Roland R8

Roland has made so many instruments since it came into existence. There are instruments that no longer exist, and the company is no longer making them. On the other hand, some instruments were made so many years ago, and they are still functional.

One of those made over three decades ago, and they are still functional, is Roland R8. R 8 Human Rhythm Composer and an electronic drum machine was introduced in 1989. The device has remained outstanding for all those years.

It gives us great pride to have a product that does not lose its meaning very fast. It makes the drummer remain original for an extended period. You will not have to change instruments each time and end up confusing your audience.

However, the modern versions of this kit have been modified to suit the current generation of drummers. These adjustments aim at making the kit better by eliminating unwanted features and adding features requested by drummers.

So many drummers of the current generation know very little about this fantastic and wonderful R8 kit. Therefore, I have to make you understand the excellent features that come with the machine. Stay with me and get the best experience ever.

Roland R8 MKII

This is one of the best drum machines ever. It comes with excellent sounds that can be expanded with the use of other sound cards. It is excellent for rock, electronic, ethnic, and industrial styles of music. The wide range of music and flexibility makes the kit remain outstanding.

The majority of the sounds that come with the machine are editable in terms of tune, decay, attack, nuance, output, etc. An MKI kit came before this kit, but it does not possess similar features to this kit.

Roland MKII has a single-space rack-mount version, which was also available in R-8M. The kit had no sequencer, but it did have the Roland R8 sounds and the ability to read R-8 expansion sound cards. It had eight individual outputs, 12 voices polyphony, and 4-part multitimbral MIDI.

Apart from adding a label in front of the panel, MKII has other added features to make it better. It features extra sounds, more pattern memories, and tidying up/away of some programming features.

The machines combine superb realism and parameters that allow you to alter their character within the rhythm context subtly. The MKII drum machine has grown. It now features velocity-sensitive programming pads, separate outs, a built-in sync facility, expandability through ROM card and RAM card, and additional MIDI features.

MKII Sounds

There are preset sounds that come with this machine, but you can create custom sounds using an extensive list of programmable parameters such as pitch, decay, and nuance.

There is global editing of each sound, but the machine also allows the drummer to customize the main sound parameters as you record rhythms. You can also get this through MIDI using the R-8’s performance functions that allow you to assign sound parameters to the MIDI controller’s data.

The kit has 32 preset rhythm patterns, 200 user-programmed tones, and ten song memories on the rhythm composer. The maximum pattern length is 99 bars; available time signatures range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Programming is straightforward because the LCD includes a version of the time-honored Roland programming matrix. At any given point, you are allowed to step aside to select and edit new sounds temporarily.

The machine virtually gives you everything that you can get from a standard drum machine or even possibly more for other people. It is now justified, and you can understand why Roland decided to go for minor adjustments rather than coming up with a new model.

Roland R8 Manual

The manual is an integral part of any device because you cannot know how to operate a machine without learning. The user’s manual typically comes with many details to help the players familiarize themselves with the device.

The manual starts by giving an overview of the safety measures while using the kit. We do not want our customers to get hurt while using our devices. Some warnings are useful at directing you towards doing the right thing.

We then move to the temporary operation mode table that gives the primary mode and the edit mode. The main mode consists of crats that show how to navigate different sections, including song, pattern, MIDI, instrument assignment, ROM card, feel patches, and utility.

On the other hand, the edit mode has sound editing, performance editing, and feel editing. This helps you edit different sections of the sounds that you get. You get to see the data flow of each parameter and a table of parameters.

You can get an easy method that will help you get started with your instrument. It is good to have a solid foundation before starting to know the complicated things in the machine. The settings of any device are very vital in the success of the kit.

Therefore, a lot of emphasis is given to the settings section in the user’s manual. If you do not set the sound parameters well, you will get the worst sounds ever.

You will then learn rhythm pattern programming and song programming, which is the machine’s complex parts. You must be attentive in this section so that you do not miss any important information being communicated.

You will learn other useful functions that are present in this gear just like other devices. These include using the memory card (RAM), utility, pattern writing, feel patch, rhythm pattern editing, MIDI, and sync play. You will be given introductory notes and terms that will help you understand more about the kit.

You will get to familiarize yourself with the different parts of the device and notes. If you consider everything, you will not struggle so much while using it. I read the user manual when I bought the device for the first time, and I have enjoyed it for decades now.

Use the device wisely, and it will serve you for the longest time possible. You will get old using the same type o device.

Roland R8 drum machine

The R8 drum machine was the standard drum machine employed in the early 90s, and it is still functional to date. The kit has numerous editing possibilities; the songs are incredible and can be expanded with many PCM cards that make this unit genuinely flexible.

The sounds loaded into the ROM are of excellent quality, and they focus mainly on rock and Latin music genres. The kit has no electronic sounds or unique FX sounds on board. You can buy either the cards or the R 8 MKII that has a larger ROM that included those sounds.


Feel the beat

If you want to get a greater degree of realism in drum machines, you need to know that it takes two complementary forms; sound and feel. The first thing is the realism of sound samples; how the samples resemble the real thing.

The machine’s sound samples are determined by the state of recording and the actual sampling’s fidelity. Everyone is looking for 16-bit 44.1 kHz quality, and this is what R8 offers. The samples are clean; dynamic, demonstrating a rare degree of sonic accuracy in digital drum machines.

The R8 drum machine can draw on a much more extensive range of sounds through plug-in ROM cards.

Front and Rear Panels

This drum machine is far away different in appearance and style from the previous instruments. This new style offers somber grey and black coloring. It also features a chic slimline wedge shape and low-profile font-panel controls.

The machine is portable as it weighs 7ibs, but it has a bulky external power supply. It also features a four by forty character LCD window that offers current programming and status information in its left half. The right half is given over to the sort of matrix pattern display.

The left side of the window is the value and volume sliders. In contrast, the panel’s left-hand side is big buttons that include a numerical keypad and group governing the mode, edit, user-function, cursor, and parameter selection.

There are also 16 velocity-sensitive pads with a suitable size and firm to the touch without being hard. The rear panel gives the MIDI in, out, and thru sockets together with stereo audio outs, eight individual audio outs, and a headphone output.

Patterns and Recording

The R8 drum machines are loaded with 100 programmable and 32 preset patterns. The preset patterns can be copied into the programmable pattern memory. Every programmable pattern is at least 99 bars long and has a global time signature per the pattern of anything from 1-8/4 to 1-64/32.

Real-time recording is in a familiar loop-in-overdub style. Record quantization can be configured at a stage of recording. Selecting Edit Performance while in real-time record temporarily takes out of record.

Pitch, nuance, decay, and Pan, along with velocity and micro-timing values, can be programmed as sequence parameters. You can select the parameter you want to program, then use the data slider +/- keys to control the parameter during record or play.

The recording provides three increasingly subtle levels: basic, normal, and scope. Other useful programming features include roll, flam, and macros. All programmable effects can be triggered off any pad during play or record.


  • It is a durable old drum machine with reliable features.
  • It offers the best sound quality ever and can be used by all players.
  • It has a pocket-friendly price tag, flexible, and reliable.


  • It cannot be straightforward, especially for beginners.