To celebrate 303 day, we’re looking at the best TB-303 clones. Hopefully, we can help you get to Acid paradise without having to blow your savings on eBay.
The classic Roland TB-303 has many mods and reincarnations in many formats, both in software and hardware. Luckily, these have been around since the 1990s in some, cases so there are design aspects that have been added since then to increase the all-round usability.
Who makes the best TB-303 clones?
Clones come in different shapes, sizes, and formats. You might be after the most authentic-sounding 303-style synth or the one with the most outlandish additional features. We’ve selected a few to provide a variety of options with strengths in different areas.
If you can get past its toy-like appearance and the clunky touchscreen, the Roland AIRA TB-3 Touch Bassline is actually a pretty decent-sounding instrument. In addition, it gets results fast and can easily be incorporated into most DAW-less setups.
Powered by Roland’s digital ACB technology, the TB-3 also offers a bank of presets as well as built-in effects such as distortion, delay, reverb, chorus, flanger, phaser, and bit reduction.
Based on the Devil Fish mod from Real World Interfaces, the TD-3-MO puts the original TB-303 design on steroids. You have far more expressive control over the 303’s signature slides and accents with additional knobs and CV I/O.
Also, parameters like filter cutoff can be controlled via MIDI and you can even stack multiple TD-3-MO units to form a polyphonic acid beast.
In many ways, this goes beyond simply being a 303 clone and becomes a more versatile monosynth while still remaining in the realm of relative affordability.
Cyclone Analogic TT-303 Bass Bot V2
The TT-303 Bass Bot V2 from Cyclone Analogic brings the 303 to the modern era in style.
The MIDI implementation is great, and expanded features include variable gate and slide time, mute and hammer function, pattern generator, pattern-based arpeggiator, and tap-tempo.
Overall, the Bass Bot captures the punchy analogue warmth that attracted us to the 303 in the first place. If authenticity is what you’re after, it has all the hallmarks of the original with some added creative features in all the right areas.
Cyclone Analogic TT-303 Bass Bot V2
The TB-03 is Roland’s ACB 303 recreation in the popular Boutique series format. Although digital, it still sounds remarkably convincing and adds some new features to the sequencer as well as 3 types of overdrive, delay, and reverb.
Although the knobs are rather small, they still provide plenty of control and the inclusion of MIDI means you can always connect an additional controller if you wanted to.
The quirks of the Boutique series aren’t for everyone, but it still provides a perfect modern 303 recreation. Almost too perfect, one might say.
In the 1990s, Doepfer created one of the most memorable 303 clones in the form of the MS-404. While the A-111-6 is not specifically modeled on the TB-303, it can still produce excellent Acid synth sounds.
One of the key aspects of replicating the 303 feel is the sequencer. If you can get hold of the Copper Traces Seek or the Intellijel Designs Metropolix (or the GKR M185 that inspired it), you’ll be on your way to acid heaven.
Going the eurorack route is considerably more expensive, but modular users will be more than accustomed to the spending trap.
Doepfer A-111-6 Vintage Edition
What is your favourite TB-303 hardware clone? Please let us know in the comments below!
More about the TB-303:
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- Roland TB-3: Roland
- Behringer TD-3-MO: Behringer
- Cyclone Analogic TT-303 Bass Bot V2: Cyclone Analogic
- Roland TB-03: Roland
- Doepfer A-111-6 Vintage Edition: Doepfer