Roland, drum machines, the TR8 & the 707…

Roland know drum machines. It’s quite difficult to think of a series of instruments more iconic across – and in some cases responsible for – myriad genres of electronic music than the Roland TR-xxx drum machines.

From the kick of the 808 to the clap of a 909, Roland drum machines have provided the rhythm – and in plenty of cases the lead – for boundary pushing track after track. With the release of the Roland TR8 earlier this year, those sounds became accessible to those who couldn’t justify spending thousands on an original unit.

While it has been the 808 and 909 that have taken the lion’s share of the glory, their stablemates also justify a bit of the fame…

Roland Aira TR8 707 727

One of the nice things about the 707 is that it perhaps sounds less distinctive than the 808 and 909. The 707 just gets on with the job of being a great workhorse drum machine, without listeners thinking ‘oh, that’s an 808’, for example. The 727 on the other hand, that’s a little bit more obvious, but it’s great fun, and certainly adds a lot of carnival flavour!

To get to grips with them, we threw together a quick demo track using just the sounds of the 707, 727, and a couple of 303-style plugins in Ableton Live. You can tell where the 727 kicks in…

The Roland TR-707 and TR-727

Introduced in 1984, the Roland TR-707 differed from the analogue synthesis used in the 808 and 909 by using digital samples for all of its fifteen sounds. While the 707 might not have the kudos of the 808 and 909, it was still just as much of a house music staple.

And acid house in particular. Something that is very convenient, as it gives us a chance to post this again:

And let’s not forget its sibling, the TR-727. In pretty much the same box, just with a natty blue colour scheme rather than the orange of the 707, the 727 let you add some tasty latin percussion sounds to your range of drum sounds.

Let’s take a listen…

The TR-707 and 727 inside your TR8!

If you’ve been following the Roland Aira range, you’ll have seen that the System-1 synthesiser isn’t only a great synth in its own right, it’s also growing, with a range of expansions to emulate classic gear; the first of these being the SH-101.

Since the release of the TR8, we had been wondering if the analogue circuit behaviour modelling technology would allow expansion with additional sounds in the same way.

We now have our answer. It can. On the 19th December, head on over here, and the sounds of the TR-707 and 727 can make their way onto your TR8 for only £60, a fraction of the price of tracking on down on your favourite online auction site.


We have the 707 and 727 sounds ready to try on our demo TR8, so come down and get vintage drum tweaking!

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Fynn Callum

producer, guitarist, engineer & dj
From indie guitarist to deep house producer via Northern Soul dj; mix engineer, producer and gear enthusiast. Jaffa Cake aficionado.

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