89 thoughts on “Roland TB-303 vs TB-03 Blind Sound Test

    1. So true, it’s so nice to at long last have the TB03 horse than an old knackered TB303 donkey

  1. Great video the intro made me chuckle. Very hard to tell, in test 1 I preferred clip 1, in test 2 I preferred clip 2. Couldn’t honestly tell which was which. I thought it would be easy to tell them apart based on how the patterns move but alas not

  2. I think another important test would be to try to distinguish between the two in a mix, which I doubt many could. I can imagine feeling a little salty if I had purchased a TB303 for 2k$, and I would probably believe it when I said I could hear a difference, but AFAICT the difference (I actually guessed the right answers, surprisingly!) between the two is miniscule and would be indistinguishable in a mix.

    1. Good point about the excess salt seeing a lot of 303 clones go for more than the 03 & sound as good as Roland’s digital clones.

    2. Comments like these always make me think the commenter doesn’t produce him/herself or if he/she does, never has had the experience of connecting with a synth as an instrument. Every time I turn on some of my synths (some analog, some digital) I just go wow wow wow. I’m inspired and want to make music.

      2.1 sounds like… “yeah it does acid”. 2.2 sounds like… “wow”. I couldn’t care less whether some consumer can’t tell the difference in a mix. I can. To compare: Of course a good guitar player can get a good sound out of a mediocre instrument. But give him a good (and usually expensive) guitar and magic might happen. Good music starts with an inspired producer.

      1. I don’t think that a good musician should need expensive instruments to get inspired and make music happen I think its exactly the opposite that with very little money now days people can make big things happen

        1. That’s not what I said. A *good* instrument will inspire a good musician. And a good instrument is usually the result of some proper and costly design process. Hence the higher price. I had a minibrute and I have a sub37. The ranges on the minibrutes sliders seems so unmusical (like only the bottom 30% is usable in most cases) whereas the moog knobs seem to make sense all through the range. Every time I turn on the sub37 I feel like making music. Every time I turned on the minibrute, I was fighting it.

          Mind you, the tb303 is ridiculously overpriced for what it does. But the tb03 is not up to it. Roland needs to hire somebody like Urs Heckmann or go analog. Their ACB stuff is just not cutting it. And to those that say it does, in 2 years time you’ll say that ACB2 sounds much better. Because it can sound much better.

  3. Test 1:
    Sample 1 is the 03, sample 2 id the 303
    Test 2:
    Sample 1 is the 303, sample 2 is the 03

    Who gives a rat’s arse anyway? They are both overpriced donkeys.

  4. in the first test the second one was the real thing and in the second test the first one.

    second test was not so obvious.

      1. I was wrong.

        Pretty amazing thing. I’m not purist, but I have played around with 303’s since the early 90’s and later with x0xb0xes and other clones as well.

        I was pretty sure about the first one lol

    1. Ah, that’s exactly what Roland would like you to think. Roland has made the TB-03 sound like how most people say they expect a TB-303 to sound. It’s just a very little overdone.
      In any case, the correct answer is really difficult to tell, so compliments go to Roland.

  5. It’s not the best of tests. Firstly the first sequence isn’t the same in each device. The hold notes aren’t holding in the first device but are on the second so either the programming is not right or the device isn’t doing a good job recreating. Also there aren’t enough slides if any. What makes the tb303 stand out is the way it glides but this is not demonstrated . Usually this is a tell tale sign of how 303ish the 303 is.
    Saying that the resonance has a strange quirk on second sequence sequence pattern so maybe that’s a digital artefact and sawtooth on first device first sequence sounds weak
    But apart from the very above they have done a good job apart from the possible incorrect held note and weak wave sound.
    Sequence 1: pattern 2
    Sequence 2: pattern 1

  6. Acid is acid, it’s enjoyable whether it’s analog or digital. When it comes down to it are you going to eschew good music just because the bass line is digital lol…are you such an analog purist that anything digital is so inferior that you can’t listen to it.. man, the synth community these days…

  7. 2 has noise, 2 is analog. And it sounds best as well. The first one sounds especially lifeless at 3:03. Something with the attack.

