Roland got the internet abuzz with excitement about their #909Day event (on 9th September, of course!) when the brand announced their new Boutique products, which include new versions of the TR-909 and TB-303!
The legendary TR-909 Rhythm Composer is making an unexpected comeback. But not quite as we know it. With the AIRA series, Roland proved that their business is to be forward-thinking, not just retro for the sake of it.
But, perhaps even more exciting, was the Roland Boutique range, which features compact and more affordable recreations of some of their most classic products. With Roland now planning big events and new products to mark #909day (9th September) it seems a fair to assume that one of these products will be, indeed, some sort of re-creation of the popular TR-909.
Today, on #909day, Roland is announcing an exciting new range of products, on their website. Including, as many hoped, TR-909 and TB-303 reissues.
New Roland Boutique TR-09 & TB-03
The new Roland Boutique TR-09, at first sight, certainly won't disappoint TR-909 fans: it has the same colour scheme of the original, and just pretty much looks like a more compact version of the TR-909. If it sounds as good as we hope, it seems most musicians will be glad to leave old 909 models to hardcore collectors!
The TB-303 also makes a predicted resurrection, this time as the Roland Boutique TB-03. Like the TR-09, it looks pretty close to the original, in a compact size:
The Future Redefined: New Product Launches
Roland has announced a 24-hour music festival to mark #909day. Roland’s 24-hour “must-watch” online music festival will fuse liveliness and diversity with artist performances, new product debuts, and interviews, spanning multiple times zones from major cities around the world. What does the future of musical instruments sound like? We'll have to wait to find out!
Besides the new Roland Boutique TB-09 and TB-03, other leaked new products include the Roland Boutique VP-03 Vocoder (a recreation of the VP-330) and the AIRA System-8 Synthesizer, a very exciting new AIRA product, taking its cue from the System-1 design, but bigger and better. No prizes for guessing this 49-key synthesizer will be very popular - maybe it'll even become more popular than most other Roland synths right now! Looks very, very tasty:
Like most Vocoders, the new Roland Boutique VP-03 will probably have slightly less appeal than other products in the range - vocoders are niche by nature! But, for the right price and with new features, there's no doubt this is one very cool addition to any studio, and will certainly outshine the original VP-330 Vocoder Plus:
The vocoder synth shapes its envelope and filters any sound source fed into it, such as vocals, drum-machines and other sounds. It includes an XLR input on the front panel and a pair of touch strips like previous Boutique reissues.
But one thing is sure - this #909Day is like no other before: besides a mooted 909 reissue, Roland wis unveiling over 30 new products, including their first ever collaboration with Serato: the Roland DJ-808 DJ Controller, with built-in TR drum machine!
What's So Special About the TR-909?
The TR-909 was introduced in 1984 and marked the next step in the drum-machine evolution, after the hugely popular TR-808. Like the 808, it was fully programmable, but was part-analogue, part-digital sample sounds, and was also the first MIDI-enabled drum-machine, adding extra versatility. Thanks to it's relative low price and despite of (or because of!) its limitations, the TR909 was adopted by many new Techno and Acid House artists later in the Eighties - helping in the creation of a new musical revolution and, as a result, achieving iconic status.
Today, vintage TR909 drum-machines are rare (only 10,000 were made,after all) and quite expensive, true collector items! But more than that, they are simply great - not recommended if you want realistic drum sounds, of course, but perfect if you want a vintage drum-machine that sounds fat and like, well, a drum-machine! But a really kick-ass drum-machine...
Which Famous Artists / Songs Used the TR-909?
The reason the TR-909 reached a similar, iconic status just like its predecessor TR-808 is because it was used by so many well-known artists, besides also helping to spawn new musical styles. Acts who used the 909 include: 808 State, Frankie Knuckles, Skinny Puppy, Aphex Twin, Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Moby, Orbital, The Prodigy, Gorillaz, Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead and Kanye West. Quite a list!
Here's 5 songs that showcase those 909 sounds:
PHIL COLLINS, 'TAKE ME HOME'
MR. FINGERS, 'CAN YOU FEEL IT'
TECHNOTRONIC, 'PUMP UP THE JAM'
DAFT PUNK, 'REVOLUTION 909'
GORILLAZ, 'PLASTIC BEACH'
Other Ways To Get the TR-909 Sound
Considering the rarity and price of the original TR-909, it's no surprise that there are other ways to get those sounds - after all, musicians still want a taste of the TR-909!
- Roland Aira TR-8 Rhythm Performer: the best choice (so far!) which digitally recreates the sounds of both TR-808 and TR-909, and which, for this reason, has quickly established itself as a must-have at any respectable studio!
- Arturia SparkLE Drum-Machine: very affordable, it also includes software that emulates the TR-909.
- HTML-909: this is the website to go if you don't want to spend any money, where you can play an online version of the TR-909 (great if you feel like killing time at work, too...)
Of course, nothing beats playing an authentic TR-909, or, hopefully, this eagerly-awaited Roland reissue (re-creation?) of the TR-909, which we really hope will be announced! But we'll need to wait until the 9th September to find out...