When it comes to software synthesizers, one of the most renowned programs is Rebirth RB-338. Designed by Swedish Propellerhead software, Rebirth is specifically geared towards emulating an out-of-production bass-synthesizer: the Roland Transistor Bassline 303, or TB-303.
A small history lesson on the TB-303: Launched in 1981, the original TB-303 soon turned out a failure - in that it did not sound like a real bassplayer, for which it was intended. Secondly it was rather difficult to program. The built-in step-sequencer was very restrictive and rigid. In a maximum of 16 'steps' (or less) you could play notes over a two octave range and assign each note a maximum of three functions: down or up, (no) accent or (no) slide. A step could also be assigned a rest.

It was promply forgotten until in 1987 DJ Pierre dusted it off, and used the TB-303 in a track, the mother of acid music: Acid Trax (Herbert J / N Jones / Spanky - Published by Sanlar Publishing / Leosong). Since only about 20,000 were built during the production run of the TB-303 (and a number of machines is thought to have been lost through time, wear and tear and accidents), the number of TB-303's out there is relatively low. This has pushed prices of the instrument to a ridiculous height - and out of the reach of you and me, basically.

Enter Propellerhead software (PHS). Next to a staggering amount of hardware TB-303 clones by numerous companies, PHS created the worlds- first software TB-303 emulator. If you don't have it, you can get a free demo from the PHS website:

Pricing details tend to change with versions, to check on the site for accurate information. Version 2.0.1 is the latest version (March 1999). The new version includes some soundtweaking on the TB-303 sound and a very good rendition of the TR-909 drum machine.


HTML Version of ABSM FAQ maintained by Mister X, © 1998/99.