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
July 23, 2013 @ 3:31 pm
@bob: Those sample cards are ROM... No batteries inside. Unlike the M256 or M512 RAM-cards. They contain a battery which needs replacement after a while. But that's easily done..
June 27, 2013 @ 8:50 am
I have a Roland R8. It's been on the attic for at least a decade and I pulled it out today. It's still in very good condition but the only problem is that it hasn't been powered on since I put it on the attic. The battery drained ofcourse. I powered it on and things parts of the LCD screen light up but that's all it does. Since the battery drained I imagine the software dissapeared. Does anybody have and hints/tips/help where I could find solutions in order to get my R8 to work again?
June 21, 2013 @ 9:52 am
I'm wondering how long the cards will last? I have the dance, electronic and metallic percussion cards - they must be 20 years old! Surely there's a battery inside that will eventually run dry, and these don't look like they are designed to be opened.
March 6, 2013 @ 3:44 pm
Rkyo - Exactly what kind of "old synths" are filling up your garage? You know, a good many people still appreciate vintage synths. Rather than letting your vintage synths rot in a cold, damp garage, you might considering letting them go on Ebay. Synths are meant to be played. Don't let yours die a useless, needless, slow & lonely death....just because they're old. I'm sure there are people who would be willing to give them a nice, new home, with all the tender love & care they deserve. Plus, with the money you make by selling them, you could buy more "software", computers, VST & what not.
elroy weebler
August 23, 2012 @ 9:37 pm
frankly, the first time roland ever got a drum machine exactly right (especially considering their long history making rhythm boxes and such) in terms of sounds, ease of programming, and flexibility. all of that beloved 80's punch with none of the graininess. no wonder so many people are still using them. human feel is a great idea that's missing from today's drum machines. i've got a couple cards for mine (one has 909 samples, saving me from having to use the 808 samples already built into the machine) but if you're fortunate enough to have the mark 2 r8, all the rom card sounds are included.
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Rated 4.03 (545 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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