Roland has officially introduced the AIRA TB-3 Touch Bassline – a new bass synth that offers a futuristic take on the classic 303.
The TB-3 is based on Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) modeling, which allows Roland to recreate the sound of the 303, but also to go beyond it. Here’s what they have to say about it:
We have meticulously analyzed the circuitry of the TB–303 piece-by-piece, down to the individual circuit behavior.
Using Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology we have fully reproduced both the saw-tooth and square wave oscillators as well as the -18dB/octave ladder low pass filter used in the original TB-303, capturing the signature cutoff and resonance character.
Capturing The 303 ‘Feel’ And Creating The ‘Optimal TB Interface’
Roland also has tried to faithfully recreate the TB-303’s ‘feel’, reproducing the Accent, Slide, and Step Sequencer behavior of the original unit.
But they note that the original 303 interface was something that they wanted to improve on:
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 pressure sensitive illuminated touch pad that lets you create sequences and interact with them while performing. In addition to pitch and volume, you can use the touch pad to tweak filters and control modulation:
- 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: Continuous pitch change, Y: Volume, Press down on pad: Modulation)
The Step Sequencer
The TB-3’s Step Sequencer is designed to be easy to use, and lets you seamlessly switch between pattern creation and performance.
For some, though, the somewhat convoluted programming of the original TB-303 was useful – it would sometimes generate unintended and unexpected results. In order to maintain an element of chance and discovery, the TB-3 includes automatic pattern generation and random pattern modification.
The TB-3’s Scatter function features slicing, reverse, gating and other effects, instantly creating variations, stutters, and glitches. Complex, per-step functions are triggered easily with the Touch Pad. There are 8 different types of Scatter variations and 10 levels of Scatter Depth – all controllable in real time and in perfect sync with the sequencer.
These features are designed to be true to the TB-303:
- Modeled on 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
These features are designed to be improvements on the original TB-303:
- Pressure-sensitive touch pad
- 134 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
The TB-3 is designed to work seamlessly with other products in the AIRA series.
Here’s one of Roland’s intro videos, which shows a variety of artists sharing their thoughts on the new AIRA line:
You can also 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.
The Roland AIRA TB-3 is priced at US $299. See the Roland site for more information.