When we learned of the launch of Behringer’s all‑analogue, ultra‑affordable TB‑303 clone in the SOS office, it was the price that attracted the most comment. At £129$149, the TD‑3 is amazing value at around halfwell under a half what the original cost in pounds (£238, unbelievably)dollars ($395, unbelievably) on its launch in 1981 — nearly four decades ago! — and well under a tenth of what a working original Bassline often fetches on eBay these days.
What’s more, it appears that in addition to cloning the original voltage-controlled oscillator, filter, amplifier and other circuits, the TD‑3 — like the RD‑8 808‑style drum machine clone reviewed in the forthcoming January 2020 issue of SOS — adds features not included on the original Roland gear (ignoring for a moment the TD‑3’s SH‑101‑like silver, blue and red colour variations, which definitely weren’t TB options in the 1980s).
The TD‑3 has 5-pin DIN and USB MIDI (which was absent in any form on the original 303, of course), and the TD‑3’s audio input, unlike the Mix In socket on the TB‑303, passes through the filter, allowing you to process external audio using the Behringer box. There’s also a built-in distortion modelled on the original Boss DS‑1 guitar pedal, whereas the original had no built-in processing at all. The on‑board sequencer has an enhanced spec with 16 steps and a maximum of 250 possible patterns, but is apparently programmed in the same ‘idiosyncratic’ way as the TB‑303. This was part of the slightly unhinged charm of the original, but if it’s just too irritating for you in the 21st century, Behringer have also made the sequencer sanely programmable over USB using their free‑to‑download Synth Tool app, which is welcome.
As usual with Behringer’s affordable clones, a firm shipping date has not been set, but retailers are expecting to receive the TD‑3 “in the near future“. At this price, it’s virtually an impulse purchase; whenever it comes, we look forward to trying it out.