So I tried out a TB-303 yesterday

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So I tried out a TB-303 yesterday

Post by Alex E » Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:43 pm

Anyways it sounded awesome. I really wanted to take it home but it was for sale at a music store with a price tag of something like $1700.

It was pretty cool, but the build quality is kinda... well... cheap. It's very lightweight too, and it seemed delicate. The little knobs are sunk down very low, which explains why so many 303's are worn out around the knobs.

Why Roland doesn't make these anymore is beyond me. Just add a MIDI in and out for sync and triggering, slap TB-303 II on the front and they would sell like hotcakes. I mean really, it has simple analog circuitry and is made of low cost materials so why not make them again? It should be a no-brainer.

I mean just look at the E-mu SP-1200, they made those until they ran out of the filter chips needed in the machines.

I visually examined everything about it and thought about how legendary this lightweight little plastic box was and how cool it would be to go back in time 20 years ago and buy one for $30 at a pawn shop. Too bad I didn't even exist back then...

When I was using it I didn't know exactly what I was doing however I managed to get some sort of sequence out of it. And I also got it into pitch mode I think, and I could "play" the pseudo-keyboard. I think I'll go back there sometime with instructions on how to program it and try it out again.
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Re: So I tried out a TB-303 yesterday

Post by johans121 » Tue Jan 01, 2008 12:04 am

Alex E wrote:Why Roland doesn't make these anymore......I mean just look at the E-mu SP-1200, they made those until they ran out of the filter chips needed in the machines.
The tb303 has a couple rare parts that are no longer in production.
Alex E wrote:When I was using it I didn't know exactly what I was doing however I managed to get some sort of sequence out of it. And I also got it into pitch mode I think, and I could "play" the pseudo-keyboard. I think I'll go back there sometime with instructions on how to program it and try it out again.
It is still a b***h to program even IF you know how to do it! I wonder how many awesome 303 acid lines are really just happy accidents. I've never dealt with more of a pain-in-the-a*s-interface than the one found on that thing.

But for what it's worth, nothing does 303 better than a 303 :!:
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Re: So I tried out a TB-303 yesterday

Post by Tridact » Tue Jan 01, 2008 12:57 am

Alex E wrote: Why Roland doesn't make these anymore is beyond me. Just add a MIDI in and out for sync and triggering, slap TB-303 II on the front and they would sell like hotcakes. I mean really, it has simple analog circuitry and is made of low cost materials so why not make them again? It should be a no-brainer.
I'd be just as happy if Future-Retro just made a smaller, linear version of the Revolution.

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Re: So I tried out a TB-303 yesterday

Post by nathanscribe » Tue Jan 01, 2008 1:31 am

Alex E wrote:It was pretty cool, but the build quality is kinda... well... cheap. It's very lightweight too, and it seemed delicate. The little knobs are sunk down very low, which explains why so many 303's are worn out around the knobs.
303's are not the gold they're cracked up to be, unless you're a die-hard acid freak with more money than sense. I had one for a while in the 90s and it got pretty boring pretty quickly. And they feel cheap because they were cheap, along with the 606 and 202, (which, BTW, is often ignored and yet offers similar features to the 303 for much less), both of which I still have. There was a company making aluminium cases to replace the plastic housing, but I can't remember who or where or how much... Google should answer that though.

There are also copies of the 303 such as the x0xb0x or Oakley Systems 3030, that clone the circuits and replace obsolete parts with slightly more common ones.

DIN sync is good though. Nice and tight.

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Post by killedaway » Tue Jan 01, 2008 3:30 am

i've heard a real 303 many times, and honestly, my Revolution is more or less identical, to my ears. i see no reason to own the "real thing" when i can buy an excellent clone for at least a thousand dollars less.

it's a one-trick pony, but it can be fun in the mix, and makes for a nice additional layer now and then.
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Post by Alex E » Tue Jan 01, 2008 4:26 am

Yeah I've been thinking about the Revolution, If I ever have the money it would be worth it.
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Post by Solderman » Tue Jan 01, 2008 6:36 am

With resonance down and accent at max, it's still the punchiest monosynth I've ever heard. Not knowing how to program it, and fiddling with accents and slides is half the fun.

I managed to get one for less than the FR777 at the time of purchase, so I've never thought of it in terms of cost. I imagine the numerous clones, software and hardware, serve the purpose just as well now. Not all 303's sound alike, so I've read, like many monosynths. They look and feel cheap, but I've had mine five years and never seen a problem.

At any rate, it's fun for about 15 minutes then just gets repetitive if left in the foreground. Nobody but Ceephax uses song mode. :) Roland didn't call it "gimmick circuitry" for nothing.

Fun, but ultimately not terribly versatile. I don't recommend it to anyone for the going prices.
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Post by Re-Member » Tue Jan 01, 2008 10:22 am

There's always the Roland MC-09. Not analog, but close.

