Roland R-8

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Roland R-8
Roland R-8 human rhythm composer.jpg
Roland R-8 Human Rhythm Composer
Dates1989 - 1996
Technical specifications
Polyphony12 voices [1]
Synthesis typeROM
Storage memory32 Preset Patterns, 100 User – Patterns, Maximum number of bars : 99, Memorized Data : Velocity / Pitch / Decay / Nuance / Pan / Micro Timing
External controlStart / Stop Jack, Value Jack, Tape Sync In Jack, Tape Sync Out Jack

The R-8 Human Rhythm Composer is an electronic drum machine introduced in 1989 by Roland Corporation, using PCM voices. The R-8 features velocity- and pressure-sensitive trigger pads, and the ability to create loops of beats. The device has eight individual outputs, 12-voice polyphony, and four-part multitimbral MIDI.

The R-8 has one RAM memory card slot for saving user-created patterns and songs, and one slot for PCM ROM cards to augment the internal sound banks.

The R-8M is a rackmount version of the R-8, lacking the trigger pads and the sequencer capability, but with three front-facing ROM card slots. These sound libraries may be accessed simultaneously. This device was available from 1989 through 1994. The rack version has fewer individual outputs: 6 instead of 8.[2]

In 1992, Roland released a second version of the R-8 drum machine, the R-8 MKII. This version offers greatly expanded memory. The ROM went from 67 to 199 samples.[3] It brought onboard content from the PCM cards SN-R8-01, SN-R8-02, SN-R8-09, SN-R8-10 and most of the 808 samples from SN-R8-04, while losing 22 of the MK1 samples. Another 16 samples from the MK1 returned in a slightly modified version with another name. A minor omission on the MKII is the absence of the Space Invaders boot screen. This device was discontinued in 1996.

Roland also released a trimmed-down version of the R8 in the form of the Roland R-5, which had fewer sounds and features than the R-8[4]

PCM sound cards[edit]

Known Roland ROM cards, each containing 26 samples:[5]

  • Roland SN-R8-01 - Contemporary Percussion
  • Roland SN-R8-02 - Jazz Brush
  • Roland SN-R8-03 - Sound Effects
  • Roland SN-R8-04 - Electronic (Contains 11 TR-808 samples)
  • Roland SN-R8-05 - Jazz
  • Roland SN-R8-06 - Ethnic Percussion
  • Roland SN-R8-07 - Mallet
  • Roland SN-R8-08 - Dry
  • Roland SN-R8-09 - Power Drums U.S.A.
  • Roland SN-R8-10 - Dance (Contains 6 TR-909 and 10 CR-78 samples)
  • Roland SN-R8-11 - Metallic Percussion

Notable Users[edit]


  1. ^ "Roland R-8 Owner's Manual".
  2. ^ "Roland R-8M Owner's Manual".
  3. ^[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ Lord, Nigel (July 1989). "Roland R5 (MT Jul 1989)". Music Technology (Jul 1989): 14–16.
  5. ^ "ROLAND SN-R8 "Roland R8 sound cards" cartes de sons pour R-8/R-…".
  6. ^ "Dreamworld, by Keith Marquis".
  7. ^ "Colin Towns: Behind The Mask". Sound On Sound. April 1997. Archived from the original on 6 June 2015.
  8. ^ "N-Trance: Do You Think I'm Sexy?". Sound On Sound. December 1997. Archived from the original on 10 January 2012.
  9. ^ "Roland R-8 | Vintage Synth Explorer".

Further reading[edit]