Roland To Reissue TB-303 And TR-808?

With the NAMM trade show just around the corner, leaked details of Roland’s new product releases hint at models inspired by analogue classics.

Leaked image purporting to show the new Roland AIRA TR-08

Leaked image purporting to show the new Roland AIRA TR-08

A new promotional video and leaked images and model numbers suggest that Roland is set to launch new products based on the legendary TB-303 bassline synth and TR-808 drum machine.

Roland’s official video describes the AIRA as “the evolution of the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Machine” and shows Roland engineers using the TR-808 as a major reference point in the product development process. The video also features other vintage Roland models including the SH-101, TR-909, Space Echo and TB-303.

There have been rumours for months that Roland was set to join Korg in jumping back on board the analogue bandwagon. The Volca series, Monotron/Monotribe range and the reissued MS-20 Mini have all been major successes for Roland’s main rival over recent years.

Roland has traditionally been very reluctant to look back to past glories – and even more reluctant to turn back the clock and begin redeveloping analogue hardware – but there appears to be high demand for official reissues of some of the company’s iconic models.

Our suspicion is that the TR-08 and TB-03 will turn out to be newly developed digital models rather than analogue reissues (the leaked TR-08 image, if genuine, at least shows that the unit will look significantly different to the 808). The video’s assertion that “musicians want new and exciting things so the time has come to take the next step” suggests we’re looking at an evolution of the TR-808 concept rather than an exact replica.

There are also clues elsewhere in Roland’s product range. The Jupiter-80 (which draws on the look and spirit of the Jupiter-8) and GAIA SH-01 (very loosely based on the SH series of analogue monosynths) demonstrate Roland’s current policy of referencing models from the analogue era when naming new digital products. Older producers will also remember the MC-303 way back in 1996, and the disappointment when it turned out not to be the ‘modern TB-303′ many people expected it to be.

So, what’s it to be? Analogue or digital? Expect full details to emerge at NAMM or on Roland Connect and AIRA pages over the coming week.

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  • Date: 15th January 2014
  • Adel Wrote:

    Wooo baby. Now it’s time for a new 909. Repsect&Love for all techno, house heads.

  • Plyphon Wrote:

    If they’re analogue/actually any good, that’ll piss of ALOT of people who have just spent ££££ on ebay for vintage models.

  • djoremi Wrote:

    As exciting as it is to have a replica 808 (already have a x0xb0x) I’d rather they released a new drum machine. Although I realise this would be hard since the 808 was a failure that people adopted. Releasing a machine with 808 sounds would just be nostalgic. I’d love a 909 copy though!

  • Blip Wrote:

    Betting on digital / analog hybrid.

  • Dubluv Wrote:

    If it’s digital they won’t get my money…

  • mcfly Wrote:

    too little too late! where was this 4 years ago when all the “trap” heads were sprung on the sound????

  • Diddly Wrote:

    Traps a fad so I doubt they’re too bothered,,,,,people having been crying out for an 808 re release for longer than that shite has been around,,,,,

  • SoulRay Wrote:

    mmmh, this can’t be 100% analog, too expensive nowadays and if they wanna sell that stuff to the masses ….. roland is a corporation that needs to make profits, so hybrid is likely.. (except they wanna go the Korg way….) imo, all a bit too late after tempest and all the other machines out there in the last years. 808 sounds are only real from a real 808 and making just another copy of that would be a bit, well, boring. but lets see what this machine is supposed to be anyway…..

  • julien Wrote:

    About this one, if the new machine doesn’t contain any really new sequencing features, whatever #analog or #digital, that will be a machine for posers.

  • Megadon Wrote:

    Hope they stick strictly to analog, otherwise its just going to be another total waste of time from Roland.

  • Kyle Wrote:

    I was just about to drop my cash on the acidlab Miami as I can’t pay the going rate for a vintage 808. Why don’t Roland realise that people are crying out for a faithful recreation of the original? And a 909, 303 and Jupiter 8 for that matter. Jorge realised this with the MS20 mini and that’s been out of stock, order only since it came out which makes me think there’s a big demand for original vintage analogue.
    Please Roland, don’t try to make some modern drum machine with the vintage name…. How many times have the Juno or Jupiter names been plastered onto something nowhere near the original, that’s just stupid! If it’s a brand new design it should have a brand new name in my opinion!

