Roland TB-3
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Roland TB-3

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

Maxidingue 03/25/2014

Roland TB-3 : Maxidingue's user review

« This is going to be big »
5

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Value For Money : Excellent
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.