The Roland TB-303 bass synth has evolved into a legend, and after plugging Roland's new TB-3 Touch Bassline into my studio rig, I can leave my 303 in its case without remorse! The TB-3's familiar Cutoff and Resonance knobs are every bit as powerful as on the 303, and it not only includes the 303's sound set, with its single-oscillator sawtooth and square wave options, it's got new four-oscillator sounds that took my sounds into some galactic dimensions. The new Scatter function, with its reverse, gating and stutter options, saves me hours of editing and rearranging in my DAW, and I can even back up my sounds to a thumb drive! The TB-3 gives me sweeping leads, gurgling bass lines and sounds that cut through my EDM mixes effortlessly.
This thing and my Elektron machines go together like peanut butter and jelly! Unreal sounds!
Much more than a TB 303 remake
This thing is so much fun! It's got more options than the original and more sounds and effects.
My Sweetwater sales rep was extremely helpful and answered all my questions prior to purchase.
Just get one!
Yes, it isn't a 303. It is better in almost every way. I know it is sacrilege to say, but it sounds BETTER than a 303. I can't tell you how much fun I've had re-creating acid classics with this. It is like having a 303 and a bank of effects all at your fingertips.
Someday someone is going to crack this thing wide open and we'll have custom-firmware for it so we can go crazy with the sounds, effects and who knows what else. Until then, the pre-built ones are good enough.
It does everything you wanted your 303 to do and more. Programming is easier. It has a huge sound set. Pressure modulation is crazy once you learn it. The XY for envelope is a bit strange, but takes 10 seconds to figure out. It does swing.
What is missing:
Ability to select pattern/transposition via MIDI. Oh no! I guess I'll just have to play it by hand until Roland fixes that.
THIS IS THE SOUND!!!
What so great about this synth is you punch in a simple bassline into in and choose the sound you want and then tweak the filter and you get the sound .
i got mine one month after i got the TR8 and together is like Batman and Robin.
Acid with ease of use and more
If you want a 303 but with all of todays modern features, then this is for you. Ive listened to many comparisons between this and a TB303 and can't really tell the difference, some people can and if you really care about that 1% difference then maybe you should look into one of the much more expensive hand made solutions which you can find on the internet.
Don't forget if you do that you won't get any of the other amazing features that come standard on the TB-3. Things like USB audio, midi note info back and forth, direct integration into your DAW etc.. basically all the things you really need to create music using todays tech. I feel its worth any slight difference for that ability, and as I said I can't notice any.
You also get dozens of other really great sounds and fx thrown in. Its much easier to program that the 303 also. You can even play in real time and it picks up and "acid quantizes" in real time. Comes in handy for recreating old classic riffs.
I highly recommend this for todays generation of tech and for people that must have that old acid sound.
The only thing I can fault it is that it should have had more knobs, especially for the env/mod settings, its a bit of a pain having to use the pad for those settings, although on the first two base acid sounds, the effect knob doubles for env, so that is nice.
There are lots of tricks and un mentioned features to it so dig deep and research a lot to get as much out of this unit as you can. If you don't you will moss out as the manual doesn't cover much at all.
vary vary nice
I'm so glad they made this again and put some of the old sounds in it from the TB-303 I will be using this in lot of my songs grate job Roland
When you hear this you want it
I gave this a perfect review because this product deserves it. When you plug this into your kit your going to love it. It sounds so juicy and sweet.
Even more versatile when you use an external sequencer. Makes fantastic lead and bass sounds. Buy this baby and never let go.
Great gear. Period.
Yes it's supposed to emulate the TB303 & there ALWAYS will be TB303 users (as well as people that haven't even actually used the TB303) turning their noses up to anything else. I've used the 303 for brief sessions back in the 90's & it was cheaply made.chintzy plastic..afraid to look at it too hard let alone be agressive with it, & it's NUTS that they are going for $1500-$2000 on ebay. Seriously? You have got to be kidding. But I can tell you, regardless of the emulation deal, this box sounds great! It's very easy to create a sequence complete with slides, slurs, & rests...as well as the sequence length for odd time signatures, & tweak the sound with the filter/fx etc..The scatter function is also really cool. MIDI in/out....GREAT!