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Post by wvcttr » Tue Jan 01, 2008 11:20 am

I dunno... I've always liked the tb303... well... the Devil Fish upgrade. The original version is a bit boring, but the Devil Fish opens up some interesting fun.

My new (well... new to me) mc-202 is on the way. I'm looking forward to patching the mc202 with my Devil Fish and SH09. The mc202 is totally tricked out with extra inputs and outputs.

mmm... can't wait.

Sure, these are simple synths. I guess I'm just a simple person, making simple music and simply enjoying it.

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Re: So I tried out a TB-303 yesterday

Post by Syn303 » Tue Jan 01, 2008 12:23 pm

Tridact wrote:
Alex E wrote: Why Roland doesn't make these anymore is beyond me. Just add a MIDI in and out for sync and triggering, slap TB-303 II on the front and they would sell like hotcakes. I mean really, it has simple analog circuitry and is made of low cost materials so why not make them again? It should be a no-brainer.
I'd be just as happy if Future-Retro just made a smaller, linear version of the Revolution.
I asked Jered at F-R if he would considered making the Revolution TB-303 sized, he said "If you want a 303 sized Revolution by a real 303 instead"

Solderman wrote:Not all 303's sound alike, so I've read
This statement rings true here, not all 303's sound exactly alike, some have their quirks and nuances. I own 2 303's, one sound's mellow and liquidy and the other is more harder sounding and at times aggressive. So the two i have are quite different from each other and have no mods.

godmcgarvey wrote:Still the most over rated, over hyped piece of c**p ever made. An essential element of any pretentious owners collection.
I could say the same for some of the c**p you own, and also to the over-hyped Minimoog, Jupiter's and Prophet's. And no-one asked for your opinion in this thread. if you have nothing positive to say then butt-out matey. I own 2 of them and I don't feel pretentious.

killedaway wrote:i've heard a real 303 many times, and honestly, my Revolution is more or less identical, to my ears. i see no reason to own the "real thing" when i can buy an excellent clone for at least a thousand dollars less.
They are NOT identical, the 303's ACcent is more punchier than the Revolution's ACcent. I have owned a Revolution before.

nathanscribe wrote:303's are not the gold they're cracked up to be, unless you're a die-hard acid freak with more money than sense.
I could probably say the same about those who have more money than sense buying big stupid modulars and other analog synths that cost more than a secondhand 303. and you don't have to be a die-hard acid freak with a 303, it can be used for normal basslines not just acid. the factor in the 303 is how you process it with effects. I can do many things with it and not just that one particular sound. It's a classic instrument that's up there with Mini, the Jupiter 8 et al.
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Post by sam » Tue Jan 01, 2008 1:06 pm

I also love the quirky sequencer which can run my other synths.

It's a nice addition to my set up.
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Post by Shleed » Tue Jan 01, 2008 2:52 pm

I'll stick to my software emulations, the prices for these things are just too ridiculous.
I own 2 of them and I don't feel pretentious.
Really now? Sadly the opposite comes across to other people. :lol:

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Post by Jack Spider » Tue Jan 01, 2008 3:09 pm

Gents, I think it safe to say that some think that the 303 is the bee's knees and others think it's the horse's arse.

Let's leave it at that, as far as discussion of whether one likes/dislikes it and continue this in a less adversarial fashion.
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Post by Soundwave » Tue Jan 01, 2008 4:28 pm

I can get very close to that authentic 303 punch with my Revolution by shoving it through one of these.....


Image

...however the Rev still has a harder sound especially in the upper octaves.

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Re: So I tried out a TB-303 yesterday

Post by nathanscribe » Tue Jan 01, 2008 6:12 pm

Syn303 wrote:
nathanscribe wrote:303's are not the gold they're cracked up to be, unless you're a die-hard acid freak with more money than sense.
I could probably say the same about those who have more money than sense buying big stupid modulars and other analog synths that cost more than a secondhand 303. and you don't have to be a die-hard acid freak with a 303, it can be used for normal basslines not just acid. the factor in the 303 is how you process it with effects. I can do many things with it and not just that one particular sound. It's a classic instrument that's up there with Mini, the Jupiter 8 et al.
I was being slightly tongue in cheek; maybe it didn't show. When I had my 303 they were about £300, and that felt like enough for what is a pretty basic synth with a slightly awkward sequencer. I didn't get along with it and didn't have a slot for it in what I was doing then, so it went. It was good to try though.

The 303 is indeed a classic, and I can see why people love them, but today's prices are so high most people who love the sound can't afford it and have to find cheaper alternatives. Often, those alternatives are better spec'd and so have wider use, but they're not going to be exactly the same, no two different things are. It's one of a few machines that have fallen so far into a musical niche I wonder if it will ever get out - though as you say it works for more than just acid squealing. When you consider that a small euro-rack modular (for example) can be had for about the same as a 303 today, there are plenty of people who'll see that as a better deal.

In a way it's a shame the prices are so high, as inflated prices add to the mystique of a thing. I wonder how many folk buy such things and are then disappointed?

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