Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

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Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby KBD_TRACKER » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:42 am

It's been now some time and people by now have been able to try it, use it, etc.

So for those of you who did try/use it do you consider the TR8 as a worthwhile, versatile, useful, musically satisfying drum machine ? Do you think it compares favorably (or not) with other NEW OR MODERN drum machines ?
Please feel free also to mention your experience as far as ergonomy, robustness, etc.

Again, this not about listing a nth comparison between the older "real" stuff and the TR8. It is about fairly assessing (as possible) the TR8 own value, as a drum machine on its own.

As if it was a newborn gear without a looming heavy ancestry....
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Re: Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby griffin avid » Thu Apr 10, 2014 12:12 pm

This is hilarious as I was going to write a review called
TR-8 as a DRUM MACHINE and not a TIME MACHINE.
Can it do your drums ...today?

I was only on this path because EVERY review is about the TR-808 Legacy etc...and they all skip over some pretty basic and important stuff to someone interested in a drum machine. Granted that's what was on everyone's mind on initial inception, but it's got to have more interest than that after the fact.

You see, it mostly gets a pass because it is being compared to the original - so all those warts [IMHO] are just fine.....
warts like.......

Those switches instead of drum pads....

Are you okay with a drum machine without PADS?

The narrow scope of its sound

It's goal was to sound a certain way and it sounds that way 100%.
Problem is, that's the sound and there's no way to go full-on-experimental and extreme.

Beyond that I almost feel like the TR-8 has been purposely limited to capture a narrow mindset that's so narrow, no product could have met those expectations. So why not open up and give me the ability to edit that underlying engine?.....
A soft editor with additional controls...
Assignable faders...
More kits and banks...
More effects....
And a product called the TR-2000 (or TR-Alpha/Omega) that was every TR rolled into one.

Even the manual is a giant, unfolding MAP with everything together.
Very hard to find (and re-find) what you are looking for (at).
And the PDF...is that same large document...as a PDF.

Do you think it compares favorably (or not) with other NEW OR MODERN drum machines ?
Hard to say without direct comparisons.

Everything like it- is much more expensive and has a less drum-machine like surface.
Whatever else looks like it, is a sampler or plays back samples.

I think it's the TR-8 verse the KORG electribe series and when was the last time KORG released one of those?

I think the tougher question is:
Is this a drum machine that makes you want a drum machine?

Maschine is powerful....AKAI has its own contender....
Lots of little toys available... Ableton + Push.....
VSTs for drums and patterns....Reason.....

But there's a difference between a solution for drums....and a drum machine.
And if you want a drum machine, I'm not sure much else satisfies.

And if you want that electronic sound, this should satisfy.
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Re: Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby zoomtheline » Thu Apr 10, 2014 1:24 pm

I'm no wiser after your post Griffin hehe.

Lets face it, the TR8 is a one trick pony but that trick has been dazzling certain people for years so why not. It's no Machinedrum though. Even without the Plocks, i'm surprised Roland didn't at least go someway towards that way of thinking.
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Re: Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby princefan3 » Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:49 pm

For me the TR 8 has been very liberating....It has saved me nigh on £ 2,000 pounds against the real deal.

It has prompted me to invest in a TR 626 also and a DX21 YAMAHA. So ive added to my studio because of it.

The TR 8 adds the groove to the stew. It makes you sound more professional, even though it has been done to
death.... so what....there are many of us out here, that needed that lift to our songs, without the price tag.

A 707 on its own is a little miserable, but add the 8 and it works.

A little dissapointed with the ride on the 8 as sounds washey....think they took there eye off the ball with the last sound of all...shame.

However, the cherry is... its digital so can be re looked at perhaps.....and other drum machines added a maybe.

We also have the acceptance of many famous artists and Roland couldnt balls this one up...im very happy.
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Re: Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby kuroichi » Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:37 pm

I think as a drum machine its quite good. Being digital and lacking outputs etc, I would've liked to see access to deeper synth functions and parameters.

I agree with griffin somewhat in that I think the step keys aren't very good, I would prefer a softer material, similar to the rubber used in the sp303/404 pads. It would've made tap programming a lot better I think. I'm glad they used a 16 step format rather than just adopting MPC pads though.

