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

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

Related forum topics


Are you looking to buy or sell a Roland R-8 Human Rhythm Composer? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

50 Visitor comments
June 2, 2011 @ 12:47 pm
I bougth brand new, very good Rom cards, I used it for about 5 years and then bought the rack mount version. Now live I could have a possibillity of 4 different card sounds. I had a whole lot of sounds available, So what I did was put my Bass drum on 1 channel, My Snare's on 1 ect,So Live I could control each sound. And all of my sequencing tracks had a different kit, In the end what I did is use my R-8 as a controller to record pattern in my sequencer, tweek it a little and voila! no need for memory in the R-8. Unfortunatly the button are in rough shape I guest I'm a too aggresive Drummer!
May 17, 2011 @ 4:55 pm
hey darcy contact me @
i own a r8m and have great results using it via midi control

Endless Shame
May 6, 2011 @ 4:28 am
@Darcy Chubbs
Tried this? :
www.endlessshame .com
Darcy Chubbs
April 26, 2011 @ 11:14 pm
I am aware that it is against the rules to request help but if anyone can direct me to a good source of information for the rackmount R8M version of this unit I would be much obliged. Perhaps there are other users who might benefit from knowing this information as well. I want to use mine as a sound module for my midi file player. Thank you
March 19, 2011 @ 11:44 am
They forgot model 500
VSE Rating


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
  • Images from

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.