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Akai unveils Rhythm Wolf - analog drum machine and bass synth Drum Machines & Samplers
Old 6th November 2014
  #2611
Gear Maniac
Good guy akai
Old 6th November 2014
  #2612
Gear Guru
 
fiddlestickz's Avatar
I imagine Aphex Twin will love these things and their quirky tunings, prolly will buy a dozen and write a whole 3 bars of music with them...
Old 6th November 2014
  #2613
VST
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VST's Avatar
Their solution is a tuner app? Translation: It will never be fixed.
Old 6th November 2014
  #2614
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natrixgli View Post
I got a similar email from Akai today:
Quote:
We are in the process of developing an application that allows the end user (i.e., you) to adjust the tuning on the Rhythm Wolf bass synth via the firmware on the unit and the USB cable. We are expecting that in the coming weeks.
"Coming weeks", eh? This is starting to sound familiar.

When they announced and showed off a non-functioning prototype back on March 12th, 2014, they declared an audio demo would be released "next week":

"Uh... well, we had a hilarious accident involving uh... voltage rails and things like that before the show unfortunately but we will be having audio demos out. It's our top priority right now and in fact, we already have a video idea where we wanna have three Rhythm Wolfs running together. Each person's gonna be controlling their own bass synth. Maybe we'll pick a key. I dont' know. We're just gonna get crazy with 'em."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8BfDN16xBw&t=02m21s

"My goal is to, when I get back next week, is to have some sound demos playing. I wanna have a couple of them playing together. That kind of thing. And i really wanna do a video where we are tweaking out all the sounds so people can get an idea for the range."
"The video probably next week. It'll be in stores probably July. June or July, around there."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8BfDN16xBw&t=04m44s

No such audio demo came and eventually a crappy sounding youtube demo video that was uploaded non-officially without any announcement more than 5 months later in late August was left to be discovered: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSYJ_RFpiIM This video already showed the bass sounding out of tune due to the now well-known issue with oscillator scaling.
Old 6th November 2014
  #2615
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acreil's Avatar
 

Quote:
The Rhythm Wolf uses analog oscillators that can vary depending on voltage, humidity, and temperature. Of the thousands of units sold, a limited but not negligible number of customers have reported that their bass synths will not scale properly. They were set at the manufacturer prior to shipping. We are in the process of developing an application that allows the end user (i.e., you) to adjust the tuning on the Rhythm Wolf bass synth via the firmware on the unit and the USB cable. We are expecting that in the coming weeks.
I'd imagine there are a limited number of complaints because most of them haven't shipped out to users yet. Has there been a single report of anyone confirming that theirs is usefully in tune out of the box?

It would be nice if this software did the trick, but a couple things seem odd: First, if they were fine at the time of manufacture, why did Akai's own pre-release demo seem to be audibly out of tune? Second, if they're drifting that much due to temperature and humidity changes, it's possible that they made inappropriate choices for the VCO timing capacitor and the design of the exponential converter. If their firmware-modifying (?) tuning software works, but the unit has no built in ability to automatically recalibrate itself, retuning might have to be redone very often. If they're really that temperamental, this could be a problem for live use, and long term support also becomes questionable.

I don't mean to play armchair engineer or go overboard with speculative FUD, but this seems to be a lot more screwed up and poorly designed than any other piece of gear in recent memory. Unfinished or buggy firmware can, at least theoretically, be fixed later. Hardware flaws are a lot more serious.
Old 6th November 2014
  #2616
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Spazoo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by coven View Post
"Coming weeks", eh? This is starting to sound familiar.
yes i seem to remember about 2,000+ posts on the subject
Old 6th November 2014
  #2617
Gear Addict
 

... it's obvious what's going on here. The analog design engineer is either a rookie and/or just sucks. They should have hired under contract one of many analog design experts that are still out there these days. It's bloody obvious. The analog circuitry is cheap and cheerful but that doesn't mean it has to suck.