  8. Sure there’s a couple of minor differences between the takes- test one take two sounds a little rougher (fartier?) than test one take one, but that could be down to the user than the gear. The modulations were slightly different, so with a filter like the 303/03’s a little extra growl isn’t surprising or proof that digital sucks.

    Remember- Youtube crushes recordings with lossy file compression. Anyone who honestly thinks the 03 sounds worse than the 303 with only Youtube comparisons is lying to themself.

    On a laptop with old Sennheiser headphones (HD-518) they sound pretty much the same to me. After checking the results I think I prefer the 03 for saw waves & 303 for square waves. But that’s like comparing a chocolate cake next to a bigger chocolate cake for me, they both taste delicious & will give me a sugar rush before diabetes sets in. Use the 303/03 sparingly & it’s a great treat.

    1. “Remember- Youtube crushes recordings with lossy file compression. Anyone who honestly thinks the 03 sounds worse than the 303 with only Youtube comparisons is lying to themself.”

      No, they’re not. I never get this argument. Usually the compression will manifest itself in high frequency loss. But there are many other things you can listen for. Attack/punch for instance. This will not be changed with data compression (at least not with the way YT is compressing). I can clearly hear a difference in attack/punch in test2.

  9. i never owned and touched tb 303 or tb 03, all i know is techno and youtube πŸ™‚
    so my guess is T1P1-tb303, T1P2-tb03 second is test vice verse, lets see πŸ™‚

  10. Once you digitize them, you take away some of what makes an analog synth sound the way it does. Digital files on YouTube will sound similar. I guarantee if you were in the room you could tell the difference.

    1. Nonsense. A synth doesn’t sound analog because it’s not 1s and 0s. It’s analog because of the punch, the noise, the way envelopes react when retriggered, etc. Especially that last one is what gives the 303 its character. All this will be perfectly captured when digitized, and will not be destroyed by YT data compression.

      And that’s why in this case it’s so easy to tell what’s what. If you can’t, you probably don’t know what to listen for. We have to wait for yet another try by Roland to digitally nail the character of a 303 (which would be their 4th try – mc303, tb3, tb03). Behringer can probably do a better job.

  11. Wouldn’t be surprised if we’re being tricked and both are the same machine.
    The first of the two demos sounds the best.

  12. It is really funny to see people posting about how the difference is obvious with the wrong answer (spoiler the YouTuber published the answer)

  13. yay that’s a good promo for the tb-03! this is my guess – but I think with more patterns the difference will be more clear

    1 TB-303
    2 TB-03
    3 TB-03
    4 TB-303

  14. The first and the last track is the 303. The difference is very small, but I like the sound of those two tracks the most. The last track has the punch and “roundness” that I really like in the square wave of the 303..
    That said; the differences are really really small. If the tb303 is a 10/10 then the tb-03 is a 9/10. I had to sell all my Roland x0x gear a few years ago, but when I replace them it won’t be the originals against those crazy prices nowadays.
    In a mix, with effects those boutique boxes sound great and they seem a lot of fun at a nice price.

  15. do never trust a shootout that you havent attended in person. YT videos gives massive space for manipulation. If you would do the test yourself you would hear the difference immediately. As long as you have not played with a TB-303 you’d never know how it sounds…thats why all the “big” boys prefer the real deal to this day and in any give future until they reproduce the original 1:1. And here’s the catch…they address a new kind of customer that likes to have everything as cheap as possible. If you go bargain…thats what you get. Simple as that..

  16. Cooool πŸ™‚
    Differences are minute. My vote: 303; 03; 03; 303
    Why do we need this rediculous intro and animations? To make the average synthopia follower happy (easy, easy, no one is average are they?) ?

