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Akai unveils Rhythm Wolf - analog drum machine and bass synth Drum Machines & Samplers
Old 14th January 2015
  #2701
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monkeyxx's Avatar
Arturia yes... a new hope
Old 14th January 2015
  #2702
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I hope they try again, 'cause I think they got a lot of this right, but I don't think they will unless the Wolf suddenly becomes a hit.
Old 14th January 2015
  #2703
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Sovietcong's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by draven5 View Post
Ha you read my mind to what I was going to tell you.

Literally I was going to say that the Rhythm Wolf is cool but not great. Not the strongest drum machine around in fact maybe one of the weakest of all.

But I was also going to add you might want to pair it up with something else to fill in. Teaming it with the Volca Sample is what I was going to say. Also there are other drum and bass machines that it can pair with.

My question to you though is are you going to try to set up an entire song and let it run, or is this setup something you are looking to use as a performance or perform the drum track?
So...my band is kinda strange. 3 peice, 8 parts: Guitar/vox, violin/vox, cello/keys/vox/loopstation. I made drum lines on the Volca Beats and looped them into the loop station for a few square bars whilst tweaking away. Sounds good and we've been preforming this way for years. Because our music gets to busy with complex beats (we are VERY down tempo) the Volca worked great. I plan on doing exactly the same thing with the RW, although I'm tempted to hire some 'dj' kinda guy and get him to work the unit live. Used sparingly, the bass synth will sound great on the songs that don't change key (at least 8 out of 20).

To offer a little perspective for those that just can't believe I like the RW...

http://www.bwloops.com/img/Optimized/WurliSR.jpg

^I love this thing too. I recorded an entire solo album with it. I think Akai may have been marketing straight to indie artists like me. We love old tech. The dustier and wonkier the better. Akai recreated a cheap and ****ty old drum machine because dorks like me wanted them to.

hope this helps
Old 14th January 2015
  #2704
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Sovietcong's Avatar
 

Y'all prolly already know this but I didn't...

If you stop the sequencer and hit the REC PERF key, the Wolf becomes quite the awesome standalone mono synth with a 16 key controller built right in. They even mark the sharps black. So this little hipster box is a Drum computer, a bass synth, a sequencer, and controller all in one craptacular package. Although this is only my 3rd foray into analog synth stuff I'm a happy camper.
Old 14th January 2015
  #2705
I listened to the Wolf at GC in person. It sounded a lot better than some of the demos on YouTube. I especially like the hats and kick. For $200 I find it amazing, despite its weaknesses.
I only wish they could have provided separate out for the kick, snare and the rest. Processed, this would suit me perfectly.
Old 14th January 2015
  #2706
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ksandvik's Avatar
 

I checked it out at the local GC -- hmm, not exactly exciting, kind of gritty sounds that might work in one specific production. I think the new Korg Electribe is actually far more fun, especially with the Ableton Live integration.
Old 15th January 2015
  #2707
bry
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Has anyone opened it yet? How hard would it be to add individual outputs? It does seem to have enough space for it!
Old 15th January 2015
  #2708
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monkeyxx's Avatar
I tried it at GC too. The hats and kick were my favorite parts also. Everything else was a bit wonky, but those parts were quite nice. So if it's 50/50 that's a grade F in total by the schoolbook scale, I guess I'll be passing on by.
Old 15th January 2015
  #2709
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Sovietcong's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bry View Post
Has anyone opened it yet? How hard would it be to add individual outputs? It does seem to have enough space for it!
Somewhere way back in this truly epic thread is a gut shot of the board. It has labeled solder points for each voice.
Old 15th January 2015
  #2710
bry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sovietcong View Post
Somewhere way back in this truly epic thread is a gut shot of the board. It has labeled solder points for each voice.
Nice!
Old 17th January 2015
  #2711
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilita View Post
That is the best online review of anything ever.
AGREED! LMFAO!
Old 17th January 2015
  #2712
227861
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Quote:
Originally Posted by was silents View Post
Although, I don't have one and don't know if I agree with this guy in any way, I did laugh out loud watching this rant. Pretty amusing.



I love how at the end he says "don't buy Akai" and then the camera pans down and shows his MPK and APC in his studio before it turns off. (insert snarky emoticon here)
I honestly mean this...I wish this guy would review more things! Ha!!!
Old 18th January 2015
  #2713
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I may end up getting a Wolf. My 626 been acting fussy, though I can still use trigger out (w/ step patterns) for the Monotribe.
Old 19th January 2015
  #2714
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Blackbelt Jones's Avatar
 

I ordered one from a place with a good return policy and it should be here tomorrow. I love the layout (thumbs up for dedicated pads, big knobs) which is why, youtube/GS rants to the contrary, I really want this box to be fun. I am also a big-time sucker for cheap gooveboxes. The RW does nothing my other gear doesn't cover, but I am drawn to it like a bug to a bug zapper...

Clearly there are people quite vocal about not liking it and they make clear their reasons why... but it seems there are a few on this thread who own it, use it and maybe even enjoy it.

