Prior to NAMM 2015 Akai announced a new line up of keyboards, the Advance Keyboard. It looks like that wasn’t all from Akai, they have just announced 2 new analog products, theTimbre Wolf and Tom Cat. The Timbre Wolf is a 4 voice analog synthesizer while the Tom Cat is an analog drum machine similar to 2014′s Rhythm Wolf. Keep reading to find out if this analog gear is for you.
Timbre Wolf Analog Synthesizer
The Timbre Wolf is an authentic analog 4-voice polyphonic synthesizer. Configurable as 4 mono synths, a 4-voice unison or a 4-voice polysynth, Timbre Wolf includes a professional quality 25-key custom Akai Pro keybed. The user can easily customize the sound of each voice independently as they play, and there is a 32-step sequencer for each voice. An LED display and Octave +/- controls add further control and flexibility for the user. Timbre Wolf adds a distinctive, convincing traditional voice to any musician’s repertoire of tools.
Timbre Wolf will be $499 USD.
Tom Cat Analog Drum Machine
Tom Cat is an exciting true analog drum machine with five built-in percussion voices, including Kick, Snare, and Clap sounds with chromatically tunable Disco Toms. Onboard controls—all continuously variable—enable users to customize the tuning, amplitude envelopes, and volume of each drum voice separately for precise real-time adjustment.
Outfitted with six MPC-style pads and a built-in 32-step sequencer, Tom Cat provides an ultra-responsive interface with a classic drum machine layout. Drum patterns can be fine-tuned using the Swing function, Pattern Select, and Tempo Control knob. A custom signal path, activated by its unique “Maul” circuitry, lets the user ‘dirty up’ their drum beats for just the right effect.
Producers have been preaching the gospel that analog hardware is superior to digital/vst instruments. The problem is that not everyone can afford analog hardware, especially vintage hardware like the Roland TR-808/909. It’s great to see Akai releasing analog hardware that’s accessible to new producers.
Tom Cat will be $199 USD
Rhythm Wolf Analog Drum Machine
Many producers will tell you that analog synthesis creates a different sound and atmosphere than their VST counterparts. Synthesizers, however, can be very costly and usually require more hardware to actually get those analog waves into a DAW. Akai is tackling that problem by creating the Rhythm Wolf, which is an authentic piece of analog gear that features a drum machine and bass synthesizer that is set to cost only $199. Akai video shows this bass synthesizer in action:
The first feature of the Rhythm Wolf is its 5-voice analog drum synthesizer. On-board, the Rhythm Wolf contains legendary analog drum sounds, including a kick, snare, open and closed hi-hats, and metallic percussion. Each sound can also be manipulated on board via the tuning, amplitude and volume parameters. There is no clap included on board the Rhythm Wolf but it may be something that Akai addresses in the official release. Nonetheless, the Rhythm Wolf does provide authentic analog drum sounds which many producers may want to take advantage of to get a totally unique sound that hasn’t been heard in any other gear before.
The Rhythm Wolf is going to be one of the most affordable bass synthesizer solutions for any producer. To start with the Rhythm Wolf’s bass synthesizer, the user chooses either a sawtooth or square wave. From there, the sound is manipulated through a classic filter design with tuning and envelope controls, like the drums. An important thing to point out is that even though the Rhythm Wolf doesn’t give a lot of room for the synthesizer, there is potentially enough variables to create a simple bassline or lead via the bass synthesizer.
Howl, Sequencing, and External Capabilities
A strange knob on the Rhythm Wolf is one right under the volume knob, labeled “Howl.” This appears to be an on-board distortion effect that goes over the whole sound and is the only on board effect of the Rhythm Wolf. There is also a powerful sequencing tool built in to the design which integrates past MPC-style functionality. The Rhythm Wolf features a 32 pattern sequencer with swing and tempo adjustments. The user can also program in their own pattern onto the sequencer. As mentioned before the Rhythm Wolf is the affordable solution for most producers and aside from the included features, the Rhythm Wolf contains USB MIDI In and Out capabilities. There is also a gate trigger built in to connect external analog gear. For just the unit itself, dedicated outputs are also provided for both the drum machine and bass synthesizer. (They are mono, however.)
The Rhythm Wolf is one of the more interesting products to follow a recent trend of analog gear making a comeback. Akai is offering their velocity sensitive MPC pads and powerful sequencing on top of the synthesizing capabilities of Rhythm Wolf which makes the product a bargain, no doubt.
For only $199, there is a lot included and may be the first piece of analog gear a lot of producers can afford to get their hands on. There are a few worries that come with the Rhythm Wolf (mono outputs) but still this product offers a lot more than a standard synthesizer would at a fraction of the cost. The Rhythm Wolf isn’t going to compete with the big dog synthesizers but if you are someone is looking for a deal on bass synthesis, Akai may have what your looking for.