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Roland Tr808



roland tr808
audio demo trend price : 2000€
manual demo video sample download comments

Roland Tr808 - Rhythm composer (1980)

Transistor Rhythm maybe the most famous drum machine in the world along with the Tr909 created by the Japanese dream team: Makoto Murio, Matsuoka and Nakamura.

"We all need a 808" do we ? or is it a fashioned crush?

computer controlled drum machine

real time sequencer

info LAPTOP (weight: 5 kg) black case is mainly made out of steel with plastic sides, the machine has superb design in orange and red color gradations.
The main panel is clear with sorted instruments channels on upper part and note entry on the lower. There are 2 buttons, 18 tactile switches 8 switches, 6 encoders pots and 27 knobs.
Back panel terminal connectors: master out with double impedance Low-High, 11 individual outputs jacks, 3 trigger outs (generating +5V pulses) and a double pedal switch input (start and fill)

info Power supply is internal.

info VOICE main core based on a single 4 bits CPU UPD650C-085 special custom Roland (version 0.85) manages 11 transistors analog channels each with own volume for mixing.

info SOUNDS 808 has been used in a lot of hits from dance, pop, rap, rhythm and blues to electro or ambient, still widely sampled modern synths and drum machine! still after many years the BOOM subkick bass can blow up your speakers.
The dark box generates 16 instruments which 8 of them are circuits-shared :

-BD Bass drum with TONE (pitch) and DECAY parameters.
-SN Snare with TONE (pitch) and SNAPPY (filter balancing for white noise).
-LC/LT Low Tom or Low Conga with Tuning
-MC/MT MID Conga or Mid TOM with Tuning
-HC/HT HIGH Conga or High Tom with Tuning
-CL/RS Claves or Rim Shot have no control
-MA/CP Maracas or Claps have no control
-CB Cowbell has no control
-CY Cymbal with Tone and Decay
-OH Open Hihat with Decay
-CH Closed Hihat.
tr808 motherboard

info SEQUENCER holds a maximum of 64 patterns and 768 measures.
There are two ways to enter notes:
- REAL TIME Select an instruments, start the machine and hit TAP button.
- STEP IN Start and push one of the 16 switches steps (it will get illuminated).
Each part is split in A-B segment and the step number adjustable up to 16 * 2 parts then patterns are chained to make a whole SONG.

decay bassdrum

1. Stop the rhythm with the START/STOP button. Set the MODE
selector to PATTERN CLEAR.
2. Select either the A or B Mode (VARIATION) and create a pattern
with the STEP buttons and the VARIATION switches.
3. Press the CLEAR button (little red one under mode selector,
variation LED will flicker.)
4. Set the MODE selector to PATTERN WRITE 1st PART.
5. Press the START/STOP button (Machine will start)
6. Choose the PRE-SCALE (4-way position switch situated above
step buttons)
7. Press the CLEAR button (you have now memorized the scaling)
8. While pressing the CLEAR button, press the key for steps.
9. Choose the instrument with the INSTRUMENT/TRACK selector.
10. Press the steps that are to be programmed
11. Program the other instrument sounds and ACCENT by repeating
steps (9) and (10).
12. Press the START/STOP button when programming has been
quick programming chart

info SYNC internal frequency clock range from 33 to 300 BPM or external sync (5-DINS) Roland Sync-24 system with others compliant machines like Tr606, Mc202 or Tb303.

info MEMORY is non-volatile and needs 1.5V batteries; patterns or songs cannot be saved.

info CLONES, SAMPLES and PLUGINS the 808 still sought-after and have many hardware clones around such as Novation Drumstation, Acidlab Miami, Analog Solution Concussor, Yocto and many more! not to mention hundreds of sample kits recorded in various ways like vacuum preamplifier, compressors or dirty magnetic tapes.

info MODIFICATION rackmounted version and heavy modded with these following new features:

Below you can spot another mighty rack: the Yamaha Tx816


-Midi fitted Midi IN with Velocities and midi OUT for controlling other units.

- CLOCK Can be clocked also to traditional Sync 24 or synched to an external Midi clock.

tr808 motherboard
midi interface (click to zoom in)

inside tr808 repair
check out the Tr808 inside circuit gallery!


Roland Aira 08


Roland Aira 08: announcent in first of 2014 as the new tr808 's successor, digital circuit with modern facilities.



audio demo
the COW bell



A close up look at the Roland TR-808 Roland TR-808 DEMO Roland TR-808/Juno-60
A close up look at the Roland TR-808 Roland TR-808 DEMO Roland TR-808 + Juno-60

tr808 technical data


tr808 flyer


original scan



fun merchandising stuff: (these pics are from the web and unknown authors)

tr808 from ebay


tr808 clock

shirt from ebay

fun pic

tr808 fashion

picture 808




808 sequencer tr808 and tr909 edit tr808


- immortal punchy sound.
- old school myth


- second hand high prices.



"You HAVE to try a 808 once in your life: total love or hate! "

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all snapshots, sounds, texts copyright Polynominal.com / Eric Pochesci

roland tr808 4.5 out of 5 based on 40 ratings. price €2000