Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer

The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer, often referred to as ‘the 808’, is an iconic drum machine released by Roland in 1980 and discontinued in 1983. Unbelievably they weren’t popular at the time!

Roland TR-808 Beauty Shot
TR-808 Beauty Shot

Roland’s TR-808 Rhythm Composer is possibly the best known drum machine of all time, featuring on untold records old and new.  The TR-808 was a commercial failure for Roland as fewer than 12,000 were ever sold. So in 1983 Roland ended production since semiconductor changes made it impossible to purchase faulty transistors, essential for its hardware design. It still left a legacy much like the famous Amen Break, sounds from the 808 have spawned entire genres spanning decades and even individual drum hits have become ubiquitous!

808 Bass

The kick drum is often distorted, filtered and pitched to make ‘trap’ music. That unmistakeable thump is called an ‘808 bass’. Many don’t even realise the samples they’re using come from this historic 80s rhythm machine. Hank Shocklee of The Bomb Squad production group declared that “Its not hip hop without that sound”.

It’s Hi-Hats have been sprinkled over every pop hit for the last 20 years and Dance music has relied heavily on the snare sound. Even the ride cymbal, cowbell and clave are distinct enough to pick out on every other record.

The first popular VST synth, Propeller Heads ReBirth RB-338 was a recreation of the TR-808, TR-909 and two TB303 machines, a huge compliment. Most Modern Drum Machines and software attempt to recreate or outdo the original sounds. A truly impressive legacy for a product only manufactured for 3 years!

Used by too many artists to list…

Todd Terry, The S.O.S. Band, Orbital, Soulsonic Force, Rick James, Pharrell Williams, Michael Jackson, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Madonna, Questlove, Man Parrish, New Order, Eminem, David Byrne, Ryuichi Sakamoto Sir Mix-a-Lot, Richie Hawtin, The Monitors, 808 State, Dr. Dre, Afrika Bambaataa, Goldie, The Unknown DJ, Prince, Plastikman, Run D.M.C., Taylor Swift, Hank Shocklee, Marvin Gaye, Phil Collins, Beastie Boys, Janet Jackson, Outkast, Cybotron, 2 Live Crew, Rick Rubin, Mantronix, Aphex Twin, Beyoncé, Rihanna and many more.


Release Date 1980 to 1983
Synthesis Digital Subtractive Synth
Keyboard 16 pattern keys
External control Digital Control Bus in/out & DIN sync in (no midi)
Polyphony 12 Voices
Effects Individual level, tuning, attack, decay, and tone controls for most sounds



Download Contents

92 BD Bass Drums
87 SD Snares
16 CP Claps
12 CB Cowbells
19 CH Closed Hats
23 OH Open Hats
10 CL Clave
65 CY Cymbals
15 HC Hi Congas
8 MC Mid Congas
14 LC Low Congas
30 HT Hi Toms
21 MT Mid Toms
10 LT Low Toms
10 MA Maracas
10 RS Rim Shots

Download Size 114.2 MB Zipped

Download – Roland TR-808

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