5 ways to celebrate 808 Day


5 ways to celebrate 808 day: a free Roland online studio, tips, techniques and emulations. And more 808 content than you can shake an analogue maraca at.


With the greatest respect to the LinnDrum, it is hard to imagine any instrument challenging Roland TR-808 for the title of ‘greatest drum machine of all time’. It’s had bands and albums named after it, been referenced multiple times in song, and produces a sound that’s even more popular today than it was when the 808 was released back in 1980.


No wonder, then, that 808 Day (8 August) is now an annual celebration. In fact, for producers, it should probably be a public holiday. This special occasion will brings you more thumping 808 content than you can shake an analogue maraca at.


We suggest these 5 ways to enable this 808 Day celebration kick harder this year than previously. Do not worry much if you party too hard because you’ve got more than a month to recover before the 909 Day festivities begin…




1.       Play a free Roland TR-808 right now


If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you could be playing an official Roland TR-808 within seconds, and completely free.


Thanks to the Roland50 Studio, a free browser-based online platform that enables you to make music using some of the company’s most famous gear of the past 50 years.


And, not only you can program beats with the 808, but there are also SH-101, TB-303, SP-404, TR-606 and TR-707 emulations awaiting your attention.


A countdown clock indicates that a TR-909 could be added to the line-up pretty soon, too (it’s set to run down on 9 September), so get the Roland50 Studio bookmarked now.


2.      Watch the 808 movie


The 808 is so iconic that it’s actually had an almost-Hollywood-blockbuster made about its life and influence: Yes, believe it or not? What other drum machine can say that? (And no, the truly jaw-dropping 2010 Elektron Octatrack launch video not included).


The 2015 film features appearances and commentary from Arthur Baker, Pharrell, David Guetta, Phil Collins, Lil Jon, Afrika Bambaataa, Norman Cook, Rick Rubin, Diplo, Goldie and more. It was directed by Alexander Dunn.


It is available to buy or rent in the usual digital places.


3.      Learn some TR-808 history


Everyone knows that the 808 is a legend.  And, make sure you watch the ‘lost’ original TV advert for the 808 above, as well.


4.      Improve your 808 technique


One of the most attractive things about the 808 is its relative simplicity – even a beginner can be making beats on it in no time – but that does not mean it does not have depth, if you want to take your 808 skills to the next level.


5.      Get some new 808 sounds for your studio

Lastly, if you are ready to flex your credit card (or not, in some cases) there are plenty of ways to spend money on a new 808-style instrument.

As you might expect, Roland is all over the emulation market, with its TR-08, TR-8, TR-8S, TR-6S and super-cute T-8 beat machines all delivering the goods. Inevitably, there is an official plugin version of the 808, as well, available on the Roland Cloud.

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Many of third parties have created 808 clones, as well, like Behringer’s RD-8 hardware offers a typically unsubtle nod to Roland’s original, and there are countless plugin emulations, D16’s Nepheton probably being the most notable.




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