As far as the VCO scaling, it's discrete (there are op amps however), low parts count, and cheap. No doubt in my mind it would probably look awfully familiar to an MS-10 or 303 VCO but w/o the proper design precautions. They were never looking for more than 3 octaves to begin with but w/ proper design you would get at least one or two octaves.
Unless they reserved and routed the CV to an input on the mcu so that they can count and scale the CV accordingly there's no way they can fix bad analog design with a firmware update.
Old 7th November 2014
  #2618
Quote:
Originally Posted by azone2 View Post
Unless they reserved and routed the CV to an input on the mcu so that they can count and scale the CV accordingly there's no way they can fix bad analog design with a firmware update.
Since the scaling is off via MIDI as well as the inbuilt keyboard, I imagine they can fix it with firmware. Somewhere the digital input is being converted to a voltage, so they ought to be able to compensate.

However I don't see how this doesn't ruin MIDI at the same time. The more I think about it the more I think mine is going back simply because I don't trust Akai to get this fixed within my 30 day return window, and if fixing the VCO scaling cripples MIDI I want nothing to do with it.

Will return and re-buy once it's fixed properly.
Old 8th November 2014
  #2619
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natrixgli View Post
Since the scaling is off via MIDI as well as the inbuilt keyboard, I imagine they can fix it with firmware. Somewhere the digital input is being converted to a voltage, so they ought to be able to compensate.

However I don't see how this doesn't ruin MIDI at the same time. The more I think about it the more I think mine is going back simply because I don't trust Akai to get this fixed within my 30 day return window, and if fixing the VCO scaling cripples MIDI I want nothing to do with it.

Will return and re-buy once it's fixed properly.
Agreed. They need feedback from the analog VCO though so they can implement a tune routine to skew/scale the CV, then if designed properly they can feed the scaled CV to the VCO. To further backup the sentiment of a rush job someone posted pics of the PCBA's and as a hardware engineer it's a fair bit of a mess, looks like a 1st prototype. They've got hack job fabric spacers under the pots to compensate for bushing/shaft length and some sketchy looking kludges scattered about. Nothing to do w/ the sound but may also speak to reliability and the fact they rushed it out.
https://plus.google.com/photos/10329...30991702156273
Old 8th November 2014
  #2620
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future classic
Old 8th November 2014
  #2621
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodeater View Post
future classic
The perfect box for people who dream of proving the naysayers wrong by doing something brilliant with an utterly unloved instrument. Maybe wait until they're on closeout for maximum bragging rights.
Old 8th November 2014
  #2622
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erdi's Avatar
 

I am not surprised. The products are faulty and untrustworthy and a representation of the new management at Akai.
Old 9th November 2014
  #2623
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bluefunk's Avatar
 

i have to surrender my wolf. just doesn't get along with the rest of the pack, doesn't listen to simple commands, sh!ts all over everything. tried to find a bright side to owning it...there just isn't one for me.
Old 9th November 2014
  #2624
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erdi View Post
I am not surprised. The products are faulty and untrustworthy and a representation of the new management at Akai.
What do you mean "the new management at Akai"? Jack O'Donnell bought the company in 2004 and still owns it under his umbrella corporation inMusic.
Old 9th November 2014
  #2625
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azone2 View Post
Agreed. They need feedback from the analog VCO though so they can implement a tune routine to skew/scale the CV, then if designed properly they can feed the scaled CV to the VCO.
Not necessarily. You don't need hardware feedback if you rely on the user and an external tuner. In that case they really would only need an app that allows the user to manually input new scaling numbers for the pitch-CV DAC, until the unit was in tune according to an external reference.
Old 9th November 2014
  #2626
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by controlvoltage View Post
Not necessarily. You don't need hardware feedback if you rely on the user and an external tuner. In that case they really would only need an app that allows the user to manually input new scaling numbers for the pitch-CV DAC, until the unit was in tune according to an external reference.
yes I guess that would be manual tune vs autotune! really though if they weren't going to do it right they should have just added another drum voice. I also understand though that it's so inexpensive it's maybe meant to be more of a toy for people at an entry level.

