TR-808 DRUM MACHINE
It’s hard to believe that a drum machine from 1980 would still be celebrated today by lovers of culture, music, and design. But thanks to forward-thinking producers and enthusiastic club-goers, the TR-808 has truly endured, becoming a staple sound in hip-hop and its many sub-genres — even going so far as to get regularly name checked in lyrics.
THE 808 STORY
FOUR DECADES, ONE SOUND CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF THE TR-808 DRUM MACHINEExplore
GR-300 and G-202
GUITAR SYNTH SYSTEM
The world’s first polyphonic guitar synthesizer, with an instantly recognizable sound.
The Jupiter-8 is an eight-voice, polyphonic, analog subtractive synthesizer. As Roland’s flagship polysynth, it was renowned for its rich analog voices, capable of producing lush pads and otherworldly leads. Its diverse sonic range, dedicated controllers for each sound parameter and advanced keyboard made it a favorite with the pop stars and stadium-fillers of the time.
The TB-303 is a machine like no other. With an unmistakable sonic signature brimming with warmth, energy and character, the iconic silver box defined the acid house movement of the late 1980s. Widely misunderstood when launched in 1981, the true revolution began several years later when electronic music producers rediscovered the quirky box, unleashing the hypnotic, liquid sound that captivated a generation.
THE 303 STORY
DJ PIERRE, THE ROLAND TB-303, AND THE ACID HOUSE REVOLUTIONExplore
JOIN THE CELEBRATION
SNEAK PREVIEWS & MUCH MORE.
The Drumatix heralded a vision of futuristic compact electronic playthings. Yet, the world wasn’t ready—at least, not at first. Designed to work alongside the TB-303 Bass Line (maybe the original “drum and bass”) both units had a shared aesthetic and layout, although it wasn’t until later that the dynamic duo would find success.
HISTORY / STORIES
Drumatix: The Perpetual Appeal of the TR-606
“The TR-606 endures thanks to its crisp, punchy sound, as well as trigger capabilities and extensive mods. Find out why it remains a classic.”
This 6-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer used a Digitally Controlled Oscillator (DCO) per voice to generate sound. Built-in chorus effects increased the range of sounds that could be produced, and a Key Transpose feature was also included. Still in demand to this day thanks to the classic JUNO warmth.
Stylish and advanced, the SH-101 ran on batteries and you could wear it! In a decade dominated by outlandish fashion, the SH-101 was designed for posing on stage. Bizarre hairstyle and makeup optional – and that was just for the guys.
An upgraded JUNO-6 with memories to save and recall up to 56 sounds. Roland’s DCB interface exchanged control information with external devices, pre-dating the MIDI specification that was announced the following year.
HISTORY / STORIES
Sound Behind the Song: “Take On Me” by a-ha
Talk about ‘80s music, and a-ha’s era-defining hit single “Take On Me” comes to mind. Get the story of this classic and the JUNO-60’s role.
Within the realms of house and techno, it’s almost certain that the TR-909 has powered more tracks and live performances than any other drum machine. The 909 is for everyone who loves dance music—whether you’re at an open-air festival, an underground club or in the depths of the studio, cooking up the sounds of tomorrow.
THE 909 STORY
HOW A DRUM MACHINE BECAME THE SONIC SIGNATURE FOR HOUSE AND TECHNOExplore
This MIDI-equipped synth was the first Roland polysynth with a sequencer. The optional PG-200 controller offered extensive sound-shaping options, and the JX-3P found it’s way onto many recordings from ‘83 onwards. (See “Axel F” from Beverly Hills Cop).
The MIDI standard was a collaboration between Sequential Circuits and Roland. Prior to 1983, it wasn’t easy to make electronic musical instruments talk to each other, and so the MIDI protocol sparked a revolution that forever changed the way music was made. Legend has it that the first ever connection between two MIDI-equipped instruments was between a JUPITER-6 and a Prophet 600.
A renowned rack-mount digital delay – in the words of Steve Vai: “Roland came out with the finest digital delays that I believe have ever been made – the SDE-3000. I was 24 at the time and saved to purchase two of them.”
BOSS DD-2 / DIGITAL DELAY
The world’s first compact digital delay pedal.
BOSS TU-12 / CHROMATIC TUNER
The world’s first automatic chromatic tuner.
The third of the Juno range, this six-voice subtractive analogue synth cost $1095 when launched, and even had a fairly comprehensive MIDI implementation (for the time anyway, and especially for an analogue synth).
Released simultaneously, the orange-accented TR-707 was chock full of acoustic drum samples like kicks, snares, hi-hats, and toms. By contrast, the blue-emblazoned TR-727 came loaded with Latin percussion sounds—think bongos, congas, agogos, and maracas. Each featured fifteen PCM percussion samples and could play ten sounds simultaneously.
Roland’s first guitar synthesis system with MIDI.
OCTAPAD PAD-8 / PERCUSSION PAD
ALPHA-JUNO 1 / SYNTH
ELECTRONIC DRUM KIT
The Alpha Drum system was a precursor to V-Drums and was built around the six-part DDR-30 sound module with 48 high-quality PCM sampled sounds. The MIDI-enabled module then hooked up to an array of triangular-shaped PD-10 and PD-20 drum pads which attached to conventional drum hardware.
An upgraded version of the JX-3P, the JX-8P analog synthesizer featured 6-voice polyphony and two DCOs per voice. A separately sold PG-800 sound programmer was also available.
The RD-1000 featured a new technology called Structured/Adaptive Synthesis, which could convincingly recreate a range of acoustic and electronic pianos. The RD-1000 paved the way for Roland’s highly popular digital piano ranges.
SUPER JX JX-10
Well ahead of its time, the D-50 combined samples and synthesis, resulting in sounds that ranged from warm analog to dynamic acoustic and cutting-edge digital; all given a wonderful spacious sparkle by the integrated digital effects. D-50 preset patches such as “Fantasia” and “Calliope” showcased the potential of LA synthesis and, along with many others, became signature sounds for some of the biggest pop hits of the era (and continue to be used by artists today).
The rack-mountable S‑550 Sampler had 1.5Mb memory and new Time Variant Filters (TVF). The S-Series had some great sample libraries, some of which were free, and the ability to connect a color monitor and a mouse for easy menu navigation.
A History of Roland Samplers
MIDI PERCUSSION SYSTEM / FORERUNNER OF V-DRUMS
GP-8 / MULTI EFFECTS PROCESSOR
Eight classic BOSS guitar pedals, in a single rack-mounted unit.
MT-32 / SOUND MODULE
Roland’s first multi-timbral sound module.
E10 / E20
Guitar Multiple Effects
As sampling became more affordable and entered the production mainstream, the W-30 workstation combined Roland’s S-series sampling, a PCM synth engine, and a sequencer. The W-30 is best known for being used by Liam Howlett of Prodigy, on all the group’s records up to The Fat Of The Land. Hip-hop producers took to the W-30 too, especially Erick Sermon of EPMD and DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia.
COMPUTER MUSIC SYSTEM
A cross-platform system of sound modules for computers that included the CM-32P, CM-32L, and CM-64 sound modules, LAPC-1 internal synthesizer card, and various external control modules.
Digital Guitar Sound System