Roland TB-3
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Roland TB-3

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TB-3, Analog Modeling Synth from Roland in the AIRA series.


7 user reviews
Prices starting at $300 average price: $300

Roland TB-3 tech. sheet

  • Manufacturer:Roland
  • Model:TB-3
  • Series:AIRA
  • Category:Analog Modeling Synths
  • Added in our database on: 02/14/2014

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Buy new Roland TB-3

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Roland TB-3 user reviews

Average Score:4.0( 4/5 based on 7 reviews )
 2 reviews29 %
 2 reviews29 %
 2 reviews29 %
Value For Money :
BulletZ06/28/2014

BulletZ's review"It sounds all right, but offers limited possibilities"

Roland TB-3
It's more of a sampler than a real synth: No preset can be edited: You have to do with the sounds conceived by Roland, with the only possibility to play with the filter and the effects. No tuning, no decay(!), and I won't mention other well-known mods of the TB-303. Which is quite a pity. The manufacturing quality seems pretty good., the unit is heavy and gives the impression of sturdiness that you expect from a Roland.

UTILIZATION

The fact that the audio interface is built in (like on the AIRA series) is an undeniable advantage. Unfortunately, it's not class-compliant and you have to install the Roland driver (which isn't a good sign, because it implies that it will become obsolete), and every AIRA device requires its own driver: Not cool. The manual is reduced to its most simple expression and gives a cheap impression, considering the price of the unit and the Roland tradition. The learning curve is very short (the limitations of the product do have a reason to be), the programming of the sequencer (be it live or step-by-step) is very intuitive once you understand how the ties and rests work.

SOUNDS

The presets are nice, but I would really like to be able to edit and save them. The immediate impact of the position of the controls on the sound of the presets can prove to be frustrating. That said, if the presets are right for you, the sound is very good. It's really hard to distinguish between the TB-3 and the TB-303 with the classic saw and square waveforms, the modeling is almost perfect.

OVERALL OPINION

If you are hesitating between this model and a clone of the TB-303, you're asking yourself the wrong question. The TB-3 is capable of reproducing the classic TB-303 sounds, without a doubt. It is also capable of many other exploits, but the similarity ends there.

The biggest drawback of this product is the impossibility to edit presets. You have to make do with what Mr. Roland decided to offer, you can only change the patterns and play with the modulation controls on the fly (cutoff, resonance, accent, and effect, plus the touchpad's X-Y mode ). No parameter locking (neither in step-by-step nor per preset: This means that the position of the controls immediately influences the preset that you load). It's very intuitive, which is a good thing given the poor documentation.

Some of these problems could be addressed later if Roland offers a firmware update some day or, even better, a software editor for the TB-303 (and when that day comes I will update my review). But right now there's nothing on the horizon. That said, what a sound it has! It really kicks ass! But it's no replace for a TB-303. It's different, a complement.
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04/19/2014

Anonymous 's review"It's not a clone, it's déjà vu"

Roland TB-3
Features: See other reviews
Effects are associated to the type of sound, the pot is very sensitive, it starts distorting pretty fast beyond 40%
PC editing: Let's hope a hacker brings out something better in the coming months.
Octave choice: Don't use it together with the keyboard, it's easy to get mixed up.
Strange x/y key, which isn't very useful in general.
The Random function is good, it's a nice idea

UTILIZATION

The manual is an easy read.
Editing an envelope involves 4 aspects, a wheel would've been better
The sounds are inspired on the MC09
The usability of the xoxbox
And the spirit of the monotribe.

Roland engineers had to come up with something to compete with the TT303 and the volcabass

SOUNDS

Acid sound, yes
Good metallic sound on the C and D effects
Possibility to go up to 32 steps
The step-by-step editing is really messed up, you can easily exit it by barely touching other buttons.
Transposing is easy, but a bit light for my taste.
The Scatter function is the unit's main asset.
The display is pretty disappointing: It's 2014 and it's not much to ask to be able to have 5 digits to name the tracks, is it?
The Value knob is not well thought-out, it turns endlessly but once you arrive to the last soundbank, you have to go back manually, since it doesn't loop automatically!

OVERALL OPINION

After many hours, I still prefer my xoxbox and mc09
I will certainly use it, but I'm disappointed by its lack of originality.
It would've been useful to have an adjustable distortion, a delay and a low-frequency boost.
For $300 it's a pretty basic unit.
It sounds less metallic than the retro revolution,
The B sounds on the tb 3 are for goa or trance,
Live, it's nice to switch quickly from 8 to 32 steps, to improvise live, but it's not very user-friendly.
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Maxidingue03/25/2014

Maxidingue's review"This is going to be big"

Roland TB-3
Desktop Expander sequencer
Digital emulation of the Roland Tb-303
Very compact, about the size of an A4 sheet
Comprehensive audio connections, plus MIDI in and out, USB
The latter allows you to establish a MIDI connection, to power the TB-303 and to transmit audio (awesome).
Minimalist controller, cutoff and frequency knobs, the touchpad allows you to go further in terms of adjustment.
Great number of presets, among which is Bank A, including the sounds of the TB-303.
Plenty of patterns, 8 banks of 8.
Each preset has an editable effect per program but most of the time they are well matched.
4 oscillators for a very fat mono sound or an acid one, it's up to you.

