Welcome To Roland’s New AIRA: TR-8, TB-3, VT-3 & System-1 Revealed

Enough of the teasing already. We can finally tell you all about the new Roland AIRA series, a group of meticulously modeled digital instruments based on the legendary Roland “xox” series — analog classics like the TB-303 Bassline and TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines, pieces that kicked off entire genres of dance music. The new TB-3, TR-8 and VT-3 Voice Transformer will be available in March, with the System-1 synth, inspired by the old SH-101, following in May or June.


TR-8 Rhythm Performer
Inspired by: TR-808 Rhythm Composer and TR-909 Rhythm Composer
Available: March 2014
Street Price: $499
Key details: Faithfully reproduces the original sounds, controls, and sequencing from the original drum machine while also adding new sounds, controls, performance tools and modern technology.

TB-3 Touch Bassline
Inspired by: TB-303 Bassline
Available: March 2014
Street Price: $299
Key details: Models the TB-303 down to the individual circuit, including the filter, oscillators, Accent, Slide and step sequencer behavior. Uses a pressure-sensitive touchpad segmented by backlights to input notes for patterns and for spontaneous effect tweaking of playing patterns. 134 total sounds, not just TB-303 sounds.

VT-3 Voice Transformer
Inspired by: VP-330 Vocoder Plus and other vocal processors
Available: March 2014
Street Price: $199
Key details: 10 voice settings — including Robot, Vocoder, Auto Pitch, Megaphone and Radio — with quick editing via sliders for pitch, formant, mix balance and reverb.

System-1: Plug-Out Synthesizer
Inspired by: System 100 and SH-101
Available: May or June 2014
Street Price: $599
Key details: 4-oscillator synth where all parameters are controllable with physical knobs and sliders. Arpeggiator with new Scatter phrase variation. Integrated effects and tempo syncing. Can load Roland plug-in synths, so they can be played without a computer.

Watch our exclusive performance video that we captured at NAMM 2014 in the Roland suite – complete with annotations on what’s happening:


Roland engineers have been working on refreshing their classic “xox” instruments for years, but ran into a number of problems. For instance, they found that even when dipping into their pristine museum units to analyze and model them, no two units ever sounded exactly the same.

So to create consistency, and also to add new modern technology and keep costs down, Roland opted to make their updated machines digital, and developed their own new modeling method they call Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB). With ACB, they first carefully study the analog circuit diagram of the original hardware and then write a corresponding digital program. Next they use instrumentation to compare the sound waves of the new machines with the original and then use that data to fine-tune the digital program and recreate the analog characteristics. Finally, they do any last revision after comparing the sounds by ear.


The sounds and real-time control: We only had the briefest of interludes with the AIRA hardware in a hotel room near the NAMM conference a few weeks ago, but we can confidently say that lovers of the old Roland gear being recreated here will not be disappointed with the sounds. While it is digital, all of the AIRA gear uses 32-bit/96kHz digital signal path, which means that you cannot detect any digital aliasing (notching) in the sounds, even during long, slow filter sweeps and LFO modulation.

Scatter: Each AIRA units uses Roland’s new Scatter effect in some capacity. Scatter is a creative performance tool for the real-time reversing, glitching, gating, stuttering, truncating and otherwise rhythmically varying sequenced patterns and synth arpeggios. The TR-8, TB-3 and System-1 all have different Scatter types and 10 levels of Scatter depth.

Interoperability: All AIRA units include USB ports for passing audio to a computer. The TR-8, TB-3 and System-1 can all send and receive audio and MIDI over USB. They also can receive MIDI clock to sync to external third-party devices and software, or other AIRA units. The AIRA family was also made to easily sync to each other through their MIDI ports.

System-1: Plug-Out Synthesizer: In case you missed the significance of it, the System-1 will be able to load compatible Roland plug-ins into its own memory, so you can then play those plug-ins live from the System-1 without a computer. In that mode, the System-1 control LEDs will illuminate to show you which ones are active. When connected to a computer, the System-1 will also act as a 1-1 controller for those Roland plug-ins. The first plug-in to work in such way with the System-1 will be based on the old SH-101 analog monosynth, and more should be on the way after that.


In darkness – the teaser image.

