You can now really have a ridiculous amount of fun playing live without a ridiculous amount of gear. That’s certainly the sense I get with Roland’s Boutique series, among other recent entries.

In just a fraction of the size of the original AIRA, you can add a synth, a bassline, or a drum machine. And it’s not just Roland. In the under-$500 category, there’s loads of desktop gear from Korg, Waldorf, MFB, Novation, and Arturia, plus even compact modular/semi-modulars like the Make Noise O-Coast and Moog Mother-32. It’s all affordable, and all really easy to port around.

What I like about the new Roland Boutique generation is how quickly and compactly you can cover the basics.

303, plus delay/reverb – done.
909 drum machine – check. (Heck, it’s also the size of a 303 now.)

Just like the AIRA TB-3 before it, part of the fun of the TB-03 is that it’s both a sequencer and a synth.

The 03 and 09 on their own are a little vanilla, so to this combination we added our own MeeBlip triode. Run a MIDI out from the TB-03, and the 03’s internal sequencer doubles as a sequencer for the triode.


I have to admit, I was doubly inspired after seeing Octave One use doubling to great effect in their live set with some original 303s and our original MeeBlip SE.

The advantage: bass line variety. Switch between the sound of the MeeBlip and the TB-03 with their respective volume knobs. Crank the gritty guitar-style resonance on the triode or the squelchy acid resonance on the 03 for extra color. Or turn up volume on both up for some stacked bass (especially now with the triode’s sub oscillator providing extra low end).

And even stock classic 303 patterns suddenly sound new.

The TB-03 remains the Boutique Series unit I’d buy first. Some particular details make this work. First, that Drive is essential: turn it up a little to make sure the filter doesn’t make the unit too quiet, or turn it up a lot to dirty up the sound. Second, the reverb/delay really shines (you’ll hear me shamelessly abusing the delay, of course, in this video). And third, the two new sequencer modes are really handy. It’s not the easiest sequencer in the world to use, but it’s also easy to make some nice patterns in advance and recall them on the go.

But the three together are really surprisingly nice. Honestly, after a few minutes playing with this, you could practice and make this your whole rig (though I’d be tempted to add one more synth).

And I think honestly that’s all really a revelation. You’ve got the ability to toss together a whole rig in a backpack you can get through security.

For the Boutiques, you’ll have to try your local dealer. I hear it’s possible to grab them in the US and Japan but a lot of places are sold out, and Europe is tough.

If you want MeeBlip, let’s give you a little extra: add code PLUGGEDIN to your cart and you’ll get the MIDI and audio cables you need, for free. That’s on top of some extended sale pricing for the holidays, and we have fast shipping options for America and international alike.

Roland Boutique

Shop MeeBlip

But do have some fun making live techno. This is really better than only talking politics all day. 😉 Everybody needs a techno break now and then.

Thanks to Nick de Friez from Roland for helping us produce this. (he’s operating the TR-09 for me.)


For a little more background, here’s how you get up and running with the TB-03:

And how step write works on the TR-09:

And how to get going with MeeBlip triode/anode and your computer:

  • blacktrope

    Great article. Are the machines properly synced? Sounds quite loose together.

    • James

      There are other plausible explanations, one being that if this is clip based (off camera) that the clips are not aligned as they’re introduced into playback or the launch quantization is a bit too fine for their performance. You can hear it corrected as it’s running. Another explanation would be groove or nudge not hitting the (same) pocket on one lane of a sequence, etc.

  • Filipe Martins

    Awful to get in Europe because of customs 🙁 i’d love to own the triode, damn

  • James

    very fat. Now that the triode is out and I’m planning to get one, what would be your going strategy for finding a niche with the anode? Do you think they’d double up together nicely? Are there instances of doubling and blending where you’d reach for the anode first? Any settings that you’d avoid for phase and masking reasons?

    • James

      follow up q: is that MIO seen exclusively as a MIDI interface or is an audio interface along side it going to end up aggregating and take the shortest common value for compensation delay?

    • Scott armstrong

      I own the Anode and honestly don’t feel that i need the added sub of the Triode. I am already EQ-ing the Anode in order to minimize cancellation of essential kick drum frequencies. However i do like the red colourway.

      • James

        Point taken. These items are really my only gateway into mini, and I guess that makes me a fanboy. Still, I can think of lots of mixes and genres where the kick is floating in a sea of bass. In other words, the kick isn’t always the lowest point of reference. Nonetheless, I appreciate that you’ve definitely thought this out for your music

  • Scott armstrong

    i make basic 4/4 techno, presently my live rig consists of a Drum Machine, Meeblip Anode, Volca Keys, 8 channel Mixer and a couple of small FX. It does the job well.

  • Sounds Great, I do that doubling trick with my TB3 and Anode as well. Even though they are playing the same “notes” the Voicing (Slides Accents) on the tb3 don’t get picked up by the Anode. It plays the notes “Straight” which sounds different, yet the same really adds some presence. (for added fun I run the Anode in to the TR-8 Ext input (or MX 1) for sidechaining).

    • Satu Patel

      Thanks for mentioning this! I’m gonna go try side chaining my Triode with the TR-8, too. Do I run the midi from the TB3 into Triode and TR-8 (using a midi splitter) and then input the audio from Triode to the TR-8?

      • Assuming TR-8 is master Clock – MIDI TR-8 OUT -> TB-3 OUT- > Triode. (ithe Triode is the last stop in your Chain.) Audio Out of Triode (You will need an audio splitter/ 1/4″stereo out to go into the TR-8

        • Satu Patel

          Thank you!

        • Satyan Patel

          Just to try it out temporarily I added my MicroKorg and did what you said about midi. So so cool! It sounds amazing when side chaining.

          • Glad it Worked out for you (sorry about the Late replies)