  • Veqtor Wrote:

    Agree with Megadon, if it ain’t analog, Roland aren’t getting the point.

  • Nope Wrote:

    We all know what happened in the 90s when they tried releasing the MC-303 and 808. I guarantee you neither will be fully analog, they’ll be sample based. Move along, nothing to see here.

  • Aaron Wrote:

    If they did an honest to god, faithful reissue similar to Korg’s reissue of the MS20, they would make millions. I also don’t mind if it’s a hybrid (the originals were “computer controlled”, don’t forget), as long as the signal path is analog and they remain true to the original filter and sound source designs. The sound is what counts, and if they manage to get that right, they’ll be successful, even if they use DCO’s. What Roland REALLY needs is some good leadership — someone to spearhead product design who has some passion for the products they are designing. As much disdain as I have for the crap Roland has released over the last few decades, I would love for them to regain some of the clout they had in the 70’s and 80’s.

  • Robert Wrote:

    “What Roland REALLY needs is some good leadership — someone to spearhead product design who has some passion for the products they are designing.”

    Perhaps if their new CEO was a former engineer since 1977 who worked on the classic drum machines would be nice? If you think so, then you’re in luck, because that’s who is running the company since April of last year! :)

  • Bing Wrote:

    Roland’s version of Maschine.

  • Emilio Pablo Wrote:

    I bet one of my balls that this is just an usb box (midi controller) for a virtual analog vst drum machine :(

  • Emilio Pablo Wrote:

    btw i hope it’s not. otherwise they are totally retarded. please dont make this nightmare true

  • Kenny Wrote:

    Will probably be same as korg…a couple of analog voices the rest samples..—must besome analog in there specially if they doing 303 thingy too……if its VA only this is the end of Roland…..

  • Jack stereo Wrote:

    Yeah yeah yeah!!!!! I want one! Where do I sign up for a tester or pre-sale! And pleas don’t stop redesigning these wonder machines that are so important to the dance techno and house music… The only thing I like to add: don’t over do the it by making it to ‘new’ electronica and to expensive, please stay true to the Beauty of the analog feel sound of the originals…

  • Huan Sang Wrote:

    This can go multiple ways…
    Doing a complete recreation like Kor
    g with its MS-20 > (as Kenny wrote)
    Mixing all of the vintage in one as with the MPC Renaissance, but they wont do that since there will be
    Or doing something total analog like the DSI Tempest.. But how to call that a Roland TR808? It will have analog voices then, but they will need to be able to sync it up with a computer too, so i will bet my money on that..

    Either way Roland has to find out what the hell everyone wants out of a resurrected piece of equipment. I presume that the Roland team is studying out from this very website. So give your influence..!

  • ross_two Wrote:

    Never forgiven for the disappointment of my 505.

  • ross_two Wrote:

    BUT we should remain positive nevertheless!

  • Fred Wrote:

    808 will be the first of a serie of 8 new products … Soon …

  • Fred Wrote:

    808, 101, 909, 303, space echoes, what are the 3 others ?

  • ELEMENTAL1 Wrote:

    PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!PLEASE BE ANALOG!!!

  • Bought the real 808 new Wrote:

    I do not want to see any displays or COSM or any other 90’s -00’s VA technology. If it has any text on it that says ”Groove” as they did in the 90’s I for one will drop it without even touching it. The Jupiter 80 is a sad VA-synth with a TV i the center, not in any way near what we want.

    We want colours like the real 808 (not black metal and green), SYNC24 in/out, analouge oscillators also on the cymbals, technology that we can re-solder and re-build, 1/4″ jacks, not 1/8′”, knob placement almost exactly like on the real 808, possibly a USB slot on the back so we can save patterns on USB-stick. I’m not shure we even need programmable sounds on such a mid-size drummachine.
    Maybe maybe it’s ok with sample playback to be mixed in with the (atleast two) real VCO’s per sound But then the samples must stay on the unit also when it’s powered off.

    Korg has got it entirely and I hope Roland has it’ eyes and ears open to the ideas beeing discussed here and on other forums.