Additional details taken from Roland’s internal copy:

Just like the original:
• Newly developed Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology allows part-by-part analyses and faithful recreation of tonality and behavior including the smooth variations of tone that occur when you work the controls of each instrument
• Obsessive attention to detail – like reproducing the original TR’s unique variations in tone that occur when multiple instruments are entered in accented steps

TR Evolved:
• 16 stunning kits made up of 11 instrument types
• Control the intensity of the Accent function with a dedicated knob
• Per-step Gate Reverb and Delay effects with dedicated, real-time knobs
• Mix sources connected to the External Inputs
• Built-in Side Chain function creates rhythmic ducking and gating effects on External Inputs with per-step control
• Rec/Play modes have been eliminated enabling seamless pattern making and performance
• Real-time play of 4 different types of rolls (8th, 16th, VARI 1, VARI 2)
• Quickly Mute/Unmute individual instruments during performance or production
• Pattern randomizing and Pattern copy

TB Evolved:
• Pressure sensitive Touch Pad
• Dedicated Tempo control with Shuffle and Tap Tempo
• Control built-in effects with smooth, responsive knobs
• Seamless switch between pattern creation and performance
• Enter steps manually or record real-time on the Touch Pad
• Random pattern generation and pattern modification with pattern copy

System-1: Plug-Out Synthesizer
• Advanced Arpeggiator with SCATTER jog dial offers 10 different phrase variations
• Variety of modulation  (incl. ring modulation, cross modulation and oscillator sync)
• -12dB and -24dB filter types with independent high pass filters
• Crusher knob for modern edge
• Integrated Delay and Reverb effect units
• Tempo syncing for LFO and Delay
• Innovative thin keyboard with 25 normal sized keys

VT-3 Voice Transformer
• Voice characters: Pop and electro sounds with two distinct “AUTO-PITCH” effects; VP-330-style VOCODER sounds without need for a keyboard; Glitchy effects that sound like something broke (in a good way) with SCATTER o Loads of lo-fi character with MEGAPHONE and RADIO settings; Synthetic sounding voices with the ROBOT button; Synths you can sing with SYNTH, LEAD, and BASS
• Save your three favorite settings for instant recall
• XLR standard combo jack with phantom power and 1/8” inch powered mic jack
• Stereo outputs can be configured as separate mono Wet/Dry channels
• USB audio interface with loopback recording to overdub vocals on existing tracks and USB bus powered

live performanceplug-outProductionrolandSystem-1TB-3TB-303TR-8tr-808tr-909VT-3
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    […] Welcome To Roland’s New AIRA: TR-8, TB-3, VT-3 & System-1 Revealed. In: DJ TechTools. 14. Februar 2014, abgerufen am 4. Juli 2020 (amerikanisches […]

  • Dj New System | Computer DJ Midi

    […] Welcome To Roland’s New AIRA: TR-8, … – Enough of the teasing already. We can finally tell you all about the new Roland AIRA series, a group of meticulously modeled digital instruments based on … […]

  • Simon Bailey

    Love the AIRA range (couldn’t afford original TR-808, TR-909 and TB-303’s) to the extent that I’ve pre-ordered a TR-8, TB-3 and VT-3…and the System 1 will be added when available.
    Yeah I get the whole “it’s not analogue” thing, but to be honest I feel the same about that argument as I do about the Vinyl vs. Digital debate…who cares as long as the creativity is present and the audience love the vibe!

  • Art Vandelay

    While the AIRA line looks intriguing, the one thing not mentioned above with regards to System-1 is that the keys are static–there is no velocity sensitivity or aftertouch, taking away the ability to create expressive sounds or inject some creative modulation. Not hating, just merely stating a fact. Cheers.

  • Lord Na

    mc-303 clones! Roland copied the wrong machine. oh no.

  • Cosmodrome

    Is analog better than digital?

    It depends.

  • roller

    BTW, a good way to spice up a 8 or 16 bar noise box is to add an oscillating filter after it. I’m fond of the Alesis Philters. They’re tempo sync-able, have tap tempo, are a multi-mode filter, and are cheap as fuck. Put an oscillating filter after even the most boring 8 beat loop, and you can make it interesting. I own a bunch of Roland, etc. <$300 noise boxes, and they universally sound crappy, right up until you put a filter and a tube amp on them, at which point they become divine. The noise box can be digital, but I'm yet to see anybody make a VST tube amp that can beat analog.

