Roland AIRA TB-3



ROLAND AIRA TB-3, new digital synth

When Roland’s ultra-hyped TB-303 reboot turned out to be a digital synth and not a painstakingly accurate recreation of the analogue original, many die-hard 303 enthusiasts dismissed it before even hearing what it could do. They’re missing out.

The TB-3 might not be the ultimate modern 303 (if that’s what you want you need to look at a x0xb0x, check out a TT-303 or just bite the bullet and invest in the real thing) but it’s a very capable synth in its own right.

The TB-3 is essentially a preset-based synth, with much the same attitude as something like a Korg Kaossilator. Each sound that you load from the on-board memory includes a very basic effect, the depth of which can be adjusted. Other than that, the only adjustable parameters are very basic settings including cutoff, resonance and envelope modulation.

Clearly, the TB-3 isn’t one for the deep synth programming heads. Instead, it’s all about immediate results. Fire up a preset, program a pattern and tweak it with the controls (which include Scatter, a variant of Roland’s pseudo-randomisation effects included on most AIRA products).

While the TB-3 is clearly not for the purists, it’s still a very capable instrument. If you dismiss it without taking a closer look, you might regret it.

29th January, 2015


  • Ploytec is on the table behind the Bass Station 2… What do I win?

  • Is that it behind his monitor controller??? or ai or whatev

  • My next synth is definitly in that list!

  • i think it not good the MICROGRANNY 2.1 . is supper

    als the The Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass is dupper

    more supper synth,s on

  • Was the Elektron Monomachine just too expensive to be included, or too old?

  • @Clay – I’d personally say that’s it too old to make the list, the Monomachine MK2 came out 5-ish years ago now. That said, I just bought a new one from Elektron and it’s probably my favourite digital synth EVER (though the Machinedrum is probably parallel to that as well, yeh I’m a fanboy)

  • We love the Monomachine but here we’re just focusing on more recent releases.

  • I highly recommend the Audiothingies P6, it sounds more ‘analogue’ than modern analogue synths I’ve used, I’d take it over a load of more expensive synths any day.
    Strong filter with lovely sqidgy resonance, snappy envelopes and a good mod matrix, this is a very flexible instrument with a very wide sweet spot.
    Here’s a demo I made recently showing a wide range of sounds, I’ll be posting another one soon as well:


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