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The Roland TR-707 – Early Acid Drum Machine Legend!

With rows of smooth buttons and simple volume sliders, an easy-to-read LCD screen, and a single dial decorating its front panel, the TR-707 embraces a flat design. Beneath its sleek exterior, Roland’s Rhythm Composer offers a programmable system complete with 15 digitally sampled sounds and their variants, including: bass drum (1 and 2), snare drum (1 and 2), low tom, mid tom, hi tom, rimshot, cowbell, hand clap, tambourine, closed hi-hat (1 and 2), open hi-hat, crash cymbal, ride cymbal, and accent.

Similar to the TR-909, which was launched by Roland a year before its own release in 1984, the TR-707 was created in an attempt to compete with other drum machines that began using samples rather than analog sounds. Its hi-hat and cymbals are reminiscent of those included on the 909, but unlike its (more expensive) predecessor, which utilized a mix of analog and digitally sampled elements, all of the 707’s instruments are sampled at 12 bits. 

Capable of programming four rhythm tracks, which breaks down to 998 bars, the TR-707 gives users the chance to compose using an amalgamation of 64 rhythm patterns. These can be customized when edited with the step-write system and then sequenced together into a longer track. Other settings control pattern, tempo, and measure, as well as global shuffle levels.

For a slightly longer note or added dramatic flair, a flam can be applied to any step. Although all rhythms and settings must be manually programmed, the 707’s LCD screen—a feature not included on the 808 or 909— adds to the machine’s ease of use with a grid-like arrangement that records instrumentation and rhythmic pattern in a sequence window.

Where Can I Buy A Roland TR-707?

Compared to other Roland drum machines, the individual instrument controls on the TR-707 are considerably simpler, as users only have the option of adjusting volume for each percussive voice. However, the 707 has individual outputs for each drum tone, which combined with both MIDI in/out and DIN sync control, makes the TR-707 a versatile addition to a setup that incorporates synchronization with other instruments and tools.

Furthermore, the option of adding a memory cartridge that snugly plugs in next to the LCD screen opens up twice as much storage capacity and offers instantaneous loading and saving. 

While not as popular as the 808 or 909, the 707 is still viewed as having had an important role in the development of early acid house music. It has also become a go-to gadget for producers of Al Jeel, a subgenre of electronic Arabic pop music that mixes elements of dance/pop with distinctive attributes influenced by traditional Egyptian music.

How Much Does A Roland TR-707 Cost?

If you’re lucky enough to find a Roland TR-707 for sale they’ll normally* range anywhere between £450 and £1,000

*prices generally seen on auction sites. If you see them cheaper, you may be on to a bargain.

Who Uses Or Used The Roland TR-707?

Famous and not so famous users of the 707 are: Aphex Twin, Ceephax Acid Crew, DMX Krew, Rolando Simmons, EOD, Beathaven, Daft Punk, Squarepusher, Venetian Snares, Legowelt, Robin Guthrie, Chris Moss Acid, Liam Howlett, Daniel Avery, Helena Hauff and many more!

Alternatives To The Roland TR-707?

There are many different alternatives to the 707 whether as hardware, software or digital. These are as follows: Roland TR-727, Roland TR-505, Roland Aira TR-8s, emulators, samples and VST’s.

However, when we compare it to the real thing it’s noticeable that the alternatives don’t quite stack up. They are a great option though for people with a lower budget.

Classic Roland TR-707 Videos, Tutorials & Demos

The playlist above shows run throughs on how the 707 works, how it can be programmed and how it syncs with other synths and drum machines.

All in all, loads to watch, listen and learn before getting your own!

Classic Roland TR-707 Tracks

Some of the finest TR-707 tracks ever are featured in the playlist above and include: Adonis – We’re Rockin Down The House, Mr Fingers – Washing Machine, Phuture – Acid Tracks, AFX – Homemade Polysynth and Acid 04.

Other Roland Products?

The famous Roland synths, drum machines and effects include: SH 101, MC 202, TB 303, TR 606, TR 707, TR 808, TR 909, Juno 60RE-201 Space Echo.

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