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Braintec Transistorbass 3

Braintec Transistorbass 3
a.k.a. TB-3

Braintec Transistorbass3

Braintec was a small German company. In fact it only produced one product in 1994 which was the Transistorbass 3. It's basically a division of the company Touched By Sound which then very soon split into a shop and another company Music And More (MAM).
MAM existed for quite some time until 2004 when it merged with a division of TerraTec.
Touched By Sound is still trading, selling high tech synths and equipments in Germany.
One would immediately relate the name "Transistorbass 3" to the famous Roland TB-303.
In deed, initially, the Transistorbass 3 started out as a 303 clone, but ended up being something else.
About 400 units were produced around 1993-94, all sold to German customers, then when they planned to do international sales, Braintec became TBS & MAM and went on to produce the MB33, which is a slightly more closer clone to the TB-303.
Some refer this as the TB-3. but i think TB-3 was the prototype name.

There is not a lot of info on the Transistorbass 3.
If you google on the "Transistorbass 3", you might find a few mentioning from people who own this, but never really a lot of detailed descriptions or detailed images.
Only on 1 page, I found some info...
bulletDouble VCO :
- VCO 1 is saw/square switchable,
- VCO 2 could work like a LFO, modulating VCF, sync to VCO 1
bulletSingle A-D-R ENV
bulletSource-Target Modulation Matrix via Pitch bend / Mod Wheel / ENV ...
with 128 configurations switchable with midi program change
bullet2 LFOs sync to Midi Clock
bulletReal time MIDI control with controllers over the most important parameters
bulletAccent (separate to volume) and slide effects to emulate the TB-303
bulletCV and GATE out (midi to CV converter) along with CV adjust
bulletAudio in to VCF
bulletVCO Tune and Fine Tune
bullet24dB Filter (so it's not like a 303 18dB filter!)

Transistorbass 3 & Me
Well, what can I say? 400 units, this thing is pretty RARE.
I knew about the Transistorbass 3 around 1994-95, when the first lot of 303 clone came out. It was mentioned, maybe reviewed, but not many places actually stocked it.
To be honest I never really looked for a 303 Clone. All these clones I treat them as a separate synth. Synths are, I suppose, different to Compressor/EQ clones, each synth has its own character.
So I didn't get this the 1st time round. But in late June 2005, I saw one cropping up on eBay, and I suppose, around EUR 2xx (~£130), I thought maybe it's time I get one into my collection!

The synth has no problem, perfect condition, like new.
However, manual is in German. The PSU hasn't got enough power.
BUT - this thing is way more complicated than any 303 clone, although it has all those Slide/Glide, Accent and so on that a usual 303 clone has.
In fact it has 2 VCOs, 2 (hidden) LFOs, and a very very complicated MIDI implementation.
Well, for a start, it can be controlled under Midi CC#1, #6, #98 and #102-120 - that's like 20, 21 controllers in total. Plus, mod matrix settings are stored in 128 program changes.

So, not having an English manual, is a bit of a pain and a steep learning curve in front of me!
For a start, there is no LFO control knobs and I think the 2 LFOs are hidden under MIDI controls.




Front Panel Layout [Click to Enlarge]

Power | Trigger | VCO1 Tune / Waveform | VCO1/2 Slide / Mix

VCO2: Tune / Fine Tune / Sync / ENV / MOD

VCF:  MOD / VCO2 / Cutoff / Rez / ENV

Accent | ENV: A/D/R | Volume


Rear Panel Layout [Click to Enlarge]

Output (Mono) | Cv/Gate & CV Adjust

VCF IN | VCO1/2 Tune/Width Trimmers | MIDI In & Thru

Power (15V DC In) | MIDI Ch Selector

The Inside

The inside revealed that the Transistorbass 3 was very well designed!

Everything is very high quality, from Pots to switches to PCB.

Each component is clearly marked.
You can see from this pic, 2SC1583s / 2SK30s are used.

This particular PCB is revision 1.1, dated 1994.


Proper POWER!!

