Discchord has an insightful video that pits the KORG volca bass – that beautiful, affordable wonder – against a 303 bass (in this case, a Cyclone clone).

It’s in my view a completely fair comparison, just because the Roland TB-303 has become such a template for basslines, particularly in acid music.

And understanding what the KORG isn’t is also a key to understand what it is. And yes, that silver cover can give people the wrong idea. (Where’s KORG doing pink or green army camouflage when you need them?)

My own takeaways:

  • The KORG filter is the main problem for 303 fans. The sound and controls don’t have the same level of control. (It’s why I wouldn’t necessarily consider the volca bass an acid bassline synth – you might be just as happy making basslines with its sibling volca keys, but you could pick it up for other reasons.)
  • That same volca bass filter, though, with its unruly and unique sound, is also what means you might want the volca. We’ve heard lots of the 303 filter sound; this is something special on its own.
  • Those 303 clones are also a good buy. Spending $3k on a used 303 which might fail on you is not a brilliant investment of money on an instrument that earned its popularity originally by being cheap.
  • The three-oscillator unison mode on the KORG is fantastic. And here, again – it’s not a 303 clone; it’s a volca.
  • KORG’s KAOSS effects are simply awesome.

The volca bass remains an incredible buy – once you understand how it’s different from other offerings.

Hat tip to Nick and SonicState.

Hands-on with the volca bass.

Hands-on with the volca bass.