Roland Aira TR8S

i’m a heavy user of tr8 for live improv with a rhodes and moog source and pedals with a matrix mixer and some fun results come out. I always wished with tr8 that individual drum parts could have different sequence lengths and i could never understand modern gear not having some aspect of knob movement memory or parameter locks or some aspect of motion sequence as memory is cheap and motion sequence was present on my very first drum machine over 20 years ago (korg electribe er1 i think).

gone is the horrific green monster drink highlights and led (almost) and a lot of care seems to have been put in with years of eval and focus. i really get a lot of mileage with tr8 and while i do try to avoid gas (largely successfully) and just focus on creation/composition/exploration… this new version of machine seems to tick boxes.

i wonder though, has anyone here used both machines, can comment upgraded or changed features such as external input/processing, fx differences ( i love the tape delay on old and spring reverb (i like spring reverb on everything)). ease of micro timing or substeps? effectiveness/limitations of motion sequence aspects?

what about sound loading. could one potentially load a single drum voice (12 toms for instance) on all tracks and explore in that manner via initialization of a kit/pattern and starting from scratch?

i do wish cr78 would get some inclusion in these boxes but i suppose i can make my own samples…

i would love to hear of folks experience using new version vs old.

ah and here is the link to the product sorry

well i went and did it for it to get it sent it

i’ve has my eye on this machine :eyes:

mine just arrived. i have so many words about it so far. took about and hour and a half with it to familiarize with file systems, general sounds, routing. i will share my thoughts in greater depth as time allows. but i really like both old tr8 and this tr8s as very interactive and fun instruments. each has strong suits.

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so thanks to some internet stranger i was able to freely load a ready made cr78 kit into the tr8s and that pretty much completes it for me. that was my biggest gripe. why on earth is it so hard to get the worlds greatest drum machine (cr78) :zipper_mouth_face:

i was having a bear of a time getting it to upload samples but i realized that not all sd cards are created equal in terms of formatting. so i popped out and grabbed a proper new one and that worked like a charm…for the cr78 but i still have yet to be able to load my own other wav/aiff files… i can’t really figure out why but i’m not at all concerned in that it has plenty now itb to give me the voices i like to use… the whole classic roland drum range+

the drum machine is great. it sounds incredible to me. i have it in my live improv downstairs setup (outside of the upstairs studio). piped into a few pedals and into a roland keyboard amp. a moog source and a rhodes as happy companions.

the setup time for kits is significantly longer than tr8 was as even though tr8 had a few menu type options it was for the most part what you see is what you get. the absolute strengths imo of tr8 were: immediacy/simplicty. pretty good sound (not perfect). the gate verb and the spring verb (neither of those appear to be available for tr8s sadly). one of the delays that had an uncanny long clean delay time that could produce gorgeous asynchronous results that i found to be one of the most fun and musical delays ever (that also does not appear to be available on tr8s (however, i expect with tweaking of the formidable options i may be able to get close or even duplicate with time/experimentation). the simplicity of ext input utilization/sidechainy sequencing. and toward the end (before arrival of tr8s) i even found one bit of the scatter fx to be really useful and fun (you have to disarm latching in order to just poke a tiny bit in there every once in a while). the absolute best aspect was this kind of automatic constant save behavior that simply left everything you program as the state it is left between power cycles. that was so much fun to me. but i don’t write songs with it other than sometimes just throw some beats from it and play it live. it is meant so clearly to be played live… but i think so is tr8s.

my gripes with olden tr8 are: some oddness with a few voices, not the easiest to get great sound out of all voices). scatter is mostly terrible. very limited pattern ability storage, two variations. no last step difference between instruments. no loading or changing any sounds and the green… i always hated the green and that stupid light show that you had to turn off (at least you could disable it). general plastic-y construction felt semi toylike (i’m pretty harsh or stringent with this kind of thing, but i also like toys sometimes). no motion sequence ( but some aspect of parameter lock on fx inclusion which is pretty freaking cool).

as you can see i’m sort of looking at them both side by side to help prompt my thoughts…
and the tr8s: it doesn’t completely eradicate the green, still peaking at you but in a moderate sense via one letter character printed on faceplate and the married tempo ring led always blinking away to the tempo (and of course you have all manner of access to color, green pops up all over the place but doesn’t strike me as being out of place…whereas tr8 omg). tr8s is complex. menus potential for everything. totally customizable from every effect to every voice be it on board synthesis or sample setup. i wish it was easier to import samples (but i am probably making some newb mistake). i can get the brain to sort of hiccup occasionally a fader slide or button press. but no crashes and no horrible or overt trouble. just a note drop or small artifact. tr8s sounds more betterer than tr8 did. but is far more fussy with setup. tr8s has motion sequence. i haven’t explored it too much but i will and it seems to work described on the tin. tr8s has tons of pattern storage to make all the beats you want. i think i found an autosave function but i am not sure how it is implemented and i do fear losing my progress from time to time given how i used tr8 (always saving). you can load any voice to any part so if you want an 11 tuned sequence polyrhythmic tom journey (like i do)…well, you are totally set. every part can have it’s own last step so natural polyrhythms are so easy to get to. it has 40 some fx. i haven’t even explored them but they are thus far musically useful in that they are flexible, they feel like tools, available if i want them, not hard to understand setup. main thing to consider is kit vs voice vs global system preferences or setup (and patterns too). sub steps are cool. autofill isn’t terribly useful to me imo (similar to scatter, in fact scatter is somehow involved in it programmingwise). you can nudge hits around to open up timing. sub steps are fun but not as flexible as i had hoped (maybe i have more to learn under the hood in terms of achieving greater musical usefulness). the box feels just as plasticay as the old one, maybe technically even includes more plastic (is the faceplate plastic too i can’t tell?). i think actually the face is metal. i have no idea. the form feels better, looks more “professional” imo. it feels pretty good, i’d like to replace knobs with multicolor options (does anybody know an appropriate knob replacement for:

