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Why Roland’s new 303 and 909 might even be better than the originals

One, two, three – Roland has finally made the 303 bassline, 909 drum machine, and VP-330 vocoder that so many people wanted. They’re small, they’re really affordable ($349-399), and they’ve got modern features. But after decades of remakes that strayed from the very things that made people love the originals, at last Roland has learned from their own legacy. So, let’s talk about what’s new and what, mercifully, isn’t.

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Watch these video reviews of 303, 909 and comparisons to originals

Now, with the embargo lifted on new Roland gear, brace yourself for a lot of discussion. On some level, any comparison of a $349-$399 new gadget to anything before it is a bit silly – when original 909s start selling for three figures, let us know. And I think starting with a direct comparison misses the point: the TR-909 and TB-303 sound terrific, and you’re unlikely to record or play either totally dry. (Classic records, uh, used processing too, ya know?) Relax and go enjoy a great drum machine and bassline.

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It's 909 day. Photo (CC-BY) dislokated.

3:00pm NYC time is a good time to watch the Roland 909 Day stream

Leaks are all over the place, but we’re here in Berlin where you’ll finally get to see some of what you’ve been waiting for from Roland. (If you tuned in randomly earlier today, you might see someone speaking in Japanese about a guitar amp or something like that.) That Which You Most Want To Know About should be starting at around 9:00pm Berlin time, or 3:00pm New York / 12 noon California. See the video below. Important: If you have questions, let us know on social media or in comments here. We will have a full report tomorrow Saturday Berlin …

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Roland and Serato made a monster DJ controller that does everything

What do you get when you combine Roland and Serato? Well, a little bit of everything, it turns out. The flagship DJ-808 is a monster mixer controller sampler step sequencer audio interface drum machine vocoder. (Whew!) Some of its functionality is provided in the hardware itself; some is a control interface to Serato software on a computer. But together, you get a device that is perhaps the most ambitious all-in-one DJ gizmo yet.

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BlipCase is a custom solution for toting your compact music gear

We’ve seen a minor renaissance in mobile music gear – KORG’s volca series, Teenage Engineering’s tiny Pocket Operators, the Gakken synths, Roland’s boutique series, and more. (We’re a believer in this – that’s why CDM co-produces the MeeBlip synth.) But while these small instruments are great, they wind up getting tossed into a bag. That risks damaging them, and there’s a lot of business of packing and unpacking them when you play. We wanted a solution, so we made our own. It’s called BlipCase.

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Roland is releasing 30+ new things on 909 – September 9

The next big Roland product unveiling isn’t at a trade show – it’s on the Internet. At a 24-hour streaming “online musical instruments festival,” the Japanese giant is promising a bunch of new stuff (30+). The date is an auspicious one for the company – September 9, or 909. And sure enough, they’re also calling it a celebration of 33 years of their legendary drum machine. http://tfr.roland.com/en/909-celebration In addition to the product unveilings, they’re live in a bunch of cities with artist performances and other events, too – LA, NYC, Toronto, Paris, Brussels, Tokyo, and here in Berlin, among others. …

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Roland just made us happy with CCs on the Boutique Series

Roland’s Boutique Series is … dangerous, frankly. These little sound modules (based on the Jupiter-8, Juno-106, and JX-3P) really do sound terrific and are totally adorable in person. They’re one of the things you can easily dismiss when you first see them … then fall in love with in person. The 1.10 update fixes one fatal flaw: now the whole series supports MIDI Control Change send and receive.

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Watch this futuristic Roland TR-808 ad to celebrate 808 day

Who would have thought in 1980 that the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer would change drum machines and dance music forever? If you went out dancing this weekend, you probably heard its distinctive sounds. Well, if you’re the sort of person who cracks a smile every time you check the time and it’s 8:08am, you’re probably already doing something to celebrate the eighth of August, “808 day.” So here’s a video for even more. Clarification: The ad copy in this ad’s voiceover? All totally real. This is actually text Roland used to describe their TR-808 in ads from the era – …

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Watch a wild Loop Station performance made in one shot

Can you whistle? Can you hum? Sing? Dance? Let’s assume for a moment that the problem isn’t your musicality, because you have something to express. The point of technology and music skill is really to express that inner musicality. For a beautiful demonstration of that, watch one guy roam the streets of Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood with one piece of gear – and make an amazing song just from looping.

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TM404 turns Roland boxes into beautiful instruments, jams

You know a classic Roland 202, 303, 404, 606, 707, 808, 909, and whatnot can make techno. But in the hands of Andreas Tilliander, these vintage Roland boxes are like classical instrumentation. They can form delicate ambient ensembles, or dark, pounding rhythms. And far from being only a grid to switch on and off, they become improvisational tools that spawn live performances and organic sessions. It’s little wonder that Andreas goes by the moniker TM404 – the Swedish-born producer seems like he might have been raised by a family of Roland boxes rather than humans. So, we took the opportunity …

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