The magic of the TB-303 with new sounds and modern, performance-ready features
Based on the wildly influential TB-303, the new TB-3 Touch Bassline is a performance-ready bass synthesizer with authentic sound and intuitive controls engineered to play. The TB-3 contains the unmistakable character of its predecessor, wrapped in a modern package with a pressure-sensitive touch pad that makes both playing and programming a total joy.
The entire AIRA family has been updated with exciting and useful new features requested by users from around the globe. Easy to install and free for all users, this AIRA Update includes enhancements for the whole line, like backup and restore facilities and better overall MIDI management. It also provides a wealth of product specific enhancements like external MIDI pitch control for VT-3, tuning control for TB-3, and instrument gain control for TR-8.
Capturing the Original
– Meticulously crafted from a pristine TB-303 unit, original spec sheets, and archival data
– Roland’s ACB technology models each component and every aspect of the original TB-303 sound
– Faithful recreation of the original saw and square oscillator waveforms
– Attack, slide, tie, and other elements that characterize the TB-303 have been fully reproduced, including how they interact with each other
– Authentic filter behavior with smooth response and classic sound
– Pressure-sensitive touch pad
– 134 captivating sounds, including the original TB-303 tones and new four-oscillator, effects-processed basses, leads, and sound effects
– Dedicated Tempo control with shuffle and tap tempo functions
– Control built-in effects with smooth, responsive knobs
– 7-segment, 3-character LED display
– Seamless switching between pattern creation and performance
– 16-step indicator lights to aid in pattern creation
– Pattern support for up to 32 steps
– Easy access to shuffle control for bass lines that groove
– Enter steps manually or record in real time on the touch pad
– Change step count during playback to alter the length of phrases
– Random pattern generation and pattern modification
– Pattern copy function
Nobody could have anticipated what would happen to the world of dance music when inventive musicians on both sides of the Atlantic embraced Roland’s now-legendary TB-303. Since the 1980s, it’s been a staple of electronic music—it is the defining sound of acid house, and has since been the marquee instrument on an array of groundbreaking electronic dance tracks. It’s not only been used to write songs, it’s had songs written about it. In fact, the release of the original TB-303 has been heralded as one of the key events in the history of dance music. Not bad for a little silver box.
Launched in 1981, the TB-303 continues to be an indispensable bass synth for dance music. In developing the TB-3, we’ve meticulously analyzed the circuitry of the original TB-303 piece by piece, right down to the individual circuit behavior. Using Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology, we’ve fully reproduced the TB-303’s sawtooth and square wave oscillators, as well as the -18dB per octave ladder low-pass filter used in the original, capturing that unmistakable cutoff and resonance character.
In addition to the faithful reproduction of classic TB tones, the TB-3 is packed with new sounds that live and breathe. Bubbling synth basses, hard distortion basses, trippy delay sounds, and drippy effects—they’re all here, and then some.
A TB-303 bass part not only sounds unique—it has its own trademark feel as well. The TB pulses. It drives. It bubbles and it percolates. That’s why we’ve worked so hard to faithfully reproduce the accent, slide, and step sequencer behavior of the original unit. But our vision went beyond simple reproduction. The truth is, the step entry on the original TB-303 was difficult to use, the keyboard was difficult to play, and special maneuvers were required for the shuffle functions. So we experimented with a variety of prototypes in our quest to create the optimal TB interface.
The new TB-3 is equipped with a brightly lit, pressure-sensitive touch pad that lets you seamlessly create patterns and interact with the unit during performance. In addition to pitch and volume, you can tweak filters and even control modulation by simply pressing down on the pad with your finger. It also makes the keyboard a breeze to play.
– Envelope modulation and decay can be controlled with a single finger
– Switch patterns, transpose, and chain patterns with finger gestures
– Internally partitioned at keyboard intervals so it’s easy and natural to play in real time
– XY Play—X for continuous pitch change, Y for volume, and pad pressure for modulation
The TB-3’s evolved step sequencer is a snap to use and allows seamless switching between pattern creation and performance. Of course, an attractive aspect of the original TB-303 was how it would sometimes generate unintended sounds as the user maneuvered through its complex and cryptic pattern-creation operation. In order to inject that element of chance and discovery, the TB-3 includes automatic pattern generation and random pattern modification functions.
