FAQ & Terms of UseFAQ & Terms Of Use   Wiggler RadioMW Radio   Muff Wiggler TwitterTwitter   Support the site @ PatreonPatreon 
 SearchSearch   RegisterSign up   Log inLog in 

TR-09 - TR-08 USB-MIDI/Audio Breakout Host?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author TR-09 - TR-08 USB-MIDI/Audio Breakout Host?
Sunshine Jones
This is a naive shot in the dark for lots of reasons, but I'll go out on a limb here and admit that I think the new Roland Boutique TR-09 and TR-08 are pretty cool. I don't think they are "better" than the originals, not at all... at all... but for the purposes of travel, touring, and the joy of a new device which one can be a bit more careless with (packing it onto an airplane, stuffing it into a case, driving thousands of miles, dusty, dirty, dark, sticky stages etc.) I think having a new thing which will function in a similar manner without doing real harm to a beloved piece of vintage gear is a novel idea. I'm interested.

The shortcoming (beyond the obvious analog vs ACB digital, and teeny tiny size which irritates so many) is the lack of individual outs. I've toured for the last (almost) 2 years with a TR-8 (for the reasons above) and have really enjoyed it. The mixing on the front panel is nice, intuitive, and immediate. But I'd much rather have two sequencers than one, and access to all the sounds (respectively) but the mixing adventure on the Boutique devices is very different from the long fader mixing on the TR-8.

So I got to thinking:
The Boutique drum machines offer USB-MIDI/USB-Audio built into the devices.
This means that the micro USB connector is able to transmit audio, midi, and power in association with a computer.

So somehow there are individual tracks for the sounds happening inside the TR-09 and TR-08 already... the question is how to access them without a computer?

I talked with Roland Tokyo about this, and they were very nice and patient. They admitted having considered creating a breakout box similar to the SBX-1 where a TR-09 or TR-08 user might connect one of these machines to the breakout box and then accomplish wall wart power, midi in/out and 8 + individual audio outputs.

But based on their estimation of demand, and the market these machines are popular in, the focus is on computer users, and thus it wasn't seen as important to the users they were attempting to serve and thus omitted, and not pursued.

That said, consider the basics of a Midi-USB Host
something like this

This seems like a teensy with a USB for power, and a midi port for midi to allow for a device to operate independently without a computer. Adding some audio jacks to this wouldn't be much of a challenge.

Seems like the hard part would be making sense of the driver which assigns the outs to the software on the TR-09 or TR-08... reverse engineering that is something that's over my head (not in my experience.)

I guess I could take apart one of these Sevilla Soft USB-Midi Hosts and learn more about it, or get ahold of a Teensy and add an audio board and start looking into how to add this output assignment code, but I'm so not a software person. I fear it would be an all set up, no payoff situation.

Does anyone have experience with this sort of reverse engineering of a driver?
Is this worth pursuing, or would it just be down to Roland wouldn't give me access to the software, so there wouldn't be any way of getting it done without them as I fear?

Would this even be interesting or useful to anyone but me?
You are certainly not alone with this wish.
gearslutz thread from 2016

I did some research some weeks/months ago but stopped my investigations as of two major issues:

    The TR-8 does not output usb class compliant audio signals (see alsa mailinglist entry)
    I searched for cheap but decent multichannel-output soundcards (don't need inputs for this) and came across the ploytec junction 2 but that's over my head as well - as far as I understand one would have to implement USB-Audio-Host functionallity

Thus, the next "cheat" would be to turn up some secondary machine with a decent soundcard (8-14 outputs... that seems hard to get for a decent amount of money (the big players seem to focus on many inputs and some outputs...) - maybe the above mentioned ploytec one?) and run a DAW on it dedicated solely to the TR-8... then again this would certainly yield some little latencies... it would lose the MIDI-USB-Connectivity... and last not least it would cost at the very least as much as the TR-8 itself...

All in all I saw too many dead ends...

I even thought about some vst voodoo-magic like having the secondary computer send audio via network (to get rid of the soundcard for the second computer). So you would have a TR-8 dedicated DAW machine and the USB-Audio would flow from the TR-8 to the daw-channel per instrument through an instance of a to-be-programmed network vst-effect each to the major machine. There you would have a channel with a also to-be-programmed receiving vst for each instrument... but that would sure enough be hard to keep in sync as well...

That's why I decided to put this thought away... leave it to someone else/better... maybe at roland? screaming goo yo
If it is possible, it would be likely be complicated, kludgy and perhaps costly, by which time you would be better off with a different drum machine that has individual outputs already seriously, i just don't get it
Sunshine Jones
Luap wrote:
If it is possible, it would be likely be complicated, kludgy and perhaps costly, by which time you would be better off with a different drum machine that has individual outputs already seriously, i just don't get it

Sunshine Jones
oberling wrote:
That's why I decided to put this thought away... leave it to someone else/better... maybe at roland? screaming goo yo

I've put it to them directly and said it would be a real win for the users who are at the forefront of the use for these new devices, but I think what they're up against is pretty tight.

