Gear Review: Roland TR-707 and TR-727 Software

If you record and produce original music at home, you want every track to be special and different. The new release of software versions of Roland's TR-707 and TR-727 drum machines might be just the added spice you’re looking for.

I'm always looking for elements to add color, dimension, excitement, or a little lift to tracks, especially where the drums drop out entirely. Roland has got my number.  What I really like is that I can click, play and design with my mouse and I don't necessarily need an external trigger pad to create sounds. This is easier, simpler, and more effective for your workflow while removing an extra step.

In 1985, Roland released the now-famous TR-707 and TR-727 Rhythm Composers. Taking their rightful place next to other classic Roland rhythm machines, this dynamic duo of drums and percussion has appeared on hit tracks in a long list of genres. Thanks to Analog Circuit Behavior technology, you can now have the authentic sound and experience of these influential drum machines right inside your DAW, with modern upgrades that take them to all-new territory.

The original sequencer has been replaced with a much more powerful modern version, which you can open up to edit by pressing the Edit button or by clicking on the Matrix readout on the top. You can also change the look and feel of the sequencer to be more like the original or more like a grid layout. The sequencer can play up to eight variations of one bar each and those can be chained together or played individually and recalled via MIDI. Variations can be edited individually, and you can have two different sounds on each track in both the 707 and 727 (the 727 being more Latin-inspired sounds incidentally).

There are also alternate instruments for the snare drum and the bass drum. Additionally, you can assign adjustments in the matrix to knobs on your external keyboard or MIDI controller for more hands-on, tactile control in real-time if you choose.

You have master shuffle for the overall groove, and you can tweak the strength of the shuffle for each individual instrument as well. You've also got mute, solo, and last step.  This will set the last step in the sequence for each instrument individually and you can get some pretty wild stuff happening by assigning different lengths.

Different sequences playing different lengths get some really interesting and curious results very quickly. The drag option is my favorite feature as it allows you to drag and drop as MIDI or audio directly into your DAW. Yes, you read that right. You can even pull in individual instruments so you can process and treat them differently rather than just a stereo mix of everything.

To go into every enticing option would take pages, but suffice to say I don't think you'll be disappointed in these two new releases even if you're familiar with the originals.  In fact, you may be happier with the updates.

And oh yeah, they sound great.

The Roland TR-707 and TR-727 are among the most influential drum machines ever made and to have them updated, improved, and made for today's working musician is just simply wonderful. They're both available now at Roland Cloud.

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