We only had 24 hours with these new toys from Roland. This post is primarily focused on timing and external sync performance but I had a few other observations. They sound great. Really. I’ve given up on the 1:1 audio comparisons with the originals because they are just so close. Being over 30 years old and analogue (hats and cymbals excluded on the TR-909) virtually every TR-909 and TB-303 sound slightly different anyway. In a mix or over a PA it’s never going to be an issue. These are light years ahead of the MC-303/MC-505/MC-909 period of the late 90’s thankfully. Most of the originals need periodic, qualified maintenance and crucial spare parts are getting scarce. At roughly $700 street price for the new versions I’d leave the TR-909 and TB-303 at home under glass ready for the retirement fund. Personally I do miss the individual outs on the TR-09 and the knobs are a little too small and crowded for live, precision tweaking in the dark but I understand fitting it into the ‘Boutique’ physical format was always going to be a squeeze. The TB-03 on the other hand is a little larger than the original and the layout has plenty of familiar real estate.
OK – timing…..note these are both Rev 1.0 OS machines.
TR-09: All Steps – Continuous Rimshot – Single Pattern – 120 BPM
Internal Sync : Precisely 42 samples (0.87ms) push-pull between each consecutive step – think of it as sample-accurate light swing. This seems a common ‘feature’ in many newer drum machines and sequencers.
[Comparison: Original TR-909 = Random 214 samples (4.46ms) push-pull between steps]
External Sync (5 Pin MIDI) – Sync-Gen IILS : Precisely 96 samples (2.00ms) push-pull between each consecutive step. Still sample accurate but heavier swing under external MIDI Clock.
Offset to DAW Grid = 160 samples (3.33ms) behind.
[Comparison: Original TR-909 = Random 374 samples (7.79ms) push-pull between steps]
TB-03: All Steps – Continuous Notes – Single Pattern – 120 BPM
Internal Sync : Very close to sample accurate – only 2 samples (0.04ms) push-pull between each consecutive step.
External Sync (5 Pin MIDI) – Sync-Gen IILS : Precisely 22 samples (0.46ms) push-pull between each consecutive step. Sample-accurate light swing under external MIDI Clock.
Offset to DAW Grid = 95 samples (1.98ms) behind.
Note: Both machines can sync externally to DAW generated USB MIDI Clock, however, with all the possible influencing factors that can affect stability I left this alone for the time being.