  • Bought the real 808 new Wrote:

    …and, I forgot
    A fullsize SH-5 with the exact same knob/slider layout but with modern PSU and modern cicuitboards, but still fully analogue would be lovely!
    Build it in a wooden case with toolex, sell as cheap as Korg does and you certainly have my money. Heck I’d buy five and keep using them for the next 30 years.

  • doc breaknik Wrote:

    i had an 808 years ago. .. i was a bit green and didn’t realize i dont use drum sticks until it was too late… gutted

  • ticc Wrote:

    Trap is a Fad that is almost 10 years old that down south 808 style has been around for decades in some form!

  • Alex Wrote:

    It’s shocking that they don’t realize what a gold mine they are sitting on. All they have to do is clone their greatest hits. Convert the circuits to work with surface-mount devices, find modern equivalents of obsolete components, make it 20% smaller, and profit. Analog never died, it just went out of stock.

  • Rich Wrote:

    When they said “musicians want something new and exciting”
    was a giveaway, don’t think it’ll be an 808 clone.

    They’re businessmen, remaking the 808 would be time-consuming and
    expensive they just want a quick product.

  • romain Wrote:

    great, but, please make a new 909 !!!!!!!!!

  • John Wrote:

    Looks like an After eight with knobs on.

    I’m sure it’ll be ok but no competition for the real thing or
    Acidlab miami, MFB etc
    Might be surprised though!

  • ross_two Wrote:

    @ELEMENTAL1 … Not sure I’ve got the message yet!

  • Tony Wrote:

    http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/xq90/541/98qr.jpg

    Look at that picture….they read GearSlutz forum, so they probably know that NO ONE wants another digital machine :D

  • Giani Wrote:

    It must be analog because in the modern times of electronic music there is too much digital machines that don’t have the old school ambience so if it’s digital a lot of people won’t buy it or will be bored very fast

  • J Wrote:

    Why so many comments? Nobody needs this. Some will want it. So what?

  • Chris Wrote:

    ‘Current policy’ Roland have been knocking out digital reissues of thier stuff for over a decade now! SH-32 anybody ?
    This is going to be more crap from Roland if you ask me, with unfinished OS steppy filters etc.
    Just a new generation will fall for it :eyesroll:

  • Chris Wrote:

    @ Tony, the picture means less than nothing, they have their old gear showing in a lot of their promos from years past.

    It will be digital, trust me. If it is then it better sound better than an 808 otherwise nobody will be interested.

  • Analog all the way Wrote:

    only worth it if it’s analog. otherwise just more of what they’ve been doing for the last 15 years. I still remember the mc303. virtual analog doesn’t cut it.

  • Aaron Wrote:

    @Alex Amen, brother! I really do hope a new CEO may bring about a sea change at Roland.

  • Cameron Wrote:

    Analog or digital so what?

  • Analog all the way Wrote:

    @Cameron, so what? There’s a huge difference in the frequency response, and the organic nature of analog electronics which on a big sound system make a big difference, if you’ve owned some analog machines alongside digital virtual analogs you will have heard the difference. if you’re going to use va for the 808 kick you may as well just sample it, it will sound fuller. if you’ve ever used an 808 plugged straight into a 50k system you will know what im talking about. we’ve already got tons of va 808’s. comeon Roland this is ur last chance to prove you can actually listen to people!

  • dobiO Wrote:

    DEAR ROLAND… GIVE US THE REAL DEAL AND GO ANALOG!!!!

  • Cameron Wrote:

    @Analog all the way

    I agree, but i wasn’t talking about VA, look at all the underpriced
    digital equipment like the Yamaha DX, TX series. Just feel people are putting
    their hopes towards overpriced stuff on ebay they can’t afford.

  • Max Wrote:

    Updated leak, hope it’s true !
    “hybrid boxes with analogue onboard in the hardware for kicks, snares and hats and supernatural for other sounds. This all interfaces via USB with the AIRA VST/AU daw app that houses sounds from Roland’s AIRA/AXIAL sites to extend the sound palette.”

  • John Wrote:

    I’m not really sure what supernatural has to offer for 808 emulation. DSP alone without samples can emulate 808 sounds at a decent level…look at d16 nephaton. If you want sample based emulation Transistor Revolution already does that and basically does what supernatural does with kontakt scripts. If you want more authentic acidlabs Miami is good hardware clone. Really the only gap in the 808 market is the high prices for the real thing combined with its decidedly old fashioned (and perhaps charming) lack of customization and midi.

