Roland TB-3
Roland TB-3

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

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All user reviews for the Roland TB-3

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Average Score:4.0( 4/5 based on 7 reviews )
 2 reviews29 %
 2 reviews29 %
 2 reviews29 %
Value For Money : Excellent
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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.


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.


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.


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.

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


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


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!


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

lbgo000's review"TB or not TB"

Roland TB-3
See Roland's website.


It is much more user-friendly than the venerable product we all know.
Programming, pattern editing, midi. Single-touch touchscreen, not bad.
It's a preset box and I second the previous review.
I would prefer by far to have no presets and have 2-3 more controls. At least 1 to edit the sound, which is done via Midi CC1 (right now it's a sort of aftertouch that is loaded and it doesn't work, at least on my TB-3).


The sound is not bad ─ it's digital.
The TB-3 doesn't sound like the TB-303 -─ it simply can't. No analog character, no analog depth.
But that's no defect, the TB-3 is not a clone of the 303.
The effects are average ($300) and don't interest me.


I just received it, it's hard to play with it straightaway.
I'll see how the TB-3 integrates with the other synths (especially with the analog ones, which is a real test).
The cons:
Non-editable presets
Rigid concept
Crappy aftertouch
The transposition of the so-called patterns transposes the whole key of the synth ─ I don't know why it does that! I'll see how it turns out in use, but for the time being it's a downside.
The pros:
Everybody needs a TB...

Infracid's review"Awesome, for improvisation"

Roland TB-3
See manufacturer


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).


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.


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.

Dric-C's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" TB or not TB"

Roland TB-3
Monophonic synth TB 303 types.
No keyboard but a touchpad, and an internal sequence that extends to a C0 C6 but if the sequence with an external keyboard can play a C0 C8.

From memory there are 135 different sounds on the first four banks dedicated to the sounds of the TB303 second to low third and last lead at FX.

everything is automated midi c it is very cool!

for the rest of the technical view on the roland website features.


The manual is clear but they do not grow much, so that is a can fend for yourself. but once t 'find the little tricks of the bike and you re-look at the manual you' t realize that indeed they talk about but it's so short and that is developed that is not obvious to all captured on.
in terms of editing sounds nothing easier it does there has has 5 buttons that turned the machine has and it's basta. (And touchpad modulation amplitude and decay)
As a TB303 anything.


The sounds are well suited to my style of music obviously I have not accidentally buy lol
Actually I don 'use the first bank yet. I have to buy replaced my TT303 is part repair .. (buy are 3 months)

sounds are they realistic? we can say that yes, since it mimics very well see the sound of his great auntie TB 303, in any case I find better than my TT.


I use it for 3 days. The first night I have a can with much hassle. j 'had trouble with the touchpad too tend to push it like a nag and pressing it triggers a strong effect which I do not like too much, I thought it' was of a bug.
I thought I was gonna not keep long this machine. Then after a few tutorials can look over and re-lock the 2nd night I have start raving over.
filter settings, reso, ect does not look too much at the TT and I think that is it that my one is disturbed. But when we began to know her well and a can that is a treat.
And its level as compared to the TT I think what is more faithful to the TB303 and then it did not breathing, with an external distortion above that is a lot better.
The more I 'm used and I have fun, too bad that we can not program the sounds and effects in more depth but I saw that I have to buy that reproduce the sound of a 303 m I' tape in a can. Total control midi is also a real plus.
Excellent brief little machine for those who want a clone of TB and not too expensive.

BRENTOT's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)"Everything is there, even the Decay"

Roland TB-3
see the Roland website for all that;)


Off, it was just one wish, it's light!
On, it has only one desire is to play with !! : D

Here we have a very easy to use machine provided you have seen the video of the update firmware on the youtube channel of Roland to see how a copy of a bank's "factory" to the user bank " "and have been here that explains where are the primary functions of the machine.
Because the user manual (paper), do not really is not a strictly speaking, it is a semi-flyer expired due to updates.
This is totally inadequate if only for some first steps with the hardware.
Even the online manual (pdf) is also incomplete (missing the indication of decay, and a copy of a plant to its user).

There is no editing sounds possible, however, prepared by Roland sounds are all very good in their respective fields and all exploitable.

Updating the firmware of the machine (version 1.1) now allows to have a "user" bank 15 sounds, to put our favorite sounds in the bank to avoid having to use too much of the "value" wheel having to spend his one in his 200 extreme example.
A bug exists after this update (making the new user bank inaudible) to correct it must restore the factory settings of the machine, and after that the bank becomes audible.


It has all the basic sounds of the TB-303.
Yes, it is a clone of TB-303, but not that!
It is rich sound!

These effects are very well done, although some combinations prepared by Roland may appear "metal" at the same time, I have personally never heard of mixing with a bitcrusher that does not sound "metallic": D

Of course I love all the first bank (A), is in the classic TB-303 (if you do not ride the fader effect;)), Bank B interests me less than a first with the sequencer, but my attention with a midi keyboard to a "keyboard" game, bank C is beautiful and sweet sometimes strange, bank D is more than strange, interesting rhythmically level.

It's hard to hate a sound machine because they all have the opportunity to find a sound or music application as they are clean.

Yes Bank A has the realism of the TB-303, the other sounds are a bit of "news" in this case.

Following the method of game sounds come out differently and have other characters.


I have this bassline for 5 days, finding no decay or manipulation to copy the sounds of a factory store to the user bank, and being somewhat influenced by all the "haters" that denigrates the machine (especially on audiofanzine ) I bankrupt it back to the store the next day !!
3:00 after ignition at home, it was back in its box!

but not wanting to make a mistake, and I feel stupid later, I had to tweak all the subjects on this machine on the internet to find this decay and the copy sound I was looking for (should say Roland has not been friendly to us about the lack of info).

But as soon as I find the right info, I took out the machine, I reconnected, retested, and I adopted it (sleep on as they say)).

Yes I've been fortunate to play with a TB-303 in good condition, and I am the first surprised to have to say that I found the same feel and sound better approach hit with TB -3.

I love his sound, his sequencer and keyboard, which I do not like is the location of the volume knob of the machine that is too close to other controls and can become annoying to live use or studio.

I remake that choice without problem, and there was even a risk that I buy another just for its sequencer that is wonderful about the TR-8 or even on my Gaia SH-01 (and there I really want to test the sequencer on a pro one midified).

You can buy this machine eyes closed, connectivity, heat, grain, original sounds are there, and the price .... unbeatable in this area !!

And if you do not have anything to make acid sounds, here you have a great sequencer has 32 steps per pattern, and ability to play up to 8 pattern in a row, and suddenly have the opportunity to write sentences about 256 steps

plus she is "sexy"

Do not hesitate, and do not listen to the haters or the "haters" who never had a real tb-303 hands that would tell you all their fantasies of perfect dissatisfied who still think being born at the wrong time or just not arrived to find all the options for such a small machine alone;)