When you see this in your newsfeed today:
… you might get a little bit excited. While the TB-303 has been cloned more successfully (and with better sonic fidelity) than some other vintage Roland gear, there’s still something so amazing about touching those knobs and hearing a thin, tinny synthesized bass sound get tweaked into wild, squelchy acid.
But alas, there is not a “new TB-303” on the horizon, not from Roland anyway. The Japanese company released a short video today in which the creators of the Cloud version of the 303 explain how they emulated an actual TB-303 into the new Roland Cloud virtual instrument.
Perhaps the 303 in Roland Cloud is better with its “Analog Circuit Behavior modelling” technology, but for $200 a year (the annualized cost of Roland Cloud) I just don’t think Roland gets their market.
Anyone that into the Roland brand is probably going to be into the hardware. In house and techno, the machines themselves, their iconic layout (which Roland has now moved to trademark) and their tactile controls play an essential part in the fascination with Roland’s vintage gear.
Or perhaps they bought the Aira line, which some have claimed are among the best emulators of the classic Roland gear sounds out there.
Pay for one year in the Cloud and you won’t own anything. But $200 will take a large bite out of the cost for a clone like the Acidlab Bassline or the Cyclone Analogic and you’ll have something to show for your money.
And anyone that into the sound but uninterested in hardware can easily find a cheaper software emulation solution. They’ve existed for more than a decade and cost a fraction of the price.
Who does that leave? I think a lot of Roland Cloud users are kicking the tires and Roland is trying to keep them subscribed and renewing to the Cloud platform by stuffing into it as much as they can. I don’t see this working – not at that price and not when there are alternatives out there. Roland hasn’t killed off the hardware clones (sorry, “replicas”) yet, though they did file a cease-and-desist against Propellerhead Software’s ReBirth some 20 years after the 303/808/909 emulator was first released. There are still others out there though that don’t use the cash-grab “cloud” strategy to bilk monthly fees out of users.