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


yeah when did the whole trend start to remove song mode/saving pattern chains on groove boxes anyways? because theyre on like every damn box of yesteryear. only i dont want something that sounds like garbage and is about to break down on me.

basically, what’s your solution for me? and not beat buddy


The MPC Live sounds good, can load any good sound you want, and has both pattern and song mode. Patterns themselves can even have near infinite bars (999). Songs themselves can be looped or chained.


I think it stems from the fact that most people use DAWs these days, and it gives electronic musical instrument manufacturers that excuse as a justification to not include song mode/arranger. Whilst personally I seldom use song mode/arranger I’d prefer that it was an option for those times when I did want to use it, and one of the reasons that I seldom use it is because often it is implemented so poorly that it is quicker (in my case, not gigging, recording at home) to do a few takes manually changing patterns than to fiddle around in some non-realtime list changing numbers then listen back every few edits.

Having said this, the Octatrack has one of the better arrangers, a little fiddly but not terribly so, and it is a current model, reliable, sounds great and is a flexible machine in lots of ways.


Check out the Deluge. Could be just the fix for you.


Some early observations:

  • Physically, it feels smaller than I expected. At 41 by 26 cm it has a pretty substantial footprint compared to something like a Digitakt, but it’s rather slim, and the bottom indent (is that the right word?) at the front and sides makes it look even slimmer. This indent also makes it very comfortable to pick up and move around.
  • It looks nice and appears to be a solid piece of kit. Controls all feel good with just the right amount of resistance for the knobs and faders. I like the slightly rubberised feel of the fader caps.
  • The control layout is excellent. I can’t think of a single thing that could be improved in terms of sizing, spacing, position, and labelling. They must have spent a serious amount of time on the design; I’d love to see the various iterations they went through.
  • The workflow for setting up and editing a kit with the encoder feels a bit awkward. At its most positive, it has a certain late 80’s to early 90’s hardware charm. In general, there’s a distinct duality between the top right controls (display, encoder, and the 3 rows of buttons below it), and all the other controls on the unit.
  • Once you have a kit set up to your liking, the workflow is very fluid. Jamming on this box is a hell of a lot of fun. I didn’t really see the point of those faders when the TR-8 first came out. Now I do.
  • Sounds great. The effects are convincing and the filter in the sample engine seems fine as well. The included sample content is usable, but not spectacular. I’d rather have seen more percussion samples and less effects and vocal phrases.
  • Maybe it’s a matter of getting used to things, but having to explicitly write patterns and kits and having to explicitly import user samples feels unnecessarily complex and convoluted. Nothing is stored on the SD card unless you explicitly import from or export to it, or unless you backup to or restore from it. Elektron has very little to fear from Roland in this regard.


Nice write up - the hands on control especially of the delay look really great.

Hopefully it is easy enough to delete all the crap samples.


All the hands-on control is really well thought-out. It’s kinda like they distilled the most important knobs and faders of a compact hardware setup with a mixer and a few effect units into a single box.

You can’t delete them, but they’re not really in the way.


Pretty much all my observations as well.

But seriously. It’s crazy how fast you can get an idea down and make 7 other variations of it.

I think it’s a great bit of kit, but after the idea is programmed, I slow way down with trying to p-lock melodies, save shit, SWITCH PATTERNS AND KITS, etc.

I’m taking several steps back though and just jamming in that early phase. Once I get out of that, I get frustrated. Making music shouldn’t be frustrating :slight_smile:


Yeah, I know. OTOH, all tools are frustrating in some way.

I think we’ll need to see this primarily as a nice drum machine highly optimized for performance. We shouldn’t get too distracted by all the possibilities the sample support could potentially offer; it’s never going to be a very comfortable box to program more complex melodic parts into.

EDIT: I’m planning to hook it up to a DAW (Bitwig in my case) and record performances one I have a few kits and patterns in there. I have a feeling doing edits there might be the best way to get to finished tracks. Or maybe I’ll throw in the DT. Who knows?



It’s almost like, Roland listened. Great! Well. This is what you asked for with all these extra features.

Granted, Roland could’ve probably implemented some of them more elegantly.


That kind of sucks, can you, once you have your own samples loaded, skip past all the dross?

It dumfounds me when they put gimmick samples in a machine, it is not like anyone Is going to use them, same for preset patterns, leave them on the toy keyboards where they belong.


There is an option in the utility menu for patterns and kits to be autosaved, so you don’t have to explicitly write them.


SHIFT + scroll gets you where you want to go fast. Go straight to Imports

Also, I use the onboard samples. The preset patterns also provide me some inspiration. I’ve learned a lot about programming from presets. I’ve found the in-house people making them are sometimes producers I look up to.


I’m fine with no song mode, but would like to be able to change patterns with a MIDI footcontroller.

Can’t the factory samples be replaced by swapping out the SD card? Or are they burned into ROM like the Octatrack’s demo mode samples?


What @djadonis206 said.

Most of the samples are perfectly usefull. It’s just that I would have preferred more percussion samples instead of those in the FX_HIT and VOICE categories. But that’s just a personal preference and who the fuck am I?

The preset kits and patterns are good and a great way to learn what the box can do. YMMV, but I think we have come a long way since the MC-303; most boxes these day come with really decent stuff that shows off what can be done and that you can get rid off easily.


Thanks! I totally overlooked that.


Now it suddenly makes sense; you can enable Auto Save when you’re working on producing new kits and patterns and disable it when you’re using the box for performance to make sure you always get back to the same state when you turn it on.


It’s all internally. The SD card is only used for transfer and backup. You don’t need to have a card inserted to use the box at all.


Yeah, I can see why preset patterns are in there, but if they can’t be deleted scrolling through can be a ball ache. It is enough to put me off buying one if they can’t be deleted.

When I got my electribes it took about 20 minutes to delete all the presets from it, IIRC I had to overwrite them all manually with a blank pattern.


SHIFT is your friend


Clearing patterns is fast. Initializing all kits is going to take a while…