the idea of manual tuning reminds me of a product I worked on at one of the big company's I worked for... before the dawn of auto eq the team responsible for the doing the first auto eq routine for a $15k product failed to deliver so we had to quickly design a cheap sound level meter and ship the product with the meter, paper charts, CD w/ test tones, and a plastic q-curve ruler thingy. Manual EQ! So silly.. the press actually thought it was a valiant attempt since there were no auto-eq routines out yet at the time... little did they know. Same sort of thing Akai would have to do here if there's no feedback and the micro can't count the freq's from the analog vco.
Old 9th November 2014
  #2627
Gear Guru
 
fiddlestickz's Avatar
I hope other brands have been reading this thread and are getting on with making a simple cheap analog drum machine, there is evidence there is a fairly decent market for a drum machine that simply does Kick, snare, clap, tom, hats and a crash or conga type sound...

Imagine it, six sounds, a 16 step sequencer, we don't need a synth part, midi in and out, and all parts tunable, with pots for attack, decay, release, sustain, simple on board filter, delay, bit crusher & reverb.

ffs it's 2014 and we can't even find anything like this for the thousands of bed room producers ready to blow their wad on...??
Old 9th November 2014
  #2628
I can't think of a better spend for the money, really. I mean you can find 'em all day long for $160 if you look for deals. And the kick, snare, and hats sound great. You just gotta work the velocity a bit and have a go with the knobs. With a judicious application of "howl" the drums sound tight and crisp. The Volca Beats is nice, but the kick is weak and the snare is terrible sounding without modification.

The only things I'd change is make the bass synth a tom instead. All it would need is pitch mod instead of filter mod. It would have been a way simpler circuit and it would be much more useful. Or maybe give it a LFO with a 1 shot mode like the Monotribe. Though I gotta say if they sort the scaling issue, the bass synth can sound pretty groovy. But right now I just use it to sequence an external synth which works quite well.
Old 9th November 2014
  #2629
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SonicBern's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vstace View Post
Here's a quick teardown or the RW. Sadly there are no trimpots inside
What's that with the yellow sealing gunk on it. A trim pot may be
Old 9th November 2014
  #2630
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SonicBern's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by new bee View Post
be very wary buying numark products

I was fascinated by the issue of Royalties after watching that vid, so I did a bit of surfing and can see that in a book written in the US, it suggests Royalties will terminate by default unless a special contract is written to transfer the obligation to pay them to the new entity after a bankruptcy

I do not wish to discuss this case in detail since I do not know the facts, however I think I can guess what has happened here...
Old 10th November 2014
  #2631
Gear Maniac
 
PorchBass's Avatar
Aah the good old 'in coming weeks' story. Ho Hum Akai. The fix is not told to be firmware - but an app! Great! iOS only I hope!
Old 10th November 2014
  #2632
Gear Addict
 

so i asked them once again

Quote:
Hi Alex,

Thanks for posting!

The Akai Pro MPC5000 is discontinued. There will be no continued development or software updates for it.
MPC5000 new firmware?
Old 10th November 2014
  #2633
Here for the gear
 

They should've just labeled that voice "space drum" or something. Then folks would be stoked that it could almost be played melodically.
Checked one out at GC the other night. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn't.
It wasn't quick and easy to use, like old CRs and TRs, IMHO. I just couldn't get into it, which bummed me out.
Old 10th November 2014
  #2634
Gear Addict
 
Aletheia's Avatar
 

Okay this may be a stupid question. But is the Rhythm Wolf always sending gate out? Is the Sync function on the "gate" setting only for incoming gate signals? I ask because I am thinking about getting a Pittsburgh Modular System-10 and use the Rhythm Wolf to trigger it. I have no experience with modular gear and am new to both CV/Gate type interfaces but would like to start trying out some things. About to switch up my set up from the Aira range to Rhythm Wolf, System-10 and both new Electribes...

