New "AIRA" teaser for Roland's remade classics: are we getting a new TR-808 AND a 909 drum machine?

Roland hints at reviving not just the booming TR-808 but also the dancefloor-dominating TR-909 beatbox as part of its AIRA range. Excitement level: critical.
Roland AIRA TR-808 TR-909

There is no more desirable gadget in electronic music than the Roland TR-808 drum machine.

Well, maybe the TR-909, depending on who you're talking to. Discontinued by the mid-80s, these machines have never been bettered or replaced, but it seems Roland is gearing up to do just that.

Roland AIRA drum machine

We already knew Roland's forthcoming AIRA range would reflect the 808 in some way. What we didn't suspect until today was that the 909 would also get a look in. This teaser released today, showing the actual cymbals that were sampled for the 909, would appear to shed no new light on the matter apart from the fact that the legacy of the 909 is also going to feature.

However, we would draw your attention to the partially visible device on the table at the 0:17 mark, a few fuzzy frames at 1:09 and a shot of a rear panel at 1:13, which shows a USB input. This is clearly a sneak preview of a new AIRA product.

Also, regarding the big question of whether the AIRA range will use analogue or digital sounds, or perhaps a combination of both as in the TR-909, it's interesting to hear one of the original designers, Atsushi Hoshiai, say "If I had to make a new rhythm machine today I would still use that very same cymbal." We think it's safe to predict that those very same cymbals have in fact been used in the creation of a new rhythm machine.

This is all incredibly exciting. Head over to the official Roland AIRA website to find out how you can win a VIP trip to Dancefair in Holland to see the AIRA gear at its first public outing.

Words by Tony Horgan.