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Roland's portable TR-6S replicates classic '80s drum machines on a budget

Steve Dent
·Associate Editor
·2-min read

Roland has unveiled a pair of drum machines that recreate sounds from classic models like the TR-606 and TR-909, updated with modern features like real-time recording. The first model is the $400 TR-6S Rhythm Performer (above), essentially a smaller and cheaper version of the TR-8S. It lets you create sounds from ‘80s Roland drum machines like the 606, 707, 808 and 909, and mix them with custom and preset samples and “futuristic” FM tones, according to Roland.

As with past devices, the TR-6S works like a classic step sequencer with TR-REC entry, updated with real-time recording and modern enhancements. It includes effects and comes with a USB audio and MIDI interface that works with mobile or small production setups. The TR-6S arrives in November 2020 for $400.

Roland TR-06 Drum machine
Roland TR-06 Drum machine

The TR-06 Drumatix is what Roland calls a “detailed replica of the Roland TR-606 Drumatix from the ‘80s,” albeit with some modern upgrades. It retains the tone of the original, which was originally a commercial failure but became a cult item in the ‘90s, appearing on albums like Massive Attack’s Protection. However, it’s been updated with features like effects, an onboard compressor, tempo delay and the ability to control tuning, decay and pan for each instrument.

It also uses a step sequencers, but it’s been updated with sub-steps for ratcheted parts, step-loops and other advanced features. It has five trigger outputs and a trigger input, along with a high-quality USB audio interface and battery operation for mobile productions. The TR-06 also costs $400 and arrives in late October.

On top of the two drum machines, Roland also unveiled the TR-606 software rhythm composer. It works as a plug-in for DAW productions and has the same sound and behavior as the original, while adding features that allow for “more sound choices and faster, more fluid programming,” Roland said. It’s now available via Roland Cloud.