Knowledge on the matter would be appreciated!
Old 10th November 2014
  #2635
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aletheia View Post
Okay this may be a stupid question. But is the Rhythm Wolf always sending gate out? Is the Sync function on the "gate" setting only for incoming gate signals? I ask because I am thinking about getting a Pittsburgh Modular System-10 and use the Rhythm Wolf to trigger it. I have no experience with modular gear and am new to both CV/Gate type interfaces but would like to start trying out some things. About to switch up my set up from the Aira range to Rhythm Wolf, System-10 and both new Electribes...

Knowledge on the matter would be appreciated!
The Gate input is for a cv gate signal yes. Not external audio input/gating.

The Gate output puts out a gate for every step, making it perfect for gate/clock. Unlike say, the Beatstep by Arturia..which only outputs a gate sig when there is a note assigned to a step. I for one was disappointed that I couldn't change that behavior on the Beatstep and was glad that the RW could fill the roll instead (plus it has bpm readout and several timing modes). Big picture wise I think this was an oversight by both companies..gate should work either/both ways.
Old 11th November 2014
  #2636
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Aletheia's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lightbox View Post
The Gate input is for a cv gate signal yes. Not external audio input/gating.

The Gate output puts out a gate for every step, making it perfect for gate/clock. Unlike say, the Beatstep by Arturia..which only outputs a gate sig when there is a note assigned to a step. I for one was disappointed that I couldn't change that behavior on the Beatstep and was glad that the RW could fill the roll instead (plus it has bpm readout and several timing modes). Big picture wise I think this was an oversight by both companies..gate should work either/both ways.
So the Rhythm Wolf regardless of the pattern I have programmed on the drum voices will be sending out either 16th or 32nd triggers/notes? in whatever tempo I have selected? Would that be the same thing as 16 note triggers on a modular rig then?

Really appreciate the insight btw
Old 13th November 2014
  #2637
227861
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by draven5 View Post
I would like to give you all an update;

I woke up today to a phone call from Sweetwater. I told them I was hanging on to my Rhythm Wolf and was going to send it later, even though they said to send it in for repairs weeks ago. I was hanging on to it still because I needed to create content for my site and channel and at the very least I could write a review and take pics of it. I didn't want to record anything though since obviously the outputs aren't working right and when they do work the bass drum sometimes isn't there at all possibly due to the jack outputs, but mostly there is no sound at all. It works sometimes but not enough to make another sound demo yet.

My rep from SW was happy to tell me another batch is on it's way possibly within the next few days or even tomorrow. He said hang on to my Wolf then they'll send a new replacement to me and when I get it to send the broken one back to them (they pay shipping). Very darn happy to hear all this!

Akai and Sweetwater are aware of my issues with my wolf. I gave them a detailed account of what happened quite a while back.

Anyway hopefully my replacement will come soon so I can get back to making some more stuff.

It has a list of improvements that need to be addressed but I can honestly say I like the Rhythm Wolf. It's very fast to use and if they make these improvements I think it can be much better.
Not sure but it might have taken longer for Akai to get Sweetwater a new shipment but I am quoting myself to give you all an update.


I got a call from Sweetwater today, they got a new shipment in and just shipped out my replacement Wolf. Should arrive in 2 days.
Old 17th November 2014
  #2638
Here for the gear
any updates on the new replacement?

i just picked up a rhythm wolf from a local store and i love it, but i am also having the tuning issue. the hi hat tuning knob seems to do very little as well. its a great machine tho, and i love the little analog quirkiness it has. gives it character
Old 17th November 2014
  #2639
Here for the gear
any updates on the new replacement?

i just picked up a rhythm wolf from a local store and i love it, but i am also having the tuning issue. the hi hat tuning knob seems to do very little as well. its a great machine tho, and i love the little analog quirkiness it has. gives it character
Old 17th November 2014
  #2640
Gear Guru
 
fiddlestickz's Avatar
I'm confused, how does an instrument gain credibility when it's completely out of tune and the hi hat knob does very little if anything..??
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