Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer

Roland TR-808 Image

The TR-808 is a classic drum machine that uses analog synthesis to create its sounds. The sounds have a very pure quality and are closer to the sound of the CR-series of Roland drum machines, as opposed to its popular successor, the TR-909. The TR-808 has become the signature beatbox used in most R&B and hip-hop as well as a lot of dance and techno music. Booming bass kicks, crispy snares and a distinctive cowbell sound made famous in the 1980's are all part of the 808 and its famous sound.

Its 16 drum sounds include the famous boomy 808 kick, snare, low/mid/high toms, low/mid/high congas, rimshot, claves, hand clap, maracas, cowbell, cymbal, open hi-hat, closed hi-hat and accent. Most of the sounds can be edited. Bass Drum and Cymbal (tone, decay), Snare (tone, snappy), Toms and Congas (tuning), Open Hat (decay). All sounds have individual volume controls and individual outputs. Unfortunately it was not MIDI equipped but it did use Roland's DIN Sync.

The TR-808 was OK in its time—it just didn't sound like real drums. When the Linn Drum machines appeared, the 808 seemed doomed. But its unique sound and analog allure have allowed it to find a long-lasting home in many forms of music. Ultimately, the 808 has become one of the more important and famous drum machines in the history of music, spawning imitators (ReBirth, DrumStation) as well as band names (808 State).

Roland TR-808 Image

Famous users include Orbital, Überzone, Download, Aphex Twin, 808 State, BT, Bomb The Bass, Sense Datum, The Prodigy, Josh Wink, Faithless, Skinny Puppy, Bushflange, Jimi Tenor, A Guy Called Gerald, Eat Static, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Edgar, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Freddy Fresh, Richie Hawtin, Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, Cocteau Twins, Marvin Gaye, Luke Vibert, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, the Beastie Boys, Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), and Puff Daddy.

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48 Visitor comments
mbv
December 30, 2008 @ 12:39 pm
& the prescription is: more cowbell!!

At any rate, no other drum machine can touch the 808 though they have tried & tried!!
wet lettuce
November 22, 2008 @ 10:11 pm
'nothing sounds like an 808'
Yes beasties that's true.
it's all about that booming kick...you can keep the rest..oh ok i'll keep the cowbell too.
kenny
November 22, 2008 @ 7:23 pm
dj scott larock used this machine on criminal minded alblum let us get back to what we call hip hop and what it ment to dj scott larock
Esmat Outim
November 15, 2008 @ 5:32 pm
it's all about the cowbell
Mark Pauley
November 4, 2008 @ 2:28 pm
The Estimated value given (400 - 900) is way off here. The 808 is pretty rare these days, and to get one in mint condition you'll probably pay twice that much on ebay. Still, 1500 - 2000 US for one of these things is TOTALLY worth it, provided that you maintain the unit properly.
I A-B'ed mine with a Machine Drum (elektron) and the 808 wins in the sound category HANDS DOWN. When an 808 is in good condition, it's the cleanest, earth-shaking drum synth you've ever heard. Nothing sounds quite as good!
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 12 voices
  • Sounds - Kick, Snare, Low/Mid/Hi Toms, Low/Mid/Hi Congas, Rimshot, Claves, Hand clap, Maracas, Cow bell, Cymbal, Open hihat, Closed hihat, Accent
  • Effects - Auto fill-in
  • Patterns - 64
  • Songs - 12
  • Arpeg/Seq - Sequencer
  • Keyboard - none
  • Control - DIN SYNC IN/OUT
  • Date Produced - 1981-84

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