When I got the Transistorbass 3, it came with a 12V DC I think 1A wallwart.
The seller said this was what he has been using it with, but in the manual it says 15V/200mA.
200mA seems a little low to me. And using that 12V, I can hear that sometimes it's getting weak (I used to have this issue with my FatMan when I was using a too low power transformer).
Since I have ordered from Touch By Sound before, I thought maybe I should email them and ask, 1st about the PSU, 2nd if they have a manual in English. Well, they haven't got the manual, since no English manual was ever produced. However I got the info on the PSU.
The PSU should be about 15V 800mA.
Since I do know how to build power supply, I decided I am gonna build a proper 15V at least 800mA one for my Transistorbass 3.

[Click Image to Enlarge]

Well, basically, a 15V DC is just the +ve side of a regulated +15V/0V/-15V PSU.

I have been doing these for a while using 7815 / 7915 regulators, and I don't think it's too difficult to do just the 7815 bit.

I use a 15VA Toroidal Transformer, 15VA, with two 15V secondaries from RS (Code 223-8487).


I think this should be able to fit on a relatively small stripboard, and with the transformer being toroidal, they should just fit inside some small project cases.

Here is the stripboard layout I used, I might have squeezed it a little bit further, so it's even smaller.

I don't do custom made PCBs, most stuff I do are on "stripboards" (or veroboards), which are commonly available.

This circuit deal with high voltage MAINS POWER.
If you do not know what you're doing, then do not attempt. I do not take any responsibility if you get electrocuted!! (Sorry!)

[Click Image to Enlarge]

All these now housed in a small plastic project box!

Close-up of the small stripboard...


IEC Mains Socket, of course!

The finished 15V DC PSU !




Sounds of the Transistorbass 3
Will put up some some examples here, when I have time and eventually get round to doing this!!




History of Braintec / Touched By Sound / MAM

When I was looking for info on the Braintec Transistor3, I came across a posting on the Analogue Heaven mailing list, which descriped briefly the little history of the companies Braintec, Touched By Sound and Music And More (MAM).
The MAM/TBS story as old by Michael from Touched by Sound...

I don't really like talking too much about the "old" days, but also I think some things should be pointed out right, what is said about MAM and TBS.

In 1993 TBS met Stefan Schmidt. I had the idea of making a rackmount TB-303 clone and a nice rack vocoder. My partner (who had the money) founded a company called Braintec that year.
Braintec developed and manufactured the Transistorbass-3, which was a very good clone plus a lot more features. TBS distributed this product, and approx. 400 pieces were made.
I split up with my partner and so did Stefan.

20 miles from here there was a small company called MAM (Music And More) which was making little rack mixers and amps and gadgets like that. Not very well known, but cheap stuff and useful.
We put Stefan together with them and they started designing a lot of products with some of our ideas and co-designs.
First of all: they made a cheap version of the Transistorbass3,which was of course the MAM MB33 bass synthesizer. Then the VF11 vocoder and so on.
That year I said I would like to do distribution worldwide for the product.

Because of TBS being a retailer and shops probably would not buy from an opponent - we finally decided to call it Music And More distribution, first as a subdivision of TBS, a year later, as independent limited company.
We sold more than 5000 MB33 and more than 2000 VF11 worldwide. Not bad, for a small company!
Last year my partner and one of the owners of MAM (manufacturer) didn't get on anymore so they just stopped supplying us.
They had big problems with financing the production and lack of quality. Stefan was tied up for 1 year developing the SQ16 sequencer and the market was longing for new products from MAM.

We found a small company near us manufacturing tube-preamps and similar stuff. They were also analog freaks and had an much better quality production. I started designing many products with them and we badged them as MAM. At that time we mad the first run of DRM1's. I think 100 pieces came onto the market as MAM, before we split up.

We redesigned and improved the DRM1 a little and now we make it as TBS.

Note: TBS was selling the DRM1, DRM2 and ACM2 drum racks plus a Spring Reverb. Then everything faded out. MAM did sold a similar product to the DRM1, But I think the TBS REM1 actually developed into the Vermona one.


Other Links on the Transistorbass 3

bulletGeuggis Unofficial TB-303 has a page with descriptions and image of the Transistorbass 3, also has a 303 emulation sound test.
bulletSynrise (German) has info on Braintec & Transistorbass 3.



C Y 's files on the Braintec Transistorbass 3
bulletScanned User Manual in Acrobat PDF (GERMAN)
60 pages, about 2.86 Mb
Cubase Device Panel
bulletCubase SX Midi Device Panel for the Transistorbass3
(See my Cubase SX Panels page)





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Transistorbass 3