Roland Rolls Out TR-09 & TB-03 Boutique Units – Better Late Than Never?

Roland has finally trotted out a modern version of the TB-303, the Roland Boutique TB-03. Using their Analog Circuit Behavior technology (ACB), the TB-03 is a full-on recreation of the original, albeit with MIDI, Reverb, Delay, some Devilfish-like distortion and a new programming methodology.

Roland TB-03 FutureMusic

What Roland has finally delivered, after almost 20 years of ignoring the fact that the 303 had a fervent and vibrant following, is a battery-powered unit that is a direct descendant of the famed TB-303 Bass Line Synth. Tha analog engine is gone, replaced by Roland’s ACB, but the vibe, flavor and the hypnotic liquid grooves of the magic silver box remain. Roland did take the opportunity to push the TB-03 further with several enhancements not found on the original model. The four-digit LED display makes programming easier and more accurate, while reverb, overdrive distortion and delay effects give you more sonic variety, right in the box. Back in the studio, the TB-03 can send control information via MIDI or its USB port, the latter of which also functions as a 24-bit/96 kHz audio interface.

Roland TB-03 FutureMusic

Roland TB-03 Features:

» Finally, a realistic recreation of the iconic TB-303 Bass Line synth by the company who originated the revolution
» Hands-on control over expressive parameters, including cutoff, resonance, envelope mod, decay, and accent
» Four-digit LED display
» Overdrive and delay effects
» MIDI
» Fine tempo control, and additional functions for pattern creation
» Programmable via classic Pitch, Time, and Step write modes
» Continue playing a sequence even while switching between write and play modes
» CV/Gate outputs for controlling vintage analog gear and modular synthesizers
» Dedicated trigger input to drive the internal sequencer
» Highly portable for mobile music making
» High-quality construction with metal front panel
» Battery-operated (4 x AA) or USB powered
» 24 bit/96 kHz stereo IN/OUT USB audio interface
» Control information can be sent and received via MIDI and USB
» Built-in powered mini-speaker for instant enjoyment
» Compatible with optional K-25m Keyboard Unit
» Authentic 303 Sound and Behavior via Roland’s ACB Technology

Porting the same ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) engine from the TB3 AIRA unit, the TB-03 emulates the expressive, slippery sound of its older brother, and even adds a few surprises. Saw and square waveforms are available, along with all of the rotary control knobs that help shape the 303’s unique character, including tuning, cutoff, resonance, envelop mod, decay, and accent.

The TB-03 includes several enhancements over the original TB-303. Firstly, the four-digit LED display makes programming easier and more detailed, since you now have a visual representation of the value being edited. Then there are a variety of overdrive, delay, and reverb effects that dramatically change the mood and tone of the TB-03, going from smooth to spiky to squealing. Programming patterns is also easier thanks to newly added functions that include step write, shuffle, and fine tempo control. Finally, the inclusion of MIDI and USB ports mean that the TB-03 can send and receive control information and connect easily to computer-based DAWs.

Roland TB-03 Bottom viewFutureMusic

If you’re familiar with the TB-303’s programming method, then you’ll feel right at home with the TB-03. The original Pitch and Time write modes are included, along with an all-new Step mode. Pattern programming is also enhanced by the LED display, which shows the current step in the sequence as well as showing fine tempo values (such as 125.5 BPM). The internal sequencer can be triggered externally via the trigger input, and you can even switch between write and play modes without stopping pattern playback, opening up new possibilities for live performance.

The TB-03 includes MIDI IN/OUT ports and USB, allowing control information to be exchanged with other instruments and devices. This turns the TB-03 into a versatile controller, especially as you can use the CV/Gate output to control external analog gear and modular synthesizers. This level of control works both ways, thanks to the trigger input that lets external gear drive the TB-03’s internal sequencer. Once connected to a PC or Mac, both audio and MIDI data can be sent through the USB port.

