Roland Aira TR-8, TR-3, Propellerheads Reason 7.1 and OSX Mavericks

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information out there about how to setup instruments that can connect to a DAW such as Propellerheads Reason over USB, with MacOS X Mavericks.  Most tutorials start having completed the setup process already.

Here is a tutorial about how to setup a Roland TR-8, Roland TR-3 with MacOS X Mavericks (10.9) and Propellerheads Reason.

I am currently using the following equipment:

  • Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer
  • Roland TR-3 Touch Bassline
  • MacBook Air

I am also using a Korg Microkey25 and a Kaossilator Pro which were setup quite quickly.

The high level steps for this are:

  1. Download the drivers.
  2. Setup your audio devices
  3. Setup Reason’s preferences
  4. Setup the audio tracks

Download Drivers

The first thing you have to do is to download the drivers for your TR-8 and TR-3.  If you gave the drivers installed, then you can setup your audio devices to talk to CoreAudio, Apple’s technology for interfacing everything audio on your Mac.

Setup your audio devices

Do this via Go > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup and you should see your TB-3 and TR-8 setup on the left side.

Audio Setup


What I noticed in Reason was that I could select one of the TR-8 or the TR-3, but I could not play and record both at the same time, which is not really all that helpful. I also noticed the same in Logic.

You need to setup an Aggregate Device:

  1. Click the ‘+’ button and select “Create Aggregate Device”
  2. Select the Built-in Output, TB-3 and TR-8
  3. Select the Clock Source as “Built-in Output”
  4. Let the sample rate be 96 kHz.  The TR-8 and TB-3 both are high resolution audio devices, though some may argue that one doesn’t need to sample that high.  Your call.
  5. Rename the Aggregate Device – I set mine to TB-3&TR-8 (yes, I mistyped it in the image above).
  6. Right click on the new device and select “Use this device for sound input”.
  7. Ensure your actual Built-in Output  is setup for sound output.  If not, right click and select “Use this device for sound output”.  You can also select, “Play alerts and sound effects through this device”.
  8. You’re done with this part!  Take note of the output channels for the Mac’s own Built-in Output, you’ll need this for the next step. In my example, above, here is how to read the inputs and outputs:
    • TB-3 has the first two input and output channels
    • TR-8 has inputs 3 through 16 and outputs 3 through 6
    • The Mac has only outputs 7 and 8

You want to add the Built-in Output in the Aggregate Device so that you can select it as the outbound device within Reason.  You’ll see this in the next step.

Setup Reason’s preferences

Load up Reason and do this via Reason > Preferences > Audio.


  1. Select the Audio Device as the device you created in the previous section.  This is what stumped me, I was looking for separate audio in and out and out fields.
  2. Click the Channels… button next to Active Input Channels, select all of the Inputs.
  3. Click the Channels… button next to Active Output Channels, and select only the output channels
  4. You’re done with this part!

Setup the audio tracks

Now you want to go ahead and create the audio tracks.  Everything should be virtually wired up and ready.

  1. Go to Create > Utilities > Audio Track and an audio track is added.
  2. Expand the device on the rack and under Audio Input select the input for your device.
  3. If you want, rename the Audio Track to be more representative of the device you are adding.
  4. You’re done.

Hit the Start/Stop button on your device and you should hear everything come out of your Mac’s speaker.

Pain Points and Tips

There are definitely some pain points to this setup.  What I have found is:

  • After turning off your devices and existing Reason, it may be possible the devices get forgotten by MacOS X, or it may be the way the devices boot up.
  • Reason might forget which devices belong with which channel or that channels should be enabled.  You may have to go to Reason > Preferences > Audio to set this up.
  • Be sure to save a default file with the audio tracks setup.  This will save you time, and name the devices after the device and sound.
  • The TR-8 will send out a stereo signal on the first two channels, one for left and one for right.  The remaining channels are for the individual sounds if you want to capture the individual audio tracks separately.
  • The TB-3 will send out a stereo signal, as well, on the first two channels.  One for left and one for right.
  • This one is a big frustration point for me.  The USB plug into the TB-3 and TR-8 are FRAGILE and they can be tough to plug in.  Specifically, I actually broke the plastic post on the USB port of my TB-3.  Thankfully it still works, but I need to get some glue to fix it.  I’m not pleased with how cheap the ports are.

And there you go.  Hopefully I’ve taken away some of the pain that I had setting up my equipment.


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