The Ultimate Guide to the TR-8S Rhythm Performer – Applying Sidechain FX to Another Instrument Using External In

The Roland TR-8S External Inputs allow you to plug in any Audio Source, like a Synth or another Drum Machine, and process the Input Signal using the Delay, Reverb and Sidechain FX of the TR-8S.

Sidechain is an effect that uses one signal to act on another signal. A common example of this being Sidechain Compression, in which the Sidechain Input of a Compressor on one Track receives a signal from another track, for example, the Bass Drum Track. Every time the Bass Drum hits, the compression is applied to the sound being compressed. This effect is often used in Electronic music to cause a Chord Pad or Bass Sound to duck when the Kick hits.

To achieve this kind of effect, plug the Audio Outputs of a Synth into the External Inputs of the TR-8S. Try playing a Pad or Bass Sound with a long sustain on your Synth.

Contributed by Alexander Marlowe for Roland Corporation Australia

Applying Sidechain to the EXT Inputs

  1. Press the Utility Button to view the Utility screen.
  2. Hold Shift and turn the Value Knob to select EXT IN: Type and press Enter.
  3. Turn the Value Knob to select Stereo.
  4. Hold Shift and press Kit to view the Kit Edit screen.
  5. Hold Shift and turn the Value Knob to select EXT IN SideChnSrc and press Enter.
  6. Turn the Value Knob to select BD and press Enter.
  7. Turn the Value Knob to select SideChnType and press Enter.
  8. Turn the Value Knob to select the desired SideChnType and press Enter.
  9. Turn the Value Knob to select SideChnDpt and press Enter.
  10. Turn the Value Knob to select a Side Chain Depth of 255 and press Enter.
  11. Turn the Value Knob to select EXT IN Gain and press Enter.
  12. Turn the Value Knob to adjust the External Input Gain as desired and press Enter.
  13. Turn the Value Knob to select EXT IN Pan and press Enter.
  14. Turn the Value Knob to select CENTER and press Enter.
For this example, set your Pattern to have a “four on the floor” Bass Drum Pattern with a Kick on every Beat, (Steps 1, 5, 9 and 13). Press the Start/Stop Button to start playing your Pattern. Experiment with different Side Chain Types as the Pattern Plays. There are 8 Types, providing various kinds of Ducking or Gating. See the TR-8S Reference Manual page 27 for a more complete description of the Side Chain Types.


The Kit Edit screen EXT IN Parameters also include Reverb Send and Delay Send. You can use these to apply the TR-8S Reverb and Delay Global Effects to the sound of the Synth or other sound source you plug in to the External Inputs.
Article written by Alex Marlowe

Alex MarloweAlex Marlowe is a Composer/Producer, Musician and Consultant based in Melbourne, Australia. Alex has placed music in numerous movies and TV shows, and toured worldwide as a keyboardist with major artists. As a Teacher and Consultant, Alex has worked with platinum songwriters, music editors, producers and composers, and conducted courses in Music Production and Music Software, including at the Songwriting School of Los Angeles. You can find more info, and contact Alex at:

TR-8S Ultimate Guide

This Article is part of a series called The Ultimate Guide to the TR-8S Rhythm Performer, for the Guide’s Main Page click here.

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