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Return of the The 808

from FACT Magazine


Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you’ll have witnessed the nerdier corners of the web aflutter at the news that Roland is launching the “Aira TR08,” a product indebted to the TR-808 drum machine.

Aside from a YouTube teaser — which features Roland engineers poking and prodding a jealousy-inducing room full of mint TR-808s — a full announcement has yet to be made. On second hand sites, the machines tend to retail upwards of £2400, suggesting that they are more in-demand than ever and that analog synth aficionados have been praying for a moment like this one for many years. But will reality match up with the feverish expectations? Time to take a look at the 808: the history of the machine, how it came to prominence, the hits that defined it, and whether the prospect of a true reissue is at all likely.

In historical terms, the release of the original TR-808 in 1980 was a footnote in an otherwise unremarkable year for Roland. The tail-end of the ’70s had provided a wealth of new innovations from Ikutaro Kakehashi’s design team. Their behemoth modular synth, the Roland System 100, had baffled and dazzled those who could find enough money and space in their house for it, whilst the glorious effects of the VP300 Vocoder Plus had paved the way for the “singing robot” and new forms of futuristic, funky music.

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Posted on January 24, 2014 by Editor

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