If you want to play the notes of your TB-303 using a MIDI keyboard or sequencer you will need a MIDI to CV converter (such as the Pro-Solo mk3) and also have sockets added to the TB-303 to enable it to be controlled with CV & Gate. There are also other options, but offering less control, see further down the page.
Although the TB-303 has CV & Gate sockets already fitted, these are outputs and are of no use to you if you want to control your TB-303 using a CV converter. We can supply a 3 Socket upgrade to fit your TB-303 with CV Gate & filter input sockets or optionally we can supply a 5 Socket upgrade to fit CV, Gate, filter, slide, and accent input sockets. We can of course fit them for you if you send the unit to us.
Using the added CV, Gate & Filter sockets ( see note #3 below ) and possibly also Slide and Accent sockets in conjunction with the CV converter you will be able to play the sounds of the TB-303 from a mother keyboard or from a sequencer directly.
The TB-303 also has a 5 pin socket for sync input. This can be connected to the Sync 24 output on the converter ( see note 2 below ). This will enable you to run the TB-303 in synchronisation with your sequencer. In this mode, you will need to program the patterns you want to play, directly into the TB-303. You will need to program the TB-303 in the normal way, from its own front panel, you will not be able to use any added CV, Gate sockets for programming.
When you start your sequencer, the TB-303 will play the patterns in time with your sequence ( see note #1 below ). You will always have to start the sequence from the top as the TB-303 will not recognise song position pointers. If you only want to run the TB-303 in sync you do not need to get any additional sockets fitted.
You have the following options for a TB-303:
- Clock the internal sequencer
- Fit a 5 socket upgrade kit so that you can use it with a MIDI to CV converter
- Fit a 3 socket upgrade kit so that you can use it with a MIDI to CV converter
- Use a MIDI to CV converter (after you have fitted a 5 or 3 socket upgrade kit
Clock the internal sequencer
You can clock the internal sequencer of the TB-303 using the DIN sync output of one of our converters. This doesn’t require any modification to the TB-303. You will need a DIN sync lead for this.
Note that the SYNC IN socket on the TB-303 often gives trouble as the soldered joints to the DIN socket pins become cracked and require re-soldering.
Fit a 5 socket upgrade kit
You can fit a 5 socket upgrade kit which will allow you to use one of our MIDI to CV converters to give you control of Notes, filter, slide and accent. In addition, built-in features in our MIDI to CV converters allow you to control pitchbend, modulation and portamento.
Click here for details of the 5 & 3 socket upgrade kits
Fit a 3 socket upgrade kit
You can fit a 3 socket upgrade kit which will allow you to use one of our MIDI to CV converters to give you control of Notes & filter. In addition, built-in features in our MIDI to CV converters allow you to control pitchbend, modulation and portamento.
Click here for details of the 5 & 3 socket upgrade kits
Use a MIDI to CV converter
Use it with one of our range of MIDI to CV converters such as the Pro-Solo mk3 (requires 5 or 3 socket upgrade kit fitted)
On all of our converters the default setup is suitable for a TB-303 (V/Oct mode and 5V Gate). However, if you are using the 5 socket Kit and wish to control Accent, you should use the 15V gate setting.
Connect the CV out of the converter to the added CV IN of the TB-303
Connect the Gate out of the converter to the added Gate IN of the TB-303
This provides control of Notes including pitchbend, modulation, portamento (using features built into our converters)- see our MIDI to CV converter pages for more information.
Once you have got the notes playing successfully, you can connect the Aux out of the converter to the added Filter IN of the TB-303. You may not hear anything if the filter is too closed. Open the filter using the filter control on the TB-303 or advancing the controller for the Aux output you are using.
3.5mm to 3.5mm jack leads – you will need 3 or 5
- You need to make sure that the clock output is enabled on your sequencer, this is very often on a setup page or on a pull-down menu. The sync 24 output of Kenton CV converters cannot be disabled, so if your TB-303 or MC-202 doesn’t start with your sequencer, you can be sure that the CV converter isn’t receiving MIDI sync (see note 4) or you have a faulty lead (see note #2) or even maybe a faulty sync input socket on the TB-303 or MC-202.
- The lead you need for connecting the sync 24 output of the CV converter to a TB-303 or an MC-202 may look like a MIDI lead, but it is not. MIDI leads need only 3 connections out of the possible 5 on the 5 pin DIN socket, the sync connection requires that all 5 wires are connected, which means that the majority of MIDI leads won’t work. You need to get a standard 5 pin DIN to 5 pin DIN lead which is readily available or Kenton can supply.
- You need both CV & Gate signals to control an analogue synthesizer. The CV signal tells it what note to play (CV means control voltage). The Gate signal tells it when to play the note.
- MIDI sync isn’t on any particular MIDI channel, it’s on a sort of global channel of its own.
- A MIDI to CV converter, converts an incoming MIDI data stream into control voltages of various kinds for connecting to synths with suitable inputs. A CV converter does not convert the analogue signals back into MIDI, you would need a CV to MIDI converter for that.
- References to filter control, mean control of the filter cutoff frequency, sometimes also called filter sweep or VCF frequency control (VCF means voltage controlled filter).