Today, Roland announced it has brought back its iconic drum machine, the TR-808, for its Boutique line. The new iteration, now called the TR-08, is a “detailed and faithful replica” of the original, updated in a more compact size with a few new features.
In addition to all the TR-808’s original functionalities, the TR-08 has added some tweaks. The new Boutique version now has a track-selectable trigger for working with additional instruments and modular gear, an LED display for greater control over tempo and shuffle, the ability to control compression / gain / tune with instruments, and an increased number of sequencer sub-steps to 16 for detailed drum patterns and rolls. The TR-08 can be powered by battery or USB, supports audio and MIDI over USB, and has a built-in mini speaker.
Roland’s TR-08 joins the rest of their Boutique line, including the TR-09 and TB-03, which replicate the TR-909 and TB-303, all re-created with mobility and affordability in mind. Though the TR-08 is physically smaller than its predecessor — with a width of 12 1/8 inches and a depth of only 5 1/8 inches — it’s a near-exact homage to the TR-808 from the colors used, the shape of its sequencer buttons, and of course, the re-creation of the instrument’s original sounds.
In 2014, Roland released the TR-8 Rhythm Performer, and while it included the original 808 sound bank, it was more of a “spiritual successor” to the TR-808 instead of a reissue or re-creation.
The TR-808, which was only manufactured from 1980 to 1983, is arguably one of the most impactful pieces of modern music hardware, having influenced the formation of hip-hop, trap, Miami bass, acid house, and Detroit techno. When it first emerged on the market, it received mixed reviews and was considered a commercial failure as its analog circuitry didn’t create the “traditional” drum sounds most were used to working with. Over the years, as musicians began to experiment with the TR-808, the machine’s sonic hallmarks, from its sharp snare to powerful bass, became ubiquitous, heard on songs like Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock,” and Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown.”
The TR-08 is estimated to be available in September, and although Roland doesn’t specify a price on its website, stores are taking preorders for the unit at £339 ($440).