Roland R8 vs TR-8

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.

Roland R8 vs TR-8

Postby Grumblepig » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:44 pm

I know a guy selling an R8 for €150. I haven't seen it yet, don't know what shape it's in. I don't know the R8 at all, to be honest, but I've read so many glowing reports - seems to be a real fave with some people. Anyway, I do want to pick up a hardware drum box. My last was an Alesis SR-16, before that an HR-16. Before that, however, was a TR-707. That's one I loved and really miss. My imagined use for a "new" drum machine will be varied. I do synth pop, but I also have a guitar/bass/drums band and would be using a drum machine for demos etc. I might drag something out to solo gigs as well.

Given how excited some people get about the R8, I'm looking forward to checking it out in the next couple weeks. But curious if anyone here has experience yet with the new Roland TR-8. Obviously it's pricier than the second-hand R8.I've heard that Roland will soon make 707 sounds available for it, which is appealing, but I think half of what I liked about the 707 was the clunky plastic "drum machine-ness" about it!

Any thoughts in regards to my messy question are appreciated! Thanks...
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Re: Roland R8 vs TR-8

Postby Z » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:10 pm

I've owned an R-8M for 20+ years. It was my work horse drum module during the 90s.

The "stock" sounds on the R-8 and R-8m are quality, but typical late 80s and early 90s acoustic drum sounds. The main thing about the R-8 Human Rhythm Composer was being able to adjust the nuance of the drum sounds to make it sound like an actual drummer not hitting the drums or cymbals in the same spot with each hit. So if you want a machine that sounds like a real drummer without tedious programming, the R-8 is the machine for you.

The R-8 has one PCM card slot (the R-8M has 3) for adding your choice from 11 different PCM card with additional sounds like Jazz Brush, Ethnic percussion, Sound FX, Mallet percussion AND Electronic (TR-808 & Synth Percussion) and Dance (TR-909 & CR-78). The R-8mkII includes all the sounds from the R-8 plus select sounds from the 11 PCM cards.


Now if you want a machine that does a damn-near-accurate reproduction of the TR-808 & TR-909 sounds, then the TR-8 is the machine you want.

One drag about the TR-8 is that you can only choose one sound per instrument type per kit. For example: for bass drum, you can only choose 808 kick or 909 kick, for snare: 808 snare or 909 snare, and so forth. So if and when Roland adds TR-707 sounds to the TR-8, then you'll have to choose one of 3 different sounds (707, 808 or 909) for each drum type.

That's not a big deal for many, but I've made drum beats that have multiple kicks and snares. But at a price of $500 or less, you can afford to buy 2 TR-8s and dedicate one as a TR-808 and the other as TR-909 if you want.


A third option for 808/909 sounds would be a Novation DrumStation. The DrumStation gives you access to all 808 & 909 sounds simultaneously and has more individual outs, but lacks a sequencer - so you'll need to create your patterns on your DAW or hardware sequencer.
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Re: Roland R8 vs TR-8

Postby kuroichi » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:14 pm

All above is excellent advice.

With R8 you would require some rom cards to get the 808 sounds etc if thats what you want. Other than that, the R8 has more interfacing options, more outputs etc. The R8 was my first drum machine, and is still one of the best drum machines available in my opinion.

I had a brief mess around with a TR-8, and was impressed generally. It offers more in direct access to sound shaping (although I'd say the R8 offers more sound shaping overall), and the sequencer is continuous, whereas the R8 sequencer has to stop to change certain things. Overall (unless they add more models etc to the TR-8) the R8 has more features, and is a more 'professional' machine.

The TR-8 is more like a 707 of the two. The R8 is a great all rounded machine, and can do acoustic and electronic styles easy.
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Re: Roland R8 vs TR-8

Postby Grumblepig » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:45 am

Thanks for both replies - very thoughtful and thorough. I was already tilting strongly towards the R8, and you've reenforced my tilt! Assuming the one for sale is in decent shape, seems like it's the machine for me...
Cheers!
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Re: Roland R8 vs TR-8

Postby philip » Thu Apr 10, 2014 2:21 am

r8 all the way. with 808and909 cards you'll be in heaven. it is super punchy and big sounding machine
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Re: Roland R8 vs TR-8

Postby Nannerfan » Sat Apr 12, 2014 8:34 pm

If TR-909 sounds are a concern.. then the TR-8 is a no brainer.
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