Solo musicians looking to generate their own backing tracks or DJs wanting to lay down some beats can seek out software solutions, but those who really want to get their hands dirty may prefer to opt for rhythm machines like the recently-announced Electron Rytm or Roland's Aira TB-3. Such things can prove expensive choices though, which makes Akai's vintage-inspired Rhythm Wolf analog drum machine and bass synth with built-in sequencing quite a compelling piece of kit. And yes, it comes with a sonic howl feature.
If you lack the stick-twirling skills necessary to bash out a beat on a set of bins or punch out funky grooves with a bass guitar, rhythm machines that cater for both can be an excellent way to finger-tap your way to creative success. Enclosed in metallic housing edged with "simulated wood grain" caps, the Rhythm Wolf is described by Akai as an authentic analog instrument inspired by the classic analog beat makers and synths that helped define the sounds of early electronica and hip-hop.
The drum machine part of the equation offers five highly customizable analog kit sounds (namely a kick, snare, open and closed hi-hat and metallic percussion), with onboard controls that allow musicians to independently alter the tuning, amplitude envelopes and volume of each drum sound in real-time. The bass synth is reported capable of producing powerful bass or "squelchy leads" thanks to a choice of sawtooth or square wave oscillator with classic filter design and a filter envelope with variable decay.
The device features six custom-calibrated MPC pads for finger drumming and groove-making, and includes a 32-step sequencer with an ultra-responsive interface. There are Swing function, Pattern Select, and Tempo Control knobs for fine-tuning, and activating the "Howl" knob adds some gritty tone or sound crushing character to the proceedings thanks to a custom distortion signal path. Sequences can be fired from modular synths, vintage sequencers, or other external sound sources via a gate trigger In/Out.
The Rhythm Wolf offers USB-MIDI and MIDI in/out connectivity, and dedicated audio outputs allow performers to mix drum and bass sounds independently.
Regrettably, there are no audio samples or video demos to showcase the technology at the time of writing, and the unit on display at Musikmesse in Frankfurt this week is not wired for sound. The Rhythm Wolf will be available in the coming months for a street price of US$199.99.
Source: Akai ProShare
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