Chinese low-budget guitar pedal and music tech manufacturer Donner has launched B1, it’s first 303-style analog bassline Synthesizer with sequencer.
If you start playing the guitar as a young musician, you often don’t have the big budget to buy the high-end pedals from Strymon, Eventide or others. The first click then usually goes to Amazon or other international retailers where you can get affordable pedals.
Here, you can also find the Chinese brand Donner which has released many very affordable effect pedals in recent years. Already for less than 20€. I also took a closer look at some of them with synths (Yellow Fall, Wave, Tutti Love, Vintaverb). Today came the news that Donner now also builds affordable synthesizers.I t’s not a hot SB news but a synth news worth reporting.
Donner B1 Analog Bass Synthesizer
B1 is Donner’s first Synthesizer. It is an analog bass Synthesizer with a single oscillator. The alarm bells are going off: single oscillator design, could this be a 303 clone? It could be because: you can choose two wavefroms either sawtooth or square and modify the pitch. Like on the original Roland TB-303.
Then, the signal flows into a filter with cutoff, resonance and depth controls. On the modulation side, you get a simple decay envelope. Also similar.
It also a built-in distortion/saturation to add spice to your sounds and a tape delay effect. Each effect can be turn on and off individually with a switch. The effects circuits are probably from their pedal series.
The B1 analog bass Synthesizer can be played in various ways. Either with 26 silicone keys with colored backlights, with an sequencer or via MIDI. Yes, there is a step sequencer. It looks like it has 16 steps (bottom key row) with 128 factory sequence presets and 128 user programmable presets. The sequencer controls are located on the right side. You can find here: tap tempo, pattern, gate length, slide, play/stop, save, accent with a dedicated amount knob, rec/edit, clear/rest, and ratcheting.
In the same field, you can find additional keyboard controls including octave up/down, an arpeggiator, and a hold function.
The synth has front panel and rear panel connections. On the front, you have an aux in, headphone, sync in and syc out. At first I thought “oh cool modular patch points”, but I was wrong.
On the backside, you have a USB-C socket for USB-MIDI so you can use it as a MIDI keyboard as well. There is a MIDI in/out interface on 2.5mm TRS allowing you to send MIDI data to other synths. Thus, the B1 is also a MIDI sequencer.
Audio side, you get an 1/8” audio input for routing external audio in the synth as well as a 1/4″ TS mono main output. And almost forgot, there is also a big master output knob on the interface.
First Impression & Availability
Donner, one of the best-known companies for low-budget guitar pedals, is now making synthesizers. That’s interesting news. There is currently no sound demo of the B1 analog bass Synthesizer in the wild. Even without a demo, I’m pretty sure the sound journey is going in the corner of the Roland TB-303/Behringer TD-3.
The features are almost the same (single oscillator, decay envelope, accent control…). Only with a different interface and operation. And that looks not bad at all. I’m very curious to see if it can keep up with other current bassline synthesizers. In terms of price, it nearly aligns on the well-known 303 clones from China. Or is it even just a repackaged 303 clone?
Donner B1 Analog Bass Synthesizer is available now for $168.99 USD from the Donner US webshop. It looks like it’s currently only available from the US warehouse. Use the code K8 to save an additional 8% OFF and get it for $155,48 USD plus shipping.
More information here: Donner US