I’d really like to be enlightened. If its nostalgia then I understand or do people just perk up when they read “808” never mind that its just a single kit in a world of unlimited drum sounds and possibilities with sampling and live recording.

    1. Really? I see 4.9/5 stars over at Thomann. I see similar reviews over at Sweetwater. Equally good reviews from Guitar Center customer….
      Who is “everybody” exactly? You? And who else?

  3. There are exactly three of these boutiques that I think sound good enough to justify their prices. The TR-08, the TB-03, and the SE-02 (yes it’s more and yes it sounds great)

    Now hopefully Roland has learned from Malekko and Studio Electronics that people want these, but in ANALOG. Hopefully someone over there realizes Behringer is going to steal future sales from them with their new line (which at this point, everyone has to admit it’s real and coming)

    Akai too… I’m not sure the genius at these companies that won’t develop cheap reissues of an MPC2000- or a 303 an 808 a 909. Remake the stuff that commands dumb prices used… an MPC2000 could be made for $200 or less… its silly! It’s not rocket science!

    1. A reissue mpc 2000 with a few features from the 2500 like ram, more banks, some effects. Would cut the market right down the middle. Would love to see the percentage of mpc2000 used sales vs any other model. I had one for a while but was hard to go from a 2500 to a 2000xl. Was like driving a helicopter to scooter.

    2. The boutiques are bestsellers the way they are, so why would Roland bother making them analog? Most people don’t care at all.

    3. I like the tr 09 also personally. Ive had both of the OG drum machines plus 606 and these new ones are still fun and worth it to me and obviously easy to afford comparably. I feed it through a moog filter pedal and its pretty nice combo. Nice midi also, you can do alot externally with midi cc. so for me the only draw backs is the lack of decent outputs. I would gladly pay extra for a few more outputs or another box that gives me 6-8 analog outputs. i dont want to use the usb audio for that. that is cool if you dont have other stuff, but isnt really a good option in a full studio with a pro interface/converters and outboard I want to use.

      1. It is still possible to enjoy this drum machine in a setup such as you desire. I too prefer to have individual recordings of the individual sounds to be able to process in different ways and then mix to taste in the final mix. The way I do this with the TR-08 is that I sync the drum machine to MIDI clock from my DAW, and simply record each instrument on it’s own, by turing down the output of all the others and doing multiple passes. Does it take some time? Sure…so what? I’ve found that the latency/MIDI drift is acceptable for my purposes for up to an 8 minute song (20 samples of delay is what I saw). Heck, the MIDI drift might even add an extra cool factor to “loosen up” the beats. In any case, this is one way to be able to use the TR-08 “professionally” in sessions which are not 44.1k over USB. Give it a try!

        Cheers and respect,

  4. The multi-channel USB audio is a pretty killer feature. If it cost a bit less I would seriously consider one of these.

  5. for a few bucks more there’s the yocto and nava, which are analog and sound better imo.
    the small formfactor is not up my alley, it feels cheap and fiddly. or get a digitakt and have all those sounds and much more, for just 200 more. better bang for the buck.

    1. And you’re giving your ‘same shit’ reply, as usual Ty. To some people’s ears, these digital modelling boxes are a disappointment. And a real missed opportunity for our old heroes Roland. That’s what their ears tell them. And they’re entitled to their ears and their opinions. Just as you are.

      I like Digital! But when it’s pretending to be Analog and has certain flaws, then it will be a compromise. Saying that, I just compared Repro 1 and 5 to my Prophet. And the imperfections of old are being ironed out. Which promises even more great synthesis for us.

  6. i’m thinking about grabbing this or the tr-09 eventually. the small form factor is actually appealing to me! on the other hand, if you want something bigger, they already have the tr-8.

    analog schmanalog. in the mix, it’s more than close enough!

  7. i wonder if we will look back on this TR-08 one day and say “daym i wish i had brought one when i had the chance and they were $349…” or whether history will say “another cheap digital box with only stereo outs…you can pick them up for peanuts second hand”….

    i fear the latter….

  8. I feel as though many folks are missing the point here. These boxes are about making some music, simple as that. If you like the sound, and the form-factor and the interface etc. etc. etc. then get one (whichever one you like) and make some good music with it. If you like none of them, or are waiting for analogue, well then buy nothing and/or wait. If you are worried about what kind of “investment” this will be towards a future market, again, to me, you are missing the point, which is about having fun making music.

    I have several Boutiques, including the TR-08, and I’m enjoying making music with them all. Keep your eyes on the prize folks!

    Cheers and respect,

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