Behringer’s analog remake of the 303 is now out in the open – a $199 set of red, blue, and silver synths called the TD-3.
On one hand, this might be the least exceptional of the low-cost Behringer synths, in that there are a lot of 303 remakes around already. There are boutique models, things called “Boutique” from Roland, the open-source hardware x0xb0x and its ilk (which even served as a template to open source music hardware generally), and plug-ins and software emulations galore.
On the other hand, the same thing makes the TD-3 newsworthy. It’s a synth everyone knows, and it’s now US$199 street. Get ready for a lot more acid — that’s for sure.
So what did Behringer actually do?
The TD-3 roughly approximates the TB-303 layout, without being slavish. And Behringer says they’ve recreated the essential analog circuits, down to the matched transistors.
It’s easier, then, to describe what’s new – apart from seeing a Behringer logo instead of a Roland one.
There’s a distortion circuit, which Behringer says is modeled on the DS-1. That presumably means a BOSS DS-1. And that’s actually the ballsy move here; Behringer has tangled with Roland before over BOSS.
The sequencer functionality borrows the 303’s interactions, but there’s more here – an arpeggiator, 250 user patterns x 7 tracks, and an intriguing ppq (parts per quarter) setting.
There’s also more I/O, bringing this more in line with a hacked/modded 303 than the original. You get USB, MIDI, and filter in / sync in / CV out / gate out, in addition to the original’s basic sync features.
Behringer are offering this in three colors, which otherwise are functionally identical – so TD-3-BU, RD, and SR are blue, red, and silver, respectively.
It’s really the price that’s the big deal, at US$199. That mainly hurts the Roland TB-03, which has a street of nearly twice that. Now, I don’t much expect anyone to dump the TB-03 – it sounds great whether it’s analog or not, it’s got a delay/reverb this lacks, and it runs on batteries. For that matter, I don’t know that people will dump any of their existing 303 emulations.
But for someone picking up the 303 who doesn’t have one, it’s going to be tough to compete with Behringer.
On the other hand, Behringer now joins a lot of low-cost, cool synths. Synthtopia compares the TD-3 with the KORG volca NuBass. I don’t know if that comparison came from Behringer, but the KORG seems like a totally different animal – different sound, different features, different workflow, and you know, a volca.
My question is – who’s going to use some strange bass sound to invent a new musical genre? It feels like we’re due.
I know, I know – “Karplus-Strong Techno” is really not a thing like acid house.
Okay – can someone make that a thing?