UTILIZATION

It has a short learning curve and is user-friendly.
As I've said before, sound editing is minimalist but, after all, it has everything it needs and everything is well though-out.
Thus, preset A1 uses the sine wave of the original TB and preset A2 the square wave.
The cutoff and frequency knobs do their job well and allow 95% of the variations you usually do live with such devices.
The rest of the classic edit functions are done via the touchpad.
It features two modes to record patterns: Step and Real Time. The ideal workflow is to start with Real Time and then switch to Step with accent and glide
Multi-language and basic manual on an A4 sheet.

SOUNDS

Several videos on youtube prove that it's very close to the original in terms of sound.
The great number of presets classified in banks allows you to do everything that mommy (the original TB) did.
Regarding the effects I mentioned above, they are preassigned to the sounds.
I'm amazed by the quality of the effects on this sort of devices. I expected metallic reverbs, delay that flanged...Bu that's not the case at all, they are very well implemented and have a great quality. The only thing you can modify is the intensity of the effect thanks to a knob that also allows you to cut the effect completely.

My only disappointment is that some of the sounds of the FX bank are hardly usable.
On the other hand, the TB, bass and lead banks are a real delight.

OVERALL OPINION

I've used it for about 15 days. I think I have mastered it.
I have never had an original TB but I do know how it sounds (from samples, emulations, software). To be honest, this small unit is AMAZING, in terms of sound, versatility and usability. It is particularly well conceived and well though-out.
The engineers at Roland did a great job recreating the sounds of the mythical TB-303
I don't see any reason to go broke for an antique, except maybe for people who really yearn for vintage stuff (or snobs, which is a tautology....)
To finish, just a word on its value for money. I'll be brief, for less than $300, it's an excellent value for money, especially when you consider the manufacturing quality. Probably made in China, but impeccable all the same.
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Infracid03/23/2014

Infracid's review"Awesome, for improvisation"

Roland TB-3
See manufacturer

UTILIZATION

Great product, as long as you accept its improvisational and old-school side.

You can't save a single sound!!! You can't associate a sequence to a sound, you can make your own pattern (thank goodness), but the sound will always remain the same. This means that if you wish to change the sound you may bump into surprises because not all sounds have the same volume (some are much louder than others) and all parameters act in real time, which means that if you have a cut-off set to 3/4 on a sound, it will also be set to 3/4 on any other sound you change to.

The effects: Some of them are pretty interesting and even very good, but unfortunately they are associated to sounds, so if you like a distortion effect you can't use it on any sound you want (even though we must concede that the manufacturer made wise choices in this regard).

So you can't save sounds nor choose effects per patch.

The piano: Rather good overall, no problems for step-by-step recording, but if you intend to play in real time, don't expect to be able to play what you recorded. It has a function to play without notes (like on he Kaoss pad), but it's impossible to record with it.

Like on the tr-8, you have the lazy function (to randomly generate a pattern).

Program change OK, control change OK.

2 bars max per pattern with the possibility to link 8 (16 bars in total).

SOUNDS

In terms of sound it is truly excellent, it includes the sounds of the TB and much more. You will have the sounds of the TB, which have been used by many artists for 30 years, the TB with distortion of Daft Punk or Prodigy, the TB with reverb or delay of Aphex Twin, etc., etc...But also new sounds.

Some patches feature up to 4 oscillators, it's awesome.

OVERALL OPINION

An irreproachable sound, but with old-school handling. Unlike the tr-8, it's an instrument that aims at the future with its new acid sounds (while the TR-8 remains more traditional in this respect).
Unlike the tr-8 you can fully decontextualize the TB and move towards new horizons (but also to remain more traditional).

For $300 you will have much more than a TB-303. If you compare both, this one is truly awesome, but I expected more in terms of editing (and saving your mods).

I don't regret my purchase, even if I will need to find a solution to be able to change patches live with more precision.

PS: It would've been nice to have a push-on knob to change sounds. It would allow to switch from A30 to B33 (for example) without having to hear all the sounds in between.
»

Roland TB-3 news

Roland TB-3 Touch Bassline

Roland TB-3 Touch Bassline

Published on 02/14/14
Another AIRA component announced by Roland is the TB-3, which emulates the vaunted TB-303 bass synth.

Roland unveils AIRA series

Published on 02/14/14

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Other names: tb 3, tb3, aira tb 3, aira tb3, airatb 3

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