so that’s like a press on d shaft kinda thing?

the variable color on faders is pretty incredible. but i think it could have been implemented better. it kinda looks cheaper somehow in person than in online content. i will be leaving all mine likely in the light blue lavender and pink range. :unicorn: so i simply cannot complain about very easily leaving the color options to be changed but i do wish they looked a bit less toy like. and this time the sceensaver is incredible. i could just watch it forever. the old tr8 one made me almost sell the drum machine before i could learn its true powers.

i’ve lost my train of thought. but i hope that helps somebody get a feel that might otherwise be difficult to accurately get for the instrument. still some toy aspects but totally sounds great. fun to use. easy to program enough to get lost in or to be quite focused with.

i wish one of the old delay algos and 2 of the old verbs were included or easy to get to but the three things that sold me on upgrade were inclusion of possibility to kludge cr78 in, motion sequence (my first drum machine was original electribe er1 (so motion sequence, in my world, is supposed to be on any modern device)) and asynchronous instrument track sequence lengths. those things in my opinion make it a pretty rad modern drum machine. and i’m currently quite glad for it’s purchase.



i did take it apart to satisfy my curiosity re faceplate material and while i am not 100% convinced, my incredibly strong suspicion is that it is thin metal faceplate material in a slightly different form than the olden (more streamilined).

how are you planning to integrate it with the modular?

i know it has a dedicated trigger out and iirc it has assignable outs that can also be triggers.

i guess if you want any control over the sequencer itself, you’ve gotta go through midi though, right?

i have no modular. i hope topair it with a small modcan modular at some point (via the trig outs) if bruce ever gets 5u b series back on track (i really really hope he is getting well and healthy regardless). i think you can send trigs via those 6 other outs too so probably a whole lot of analog trig fun potential. control of sequencer likely coming into the drum machine only going to be through midi afaik.

so i have finally integrated tr8s with the modular and it works immediately out of the box from the trigger out. i was concerned there might be issues regarding voltage level of trig, but there is just no issue. i still am not sure how to route the aux outs as trigs to talk externally but the single dedicated trig out channel works like a charm. so if i find i want to incorporate drum machine i just start and tap tempo to get close to where the modular externals are at and then feed the trig and sometimes then feed the audio back through sidechain ins. it is really quite easy on that end and ticks my boxes. still sounds great and no end to potential digging without being too deep and confusing. squarely musically useful. slightly obtuse. i still don’t know how to load samples other than formatted kits intended directly for the machine. but ive given up on it as it has tons of sounds. anyway, it sounds great. motion recording and longer patterns and all the kits and variable independent track lengths!

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it still feels like a nice very powerful yet with functional limitations fun potentially standalone modern day drum computer. so after a few months, those are my thoughts.


°New Firmware Update°

6 new FM drum models

New FX

Step/Substep/master Probability

Random kit

It was a pleasant surprise to be able to update my TR6S, no song mode though and only being able to chain 8 patterns is i think it’s biggest limitation along with limited RAM, still a fantastic little drum machine, I’ve put all my favorite drum sounds in mine so i have custom kits of the previous drum machines that I’ve owned, a Boss DR-110 and Casio RZ1, as well as a LinnDrum, a DMX, a CR-78, a SK1, a VL-Tone, a few Sophie Kits, and about 30 Jungle/DnB loops.


i picked up tr8s a few weeks ago, and am really enjoying its simplicity and sound. one quirk: assign out 1 (and only assign 1 out) seems to only send triggers. i get a sharp click out no matter what i assign to it. is this a feature or a bug?

Sounds like something is amiss with a setting or possibly an issue with your unit. Channel 1 should be able to send drum sounds same as the other channels. I have a TR8S and I usually send my kick out channel 1. Does the same issue occur on multiple kits? If I remember correctly the TR8S saves output settings on a per kit basis, so if the issue is being caused by a missed setting then it should be confined to one kit. If you’re having the issue on all kits then it might be a defect. Hope this helps in some way.

yep, that was it: instrument routing does not automatically override the kit’s output type assignment. thank you!


Crazy question but, is there any way to use the TR-8S as a MIDI clock multiplier? Can you load custom Firmware on the machine?

Not Midi, but you could use the trigger out as an analog multiplier.