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Description

The Roland TB-303 Bass Line is a bass synthesizer with built-in sequencer manufactured by the Roland Corporation from 1982 to 1984 that had a defining role in the development of contemporary electronic dance music. The TB-303 played an important role in the development of house music, influencing Chicago house and forming the basis for acid house. It is also commonly used in related dance genres such as acid techno and acid trance. The TB-303 has a single audio oscillator, which may be configured to produce either a sawtooth wave or a square wave. The square wave is derived from the sawtooth waveform using a simple, single-transistor waveshaping circuit.[1] This produces a sound that is subtly different from the square waveform created by the dedicated hardware found in most analog synthesizers. It also includes a simple envelope generator, with a decay control only. A lowpass filter is also included, with -24dB per octave attenuation, and controls for cutoff frequency, resonance, and envelope modulation parameters. It is a common misconception that the filter is a 3 pole 18 dB per octave design when in fact it is 4-pole 24 dB per octave.[2] The TB-303 sequencer has some unique features that contribute to its characteristic sound. During the programming of a sequence, the user can determine whether a note should be accented, and whether it should employ portamento, a smooth transition to the following note. The portamento circuitry employs a fixed slide time, meaning that whatever the interval between notes, the time taken to reach the correct pitch is always the same. The accent circuitry, as well as increasing the amplitude of a note, also emphasizes the EG filter's cutoff and resonance, resulting in a distinctive, hollow "wow" sound at higher resonance settings. Roland referred to this as "gimmick" circuitry.[3] The instrument also features a 'simple' step-time method for entering note data into the 16-step programmable sequencer. This was notoriously difficult to use, and would often result in entering a different sequence than the one that had been intended. Some users also take advantage of a low voltage failure mode, wherein patterns that are programmed in memory get completely scrambled if the batteries are removed for a time.

Discussions

Roland TB-03

...303 line in that song generally has a long decay. Here's food for thought when whipping out the "plastic" term. The TB-303 has a bunch of knobs that can be set in all sorts of positions, and they interact. Many classic tracks and signature sounds relied on specific settings. People who are excited to upload a...

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Making music in Starbucks... who's tried it?

Airport security: do you have anything to declare UTHAJ: just some face melting acid in the suitcase.

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“That sound,” and why are we obsessed?

I think it’s interesting that of the sound examples I included (kind of at random) the 303 is one that really seems to be getting the most attention. I wonder why... I don’t even own one, or have ever owned one, but I love the 303 filter in my ATC-x Saturated tape is one of those...

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