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).

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50 Visitor comments
October 25, 2008 @ 11:44 pm
ha! I sold ,ime in about 96 - and found myself fretting so badly over losing it I went out and bought another when the financial crisis was over!

Great machine! Still use it a LOT - especially with the brush card on board - Fantastic piece of kit.
October 22, 2008 @ 7:49 pm
I take that back, the surface area of the r8 is FOUR times greater tha the sr-16
October 16, 2008 @ 11:46 am
I got one for a couple hundred dollars at auction this year. So far I love it. One thing that is misleading about the pictures you see online is the size of the machine. It will take up your entire lap, it takes up twice the surface area that an alesis sr-16 does.

I have the electronic (808) card, and I love the sounds. One criticism about this particular card is that the kick doesn't "punch" as hard as an original 808 would. But I really wouldn't sweat it because this criticism would only come from someone who actually had an original 808 and they would most likely be biased and not want to admit that you could get an equivalent sound out of a machine that didn't cost 1000+. Regardless, the electronic card is nice.

I want a dance card bad, but it seems as if no one has put any on ebay lately. The Jazz brush and Ethnic ROM cards top off the list of most popular ROMS for the machine.
Joseph H.
September 22, 2008 @ 1:38 am
Super cool drum machine for the era. I think I paid around $800.00 for it new up at some North Hollywood music shop that was big into electronic gear at the time. One draw back was that you could only use one expansion card at a time. The sound quality is very good for the time and it has some of the best 808 and 909 samples even to this day.
September 19, 2008 @ 2:36 pm
According to some sources this drum machine was used by Dead Can Dance back in the 80's.
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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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