Roland R-8 Human Rhythm Composer

Roland R-8 Image

Roland R-8

One of the very best drum machines ever. It has excellent sounds which can be expanded by adding additional sound cards (808 and 909 cards). Great rock, electronic, ethnic and industrial style drumkits! Most of the sounds are editable - tune, decay, attack, nuance, output, etc...

But its coolest tricks are the Feel Patches which give your program a human-like groove! The sounds are ROM based samples, the R-8 has 32 note polyphony, 68 instruments, 100 patterns and 10 songs! The R-8 later became the R-8mkII with more memory and sounds. It is used by Orbital, Underworld, Jimmy Edgar, Autechre, 808 State, Dave Holmes, Fluke, Human League and The Shamen.

Roland R-8mkII Image

Roland R-8mkII

A single-space rack-mount version - the R-8M - was also available. It had no sequencer but it did have the R-8 sounds and the ability to read R-8 expansion sound cards. There were also 8 individual outputs, 12 voices polyphony and 4-part multitimbral MIDI. Later, an mkII model was released with upgraded features and memory (pictured above).

Lookup Roland R-8 Human Rhythm Composer Prices

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50 Visitor comments
Paul H
June 9, 2014 @ 2:15 pm
I Have a R8-M for sale with 3 rom cards; SN-R8-01 Contemporary Percussion; Timbales, Cuica, Timpani, etc., SN-R8-04 Electronic: TR-808, Reverse, Synth Bass etc. and SN-R8-09 Power Drums USA. I am asking $300 for all. I have the original box and manual. It's a wonderful box with excellent sounds. I have been playing guitar a lot and want to invest in a better guitar.
May 27, 2014 @ 7:20 pm
You can buy a power supply from Roland Corporate US. I just ordered one a few weeks ago. However, they told me it was on a 6 week backorder.
May 13, 2014 @ 5:01 pm
Maybe it's the release of the TR-8, but the market seems to have bottomed out for R8s on ebay. I bought one with the 808ish card only 3 years ago for over $400, but you can easily pick R8s up now for under $200. The cards seem to be retaining their values, especially the 808 and 909 type cards (04 "Electronic" and 10 "Dance"). While the TR-8 definitely sounds more authentic than my R8 and has the classic roland sequencer style, the programming and sequencing possibilities of the R8 still make it a very useful and fun machine - don't sleep on the R8!
April 3, 2014 @ 3:08 pm
Bought one back in the summer for $500. A steal if you ask me. Very intuitive and fun to play with.
March 25, 2014 @ 7:32 pm
Roland manuals specs show R8 as Max Voices 32, R8m as 12, and R8 mkII as 12. Confused?
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User Rating

Rated 4.04 (549 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay 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 - 32 voices
  • Sounds - 68 Rom samples
  • Controls - tune, decay, attack, nuance, output, etc...
  • Patterns - 100
  • Songs - 10
  • Arpeg/Seq - Sequencer
  • Keyboard - None
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1989
    R-8 mkII - 1992
  • Resources & Credits
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