Around a year ago, Roland unleashed their boutique range of retro styled boxes upon an unsuspecting world. Cramming the original analogue into much smaller digital boxes that look like they’ve been in the hot wash too long is no mean feat. But while the TR-09 and TB-03 stole my heart, there was an obvious empty 808 shaped space. But today that space is filled — behold the TR-08. The circle is complete. Well for me anyway.

Some well crafted words to fill in some blanks:


New Roland Boutique Recreation of the TR-808, the World’s Most Famous Drum Machines 

Hamamatsu, Japan, August 8, 2017 — Roland announces the TR-08 Rhythm Composer, the latest addition to the popular Roland Boutique instrument lineup. The TR-08 is a compact recreation of Roland’s classic TR-808, one of the most influential drum machines ever made. Built with meticulous attention to detail, the TR-08 combines the sound, look, and feel of the TR-808 with enhanced features and modern reliability. And with its affordable price, the TR-08 puts the legendary “808” vibe within reach of anyone who’s ever dreamed of owning the iconic original.

Produced by Roland in the early 1980s, the TR-808 Rhythm Composer is one of the most revered and sought-after electronic musical instruments of all time. While only modestly successful when first released, adventurous musicians and producers of the era slowly began to embrace the instrument’s distinctive all-analog voice and creative hands-on interface, fueling the emergence of multiple music styles. The TR-808’s sounds helped shape and define the hip-hop, electronic, and dance genres, and the instrument’s vast influence on popular music continues to this day.

The TR-08 accurately recreates all the ingredients that make the TR-808 so special. Roland’s Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology fully realizes all the sonic details and quirks of the original hardware, modeling each analog circuit right down to the component level. And the interface, though scaled-down in size, is 100-percent authentic, with all the buttons, knobs, and switches found on the TR-808.

The TR-08 also adds some modern enhancements to the classic TR-808 formula. The sequencer has 16 sub-steps per step, enabling users to create detailed snare fills and intricate, rolling hi-hats. There’s also a track-selectable trigger out for working with external instruments and modular gear. An LED display enables finer control of tempo and shuffle, and it’s now possible to step program or tap in parts in real time without stopping to change modes. In addition, the TR-08 sends and receives MIDI control messages, and supports audio and MIDI over USB.

Like all Roland Boutique modules, the TR-08 is extremely portable, and runs on USB bus power or batteries. It also includes a built-in speaker for monitoring the sound in mobile situations, and comes with a DK-01 Boutique Dock that allows users to adjust the panel’s viewing angle.

To learn more about the TR-08 Rhythm Composer, visit

Roland TR-08 TR-808 electro acid drum machine (3)


Back in the day, I had a small setup and knocked out some decent electro beats and a fair slice of an acid house LP with my £99 TB-303 (which I subsequently gave away) and a Korg KPR77 drum machine. Earning a pittance at the time, my wage just would jump to the £399 second hand 808 that teased me through the window of my local music shop.

But the musiccreation bug is back, and right now I probably want to dabble at making music than I do play it. When the Aira series came out, I was all set to fit out my space with the lovely glow of green. But with the advent of the boutiques, it was clear that I was converted to the boutique way, and that they would be the ideal hardware partner for my future voyages through 808 fuelled b-boy electro beats and squelchy 303 acid filth too — once the oh so obvious 808 version appeared that is. And at roughly the £330 price range for Roland boutiques, I can see me popping a very healthy kidney on eBay in the near future.

Anyway, enough of my tenuously related wibbling — obviously, this is an area that I won’t pretend to be an expert in, because there are far smarter people out there who eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff — people like Peter Kirn at CDM. Check out his story that covers the TR-08 and the new SH-01A synth too, something that will almost certainly be on my shopping list.

I’ll leave you with the jam session from Mathew Jonson. Makes me yearn for some of this magic in my life.



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