Roland TB-303 vs Korg Volca Bass Analog Bassline Synth Smackdown

This video, via SynthMania, pits the classic Roland TB-303 Computer Controlled Bass Line synthesizer against the Korg Volca Bass

‘Synth Maniac’ Paolo Di Nicolantonio notes:

I know, I know… it’s sort of a silly endeavor and also a bit unfair to compare a mega-classic that these days goes for $3K to a super-cute little $150 box… but I think both machines are great and each has their own unique character! I have to say,

I am impressed by the whole Volca line.

The filter resonance on the Volca Bass is incredible, by the way!

26 thoughts on “Roland TB-303 vs Korg Volca Bass Analog Bassline Synth Smackdown

    1. It’s a weird effort at comparison, the cut off and resonance are at completely different places. And only one of the three oscillators in the volca is being used, when you can (and I always do) set all three voices in unison.

      Anyway isn’t the filter out of the korg 700 or something? It wasn’t trying to be a to-303

      1. yeah it seems like if you really wanted ot shootout you would use the electribe 2 since it has an ‘acid’ filter that is supposed to emulate the 303

  1. comparative videos are always nice…volca bass is okay. its fun and small. i think i am putting mine in the closet tho. have yet to have the chance to 303.

  2. Sorry, but the TB 303 was only elevated to its current status when some creative folk did something with it that was never intended. Sure, it has a characteristic sound, but there are plenty of emulations in both software and hardware available. The current prices are completely ridiculous. The Volca series seems a little underrated and under appreciated to me, but maybe someone creative enough will raise one of them to a status where they will demand 20 times their retail price? No, you say? I remember as a kid, seeing a TB 303 in a glass display cabinet at a local store for 50 quid in the mid eighties. The price was written on a little piece of cardboard and I don’t think they ever sold it. I wish I had a time machine.

    1. Actually all the 808,909,606,303 family have crazy prices these days. it`s absurd. but hey wait a minute. big part of the world was always vain in a way. It`s like the Vinyl “revival” … as if all the people will start taking care of vinyl and listening music only through vinyl.It seems we are laking passion and searching for “real” ways of living being inspired from the past as if everything was sweet in the past. Now pop music is starting to sound exactly like in the 80`s and 90`s before you know it we will have bell bottoms and psychedelic music back…. ok maybe the music is here already

    2. Deezo you are so right 🙂 I remember those days too. The 303 does not have a particularly complex or costly oscillator, although 18dB/octave is a distinctive feature that gives a signature sound. I actually prefer the Volca here. More meat.

      1. I mean I prefer the Volca *generally, not *here. Here I would have preferred an attempt to actually match settings to get a more meaningful comparison.

  3. Imagine you’re playing at a gig, your 303 is broken or stolen and you have to replace it by a Volca. Do you think the audience will leave and ask a refund, protesting they paid for a 303, not a Korg?

  4. It’s all nice these comparisons, apples vs pears, chicken vs eggs and so on… TB-303, TB-3, TeeBee, XoXboX, Volca’s and all the others.

    I wonder when we are finally going to STOP comparing a 1982 produced box with everything else that has come out in the last 34 years and just ENJOY and be HAPPY that there is affordable gear out there that all have their own character and price range and just make 303 sounds because we all love it….

  5. The two are not set up the same! The ‘comparison’ is not a comparison. From the tightness of the envelope to the amount of resonance on each filter – the demonstrator has set them up differently.

    You need to be more accurate in the comparison for it to be valid or worthwhile.

    And you’re initial claim of comparing a £3K device to the Volca is not really legitimate either – when the TB303 came it it was also cheap in price – and cheap in components / makeup too. It doesn’t inherently have 1980’s £3K electronics in it.

    So could you re-do the comparison – but properly this time!

  6. if you havent played them yet (i ignored them until recently)

    the sound is the sound…they bass and keys sound good to me , the beats sounds underpowered and i HATE the snare sound…

    what makes the volcas special (outside of price) is that they seem to have a design philosphy that oozes playability..mulitple ways to record, multiple ways to play back, multiple ways to manipulate the sound.. .and its very easy to work towards a musical place with them
    the learning curve is basically sitting through some videos

    the combo of active step, slide edit and the ability to record three different lines (with different pitch centers), all before you mess with the filters, envelopes and lfo’s in real time is something you have to get your hands on to really understand. its pretty inspiring and some of the lines it spits out when you are dial spinning are ending up in our projects.

    also as pointed out , the unison mode is really excellent and you can independently detune oscillators on the fly…you can tune up or down an octave and even create chords…make an m7 or make a nasty chord of your creation….its pretty powerful..

    i wish i had every 303 type gear ever made, but for $150 the volca is pretty sweet

  7. Listen to the video without also watching it. Both get the job done. You could easily half tune out and not realize this wasn’t one guy fiddling with one machine. Your audience will have even less capability to appreciate a difference between these boxes. So stop comparing, use whatever box is in front of your, and start writing new and more interesting bass lines!

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