Beating the Dead Horse: TB-303 emulation

Ok, so the recent “Showcase your Acid” thread has me for the first time a bit interested in a little acid making. I already spent a large chunk of my twenties acid ‘taking’ so why not try making some too :zonked:

From what I understand (which isn’t much) the TB-303 is THE most important element of the sound of this style. To the ridiculous point where there are pursits who will kill your wife and children for using anything else, right?

With that out of the way, sorry. I understand the 303 just has a certain character that’s hard to emulate, I’m just not willing to spend that kind of scratch on such a simple (and used/abused/aged) box to make a few acid tracks. So what do I use?

something I already have?
Moog LP - I’m not seeing/hearing much similarity here
JX-3P - Pure 80s Roland sound, but no porta/slide/glide/accent. nope
BSII - No accent, but can apply Glide to individual notes in it’s sequencer, and it even has the “acid” filter. However, I haven’t noticed it sounding especially 303 like in my experiments
A4 - I’ve heard some nice 303 emulations here on elektronauts, but I’ve never quite been able to gel the note slide programming of the A4. Maybe I just need more practice.
DSI MEK - Haven’t tried this yet.

A TB clone that I don’t have?
xoxbox? TT-303? Is one of these clones essential to keep my wife and children safe if I attempt some acid without a real 303?

Get a Roland Aira TB-3 … cheap & sounds just like a 303 …

< lights fuse and runs away …>


In this age, its insane to spend the money on a real 303. I have a TT303 currently and ive owned a few xoxboxs. If you cant get the sound from the A4 (which is great for this thing) i would suggest the TT303 over the xoxbox. For the price, its one of the better clones ive heard. Making acid DOES have a lot to do with the SOUND, but more so to do with the delivery.

That aside, the A4 is highly capable of some slick acid goodness. It takes a bit of time to figure out the slide function, but its worth it. In the end, its much easier to program than most (any) 303 clone, so your time and effort will pay off.

Next: who cares about purist. Its 2014 and if people are still being so ridiculous about such things, they need to grow up. Things have changed.

My advice: Get to know your A4 a bit better. Learn to make some good TB sounds and go for it. Look into the following link for some good starting points of acid patterns. Its also a great way to learn how much variation can be gotten from 1 single pattern coming from multiple creative minds. Do some drugs and have fun. ACID!

@xmit = good one :wink:

@derek = Thanks for the input! You’ve helped further convince me that I can get close enough with my A4. For me to achieve this on the A4, I think it mostly comes down to just needing more practice with the sequencer and note slide programming. I’m not exactly “fluid” on my A4 with anything yet, so a specific task like 303 emulating is even more daunting for me. I’ll zone in even deeper on 303 emulation with my A4, and see where I get!

I also appreciate the recommendation for TT over xoxbox should I eventually want a ‘clone’. If I just can’t seem to ‘get it’ with my A4, the TT seems a nice alternative that won’t break the bank. I’m especially glad to know that my wife and kids are safe [from you at least] should I attempt an acid track without a holy sacred 303. :kiss:

I love my TT303, it sounds so good when sync’d to the Octatrack and the Machinedrum.

I agree with. Tt303 into the a4 for effects and further processing with plocks is my favourite…
I like to just slice it in over an a4 bassline, by plocking the wav form for both oscillators to external in (tt303) with lots of reverb on occasional steps… Can get very acid and as you change patterns on the tt the pattern in the a4 changes slightly. Fun times.

Actually, Acid has EVERYTHING to do with the sound.

As far as doing some good acid basses on the A4, start with this:

Either OSC set to TRP waveform, with a PWM of -20. This will give you the nice hollow 303 style Square Wave. The regular Square on the A4 is a bit brash sounding. Or, just use the Sawtooth.

Either filter will do, but i find filter 2 to be a bit better, more powerful. NO kbd tracking. This is important, as the 303 has none.

attack: 0
decay: roughly 3 seconds
sustain: 0
Release: 0
(The TB-303 has a fixed VCA envelope decay of around 3 seconds)

Just play around with sequences, Accents and Slides.

The futureretro is an awesome acid box. The A4s acid starts to happen when you start messing with accents and glides.

@area303 thanks for sharing those settings, I’ve programmed them into the A4 and sounds nice!

+1 on the a4 for acid.

If you only want to dip into the acid sound you can get some good mileage from the A4. I recently acquired a. TT-303 but sent it back when I thought I could get very similar sounds from the A4 which I also find so much more fun to use as well. The £500 saved is also looking very nice now to go towards the Rytm.

I think this beast creates an amazing acid sound with an awesome modular-like quality.

To the OP:

The post you referred to also lit my fire for acid (music) for the first time.

Daren, your EP is really great!

I forsee simon cowbell signing an acid pop group using 4 airas and an aira vocal transformer…

EDIT - typo, I mean “cowell” but cowbell is much better.

The Eowave stuff is cool. I’d like to check out the Domino.

I have a TT-303 on order and am looking forward to playing with it.

I may pick up the Aira TB-3 someday. Then I"ll have half of this guy’s rig (WARNING - this ain’t acid!)

Korg Volca Bass? I have one on the way. From all of the video’s I’ve seen of the volcas, it can’t really get the 303 style acid but it certainly gets a cool acid sound of its own.

Also I too have tried and failed to make any good acid on my BSII. Even with the acid filter I just can’t quite get anything interesting out of it. Good thing I bought it mostly for deep bass anyway and I get some crazy creepy other worldly sounds from it. The kicker is I have seen a side by side of a 303 and a BSII and they both sounded identical, so I have no idea what I am doing wrong.

I’ve had some good luck with getting that really drippy sounding acid from my MS2000. Combine it with the built in step sequencer and it sounds fantastic. Still not 303 like, but really nice in it’s own right.

I like my volca bass, just not a big fan of the sequencer (spoiled by elektron sequencing I guess).

I’ve owned a TT and it really is an almost perfect replica in terms of functionality and a perfect replica in terms of sound and synthesis controls.

Having said that, the A4 can give you an almost identical sound and pretty much the same performance controls if you set things up the right way. Another benefit of the A4 is that it includes an overdrive and delay effect right in the box which are a large part of a lot of classic acid tracks.

this is actually what I end up doing when I want that type of sound (just use my A4), I do sequence the volca bass from my OT but you will lose the slide and whatnot that way so I’m mainly using it for some aspects of it’s raw sound that I like…I still think the volca series is one of the best analog “bang for buck” but it does have limitations (it’s no 303 either)