The iconic Roland TR-808 drum machine is back! I do not think it is possible to listen to at least one hip hop, dance or pop track within the last few decades that has not incorporated that undeniable lo-fi boom, known as the “808 kick”. Used in a countless number of songs by most of the heavyweight producers over the past 30 years, this drum machine has taken on a life of it’s own. It’s amazing that an instrument that was actually only available during a 4 year window in the early 80s has had such a huge impact on popular music.
Fast forward to the present day and Roland has now resurrected the drum machine as the TR-8. The unit is part of Roland’s new Aira suite of instruments, designed to cater to the electronic musician. Although all of the sounds from the original TR-808 can be found in most software synths and samplers, Roland seeks to target those musicians who choose to channel their inspiration through traditional analog hardware. With a clean, sleek new look, I definitely like the redesign. It’s a fresh take on an iconic instrument while managing to maintain a retro feel.
I do find it peculiar that Roland is only now capitalizing on the popularity and cult-like following of the TR-808. Sales of a used TR-808 have been selling well over $3000 USD on Ebay for years. Latest reports have stated that Roland wanted to time the comeback correctly. Retailing at $499, it seems like the comeback price is affordable, enabling musicians to get started on those beats ASAP.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Derrick Pryce (known as Cantaloupe at Tunefruit) is a music producer and keyboard player based in Atlanta, GA. His current release is entitled Kebomusic Presents: The Experience, which is available on iTunes and Amazon. In addition to music, he is very much interested in technology, entrepreneurship and venture capital. He thinks mixing them all up would be fantastic. For more information, check out www.kebomusic.com.