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Roland TR-808

Rhythm Machine

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Roland TR-808
Roland TR-808
4 000.00 street price

Presented in 1980 by the Japanese manufacturer Roland TR-808 rhythm machine actually seemed to be, doomed to failure at the very beginning of its journey. It was the main competitor to the so much superior LM-1 Drum Computer on the market. Compared to it, TR-808 sounded thin and too "electronic", while LM-1 timbre was close to live drums. In 1983 production was discontinued due to low sales and poor reputation. For the legendary rhythm machine it all sounds a bit strange, but let’s have a look what it was all about.

Roland Rhythm Composers were sold at "Junk Shops" where you could buy the device for only $100. This made these units which fit the palm of your hand very attractive for the new wave musicians, who weren’t interested in finding the most authentic drums. TR-808 was suddenly crowned to be the king of electronic music. During the last 30 years, it has gone through ups and downs, and today its sound is as relevant as ever.

The most inspiring rhythm machine includes a library of 16 percussion instruments. Kick could be short with a click or deep and extended (the pitch and release knobs were responsible for these changes). Snejr - bright, dense and energetic, the classics of 808. An open hi-hat is generated with white noise, can feature a short or long release stage value. And of course the cowbell, the most recognizable sound of 808, is absolutely unique. In addition, a percussion set is available: toms, congas (with tuning knobs for both), claves, rim shots, claps, maracas and cymbals.

In the captivating world of music, the attractiveness of the percussion synthesizer TR-808 is in its ability to program 12 different drums within 32 step patterns, which makes it a serious compositional device. Despite the fact that it does not offer MIDI In/Out and has a small number of audio parameters, TR-808 plays key role in such genres as: electro, early techno and house. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the history of hip-hop and dance music would be completely different and more shallow, even marginal or simply less significant without TR-808. Is excellent drums became part of almost every genre of electronic music.

Roland TR-808 was used by countless composers, including: Orbital, Aphex Twin, 808 State, BT, The Prodigy, Faithless, Skinny Puppy, Jimi Tenor, A Guy Called Gerald, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Edgar, Richie Hawtin, Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, Cocteau Twins, Luke Vibert, Ice Cube, the Beastie Boys and many many others.

Country of origin / production: Japan

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More info
Usage area
Bass Synthesizer 
Percussion Synthesizer 
Rhytm/ Drum Machine 
Usage Design/ Form Factor
Without Keys, Desktop 
Analog Modeling (AM) 
Tone Generator / Sound Synthesis
Technology of Sound Generation PCM
Programs/ Voices/ Timbres
Drum Kits Preset16
Percussion/ Drum Capabilities Kick Drum
Percussion/ Drum Capabilities Snare Drum
Percussion/ Drum Capabilities Hi-Hat Open
Percussion/ Drum Capabilities Hi-Hat Close
Percussion/ Drum Capabilities Tom
Percussion/ Drum Capabilities Claves
Envelope Generator (EG)
Pattern Sequencer 
Max number of songs12
Preset patterns64
MIDI in/ out
mini DIN IN/OUT 
External controllers
Swell foot pedal 
Audio out
Dedicated output per voice 
Height105 mm
Width508 mm
Depth305 mm
Weight5.000 kg
Production start1980
Production end1983
Production ended

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  • enpdf3.94Mb Roland TR-808 Owner's Manual