Roland TR-8S - (New TR-8 with user samples and individual outs)




So I just walked into my local GC and they had one.

Step automation isn’t “per step”. You have to set the automation on the steps before and after

Also, for musical tuning automation, you have to assign Coarse Tuning to the CTRL knob. Essentially giving up whatever else you want to use the CTRL knob for.

Definitely doesn’t sound as robust as the DT or DJS-1000. Kind of thin. Maybe the samples. I don’t know. More will be revealed.


You just have to keep reassigning the CTRL knob


Wow, just those two things halved my interest instantly.
The sequencer video made it look like per step parameter locking, and the pitch thing is lame.


Interesting, it sounds like its very much a fun sketchpad rather than a fully fledged sequencer/production environment. If it’s quick and intuitive I’m still interested but yeah, the CTRL reassigning could get old fast…


It seems primarily intended as a performance instrument. I think the artist demo videos Roland released make that very clear.


You’re right. That’s why it won’t replace my DT but will compliment it. It’s really more a drum machine than a full featured groove box and that’s totally fine.


Have you tried the procedure described on page 16 of the manual (“Recording Knob Movements at Step”)?

I haven’t touched a TR-8S myself yet, and as usual with Roland, the manual isn’t exactly very well written, but it does seem that you can set values per-step as described under “Entering a value at a specified step”.


Yes you’re absolutely right, and I think thats what draws me too it, the simplicity of function. The simplicity looks fun, and thats cool.


One thing I noticed in one of the Roland demos was that a pitch lock seemed to affect steps after as well, it would be good to know how it works. I wondered if ctrl knobs could be assigned, recorded then re-assigned to record a different parameter and it seems to be the case. It is also unclear about how the LFO is implemented - is it a single LFO or per track? Can it be assigned to multiple parameters?

Regardless, the main appeal for me is the apparent ease of handling as a drum machine, in some ways it reminds me of an updated Machinedrum but with some +/-


It works like automation works in a DAW.


Single LFO per kit. Can be assigned (with depth) to a single parameter of your choice for each instrument.


Single parameter per instrument or single parameter across all instruments? From your description I’m thinking the former, right?


Single parameter per instrument. Depth is also unidirectional.

Please note that this is from the manual. Haven’t touched one yet.


No worries, I looked at the manual briefly but wasn’t able to find the info, so thanks :thup:


It is interesting that Roland didn’t “go for the kill” on this one. The only things I think are missing from this that would bring it into Elektron territory for me are:

  • A single LFO for each instrument with an option for event-synced single triggering and additional envelope-like shapes.
  • A way to lock parameters on a step directly from the edit screen without having to assign to a CTRL knob first.
  • A way to play and record chromatically from an external MIDI keyboard.
  • MIDI CC control for all parameters instead of only the knobs on the control surface.

Again, that’s just for me. :slight_smile:


^ Who knows maybe they will add some extra stuff later, they seem to be pretty good at rolling out updates lately and listening to user requests.

Still very tempted by the TR-8S, have the money set aside but holding firm so far, I look forward to getting impressions and demos from users once they get them. One of main the appeals to me Is the number of dedicated controls and overall simplicity, I have plenty of gear that goes deep but it is sometimes at the expense of handling, having said this those extra features should not affect immediacy.
I suspect that if the TR-8S is anywhere near as fun to use as the MX-1 I will have to make some room for one, it certainly looks to be the case.


Well. I guess you have to come at this thing as a huge step above the TR-8. And that’s it.

Rather than, Elektrons do this and therefore I’ll work backwards to the TR-8S. If that makes sense.

It’s light years ahead of the original AIRA. Way behind any Elektron.

I’d say a “fairer” comparison would be to the MD.

With that said. I spent hours jamming on it. It is fun.

But try not to look at it like, Elektrons can do this. Why can’t the AIRA do that.

Finally, their onboard samples suck. I need to get a SD card and load my own samples. It doesn’t come with one.

It’s VERY Roland. Awesome concept. Weird implementation.


And the per step automation on the 8S works the same as it does on the SE 02.

Anyone remember when “per step” automation was introduced in NI’s Maschine? Yea. It’s like that. NI has since updated how all that works. Doubt Roland will do the same.

You can live automate any knob on the box. Per step is limited to Tune, Decay, and CTRL. CTRL can only have automation for 1 assigned parameter.

If there was a way to convert tuning that goes from -128 to 128 to tuning in semitones, you could write in melodies AND have the CTRL assigned to something else.


^ To be honest a better TR-8 is fine by me, updated and complete set of ACB sounds and hands on control, better sequencing than the original are the main appeal for me, I love those sounds.

The sample playback does not at the moment matter to me (although not had hands on it yet) as I’d see myself mainly using it for legacy x0x drum machine stuff anyway, still it will be fun to load in some Linn, DMX and other legacy beatbox sounds too, for synth/melodic stuff not sure if that is much use, but I guess we will find out soon enough.