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Desc:Roland re-envisioned their classic TB-303 and it's a thing of beauty
Category:Arts, Science & Technology
Tags:acid, roland, 303
Submitted:jreid
Date:03/22/14
Views:997
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Comment count is 24
boner
Fart sounds so realistic you can almost smell them.
Leviathant
I don't think I could possibly care less about the TB-3, but the TR-8 has moved up from "I'll buy one used in a few years" to "Okay, maybe I'll get one new in the box before the year is out." The disappointing thing about the TR-8 is the afterthought of a sequencer it has.

Still, 0 for a perfectly serviceable hardware 303 emulator is hard to knock, especially coming from Roland.
zurf
I played a TR-8 at the local music store... i liked that it was green, but the textbook techno 808 and 909 type sounds is not really my thing... What do you think the wrong with the sequencer? I think the Volca Beats is a better drum machine for half the money

Leviathant
Well, I've got an Korg ER-1, a DSI Tempest, and a TR-606 with the Quicksilver CPU, so I'm a little bit spoiled. But to compare it to the least of those beasts, with the ER-1, your sounds are stored with each pattern, and you can chain patterns into songs. I bought the ER-1 in 1999 - the TR-808 had been out of production for fifteen years at that point. The TR-8's sound engine shows what advances have been made in modeling in the 15 years since the ER-1 came out, but the absence of a song mode is puzzling.

I'm guessing that a lot of budget was spent on the sound, and when it came to the sequencer, they (perhaps rightfully) figured that anyone who needed something more than a handful of patterns would just use the machine as a module hooked up to a DAW. For me, part of the appeal of drum machines are that I don't need to stare at a large glowing screen to use them.

As for the sounds themselves... they're nice to have in the toolbox, I think - not nice enough to pay 00-00 for both originals, but for 0? Sure. There's a breakdown in the middle of Acrid Avid Jam Shred that's all 909, for example, and I don't feel that track suffers for it at all. I personally kind of love Roland's analog hihats, and it's great that the TR-8 lets you tweak those hats without having to solder extra knobs into 30 year old equipment. I'm not terribly keen on the green, but I'm not put off by it either.

Old_Zircon
If you've got soldering skills, an x0xb0x only costs about 0 to build.

zurf
I never liked 303 sounds that much but even if I did, roland is 5 to 10 years too late to cash in on tb-303 revival mania... this shit just sounds played out
Old_Zircon
I kind of like the idea of using a 303 for fake bass guitar like it was supposed to be.

zurf
"Ten Ragas to a Disco beat" was the first and best use of the 303

Old_Zircon
I don't know it but I'm looking it up because it sound like it was made specifically for me.

oddeye
I don't get it. This sounds exactly like 70's disco. The fuck?
Old_Zircon
EXACTLY

oddeye
I'm guessing the point is it's 1/500th of the size of the machine you would have needed back then AND it can do the beep-beep-boop of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Oh my!

Couldn't you just do all this on your PC piss-drinking Mac with some freeware beep and/or boop generator?

Old_Zircon
Actually it's the same size, maybe a little bigger.

StanleyPain
I dunno. It's cool and all, but for 0, you put that towards something like a mono-tribe or a bunch of iOS apps that would comprise a whole studios worth of stuff. I dig physical synths, don't get me wrong, but I think a lot of people, even professional artists, are slowly moving past the fancy hardware phase pretty quickly.
Old_Zircon
I like having limitations. I've got Usine and I've had plenty of access to Live and Max/MSP and honestly I just don't get anything done in those because you can keep editing and editing. Since I started using only hardware I've been doing a lot more (quality notwithstanding) because I have a fixed set of tools to work with and have to stick to that.

Also if you're doing a lot of midi, multitasking operating systems have inherent timing issues that are minor but can matter a lot with some kinds of music, but that's only really an issue when you're using a combination of hardware and software, if you're completely in the box it doesn't matter. It has to do with the way a multitasking OS handles interrupt requests from hardware combined with MIDI data not carrying any timing information.

This could be pretty cool for using as a simple sequencer with other synths or even a computer.

Sputum
Man, why does Roland keep making analog modeling stuff when the hardware market clearly wants actual analog toys. Korg is killing it right now, just follow their example Roland.
Old_Zircon
Hell, the Bass Station II looks pretty great, too.

badideasinaction
Hell, when even Akai is putting out a 0 analog drum machine you know Roland is missing the boat on this.

Old_Zircon
Akai went out of business over a decade ago, the company that owns the name is basically unrelated. They also make electric blankets.

A friend of mine worked for them for 6 years and actually got pretty high up in the company; one winter when he was still in testing and development they made him wear an electric blanket around the office so he could test it while he was doing is other stuff; also he and another guy developed that 0 drum machine a few years ago and it was rejected. Now that neither of them works there, it's getting released (no credit to either of them, of course).

Old_Zircon
I have so many juicy stories I'd like to share but I've already said more than I probably should.

EvilHomer
I don't know. The sound is pretty nice, particularly on the leads, but what's up with the whole touchscreen thing? Particularly for the "keyboard mode"? I've tried playing touchscreen keyboards before, and they're simply awful. You need some kind of tactile response! If this was just some cheap kid's toy or a phone app or something, then yeah, OK, touchscreen controls, neat. But for 0, is it too much to ask for a simple one or two octave plastic keyboard? Maybe with a rockin' 80s color scheme?

Oh, and quick question for all the synth nerds here. USB, is it any good for controlling DAWs? How do USB cables perform, in contrast to standard MIDI cables? There's a new keyboard I'm looking at buying, but it's not got any MIDI-out capability, just USB, and I've heard that USB has an appreciable lag to it (or maybe that was just USB 1.0?)
Old_Zircon
The trouble with MIDI on DAWs is inherent to multitasking operating systems. Historically there are a lot of issues with MIDI timing on modern operating systems in general, and that's still true today although it's not AS true. I wrote a whole long thing, but this is better written, more detailed, and probably a lot more correct (written for Cubase specifically but touches on issues that are generally relevant):

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec07/articles/cubasetech_1207 .htm

As far as USB vs DIN, I've not used USB midi enough to notice any differences one way or the other but I've had plenty of USB jacks mechanically fail over the years and I've never once had a 5 pin DIN jack fail, even on the cheapest, most beat up gear I've owned. Plus they tend to be harder to accidentally unplug, and probably easier to replace if you have to (I've never had to take one out but I've had to take out USB jacks and it's awful).

Old_Zircon
Even USB 1 is nowhere near as slow as the MIDI standard, which was painfully insufficient for complex, orchestral style stuff even when it was brand new, but it's what we've got. Try sending a really big sequenced orchestral chord though - you WILL get Commodore-sounding arpeggios where you wanted block chords. That's why the best older gear tends to have loads of parallel MIDI outs.

EvilHomer
Ah, so I've been misinformed? USB is faster than MIDI? My current keyboard has a dual MIDI out, and I do notice a bit of lag with some of the fancier stuff. My DAW also has a habit of crashing on me when I'm getting really into the swing of things, but I think that's got more to do with my aging laptop than the input itself.

The keyboard I'm looking at now is a Yamaha DGX-650; not too fancy, with minimal built-in sequencing options, but the keys have excellent action, nicely weighted and very light to the touch; at 0, it actually plays nicer than many of the 00-00 models I've used. It's geared more towards pianists looking for a stripped down mid-range electric piano rather than serious synth enthusiasts, but that's OK, as I'm far more used to pianos than synths, and I got some DAWs to play with.

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