  • coven

    I’m disappointed you can’t record knob tweaks. The TR-8 has some good options for moving between multiple patterns, but I can’t convince myself to use it instead of maschine. It just doesn’t tick enough feature boxes. It’s digital anyway… I might as well just be digital and have far greater flexibility.

    The System-1 is super clever. I wonder if it’s running linux? I would buy these if I was new to the game and didn’t already have a monotribe, Volcas and a MiniNova. In the 303 space, I’ve found the EF-303 to be the easiest to actually use.

  • RAFH

    Is it just me…or am i the only one who doesn’t give a rats ass if they are not exact copies of the old analogs? am i gonna be dancing and suddenly stop because the track i am hearing wasn’t made on the “real” tb-303? fuck no! it sounds fucking awesome regardless….people need to stop being elitist assholes on here…. just make some fucking music!!! All i want is a 303 to rock out on for hours!

    • Da GobliNN

      Dam RIGHT !! It’s about the Music .It’s about the Music .It’s about the music .When are these guys who treat it like auto class in High school gunna get it.Though they have a right to their opinion it’s a free world .Some people have all the gear in the world & do really bland stuff .Some just Ableton and some Monitors i.e. Dusky Harvard Bass & do great Muisc

  • Artistlife

    When Nic Batt did his review, he made a point to stop and listen to a hihat and the fact that it drifted in its sound just like an analog unit would. To me that is attention to detail on Rolands part. Like some have pointed out one needs to hear it for ones self. As well as play with ab actual unit.

  • lamesauce

    I’d challenge any of you gearheads who can’t make anything soulful to save your life (mad Zach excluded) to tell the difference blindfolded between a classic 808 and this thing in a mix. Stop worshipping technology and jacking each other off with your inane opinions and just make some fucking music already.

    • Guest

      Let’s hear some of your music then.

      This setup looks like a lot of fun.

    • Harry Reems

      What makes you think your opinion isn’t inane?

      Technology is great, new gear is fun. Make the music you like (soulful or not) with whatever rig you are most comfortable with.

    • Ohveee

      I’d throw mad Zack in there too. He hasn’t tried the AIRA products either.

  • Dan

    No No & NO.
    I have a Devilfish modded TB-303, An original 909 & and an original 808.
    This does not even come CLOSE!!!! Stop with the emulation gimmicks!
    The originals will NEVER be duplicated or replaced.

    • tronic307

      Yeah!!! Dude, how far into the five figure range did you pay for those? I got my first TB-303 & TR-606 for $300 the pair… PAIR! Roland spent FAR less developing those! Why, why ,why don’t you let the kids have fun?

  • disqus_yFQ1Kl3rLL

    No No & NO.
    I have a Devilfish modded TB-303, An original 909 & and an original 808.
    This does not even come CLOSE!!!! Stop the emulation gimmicks!
    The originals will NEVER be duplicated or replaced.

  • Dan

    No No & NO.
    I have a Devilfish modded TB-303, An original 909 & and an original 808.
    This does not even come CLOSE!!!! Stop with the emulation gimmicks!
    The originals will NEVER be duplicated or replaced.

  • Sundog

    Does any one know if the System-1 can be sequenced within the Aira setup? A fun aspect of the SH-101 was the internal sequencer that can be step triggered by the original x0x drum machines and clones. You could also sequence the SH-101 with the TB-303 Gate/cv outs. Any idea if the TB-3 can externally sequence the System-1 or will it need a third party midi sequencer or DAW to do it?

  • Flash McCabe

    Haters gonna hate…
    It’s called progress, people.
    Some is good and some is bad. But overall it’s inevitable. People don’t heal others with leeches. Vehicles aren’t steam and coal powered. Football helmets aren’t made out of leather. And instruments that make beep-boops have more circuitry in them than before.
    Big whoop.
    Is it the same thing? NO, STUPID!
    It’s 2014! It’s upgraded with more options and features that are in line with today’s technology.
    If you want the original, go on eBay and buy that one! Damn.
    In 1995 I started buying music production gear and have since owned probably over a hundred outboard keyboards, drum machines, FX units, samplers, sequencers, turntables, mixers, etc etc yada yada. Do I miss having rooms full of instruments all linked up to work together? Hell yes, I do! Not only were those pieces cool, but that shit was fun as hell! It was far from perfect though.
    Things are different now. Yes, sounds are weaker and audio has lost its dynamic scrotum, but I can instantly share my songs with the entire world. Some things aren’t as good but others are undeniably so.
    I’m just glad Roland finally put out some more products that actually appeal to the working class producer who wants flexibility and power.
    I’m already planning on how I can save up 1600 bucks to buy all four! Finally, Roland came out with some

