The iconic drum machine of the 80s – you can experience it right in your browser

We have already talked about an unusual project that allows you to turn the rustling of a pack of chips and the clatter of ceramic dishes into a full-fledged track. Today we will talk about another resource where you can get acquainted with the drum machine Roland TR-808 and use it to record music for a personal application or game.

Photo: Steve Harvey.  Source:
Photo: Steve Harvey. Source:

What device are you talking about?

The Japanese company Roland has been producing music for half a century. equipment. During this time, she released dozens of devices. But perhaps the most famous product of the brand was one of the first programmable drum machines – Roland TR-808.

Interestingly, its status is a tool must initial commercial failure. At first, the drum machine cost about $1200 and was aimed at professional musicians. However, the synthesized instruments sounded “too futuristic”, so industry representatives reacted treat TR-808 like a toy. Gradually, the price dropped to $100, which attracted newcomers.

Over time, the unusual sound of the TR-808 has become a calling card, and its capabilities have become use many bands, even at live performances in clubs. A familiar sound can be heard in the track The Imperial Brothers – “We Come to Dub“and in the cult”Don’t Stop the Rock» by Freestyle. In a sense, a Roland drum machine defined 80s music development vector.

The tool does not lose its relevance – TR-808 is used Drake, Billie Eilish and many other stars. The demand for this drum machine is so great that the cost of a used device several times higher than the price of a new one at the time of its launch. But you can work with the system for free right in the browser. Sound designer Yuuri Suzuki, together with Roland engineers, presented a digitized version of the drum machine – the project was named Roland50 Studio.

What does it look like

To create a drum rhythm, you need to mark the sequence of samples being played on the working area with dots. Among them there are big (BD) and snare drum (SD), cymbal (CY), open (OH) and closed (CH) hi-hat and others. The corresponding designations are written in yellow rectangles on the left, and the decoding is in the instructions for the original TR-808 (page 5).

On the working panel below, you can change the BPM and enable the function shuffle – so, each subsequent sample will be played with a slight delay. To play the rhythm, just press the button start.


Interestingly, on the same site you can work with other digital twins of Roland devices – the SH-101 and TB-303 synthesizers. To do this, activate the appropriate tools on the panel at the top of the screen.

Judging by the lock icons drawn on it, in the future, the developers plan to add even more iconic tools to the application.


To record a track, you need to click on the red button in the upper right corner of the screen. Pressing again will save the finished composition to your computer. You can use it at your discretion – for example, in a personal project.

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