Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

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presspl>y
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Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by presspl>y » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:43 am

A bit of a loaded question here, to spur some debate.

The 303 will forever be associated with the Acid sound, but it doesn't mean it's the only synth that can do it.

I know I can get some pretty serious acid sounds from my Voyager, for example. It's not the same quirky filter as on the 303, but it works. My question is, especially for people who own 303's, does it really matter?

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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by Mr Knesh » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:48 am

Because it was the 303 that began it all!

gimme a moment and I will fetch a video for you.


Edit: Here is the general idea


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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by presspl>y » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:15 am

I agree, it started it all, but what if the first acid tracks were made on something else. Say, a Jupiter 8 or an MS20. Both were available before the 303, and both are capable of making the acid sound.

So my question is, is Acid only Acid when it comes from the 303, or can it come from other sources (and sound just as good)?

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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by Solderman » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:42 am

Besides starting the whole Acid House craze, I believe it to be the unique and unmistakable character of the 303 when heard, without distortion or spectral modulation effects. It's not hard to tell between a normal synth and at least a good 303 clone that tries to use similar circuitry. The design is not as generic or flexible as a typical monosynth, nor are the parts tolerances up to the same quality spec.

I think Robin Whittle summed up the uniqueness of the 303's character quite well. The accent and slide circuitry is still one-of-a-kind, and I've yet to hear software that can match the control signal behavior exactly. I would add that the way that the filter doesn't self-oscillate and how resonance is imparted on the signal are another big part of its sonic identity. It's something only a diode configuration can do.
presspl>y wrote:My question is, especially for people who own 303's, does it really matter?
Not unless what you are hearing in your head when composing requires only the traits that the 303 possesses, no I don't think it does. Some of the acid lines in DrukQs for example might be inspired by the 303, but are unique and sound great.
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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by Hybrid88 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:05 am

Agree with Solderman I have got some 303 esque sounds on my V-Synth that kill the real deal for sheer power - but there is only one (well two if you count the XoX) that can do the unmistakeable raw croak and squidge that you get from a real 303. And yeah the programmable accent and slide have a lot to do with the sound too.

Also 303 and 909 are instant Acid, cause thats the sound that started the genre, doesn't mean you can't do it on other machines, only it will sound somewhat different. Could also be something to do with the unusual 18db/Oct filter.

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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by Dano » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:50 am

Mr Knesh wrote:Because it was the 303 that began it all!

gimme a moment and I will fetch a video for you.


Edit: Here is the general idea

He brings up the point that I find interesting, that the TB303 was a flop when released. (ca.1982?)

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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by skizzle » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:17 am

^^^
z) all of the above + its distortion and ad env.

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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by tim gueguen » Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:38 pm

And it was all because the '303 was cheap. No one wanted them, so the early techno guys, having tiny budgets, bought them.

The '303 was heard on record fairly soon after its debut, Greg Hawkes using one on his 1983 solo album NIagra Falls.
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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by Mr Knesh » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:14 pm

I don't think anything Greg Hawkes put on that record could be considered acid, but it is a good example of an early use of the tb303.



here is a neat first look at the historical use of the 303.

part II -

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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by Solderman » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:54 pm

Hybrid88 wrote:Could also be something to do with the unusual 18db/Oct filter.
I always have a small niggle when this gets mentioned. The design is supposed to be 4 pole, but none of the transistors are matched pairs, so the initial slope is usually gentler than a typical 4 pole slope, giving it more of a mid-rangey, vocal quality.

The thing I wonder is does one define Acid as tweaking the accent, cutoff and envelope depth like a performance while using pattern and/or chain mode? That's the idea behind Phuture's Acid Trax, and is probably the groundbreaking single for Acid House.
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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:31 pm

skizzle wrote:^^^
z) all of the above + its distortion and ad env.
You mean D envelope...no attack parameter :roll:
Solderman wrote:does one define Acid as tweaking the accent, cutoff and envelope depth like a performance
As far as I can tell that's the case. If you don't tweak the knobs it gets pretty boring to listen to a 303 ;)

But then what do I know, my name's not Ishkur... :dancer:
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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by Mr Knesh » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:53 am

meatballfulton wrote: As far as I can tell that's the case. If you don't tweak the knobs it gets pretty boring to listen to a 303 ;)

But then what do I know, my name's not Ishkur... :dancer:
Listening to a 303 that isn't being tweaked to h**l and back is boring.

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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:36 am

tim gueguen wrote:And it was all because the '303 was cheap. No one wanted them, so the early techno guys, having tiny budgets, bought them.
No, it was all because the 303 was a lame bass emulator, and even so, a lame synthesizer. It sucked all around, despite having a unique sound. It didn't work for its intended purpose, and didn't work for the only other purpose it could have had. It was wholly by chance that someone honed in on the one thing it could do well, and exploited it.

meatballfulton wrote:But then what do I know, my name's not Ishkur...
What would you know even if your name WAS Ishkur?*


*Not to impugn your knowledge, Meatball... but definitely to impugn that particular "resource"
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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by visceralvoids » Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:23 am

Envelope depth knob is fanstastic and the way knobs interact with eachother, I think it's great they can and have made all kinds of emulations. The 90s rackmounts attempted so hard to fully match it. And as others said the filter is impeccable not quite 16 or 24 db.

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Re: Why is the 303 the de-facto Acid synth?

Post by Sir Nose » Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:04 pm

It is the defacto acid synth because of the way its sound uniquely interacts with a human brain on LSD.
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