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Just bought a x0xb0x, anyone a user?


BaxOutTheBox
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not got one myself but a good mate of mine used to...wicked acid machine and very moddable. it does sound slightly different to a TB-303 but not in any bad (or hugely noticable) way - just has it’s own tone which is perhaps a bit er, sharper? dunno, they definitely put their own stamp on your acid whatever it is... same can be said for the TT-303 Bassbot (which i have), subtle differences between all the acid machines i guess :)

in terms of ease of use - piece of piss if you’ve ever played with any sort of 303 clone or vst. also you can always just use randomise for instant acid inspiration.

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I built one around 2012 and still use it.  I'm not at all a fan of the stock firmware, I'd suggest installing an alternative firmware.  My personal favorite was MarOS, although you'll want to print out an overlay for the front panel since it's quite a bit different than the stock one. SokkOS seems more popular and is also good but MarOS had a few features that put it ahead for me, especially variable gate time (it's the only one that has that as far as I know) - using really short gates gets you into sounds that are almost clavinet-like, and tweaking the gate time in real time while a sequence is playing can sound great.  If I ever had a second x0x I'd consider running MarOS in it just for that feature alone.

 

Last year I installed the x0xlarge CPU upgrade so I could run n0nx0x and for me it's a huge improvement and worth the expense (IIRC it was around $150 total for the CPU upgrade board and a new faceplate, but I didn't get them both at the same time).  There are some nice features for real-time programming that haven't been implemented yet but as it is it's an almost perfect recreation of the original 303 workflow with a few additions.  Maybe I'm just weird but I find the 303 workflow really intuitive and have been getting a lot more use out of it since I upgraded, but I know a lot of people find it kind of cumbersome. 

 

 

I found the buttons from the official Adafruit BOM not so good, mine started to fail (mostly getting double-presses, which made stuff like stepping through a sequence kind of a pain since sometimes one button press would jump ahead two or three steps) and even if yours is working fine I'd suggest stockpiling replacements for the future.  I'm pretty gentle with mine and have only used it for recording so far, the stock buttons just don't have a very long life. I ended up going all out and getting these but you could probably find the same thing from an electronics supplier for less, I'm pretty sure the modification is just filing off the two little plastic bumps on the bottom so that they sit flush on the x0x main board.   There are matching button caps on the same site that also feel great but they're sold out right now.  If all your buttons are working hen maybe it's a non-issue for you anyhow.

 

EDIT: depending on who made yours and when this might not be an issue, it seems like it's a pretty well known problem and there are probably a lot of people building it now who don't use the original BOM part for the switches.  The original part that I had problems with looks like this:

 

tact_t.jpg

 

 

The one other thing I ended up doing to mine was a simple voltage sag mod in the power supply.  Apparently the power supply is the only significant change in the x0x compared to t he original 303, and because it's a much better design it allegedly changes the way the filter sounds at high resonance.  Since I was opening it up anyway and the mod is dead simple - just swap a trimpot in for r1 in the power board IIRC, I might have had to cut a trace too - I actually put it on a little square of perfboard and mounted it on the back panel with a hole drilled so I could adjust it without opening the x0xb0x up, but that's not really necessary).  If you look around the different forums there's a lot of debate about whether it really does anything, but after listening to a few comparisons that were supposed to be debunking it and actually hearing a subtle but unmistakable difference pre and post mod in all of them, I figured it couldn't hurt.  I was definitely able to adjust it by ear in a way that made it sound kind of richer at high resonance, especially on accents, although it's hard to really characterize the change since it's pretty subtle.  Maybe a bit like the difference between a good DCO and a good VCO. It doesn't really do the "filter warble" that people seem to want from it (at least it didn't do that in mine), but you can definitely dial it in to where there's some kind of subtle instability at high resonance that sound nicer to my ear.  But really this stuff is probably not worth worrying about.

 

I'd definitely recommend the x0xlarge and n0nx0x if you can afford to do it.

 

 

As far as the stock OS goes I haven't used it in years and don't have any advice.

Edited by RSP
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thanks for the quick and thorough answers. the one i purchased is modded with the Atomic kit. from what i have seen, not many of those mods seem all too useful. the boost is ok, distortion is unneeded as i would much prefer outboard or pedals...

 

the MarOS features are excellent, i will definitely be installing that after a few runs with the native firmware

 

looking into the x0xlarge upgrade, i think i will see if the programming fits into my workflow as is. this will be my first 303 type synth and i have no preconceptions as to how it "should" play. thanks for the information, regardless. definitely a consideration going forward, especially with the add-ons to real-time programming. that is always a massive plus

 

i will probably throw the pot in simply because that is an easy fix and an extra knob (who doesn't want that)

 

there was a bit of debate between the tt-303 and the x0xb0x but, the deep catalog of alt. firmwares and mods for the x0xb0x are what tipped the scales. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I built one around 2012 and still use it.  I'm not at all a fan of the stock firmware, I'd suggest installing an alternative firmware.  My personal favorite was MarOS, although you'll want to print out an overlay for the front panel since it's quite a bit different than the stock one. SokkOS seems more popular and is also good but MarOS had a few features that put it ahead for me, especially variable gate time (it's the only one that has that as far as I know) - using really short gates gets you into sounds that are almost clavinet-like, and tweaking the gate time in real time while a sequence is playing can sound great.  If I ever had a second x0x I'd consider running MarOS in it just for that feature alone.

 

Damn! Variable gate length/time ??? wish i had know about that when i had one!! That's sexy!

It's one of my favorite tricks when making basslines!

Edited by fxbip
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Yeah, the variable gate time was almost enough to make me stick with it but I really, vastly prefer the n0nx0x workflow, I guess I'm just one of those weirdos who finds the original 303 sequencer really intuitive (not that I've used a real one).  But yeah, lowering the gate time down to 25% or less sounds amazing.  I even emailed Anton (the guy who made n0nx0x) to suggest adding it to a future release but he said it would take a lot more work to add it than it seems like, and would require rewriting a big chunk of the sequencer, so not happening.

 

Also, from what I remember MarOS is more suitable for writing sequences live, unless I'm remembering wrong you can record notes in real time with the sequencer running, which you DEFINITELY can't do with n0nx0x yet (it's been listed on the site as an unfinished feature planned for a future update for a couple of years), so that might be a big consideration depending on your workflow.

 

If you DO go with MarOS in the long run, it might be worth investing in having a new faceplate made, or getting a good quality sticker to put over the old faceplate at least.  I used a piece of paper glued on with contact cement and it definitely helped with remembering what the controls did (it changes the functions of a lot of the buttons) but it wore out and got hard to read really fast.

Edited by RSP
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  • 2 months later...

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