Over the last two decades, manufacturers pampered us with cool and useful reproductions of the gear of the ‘good old times’, in hardware and software. Yamaha’s DX7, Roland TR’s, Korg’s MS-20… the list goes on. Sure there are a lot of opinions. Some people can’t stop discussing about it, as if there is the ‘one and only machine’ and other things are total crap. Calm down, I’d say. It’s about music and the result in general, isn’t it?
OK, a Korg Polysix, for example, is freakin’ cool. Being a vintage lover -and just bought one myself- I can honestly say this thing knocks your socks off. But then again, I like the Korg Legacy software version of it as well. Same same, but different. Indeed, the real Polysix has advantages over the plugin (Only twisting those 30 year old knobs and its old fashion smell is a plus on my list). But then again, I can’t take the Polysix with me and work on a plane for example, or make it talk to my other gear as easily as with the plugin… Let us be a bit more openminded. Let the original and the hard/soft clone work together in harmony.
The thing I like to talk about in this edition of ‘Gear’ is Mode Machines’ new x0xb0x MK2.
The x0xb0x MK2 (pronounced as ‘Socksbox’) is the next step in developing the perfect TB-303 Clone, and the follow-up of the original x0xb0x, wich is a full reproduction of the original Roland TB-303 synthesizer. The unit can be used and programmed just like the original 303 (or easier, some say) and comes either as a ready made unit or as a build kit wich is obviously cheaper, but you need to be prepared to dive into the toolbox, first.
The x0xb0x is an original concept from MIT students, who set their goal to produce an authentic 303 clone. They took a 303 apart and by using “reverse engineering” they managed to recreate a true clone. Weeks and weeks were used to seek for original and good alternative parts.
Mode Machines, who among others commercialized the ‘x0x’, released the MK2, wich is the updated version, soundwise and in parts. Every unit is now crafted, tweaked and calibrated to sound like a real TB-303. No unit will be shipped out of their deposit until it sounds “real”. They improved the quality of the pots, encoders and switches is improved as per version 1, only using components from the best suppliers. Made in Germany.
Feel the real ACID sound and see how it works:
Unfortunately this is the first version of the x0xb0x, the MK2 still got no test videos, but works the same way.
The x0xb0x, whether it’s an MK I or MK II, is a great alternative to an original TB-303, that costs about 4 times the price of a x0x these days, or even more. The box has great advantages – it won’t let you down like vintage gear can do sometimes, and even connects to your computer directly with USB and MIDI.
If you can separate the sound of a x0xb0x from an original 303, especially in a full production, you have very good ears, kind of überhuman. The box really sounds 100% authentic! Give it a try…
- 100% analogue TB-303 circuitry
- Additional Sequencer Functions
- MIDI in/out/thru
- Sync Out
- Sokkos OS
- Headphone Out
- Mix input for audio
Don’t forget to check out other products by Mode Machines. They have some really clever producer gear. The SID for example, a great 8Bit groovebox, or the ‘Micro Series’, including a Juno 106 filter and Arpeggiator. For more info and prices, feel free to get in touch at info (at) turnlab.be, or visit the Mode Machines website at http://www.modemachines.com
At the end for all tech freaks – the mounting of the x0xb0x kit version in a really impressive timelapse video: