Roland TB-303 vs TB-3 vs TB-03 vs Cyclone Analogic TT-303 Bassline Shootout

This video, via ADSR, compares four bassline synthesizers:

  • Roland TB-303
  • Roland TB-3
  • Roland TB-03
  • Cyclone Analogic TT-03

The video compares the basic sound of the synths with controls set in similar positions, the sound of a common sequence on each of the devices and the sound of each synth in a mix.

31 thoughts on “Roland TB-303 vs TB-3 vs TB-03 vs Cyclone Analogic TT-303 Bassline Shootout

    1. No Avalon because it wins on everything. It is the TB-303 Mk2 the people deserve. Too bad Roland could never get the finger out long enough to make it themselves

  1. interesting comparison, in the beginning i thought i felt 1 machine was closest to tb 303 but as the demo went on, they all seem to have there moments sounding like tb 303 and not sounding like it.

  2. TT-303 wins for me, but I suspect if you had 2 tb-303s together you’d hear differences. The worst was TB-03. It’s not even close.

  3. Great shootout!
    I hope to see more detailed comparisons like this for other products.

    As for this one, I agree with itchy; all have their moments, but real 303 just nudges it in the sqelchy department imho.

  4. will be interesting to see more arguments kick off on gearslutz.
    personally they all seemed fine , especially in the final mix example. i do prefer the tt303/knobby boxes compared to aria tb3 (touch interface isnt so great)
    some had more noise , more resonance , at the end of the day just buy the one you can afford and write some actual tunes.
    or try acid8 , mam retro , meeblip anode , waldorf rocket, volca bass , avalon , , etc etc. which combined is still cheaper than a tb 303

  5. I definitely could hear the differences. They all sound different, even in the mix. (Also, the TB-03 sounded overly snappy on some settings.) Doesn’t mean I’d actually care about it if there was a great acid track playing but it’s pretty clear that the ACB engine doesn’t reproduce the sound of a vintage 303. And, as it was pointed out, two original 303s would not sound exactly like each other either.

    I’m not sure if the ACB devices are even designed to sound exactly like the originals. After all they’re being marketed as “evolution”, a step forward, not just remakes of old gear. Roland claims that ACB is based on “careful analysis” of the original circuitry and that during the development they worked with people who had worked on 303, 808 etc. From a Roland marketing blog: “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.”
    We can’t know if “the ideal state” is a fresh made, unused original 303 or something beyond that, so in a way Roland can’t be wrong in their claims about ACB. That is some good marketing right there. 😛

    1. I had pretty much the same thoughts.

      The TB-03 and TT-03 both sound great, but it’s pretty surprising how far off the TB-3 is at the same settings.

      The TT-03 sounded the closest to the 303 on the raw square waves, but when it came to the actual sequence, everything but the TB-3 sounded close enough to an original that you’d have to be pretty uptight to worry about running it through your RAT pedal.

      I’m skeptical about making too much of these comparison, though.

      Every 303 is going to sound a little different, and they probably ALL sound different than they did 30 years ago. So you know that Roland has to make a judgement calls about what they match – do they make a ‘ideal brand new’ TB-303 or try to match some random 303 that they’ve got?

  6. The TB-03 rather impressed me, considering it is software. I do love my TT- 03 but I got it because a TB-303 is wayyyyy out of my budget. TB-3 sounded quite naff in comparison, but I felt that when I tried one in a shop. Great to hear them in the mix at the end there. Clearly what matters the most is the programming and performance.

  7. The differences become more apparent during the examples with high resonance. The TB-303 sounds the best for sure but the TT-03 is fairly close. The TB-3 just sounds broken in comparison and while the new TB-03 is a improvement over the TB-3 but it’s no real 303.

    However if your looking for a digital recreation ABL3 sounds better than the Roland emulations, and if your a stickler for analog sound then the Avalon is where it’s at.

  8. Great vid. It clearly demonstrates the 3 worst alternatives to an actual tb303 on the market today. Wouldve been nice to have the Avalon in the comparison. How is it possible Roland got it so wrong – twice!

  9. Mhhh… @Reyescult, me too I don’t find the TT sounding so similar as other say…anyway, all 3 are different. About the 2 Airas, the new TB-03 sound closer at same knobs values, the old TB-3 is faraway from that BUT: having the TB-3, the video confirmed to me the sensation I had from day one, that the TB-3 (at top values) has more resonance and accent. It’s a pity that a x0xb0x is missing in this video. Anyway I’ll keep my TB-3, I don’t find so excting the idea of investing again money for that sound. For what I do, in a mix it’s ok.

  10. A small aside but I originally got a TB-3 to be a 303 emulator and its clear from the examples above that the TB-3 is close but probably not the tight emulation that some people might need.

    But since I got the TB-3, I have spent more time with the other sounds the unit offers – there’s a lot of guff in there but there are some great sounds to be found if you dial in the cut-off, resonance, effects, etc. just so. Really liking the percussive white noise and some sinewavey bloops and blips. Couple it with the onboard sequencer that does accents + slides and alterable last step and it’s really come alive in some of my OTB jams. I was thinking of selling it for a TB-03 but honestly, right now, going back to a pure 303 sound would feel like a restriction.

  11. TT-303 is VERY weak when using slide and accent, worse than TB-03.

    I would def. listen to a Xoxox box / Avalon test as well… (and Audiorealism Bassline 3 too)

  12. I have a xoxbox and tt 303.I sold my tb 303 years ago.The differences are slight with the analogue clones. Accent and slide are key elements to the acid sound and of course the filter.Tb 303s do all sound slightly different .I still get acid tracks out on vinyl and have done since 93….All the acid machines being made mean there will now never be a shortage of acid machines in the future, unlike days gone by. The people buying the originals these days do not seem capable of writing decent acid lines on them…

  13. okay, theres something wrong with the tt303 in this video,
    for the work on that, they literally use the roland schematics for reference.
    same chips from the same line for vcas, and everything, the only thing differing between the tb303 and tt303 is the control circuitry which in no way effects the timbre,
    that tt303 u got is out of calibration or something.

  14. Is it just me or are the settings different on the TB-3 on some patches like the third example which has way too much resonance and mod.

  15. The major difference I heard was some really high pitched chirping from the original. So I just have to wait until I’m old enough to have lost hearing in that range and the reissues will be just as good.

  16. I have a TT303; all the controls seem to have around 20% more gain, so the cutoff and resonance would need to be at 3 O’Clock to match the TB303 when fully clockwise… You’ll notice the TT goes out of range when all are turned fully clockwise. So not really an accurate comparison.

    The TT is definitely the closest out of the bunch, which is why I sold my TB3. Unfortunately Roland stopped production of the BA662A VCA chips used in the TB303, so nothing will be an exact match.

    Bottom line is that Roland should be re-releasing the original analogue TB303 with the original chipset, as many people have requested over the years – Not making digital rehashes using Analogue Modelling, or ACB, as they are now marketing it.

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