If you assumed that there wasn’t enough room in Roland’s range for another TR drum machine - we already have the TR-08, TR-09, TR-8 and TR-8S - prepare yourself for a shock, because the company has just added not one but two models to its roster. Though similarly named, the TR-6S and TR-06 are actually strikingly different, so allow us to explain.
Best thought of as a more compact and affordable version of the TR-8S, the TR-6S Rhythm Performer is a six-track drum machine that can run on batteries. As well as the 808, 909, 707 and 606 kits that come included, there’s also an FM engine in here, and you can import your own samples via SD card. As such, there’s plenty of scope for creating hybrid kits.
The traditional TR step sequencer is included, but there’s also real-time recording and various other enhancements. You’ll find built-in effects, and the TR-6S can be used as a USB audio/MIDI interface.
The TR-06 Drumatix, meanwhile, is the latest addition to Roland’s Boutique range, and replicates the company’s Roland TR-606 machine from the ‘80s. Unlike the TR-6S, classic visuals are the order of the day here - Roland says that it’s captured both the tone and look of the original, while also expanding the sound-shaping capabilities.
You can control the tuning, decay and pan for each voice, and there’s also the option to crank up the internal gain of each ‘circuit’ to add overdrive or distortion. You can further beef things up with the onboard compressor, and there’s also a delay.
Again, there’s a TR step sequencer, but now with new features such as sub-steps, for ratcheted parts, and step-loop for instant pattern slicing. Five trigger outputs and a trigger input are included for integration with modular gear, and there’s also USB audio interfacing, battery operation and a built-in speaker.
Wrapping up its return to the 606, Roland also has a plugin version that will be available on its Cloud service. This gets a full TR-606 badge, and is designed both to emulate the original and add more functionality.
As on the TR-06, you can adjust the tuning, decay and pan on a per-voice basis, and there are those drive options. You also get an expanded step sequencer, with lanes for each sound and eight variations for each pattern. There are also adjustable flams, sub-steps and soft hits.
If you also own the TR-06, you can use it as a pre-mapped controller for the TR-606 plugin, while TR-8S owners can share patterns with it.
The TR-606 Software Rhythm Composer is available to all subscribers to the Ultimate Roland Cloud tier ($199/year or $19.99/month) or you can pay for a Lifetime key.
The TR-6S will be available for $400 in November 2020 and the TR-06 will be available for $400 in late October 2020. Find out more on the Roland website.