  • Chucky Wrote:

    Don’t worry Roland will find a way to screw it up.

  • Brooks Wrote:

    if it’s just a sample playback unit then YAWN…

    @ Cameron – Yamaha is a bad example, they never made a classic drum machine (RX-5 is not in the same league as an 808, or even an Oberheim DX for that matter). Plus Yamaha flooded the market w/ their FM synths – that’s why they’re so cheap. I agree w/ Analog all the way – you can even hear the difference on a big system between someone using Traktor w/ MP3’s vs. someone playing vinyl (in a DJ set of course). Roland is not doing anyone a favor if they release this as a digital machine because it DOESN’T SOUND THE SAME. and i really hope if they do an analog kick (hybrid machine like 909) that they still stick w/ VCA’s for the sample playback, otherwise it’s still not gonna match their old classics.

  • Jordan Wrote:

    There are several examples that The Digital/Analog debate is moot. Folks love the Nord synths and DSI just released their largest, best beast yet (the Prophet 12) which is mostly digital. I think folks just want it to sound nice.

    “MAKE IT SOUND THE SAME” It will never sound the same, get over it!

  • Cameron Wrote:

    @Brooks

    Was using Yamaha as a cost effective alternative to Synths not
    drum machines. Not disagreeing with anyone about Analog/Digital
    just the hype thats pushing prices up. Nothing wrong with FM synthesis
    think its great, if the markets’ cheap so be it.

  • JOG Wrote:

    Don’t believe the hype!

  • a Wrote:

    i have zero faith this will be worthwhile.

  • r4ar Wrote:

    Analogue or forget it.
    Also, the leaked black and green hardware looks terrible.
    The original 808 looks sweet; black with orange writing and nice colours for the buttons.
    Why change it to something that looks disgusting?
    Very ominous.

  • Uncle David Wrote:

    I am sat here surrounded by analogue gear, some of it is Roland. If Aira is digital (like Boss’ new DS-1X pedal etc) I don’t need it. If it is analogue, it will be my next impulse buy.

  • ching chong Wrote:

    With a quick photoshop level effect, here s what we can see… >

    ROLAND TB-3 (TouchBaseline)
    ROLAND TR-8 ( Rythm Performer)
    ROLAND VT-3 (Voice Transformer)
    ROLAND SYSTEM-1 (Plug-out synthesizer)

    Oh yeah baby!

  • Macgee Wrote:

    I think its a bit late in the day to start praying to Roland as to what technology should go into this. I’m sure they have made their minds up and are quite far advanced into production. I don’t mind if this is D or A but prefer A. If it is D then it will have a tough time competing with Transistor Revolution so it really would have to be amazing.
    In terms of a 303, I am fairly convinced they could pull that off. If you listen to the Plugiator it is capable of some convincing 303 tones without really trying so I’m confident Roland could do this far better. Secondly, if the synth is going to be based on something like a Juno then again I think they could easily recreate it digitally because to my ears 70% of the sound is the chorus. Roland are the only company that have produced digital hardware that has the punch of a real 909 or 808 ala the S770 sampler and V synth so again I think they could get very close with the Aira. I’m personally only interested in an exact clone in terms of sound so wont be investing otherwise.

  • Glen R Wrote:

    Here’s what I find interesting – Universal Audio have made it their business to do, in the main, wonderful digital models of (more) wonderful analogue classics. Even their hardware is recreation of older hardware. And UA are generally venerated in the pro-audio world for the quality of their work, for their attention to detail and for the ever-closer modelling that engineers now have at their fingertips.

    Although I appreciate this is not an exact comparison as Roland are working on *hardware*, there are plenty of analogies and yet the overwhelming response to Roland has been negativity and anger, while not dissimilar UA product announcements are met with waves of excitement.

    I can’t help but feel that if Roland had come to market with a wonderful product – modelling or not – they might have done rather better than attempt this woefully misconceived drip-drip marketing campaign that has clearly backfired for them by raising a million questions that an amazing product would have rendered meaningless.