    • another cool guy

      hey cool guy your a cool real cool guy

    • Cosmodrome

      Couldn’t agree more. One thing left to say: Exhuming some old equipment (particularily the “patched together from four devices” stuff) can be very disillusioning. There are some exceptions, of course (like that 25 years old Epiphone US Custom Pro, I reanimated three weeks ago. Still an incredibly good instrument!), but synths generally weren’t that exciting then. Analog or not. Listening to some vintage stuff mostly does the same job in desillusioning, by the way…

  • MarcusMCB

    The VT-3 is the real winner here. $199 for a stand-alone vocoder with all the relevant features is a no-brainer. I fully expect to see it in producer kit-lists down the road.

    The System-1 is, at a glance, an interesting concept on paper. What Roland plans to add on to it in terms of additional plug-ins, etc will likely decide its fate (a proper Alpha-Juno kit would be a welcome expansion).

    The TR-8 and TB-3 strike me as fine and dandy if you really want modern hardware recreations of their predecessors but Roland’s about 5 or 6 years late to the party here. What would have been fairly mind-blowing at the time are, frankly, kind of “meh” by today’s standards. And if there are balls of awesomeness contained in either of these, they certainly haven’t been showcased in any of the various demo clips I’ve seen so far.

  • DJ Rapture

    $300 for the TR-3?!?! I need that NOW!!’

  • Percy

    When did Acid house lovers become so snobby. What happened to dancing in warehouse’s & sweaty clubs with jeans , sneakers & a T shirt. I know that’s nothing to do with the sound of these new machines but a few short demo videos and anyone would think Roland had released the anti christ. Sounded just like acidic house style beats & squiggles to me. Wonderful. And the cheaper they are the more people will get the chance to have to try their hand at making the type of music they love.

  • Thumper

    The TR-8 sounds quite nice, based on this vid, and the System-1 is an interesting idea, but the TB-3 – well, I’ll see what’s up closer to release, but based on that it sounds like a second rate VST.

    • tronic307

      Is Phoscyon a second rate VST? How many of you haters even record in analog?

      • Thumper

        No. Phoscyon is a first rate VST, and one that I use along side my Xoxbox all the time. Going by that video, the TR3 doesn’t sound as good as either. But, like I said, I’ll decide whether it’s something I want to pick up once I hear more. Sorry for being so unreasonable.

        • tronic307

          No need to apologize, we all have preferences. I’m looking at these more for the fun aspect than the accuracy. The TB-3 seems to have some Jupiter-like bass patches, that’s what really has my attention.

        • Thumper

          Lol. Don’t worry – I wasn’t apologising 😛 If there are Jupiter style patches I might be more interested. I’d also really like to hear it doing some dirty low end growl. I haven’t heard that on the two or three vids I’ve seen so far. It’s a nice price, though.


    Wow you’re all pretty negative about something you haven’t even seen or played.

    • KILLMeDJ

      Seen up close that is.

  • MAMware

    this is the worst demo ever seen, its like you have been paid the the competition to do this

  • NotJamesBond

    Extremely underwhelming – something we have become used to over the last few years. Stick to making accordions in future Roland.

  • Gp

    Ugh, with all the fully analog stuff coming out from Korg as of late, you’d think Roland would step up their game and make some legit re-creations of what came out in the early/mid 80’s. As someone that owns some of the more classic Roland pieces, I’m pretty disappointed.

  • Stu

    To me it appears that Roland is attempting to copy Korg circa 10 years ago – can’t help but notice the similarities to the Electibes and as far as the modeling goes Korg released their Component Modelling Technology back in 2004 with the Korg Legacy collection (and the Kaoss Pad-style TB-3). I hope Korg can step up and provide something more innovative – I am personally hoping for an updated analog or analog/digital hybrid Electribe that also can load samples and has better USB connectivity – would blow these VST’s machines out of the water!