If you like tb303 type sounds or are looking for an alternative to it that can go further, this box is the one to get...& for under $300 there is no contest. You can also use it to sequence other synths as well as free up a couple channels on your audio interface with the TB3's usb interface.
I plan on buying the vocal transformer soon as well. Thanks Roland!
Worth every PENNY!...and maybe even More!!(;
Simply AMAZING!.... well worth the wait and to be completely frank, I think its almost Insane to be able to have such a powerful tool for both LIVE and Studio use @ such an affordable price tag. incredibly flexible. Theres almost no learning curve to this thing.... before i new it, i was lost inside the tb3 for Hours & hours at time. If you ever find yourself in any kind of creative roadblock during production, the TB3 does a phenomenal job of sparking up new grooves and melodies. I MUST say this product will easily sky rocket to top of anyones list... YOU will never ever go about producing another track without immediately reaching for the tb3. A Must HAVE, No doubt!!! This thing was def made to Last, no matter what environment your in. ROLAND youve outdone yourselves again, proving once again that they are the real deal
Gotta love that Acid sound.
Well im glad that Roland decided to take a much better stab at a TB-303 remake than the 1997 MC-303 attempt if anyone remembers that. Alot of purists will scoff at the fact that this is a digital machine but let me assure you it is very impressive. The new ACB technology seems to really provide that desired analog characteristic tone. I was going to spend $599 on a x0xbox and im glad i didnt. The sequencer is very easy to learn which makes it very handy (especially for sequencing other gear). The nice thing about this unit is that you cant beat the sound that you get for the price. Although someone like Protoype 909 might be more qualified to provide a review this unit it is my humble opinion, after listening to 20+ years of Underground Acid Breaks, Acid House, Acid Trance etc. The additional sounds that it comes with are alot of fun too. Hopefully future OS updates include more!!
One Touch is Never Enough
I love the TB-3. It's really something. Endless fun and enjoyment.
The TB3 gets a 4.5 in my review simply because of its limited synth editing features. That said, I would take a TB3 over a real TB303 any day. (*GASP*) For starters, the cost is unbeatable. For someone that spent roughly two decades making music and dreaming of owning a 303, to have something sitting on my desk that comes probably within 99% of that 303 sound, and to have memories of early '90's techno and acid house flooding my mind, letting go of $300 bucks to achieve this is nothing.
When I am not using the TB3 to generate internal sounds, I use the MIDI out to program my other synths, namely the Volca Bass, Keys, and Arturia Microbrute. The programming interface is a breeze, things can happen fast, including pleasant accidents.
The scatter function is great too. It is the most 'musical' when played like a keyboard (think tempo-sync'd stutters instead of notes).
Overall, the TB3 has it's limitations, many of these can be overcome with external sampling, audio FX, sequencing, MIDI functions, and good ole fashioned ingenuity. It is hard to beat at $300, as there aren't many other synths in that price range that instantly bring back memories of early '90's techno.
Worst case scenario, it gets boring after a while, but I can already tell my daughter likes it. Here is to a new generation of techno geeks.
Pro's: just about everything it is capable of in that tiny little box.
Con's: Lack of synth editing.
does the trick for me... I am not an analogue junky of any kind, and cannot say I have messed with the original (tb-303) enough to really be able to tell the difference between how fat the bass is etc... but what I always loved about the 303 was the step sequencer with the slide... I have always thought it would be a great sequencer to be able to hook up midi, and play different sounds through... I haven't yet gone this far with it but have had a blast with the factor sounds, most of which are bass variations of course, and can't wait to try it out with some of the sounds from other boards, or hopefully with some .wav sounds, if I can figure that much out. I'm just a guy who has fun with music, I don't understand a lot about it, but can say that it does the trick for me, as a midi sequencer with slide.