It's gotta be so hard to bring your idea for a new device to a floor full of number crunchers and be told "no" all the time. Once a company gets going it's not the same company anymore, right? So I guess I should be surprised and delighted that these things exist at all.

Maybe I'll do some study and see what I can learn about USB-Audio as it relates to the Arduino or the teensy in terms of if porting is even possible without the computer. I believe that the TR-09 and TR-08 are indeed class compliant. I don't think the TR-8 is precisely.

Maybe there's something there. I'll report back and let you know should any positive of promising discovery be made (and I'll put in another plug for this to Roland if I get another chance.)

I appreciate the replies. Thank you.
You could get a stick PC for about $100 and something like an ESI gigaport HD+ for about $190. Run a free DAW on the stick PC and assign the 8 outputs.
Since Roland has a driver for Mac and MacOs is closely related to Debian, wouldn't that driver at least be a good place to start? I'm in the same boat that Sunshine is.
Well crap. Got nowhere with the Apple drivers. Everything I've seen says it ain't happenin. TR-09 isn't class compliant, TR-8 and likely the 08 aren't either. If I see anything that will work I'll come back and post here but it don't look good.
I believe theres a linux driver available which may be able to run on a raspberry pi... which can run a pair of DAC boards (TR-08's usb spits out 12 channels).
Just checked out Roland's site... no Linux drivers. Did you find the driver somewhere else? A few google searches pretty much led me nowhere (except back to here).
Sunshine Jones
It's highly likely that I'm way off here, but doesn't it work like this?:

• Device runs USB audio/midi out
• USB carries the audio and midi to the host
• Host is a driver + system/os + DAW assignments

I believe there is a way to access the outputs over USB from the TR-09 itself. This is also selectable from within the DAW. So we don't "need" the driver to tell us where the audio goes per se.

Perhaps it's basically that we are in need of interpreting the OS USB MIDI/Audio to class compliant standards (which the TR-09 apparently is not, so we would need to disambiguate the driver, or somehow load it up (with the stick PC idea) and then tell it what to do as the DAW does (which I believe is actually simple controls for what the driver is offering.)

The the missing link here appears to be the driver.

It would be lovely to load the driver into an Arduino USB host and go...
But it seems more complicated than this, and how to port a PC or Mac driver into Arduino/Teensy library language is waaay over my head.

I appreciate continued thinking about this.
Did anyone make any progress with this? poke
The issue (and biggest shame) is that the TR-09 only gives 4 channels via USB.
subscribing in case someone works out how to do this.
has anybody made any progress with the raspberry pi and TRs?
beeble wrote:
has anybody made any progress with the raspberry pi and TRs?

Man, I gave it ye olde college try, but no. Apparently, the way Sunshine described it above is how it WOULD work - if Roland had made these class compliant. I took a look at the MacOS drivers but I have no idea how to de-compile them - let alone get them to work on a RasPi. I tried leveraging some of the more knowledgeable programmers at a local hacker space. they knew nussing about gear in general. Everything I've read - which unfortunately isn't much - says that without roland's involvement, the only way it's happening is with the PC-on-a-stick method. That has it's own issues:

Maybe something like this: -less-than-2-ounces-and-works-in-any-hdmi-port-1607124/ would work theoretically, you could have that plugged into a USB hub and attach the TR-09 and a multi-out sound card, but since you have to plug this into a monitor, have we really gotten away from just using a flippin' computer? smile

Sunshine, if you do/did have the chance to talk to them, I'm really curious as to WHY they went this way. In order to use their drivers, you also have to use their little front-end thing. That required development and requires upgrades over time/OSes.. Why wouldn't you just make it Class Compliant and skip all of that overhead?!? You plug it in and you now have X number of Audio Ins added! Done!

I wonder if the intent is just to push you towards the MX-1... I have to admit, I'm slightly tempted, now that I can find them on Reverb for like 438ish.
The process of reverse engineering the driver could look something like this (if you're running linux, might be other tools for other OS)

1. Start a VirtualBox with Windows, get the official driver working there
2. Set up wireshark in Linux to capture usb communication to and from the TR
3. Use the functionality that you want to reverse engineer inside VirtualBox
4. Make sense of the protocol by looking at the captured data
5. Write a new driver, for Linux (raspberry pi) or mcu

The non trivial step here is of course 4. It's not impossible by any means though, it's done all the time for different usb devices.
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Page 1 of 1
Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group