  17. Not hearing several thousands of dollars worth of difference. I doubt the crowd on the dance floor knows or cares. If you didn’t know you wouldn’t know.

    1. Bang on. Is it worth paying out 2k for the genuine article when there are so many clones that sound good? Down to personal preference I guess but it’s not something I would fork out for when these alternatives are on offer. To be honest I did have a hardware clone but sold it in favor of the Abl3 software. No one has ever pulled me up for it!

  18. My Vote ( i haven’t read the other comments yet) and if i’m wrong i’ll blame my Tb-3 (don’t really know what the TB-03 sounds like to be fair )
    Test 1 pattern 1 = Tb -03

    Test 1 pattern 2 TB-303

    This was close IMO (could be a trick ??) anyway …
    Test 2 pattern 1 = Tb- 03
    pattern 2 =TB-303

    WELL ..?

  19. Without exactly matched patterns and modulations, and no PCM lossless audio files, this “blind test” is worthless

  20. Constructive advice: To make the test better, include the sound-area of extremes, where the real 303 shines and was unbeaten for decades.

      1. Having worked in research for 6 years, before becoming a synthesizer specialist, I do know how to do valid testing. I have been a professional synth specialist since 1989 and been very active in the analogue area. I have been selling acid stuff since 1992 and did a lot of comparing also with friends and customers. Also was part of developing synths.

        Fact: when comparing synths, the are areas where both synths will sound exactly the same. I heard a Jupiter 8 do a perfect MiniMoog lead and I couldn’t tell the difference. However, everyone will agree that there are also huge differences between the Jup 8 and a Mini.

        So I state that the test is not going into the areas that will show the difference. The strong points of a real 303… There was a test like this about a decade ago and I was able to identify the real 303.
        I still have a real 303 and most of the clones build since 1992. Until now none of them could replace a real 303. Some clones had extra’s that were nice, sure…

        1. So, you are admitting that – as a synth specialist and someone with years of experience with your own 303 – these two synths are essentially indistinguishable from this blind comparison.

          That’s a pretty compelling admission.

          More audio comparisons are always welcome – but when you are left searching for minute differences to justify your preconceptions, and blaming the messenger, instead of the message – that tells you something, too.

          1. You jump the conclusion my friend. I state that it is impossible to compare these synths only by listening to this video. If you think there is no difference between the two and you want to base your conclusion on this limited test-video, than that’s fine by me. Your choice/taste. If you think a TB-03 does sound exactly the same as an original, than go for it. However, based on my years of experience, I tell you the TB-03 can’t fully replace a real 303. Put the two together and you will find out yourself. It’s the same old story over and over again. Same with MiniMoog, Hammond B3, Yamaha CS-80 etc. If you want the real sound: get the real thing. Period.

  21. How often do we have to do this? There are so many TB 303 clones and they all sound 303ish. That’s superb!
    We don’t need the “original” 303 sound, because it’s an idealization that doesn’t exist!
    It’s like making the real apple or real authentic orange.
    All people tell you there are no two 3030 or Minimoog or OB-X that sound identical, so what’s the point of this?
    I will use the machines or software that sound good enough for me!

    There is also the possiblity of fashion! Todays sound ideal may be tomorrows rotten tomato.

  22. They both sounded pretty bad to me. They should have tried better to hit the sweet spot of the filter in both patterns. In my opinion it’s a little like comparing two out of tune pianos and then decide which one sounds the best. I mean, you can get a Steinway to sound crappy if you don’t treat it right too.

    1. As much as I love analog synths, the TB 303 is not one of them, it makes a sound like a squeaky door hinge that is in desperate need of oiling, on the other hand even if the TB03 can also sound like a squeaky door hinge it can also sound wonderful.

  23. both sound good enough to me…in a mix you’d literally NEVER KNOW
    the new boutique is cheaper, is NEW not 30+ years old, has midi and a warranty

    easy choice

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