New SH-101 and TR-808 hardware emulations arrive in Roland’s Boutique format

A (probably intentional) ‘leak’ foretold the launch of a Boutique version of the classic SH-101 synth last month, but it turns out that this isn’t the only new Roland mini module on the way. A pint-sized version of the TR-808 drum machine is also coming, to sit alongside the Boutique-branded 909 emulation that was released earlier this year.

The TR-08 - for that is its name - promises to accurately emulate the look, sound and feel of the original TR-808, while adding new features such as a compressor on the kick and snare (as you get on the TR-09) and 16 sub-steps for each step of the sequencer, enabling you to create more intricate fills and rolls. There’s also a track-selectable trigger for controlling other instruments.

Parts can be programmed in step- or real-time (you can switch between modes without stopping), MIDI control messages can be sent and received, and there’s support for audio and MIDI over USB.

With Roland now offering Boutique versions of both of its iconic drum machines, musicians are faced with an interesting choice. You could choose to buy the TR-09 and TR-08, but it should also be remembered that the TR-8, which is also based on Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology, gives you 808 and 909 emulations in one box (it can also be expanded to add TR-707, TR-727 and TR-606 sounds) and costs less than the combined price of both Boutique units.

SH happens

Back to that SH-101 emulation - which goes by the name of the SH-01A and looks like it'll be available in the iconic red, blue and grey - and, once again, you’ll find a familiar look, feel and sound. Here, the ACB technology promises to deliver those classic SH bass, lead, noise and FX sounds, while adding Unison, Chord and four-voice Polyphonic modes to give you extra flexibility beyond merely monophonic operation.

Improvements have also been made to the sequencer, which can now store and recall up to 64 patterns, and there’s an arpeggiator, too. CV/Gate output enables you to control modular and vintage gear, there are multiple sync options (MIDI, MIDI over USB, LFO clock and trigger input) and you can store up to 64 presets.

As with all the other Boutiques, the TR-08 and SH-101A can be battery-powered and come with built-in speakers.

There’s no official word yet on prices or release dates, but we’re expecting the new Boutiques to go for around $349 each. Find out more about the TR-08 and SH-01A on the Roland website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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