Great but could be improved even more
The sound of this thing is phenomenal! The filters work great and have a rich sweep. I'm a big fan of all things acid and this makes the right sound! Very easy to program patterns and the random pattern generator is a nice touch.
I was a bit disappointed with the lack of access to the oscillators and the effects set-up. The scatter effects seem a bit gimmicky but perhaps it could be upgraded through a software update.
Overall, very happy with it but I think it could be enhanced in the future
Acid for a new generation.
After playing around with several 303 VST's over the years something just didn't feel right with the sequencing and sound. The TB-3 shines here, making a new patch is simple and intuitive as is getting the exact sound you want. There is a wide variety of built in sounds. Purists might not like the fact that the unit is digital, but it sounds like the real deal to my ears. The only real complaint I have about the unit is the fact that their is no env mod knob, you have to use the touch interface which means you can't change it while using the sequencer or other functionality.
Wide variety of sounds
Sequencer / interface is extremely intuitive
MIDI and audio over USB
No env knob, functionality is touch only
Not a perfect copy... but close enough.
O.K. I bought this to use along-side a real Roland TB-303 and a Future Retro Revolution (another synth with 303 roots).
The build quality is very flimsy. The knobs are wobbly and the case is cheap plastic. Even the buttons feel cheap. In this regard, it is very similar to an original 303.
Sequencing with the TB-3 is fun and immediate. It is much easier to program than an original TB-303. The touch screen is a great feature.
The synth itself is basic, just like an original 303. The TB-3 includes other synth sounds besides square and sawtooth, making the unit more versatile than the original. I found some of the sounds humorous, as they are obvious nods to the sounds produced by a 303 running through overdrive/distortion. Other sounds include JP-8000 style supersaws, trance plucks, Reese basses, and Dubstep wobbles. In all, the sounds are aimed at dance and electronic music production.
The filter is very good, but doesn't sound like a TB-303 at high resonance settings. I'm happy to report that the filter does not suffer from stepping behavior.
On to the bad stuff:
The sequencer has very little sequence storage.
The TB-3 implementation of slide is NOTHING like that of a real 303. Don't expect to be able to mimic a 303 sequence exactly. The TB-3 falls very short here.
The envelope on the TB-3 is also imprecise, and sounds nothing like a 303 with the filter being modulated.
I gave the TB-3 only three and a half stars because of the flimsy build quality, and because it only KIND OF, SORT OF sounds like a TB-303.
Roland has made some very bold claims about how the TB-3 compares. My ears and mint condition TB-303 disagree.
P.S. The TB-3 is still a fun, inspiring instrument. It is also far more affordable, versatile and easier to sequence. I recommend it, so long as the buyer understands it is NOT a TB-303.
Hum, nice sounds, plain interface.
This device is nice, has very nice patches, it is very cool to the eye. However, the patches are not so tweakable - the four knobs make little or no change whatsoever. There is no shortcut for switching tonalities, which limits the use in a live improvisation environment (all the patterns must be pre-designed). I am still exploring it, but not sure whether on keeping it.
I think the idea behind releasing a next gen 303 is awesome. Unfortunately I think Roland really missed the mark on this one. Why on earth did they leave off a Tuning knob and why on earth did they relegate the Env Depth and Decay functions to the X/Y pad? Sorry Roland but this is INSANE. I hope they somehow come to their senses and release software fixes as well as a new hardware version which incorporates the missing features.
Yeah, but where are the bass sounds??
My review is based solely on the demo video on the Sweetwater website. I am very interested in having a synth bass, because it is less expensive than buying a new bass guitar with effects pedals, but the Roland guy doing the demo did not show me or let me hear if the TB-3 can sound like a regular bass guitar. I am generally a huge fan of Roland and Boss products, but there are no organic qualities that I heard in this demo. I mean: having a synth available too use as a sound modifier is pretty cool, but my needs include having regular bass guitar sounds mixed with guitars, keyboards and drums, like in a real band. This item does not fit the bill for me.