Some of the best music is made away from the studio, so the Roland Boutique series runs on 4 x AA batteries, ready for when inspiration strikes. Alternatively, the TB-03 can run on USB bus power. Via its USB port, the TB-03 functions as a high-quality 24-bit/96 kHz audio interface, providing a simple and reliable way of recording directly to your DAW application. You can keep your favorite settings and sequencer patterns safe too via the USB data backup function.

Roland TB-09 FutureMusic

The Roland TR-09 is a faithful recreation of the original interface in the micro Boutique format. The sound, using the aforementioned ACB and samples, similar to the original, will be familiar to anyone who listens to electronic music. A 16-step drum sequencer (with 16 sub-steps for granular control) and Step and Tap write modes are included, and you can switch between Shuffle/Flam mode with a touch of a button. In another boost in modern functionality, the TR-09 does not have to stop playing when bouncing from write and play modes, and you can switch between Step and Tap as well.

Roland TB-09 In Action FutureMusic

The influence of the TR-909 drum machine is still heard—and felt—more than three decades after it was launched. Now, the 909 sound is available as part of the Roland Boutique series in the form of the TR-09. Featuring the same front-panel layout and user interface of the original, the TR-09 is powered by Roland’s ACB technology, delivering the speaker-pummelling power of the TR-909 in a super-affordable and portable format. Offering precise control over an array of drum parameters and the ability to keep playing when switching modes, the TR-09 may be compact, but it still has the power to move people. Studio sessions are well catered for too, with four separate outputs via USB audio, external instrument control via a trigger output, and USB MIDI.

Roland TB-09 FutureMusic

Roland TR-09 Features:

» Ultra-compact recreation of the iconic TR-909 drum machine via Roland’s ACB Technology
» Hands-on control over many parameters, including tune, level, decay, etc.
» Programmable via classic Step and Tap write modes
» Continue playing beats even while switching between write and play modes
» Four separate outputs via USB audio
» Trigger output for controlling external instruments equipped with trigger input
» High-quality construction with metal front panel
» Highly portable for mobile music making
» Battery-operated (4 x AA) or USB powered
» 24-bit/96 kHz stereo IN/OUT USB audio interface
» Built-in powered mini-speaker
» Compatible with optional K-25m Keyboard Unit

The original TR-909 blended analog kick, snare, and tom drums with six-bit samples for the hi-hats and cymbals. This hybrid approach to sound generation meant that the 909 sounded like no other drum machine. Accurately recreating such an influential sound while retaining the ability to edit and tweak the various parameters is only possible via Roland’s ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) technology, which is also found in the popular AIRA series.

Dedicated TR-909 users will recognize the classic TR-REC style of programming found in the TR-09, with a choice of Step or Tap write modes. You can even change modes while the pattern continues playing, something not possible on the original. The TR-09 sequencer has 16 steps, and each has 16 sub-steps so you can fine-tune your performances. And just like the original TR-909, the Shuffle/Flam parameter can be selected using the buttons—but if you need greater control, simply use the display and rotary encoder to perfect your pattern.

Roland TB-09 FutureMusic

The TR-09 is designed to easily connect with other gear. The main stereo mini-jack output can also be reconfigured to send the selected instrument to the right channel, with the other instruments output to the left. A mix input routes external audio through the main outputs, while the trigger output lets the TR-09 drive vintage analog synths such as the SH-101 or JX-3P, or modern gear like the current SYSTEM-500 modular series. Sync and control other gear via standard MIDI ports or USB, and even send the audio of four individual drum parts via USB to continue working in your favorite DAW.

Some of the best music is made away from the studio, so the Roland Boutique series runs on 4 x AA batteries, ready for when inspiration strikes. Alternatively, you can power the TR-09 with USB bus power. Via its USB port, the TR-09 also functions as a high-quality 24-bit/96 kHz audio interface, providing a simple and reliable way of recording directly to your DAW application. You can even send individual drums to separate channels, thanks to the TR-09’s four discrete outputs over USB. Saving your favorite settings and sequencer patterns is easy too via the USB data backup function.

Roland’s TB-03 costs $349 and the TR-09 costs $399, both will be available mid-October

 
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Author: FutureMusic

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