Video: Roland Revives Classic TR808 and SH101 with New Boutique Modules

Today, August 8th — also known as "808 Day" — marks the announcement of two new products from Roland.

At long last, after years of fan requests, theories, and conjecture, Roland is bringing back the all-time classic 808 drum machine in the form of the TR-08 Boutique Series module. If this announcement wasn't enough to send waves through the synth community, Roland has also announced the SH-01A, a boutique recreation of the popular SH-101 mono synth.

Both products fit into Roland's growing Boutique Series, sliding in alongside modern versions of several other Roland classics like the TR-09 and TB-03, which replicate the TR-909 and TB-303, respectively.

Take a look at the video above for a quick sampling of both new modules playing in tandem, and dig the individual demo videos below for more specs and details on each.

Roland TR-08 Boutique Module

Most of you reading this undoubtedly recognize the 808 as the single most important and influential drum machine ever built. Reams of articles exist paying tribute to the history and legacy of this instrument, with name drops continuing to crop up in today's top 40. The 808 has been used by everyone from Marvin Gaye to Kanye West and has provided the sonic foundation to several distinct musical genres along the way.

Today, 808 replications — especially in software form — are commonplace. But the TR-08 Boutique Module marks Roland's first direct replication of the original, which was only built from 1980 to 1983.

The AIRA TR-8, released in 2014, incorporated the original 808 sound bank, but this drum machine was really more of a continuation or reimagination of the 808 legacy than a genuine reissue.

The new TR-08 module does differ from the '80s 808 in size and format and includes a few new features like individual compression control on different sounds. While it's a digital replication and not a true analog machine like the original and lacks the individual outputs for each part, it's still as close to a true reissue as we've seen.

Roland SH-01A Boutique Module

While less widely known that the ubiquitous 808, the SH-101 is revered among analog synth enthusiasts for it’s warm tone, portability and ease of use.

Mostly celebrated for its use as a bass synth, the SH-101 was originally manufactured in a variety of colors with a simple layout that made it a popular choice both in the '80s and with newfound synth heads in recent years.

Like the original, the SH-01A module packs a 100-step sequencer, but adds the ability to save and recall patterns. It also ups the voice count from one to four using Roland's digital "Analog Circuit Behavior" technology, while leaving the filter, envelope, and arpeggiator more or less the same. CV and Gate outputs make for easy modular integration, and the module is designed to mount into Roland's K-25M keyboard controller.


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