Yooz Music has announced the release of BL-303, a freeware emulation of the Roland TB-303 analog bass synthesizer in VST and AU plugin formats for PC and Mac.
BL-303 was originally released as one of the entries in last year’s KVR Developer Challenge. Even though it wasn’t picked as the winner, Yooz Music’s free TB-303 emulation was certainly among the more interesting virtual instruments submitted last year. The synth is now getting a refresh, improving on some of the drawbacks from the original release.
On the surface, BL-303 now sports a very similar looking yet slightly refreshed user interface. The control layout hasn’t changed at all, but the v2.0 interface is definitely more modern looking. Both the text labels and the background image were improved slightly, while the knob graphics and the color scheme have remained pretty much the same.
More importantly, though, the synth engine has been tuned up to resemble that of the original Roland TB-303 more closely. The slide feature now doesn’t result in filter envelope retriggering, allowing for smoother and more authentic sounding “acid” style slides. Also, the volume of the subsequent accented notes will now increase when there are a few accents played in a row. The sound engine was also tweaked to sound more like the original hardware instrument, at least according to the release info on the product page, but I wasn’t able to notice much of a difference while testing (albeit very briefly) the new version.
That said, BL-303 v2.0 is a great little TB-303 emulation and is well worthy of your attention, especially if you’re looking for an easy to use 303-like instrument. My favorite things about Yooz Music’s free plugin are its streamlined control scheme and the intuitive velocity-based note sequencing workflow. Different note velocity ranges are used to trigger slides, regular notes, accents, etc., resulting in a super-quick acid bassline building workflow. The programming workflow was one of the main reasons why the original TB-303 became such a success in the first place. Whereas it failed as a substitue for a bass guitar (which was its original purpose), it shined in the hands of electronic musicians who used it to create sounds that were yet unheard at the time, powered by the synths one-of-a-kind sequencing scheme.
The plugin is available for direct free download from the product page linked below. Only an email address is required in order to complete the free checkout process.
BL-303 is available for free download via Yooz Music (10.6 MB download size, ZIP archive, 32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU plugin format for Windows & macOS).