The TB-3’s Scatter function features slicing, reverse, gating, and other effects, allowing you to instantly create variations, stutters, and glitches that would normally require painstaking editing in a DAW. Complex, per-step functions are triggered easily with the touch pad and a single finger. You can keep things fresh and interesting with 8 different Scatter variations and 10 levels of Scatter depth—all controllable in real time and in perfect sync.
A Few More Things
The TB-3 looks great, and is designed to work seamlessly with other products in the AIRA series. In addition, you can connect the TB-3 to your computer via USB to send and receive both audio and MIDI data, including MIDI clock information for syncing with external devices and other AIRA units.
TB-3 Version 1.1 Update
Backup and Restore
Manage your pattern library with easy backup and restore over USB.
Control both pattern tune (-700 to 700 cents) and master tune (430–450)
– Pattern Tone
Assign a specific tone to a pattern so sound will change automatically when pattern is selected.
– One-touch Transpose
Transpose a pattern during performance by simply pressing a note on the touchpad’s keyboard. No need to hold “Keyboard” button.
– User Bank
Organize your favorite patterns for quick access in live performance with a custom user bank.
– Pattern Lock
Lock the contents of a pattern so you can experiment without losing your original groove.
– Pattern Pitch Shift
Quickly change the root note of a pattern by shifting its pitch.
– Extended Note Range
The sequencer now supports notes from C0–C6 for added flexibility and dramatic slides.
– Extended Transpose Range
Local On/Off and MIDI Controller modes determine how MIDI data is sent and received.
– External Record
Record patterns in real-time from external MIDI devices.
– Slide and Accent
Implementation of both slide and accent pattern by MIDI control change.
Scatter On/Off, Type and Depth can be controlled via MIDI control change.
– MIDI Off
Disable sending of all MIDI messages.
– Extended Range
Note range has been extended from C0-C8 when controlled by external MIDI device.
- Preset Patches: 134
- User Patterns: 64
Maximum Step: 32 Steps (each pattern)
- Preset: 8
- 7 segments, 3 characters (LED)
- PHONES jack: Stereo 1/4-inch phone type
OUT (L/MONO, R) jacks: 1/4-inch phone type
MIDI (IN, OUT) connectors
USB port: USB type B (Audio/MIDI)
DC IN jack
- Power Supply
- AC adaptor, or obtained via USB port (USB bus power)
- Current Draw
- 500 mA
- Owner’s manual
Leaflet “USING THE UNIT SAFELY”
Size and Weight
- Width (W)
- 240 mm9-1/2 inches
- Depth (D)
- 173 mm6-13/16 inches
- Height (H)
- 57 mm2-1/4 inches
820 g1 lbs. 13 oz.
Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) is the technology behind the authentic sound and responsive behavior of the AIRA products. It faithfully captures the sound and feel of some our most revered classics, using original design specs, consultation with original engineers, and a detailed, part-by-part analysis of each analog circuit in our own pristine units.
Analog electronic musical instruments consist of various analog components including resistors, capacitors, and transistors. The unique sound of analog instruments is due to the distinctive characteristics of the individual analog components. So-called “vintage” instruments, in particular, show extremely distinctive sound and behavior due to the variable instability of the electronic components.
Rhythm machines and synthesizers such as the TR-808, TR-909, TB-303, and SH-101 enjoy entrenched popularity to this very day even though they first appeared over 30 years ago. This is because musicians across the globe have recognized their unique sound and used them to forge entirely new genres of electronic music.
To produce the new AIRA products, we aimed to pick up where these analog classics left off and to develop a completely new technology which models the traditional analog circuits, right down to their behavioral levels.
ACB is drastically different from conventional methods of modeling, and reproduces each analog component by thoroughly analyzing each detail of the original design drawings. By combining the analyzed components in exactly the same manner as the original analog components, detailed characteristics of the original musical instruments emerge and can be reproduced completely.
This analysis requires knowledge of the design and development processes of the original analog instruments. It is not possible to reproduce the original sounds just by logically analyzing the analog circuits. This is because the original engineers used a design approach which maximized the capabilities of the analog components. Throughout the development of ACB, we cooperated with the original engineers who designed and developed these iconic instruments. With their expertise, we could ensure that we fully reproduced the ideal state of their creations.
Utilizing the enormous calculation power of state-of-the-art DSP, ACB not only precisely emulates the analog-specific characteristics or our classic gear, but also delves into areas the original engineers tried to go but ultimately abandoned.
ACB empowers AIRA products to go beyond mere re-creation. It allows us to make instruments that inspire – that respond to your creativity – and make producing and performing electronic music fun again.