Roland TR-8S Drum Machine


93 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

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Roland TR-8S Rhythm Performer
Roland TR-8S Rhythm Performer

Meta Analysis Overview

Our rating of 93/100 is based on analysis of 175+ sources comprised of online reviews and discussions. Under the Pros and Cons headings below you'll find a condensed analysis of what those owners and users have been saying. Feel free to ask questions or add your thoughts in the comments section.

Gearank High Notes

  • March 2019: Equal Highest Rated Drum Machine

The Roland drum machine legacy was not off to a good start with the commercial failure of the TR-808 in 1980.

Only 12,000 of the original TR-808 unit were shipped.

Eventually, producers everywhere picked up the little machine for cheap and it started a revolution.

There are more hit records done on a TR-808 than any other drum machine like Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" and Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" among others.

While the TR-808 has been long discontinued, Roland's latest incarnation of these legacy machines comes in the form of the TR-8S. Not to be confused with its predecessor the TR-8, the Roland TR-8S is more than just an upgrade.

It sports a large library of classic and modern drum sounds as well as having the ability to load up your own samples. All this in a streamlined mix of old and new school.


  • Large collection of classic TR series drum machine sounds available
  • WAV and AIFF sample Support via SD card slot
  • 150 factory samples
  • Up to 600 seconds total time for all samples at 44.1kHz
  • Built-in audio interface direct multitrack recording to your DAW
  • 8 analog audio outputs allow numerous routing options


Many of the reviewers note that the user friendly interface enables them to spend less time trying to learn the machine and more time enjoying the creative process. The ease of use is at no cost to depth as the reviews for the TR-8S show it to be as simple or as complicated as they choose. Users who are accustomed to both analog and digital workflows rank the TR-8S with consistently high marks.


While already feature-rich, one user notes that it still isn’t quite up to par with the sounds of a vintage 808 or 909. Another user wants to have the ability to record their own samples with the device as opposed to only being able to load them. Another gripe is that the TR-8S does not have a song mode.


With vintage TR-808 and TR-909 units reaching the $4000 mark, the TR-8S is not only a great alternative, it one-ups the originals in terms of flexibility and functionality. Earning near-universal praise from users makes the TR-8S one of our top picks for those who want a taste of vintage without breaking the bank.