  • Toontown

    The voice transformer thing might be fun to play with… but meh on all else.

  • David De Garie-Lamanque

    honestly…these look and sound sick! 😀 and the estimated pricing is really nice too!

    • J Crenshaw

      rofl.. You guys have fun buying these.. Funny Funny stuff

      • Nic

        J Crenshaw, you re not happy today.

    • NotJamesBond

      I’m guessing you are not very old. A bit of perspective would mellow your excess of enthusiasm.

      • David De Garie-Lamanque

        no i’m not “very old”, i’m just 29! and i’ve “only” been making electronic music and keeping up with music technology for the past ten years…
        A bit of perspective on your part would suggest you refrain from speaking next time you feel like a smart-ass!

        And for the haters who hate because it’s not analogue and because they think it only looks pretty, shut up and try the gear first! trolls with uninformed opinions are really irritating!

      • tronic307

        STFU! I said the same thing he did when I saw my first 808 and decided to save up for it. I couldn’t afford a Linn Drum or DMX back then. I didn’t know that the TR-808 was designed to be a toy! So was the TB-303. Roland made those instruments so that everyone could afford to make music; digital cost a fortune back then! Analog costs just as much now!!
        I’m sick and tired of whiny old elitists with far too much baggage to create anything fresh trying to spoil it for everyone else!!!

        • Oddie O'Phyle

          it’s kind of funny how people are under the misconception that age and getting old are one and the same. the fact that most people get to a point, that they think that there is nothing new left for them to learn, is what makes them old. i remember “back in the day” when my genre was defined by decks, efx and 909’s… but those of us that don’t allow ourselves to get old will take the time and effort to adapt and grow.

  • Mad Zach

    yeah sorry, Roland I had some high hopes but seriously… “Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology” what a stupid euphemism for “not analog.” Save your money and buy something from Acidlab http://www.acidlab.de/

    • Nolej

      Euphemism it may be, but it is a different kind of digital. Instead of modeling the behavior of the synth as a whole, it models the behavior of the circuits that make up the synth. Simply calling “not analog” is not incorrect, but is oversimplifying things.
      Of course, any judgement is reserved to when they are widely available.

      • tsutek

        with all due respect, component-level modelling has been an SOP for most plugin developers for the past 5 years. Certainly nothing new..

    • Gorsky

      Exactly! I have AcidLab Bassline (303 clone) & i love it ! I was thinking about Miami but 880 euro is a bit too much (i think). But there are many other options such as MFB Tanzbard 🙂

    • m311y

      agreed on that , still i wouldn’t mind having a mess with them, maybe one day korg will buy roland and were see more of the real deal……..

    • StevenMaude

      Will be interesting to hear a comparison between originals and AIRA, given that they’re different hardware.

      • Conniption

        Sonicstate already has a comparison between the TR-808 and AIRA on youtube my friend.

        • StevenMaude

          Thanks for the heads up!

    • Markkus Rovito

      Wow, Acidlab looks sick.

    • CatOnCat

      Acid lab gear looks really cool.Guys, what do you think about Elektron music machines??

        • Moon Motel

          Elektron gear is solid, it is hand made so very expensive. Just as many haters/lovers of their gear as any other company brand. I have had 2 Machine Drum from them. I currently have their Analog 4, its an excellent piece 😉

    • Ohveee

      That’s a big statement for not having played with the AIRA products. You’re dismissing it without having had your hands on them. It’s a story that Roland has heard time and again. http://www.rolandus.com/blog/2014/02/13/tr-808/

    • Jayson Joyce

      All the videos I have seen over the last few days from proven websites like Sonic State & Point Blank prove that the new products sound great…the analog/digital debate is just as stupid as the sync/no sync debate ( I don’t sync BTW)..I wouldn’t care if they made the new gear out of legos if it sounds good it sounds good…plus I can buy the whole Aira system ($1600) for the price of one Elektron Analog Keys, or RYTM drum machine…so why would I pay double to get the Elektron gear (whose customer service sucks) when I can get updated gear from the source…just to say I have analog? Don’t think so..