There arent many actual 'drum machines' nowadays. You often hear people claiming they want a drum machine, but then they always want it to do things and make sounds that drum machines don't really make/do. One of the first things I heard from the new Elektron box was a bass sound, and when I finally heard the percussion from it, I wasn't impressed. In that sense, the TR8 compares well to the rytm and most other new drum machines, as it features a solid sound set that is instantly usable, no messing with sound sculpting etc using limited resources.

I don't fully agree with the TR8 as far as innovation, features, design etc. I think it focuses too much on the 808/909 aspect as a selling point, while the missing song mode/patterns/fill and lack of sequencer features limit it. But having now messed around with one a bit I think that if I did own one, I would end up using it as much as I did my real 808 and 909, so I guess in the end I can't really complain.

If nord made the Nord Drum into a drum machine of nord quality with a solid step sequencer I would never look back, I think thats one the few machines of recent years to have its own character, and one of the few that has really caught my attention sound wise.
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Re: Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby shaft9000 » Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:53 pm

it's pretty simple, really.
this a cost-effective, cheaper version for those that want the form-factor and sound of those two classic machines. if you're a stickler for authenticity, you suck it up and take the vintage chance like always.

the TR-8 is not a 100% accurate reproduction of either unti, by a stretch. Depth-of-field is flattened, cymbals don't sizzle, kicks are boosted, 808toms lost all body, snares lost any dimension. Listen to live Jeff Mills or Ritchie Hawtin work a 909 and try getting that vibe on your TR-8, and post it. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong!
The sequencer is crucial, and it works differently (no track/song mode, accent is strange, A/B copying gone, no trig tracks, etc) so results are hit or miss to a degree. It's not a 1:1 replica; even all the clones are pretty far from that. Variant, yes. Replica, no.
so now there's an alternative that is not a 1:1 replica, but different. and that's OK.
it's no longer cutting-edge so much as an economical, corporate approach to instrument design. This is how Roland has worked since the mid-90s; where every 10 years or so you can expect them to roll out something riding on their x0x past.
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Re: Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby calaverasgrande » Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:38 pm

If I want a crappy vintage drum machine sound a KPR77 is just as vintage as the famous Rolands, and even harder to program! Plus they are much cheaper on the used market, and the kick is retardedly low. (seriously, on mediocre speakers you can barely hear it, on good speakers it will give you woodie).

For ease of use, flexibility and connectivity it is hard to fault a Machinedrum.
Those things are basically a Workstation keyboard in a drum machine.
If anything it is kind of a creativity killer to have a bajillion possible sounds available.
(but I do wish they had better timing settings so I can go bananas with the high hats like I do in a DAW)

The TR8 confuses me.
It's not 'analog' so it won't be scoring any vintage revival points, and it's not a terribly engaging device from a playablitiy point of view with the switches instead of pads, like my KPR77! And let me tell you that arrangement has caused me a lot of cursing!
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Re: Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby Re-Member » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:24 pm

I like how it sounds, but I think it's over priced considering the limited amount of patterns and lack of any kind of Song Mode. The Korg Volca beats can get away with this because it's only $150 and small enough to be a compact module, but with the TR-8 being $500 and as large as it is, it just doesn't cut the mustard for me as a drum machine. I view it more as a "drum instrument" than anything else.
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Re: Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby calaverasgrande » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:43 pm

Re-Member wrote:...and lack of any kind of Song Mode. The Korg Volca beats can get away with this because it's only $150.

seriously? I totally missed that part.
That is pathetic!
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Re: Looking back: assessing the TR8 as A drum machine

Postby princefan3 » Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:07 am

I think a lot depends on how you want to use your drum machines....The TR 8 may not sparkle like a 909
i can hear the differences...Hawtin and co rely on the slightist of sound differences from a drum machine
in order to keep interest going....If used on there own, then the sounds become more of an important factor.

I find that the TR 8 fits in well with other drum machines i want to use and it only takes up 2-3 outs. Alot of sounds get mashed when composing, so it doesnt matter a great deal if i cant hear the hi hats (ringing through ), so long as they are there, the crowd will accept it im sure.
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