    • Mad Zach

      I realize that was a pretty negative sounding comment. Normally I am much more positive. I think these do seem pretty cool and I’m sure you could have a lot of fun and it would sound good. I was just disappointed because I am an analog freak I don’t care what anyone says and I had hoped it would be analog

      • KAME

        Are you 100% shure that you can tell the difference between the original 303 and the TB-3 if you hear the same bassline? I hope you do Mr “analog freak”.

      • Oddie O'Phyle

        did Ean send you the link for the Yocto that i sent him a while ago? if you are going for analog, a clone is a good solution… and it might as well be DIY. at least then you know what the build quality is like. no one will give your hardware the love and attention it should get as you, the owner will.

  • billy bobster

    backlit boxes of garbage.. i guess a whole generation of kids that like musical boxes because of how the flash and not how they sound will love them.
    rip roland.

    • DJ Hombre

      Which is a similar response to the launch of TR-808, 909 & TB-303 back in the day. Only after some time did they grow in popularity.

      The pricing on these is keen, so will soon be in the hands of new music makers, which can only be a good thing in the long term.

      The vocoder is most promising for me though.

      • Oddie O'Phyle

        a closer look at the System-1 looks intriguing too. as a stand-alone unit, you will have the ability to load different roland synth VSTs.

        • J Crenshaw

          Another way for you to spend money and not learn the tools you were given.

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            no sir, from what i have read… you are what is wrong with forums. if all you are going to do is hate in a community, the community will be happy to be without you. if all you are going to do is stand with old hardware, you will become stale and stagnant…. considering i’ve never heard of you, it happened many years ago. other than getting old, i have embraced learning about new hardware and software technologies (after all, all sound gets rendered to digital in the recording process). if you have nothing new to learn, stop reading about new gear and the reviews about it.

            … go away.

          • tronic307

            Get lost, troll.

      • J Crenshaw

        Yet another dumb comment, those devices were made generations ago before this music was even popular. Now its popular, and eveyrone tom dick and jane can make those sounds with a nnumber of optiosn available… let alone for FREE.

        Buying fruity loops or ableton standard will get you this same functionality for a cheaper price, with more options.

        If you think some digital form of revamp to a standard device is some how going to do anything you are seriously wrong. A) People who can make the legit quality tracks they want from older analog devices etc, the use of their computers; wont need these. Those who can’t wont be able to use them properly anyways.

        Please, throw your money at Roland, its funny to watch you gear nuts with no skill buy up everything to make you famous.

        • jamieson

          Why do the legit people need to use their computers?

    • Danny Valentino

      So you know all about what these can do, but never have used them, never seen them, never touched them, or gotten within smelling distance of them. You might want to review a book that you have never read while you’re at it. I love how all these know it all wannabes act like they are smarter than the rest of us by declaring how crappy something is and never have even seen or touched what they are declaring to be crappy.

      • J Crenshaw

        You sir are an idiot. Its a wav form osc based platform.. Its going to sound like everyone hack job digital piece of crap out there.. because well, its digital and its going to sound the same.

        There is no reason for companies to come out with boxes that all replicate teh same sounds, but its influences on delay and how it digitally adjusts “voltage” may be different, the sound coming from these things is never going to be any different than your silly soft synth or any other device.

        Its not a wanna be its called you are mostly like a bedroom producer that hasnt touched a real piece of gear in his life. If you are dense enough to believe your own post… good luck to you in your future gear buying and using experiences.

        Halfwits like you are why A) this forum is lousy and its community is lousy B) why half the DJ community is full of retards who load up an mp3 and push play and some how think themselves talented.

        • Alex

          J Crenshaw, YOU are what’s wrong with these forums. Do us a favor and get lost.

        • jamieson

          Funny because this guy seems to like it, and you could say he might know a little about stuff like this!

          • lokey

            so nice to see a nice bank of faders in effect.

        • Be My Guest

          Funny – it’s NOT a “wav form osc based platform” (whatever that is) at all. It’s modeling. And all digital doesn’t sound the same. That’s both an absurd contention and demonstrably false.This is common knowledge in the industry. I would refrain from calling people “idiots” when you clearly have a low level of knowledge (shall we say) when it comes to digital modeling and DSP development.

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  • Jude Mangino

    Oh my god these look AMAZING! If only the TR-8 had sample support 🙁