So to the owners happy with their RW and haven't chimed in yet: is it the sound, the workflow or a bit of both that makes this one a keeper?
Old 21st January 2015
  #2715
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Blackbelt Jones's Avatar
 

OK, had it less than a day. Some thoughts.
  • Build quality surprisingly good for the $
  • Layout and general workflow are quite nice. A strong point of the unit.
  • Bass Synth sounds better than I thought it would... run through guitar pedals it is actually pretty cool. I don't really need another limited mono bass synth, but it is so well integrated in the machine I am sure it will find its uses.
  • I was able to get really solid sounds out of the kick, snare, hats and percussion, but it seems that once you find the sweet spots there is not much wiggle room before it goes back to "meh" territory, so aggressive live tweaking doesn't seem to net great results.
  • The levels are all over the place... you basically have to leave the kick at max and turn the other levels waaay down in order to get some semblance of a working output mix.
  • A little "Howl" goes a long way, but I found it necessary to add a touch just to bring some aggression to all the drum sounds. If you add a hair it beefs up the sonics in a nice way without distorting it or adding noise. Again, it's a narrow sweet spot but it works for my purposes.
  • Some knobs/parameters don't seem to alter the sounds much which is disappointing. You can still sculpt sounds but your range is limited with some parameters.
  • The MIDI Out for the Bass seems to set permanently to Channel 1 as there doesn't appear to be a way to change it. I used the Wolf as a master for my other gear and of course the notes from the Bass part started playing all my other gear set to Channel 1. I changed MIDI channels on my gear so problem solved, but it's annoying that Akai doesn't give you the option to change MIDI channels for the Bass on the RW. Perhaps I missed this in the manual, but I don't think so.
  • Sequencing another synth via the Bass part is quick and easy which is a bonus.
  • I/O is impressive. Nice to see a balanced TRS out for the drum piece as well.
  • MIDI Clock Sync works great. No drift that I noticed and my other gear locked in tight.

Didn't spend much time with creating patterns or advanced sequences yet... that is tonight... but for the little I fooled with it it was intuitive and fast.

Finally, note that a touch of processing does this beast wonders (true of most things, I know...). As I mentioned I ran the bass through some pedals, which yielded instant results; I ran the drums straight in to Studio One and used the drum processing FX chains and got solid results too.

If you are new to hardware and have limited funds, I think the Volcas would be a better way to go (though they are not without their flaws either). But if you are a groovebox junkie, already have some other gear, and want a different sounding drum machine, I think the RW is a pretty fun addition. I initially didn't like it when I first set it up, but once I figured out its limitations I could play to its strengths and it actually won me over. Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion after I put a few more hours behind it, but cautiously so far so good.

In short if excellent workflow is your thing, you have even basic external processing and you can be content with working within a small sweet spot, it's actually a cool and fun little box.

Last edited by Blackbelt Jones; 21st January 2015 at 08:57 PM.. Reason: Added some bullet points...
Old 21st January 2015
  #2716
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GeorgeHayduke's Avatar
 

Thanks for the detailed review
Old 21st January 2015
  #2717
VST
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VST's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackbelt Jones View Post
OK, had it less than a day. Some thoughts.
  • Build quality surprisingly good for the $
  • Layout and general workflow are quite nice. A strong point of the unit.
  • Bass Synth sounds better than I thought it would... run through guitar pedals it is actually pretty cool. I don't really need another limited mono bass synth, but it is so well integrated in the machine I am sure it will find its uses.
  • I was able to get really solid sounds out of the kick, snare, hats and percussion, but it seems that once you find the sweet spots there is not much wiggle room before it goes back to "meh" territory, so aggressive live tweaking doesn't seem to net great results.
  • The levels are all over the place... you basically have to leave the kick at max and turn the other levels waaay down in order to get some semblance of a working output mix.
  • A little "Howl" goes a long way, but I found it necessary to add a touch just to bring some aggression to all the drum sounds. If you add a hair it beefs up the sonics in a nice way without distorting it or adding noise. Again, it's a narrow sweet spot but it works for my purposes.
  • Some knobs/parameters don't seem to alter the sounds much which is disappointing. You can still sculpt sounds but your range is limited with some parameters.
  • The MIDI Out for the Bass seems to set permanently to Channel 1 as there doesn't appear to be a way to change it. I used the Wolf as a master for my other gear and of course the notes from the Bass part started playing all my other gear set to Channel 1. I changed MIDI channels on my gear so problem solved, but it's annoying that Akai doesn't give you the option to change MIDI channels for the Bass on the RW. Perhaps I missed this in the manual, but I don't think so.
  • Sequencing another synth via the Bass part is quick and easy which is a bonus.
  • I/O is impressive. Nice to see a balanced TRS out for the drum piece as well.
  • MIDI Clock Sync works great. No drift that I noticed and my other gear locked in tight.

Didn't spend much time with creating patterns or advanced sequences yet... that is tonight... but for the little I fooled with it it was intuitive and fast.

Finally, note that a touch of processing does this beast wonders (true of most things, I know...). As I mentioned I ran the bass through some pedals, which yielded instant results; I ran the drums straight in to Studio One and used the drum processing FX chains and got solid results too.

If you are new to starting with hardware and had limited funds, I think the Volcas would be a better way to go (though they are not without their flaws either). But if you are a groovebox junkie, already have some other gear, and want a different sounding drum machine, I think the RW is a pretty fun addition. I initially didn't like it when I first set it up, but once I figured out its limitations I could play to its strengths and it actually won me over. Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion after I put a few more hours behind it, but cautiously so far so good.

In short if excellent workflow is your thing, you have even basic external processing and you can be content with working within a small sweet spot, it's actually a cool and fun little box.
This is pretty much exactly how I feel about the Wolf.
I'll add that the Tie function makes for WAY more interesting synth patterns.
The synth is pretty acid with the right settings, it really is a poor man's 303/606 combo.
I still wish the tuning was a bit more stable. I run the calibration app every time I'm going to record it.
Old 21st January 2015
  #2718
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Blackbelt Jones's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vstace View Post
I still wish the tuning was a bit more stable. I run the calibration app every time I'm going to record it.
Good to know. Do you do a "Sweep" followed by a "Fine" tune, or just run the "Sweep"?
Old 21st January 2015
  #2719
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itege View Post
Idk about Akai but I think Arturia sure try their hands at it. I like their brute series.
Every time NAMM comes around I hope and pray Arturia presents an analog drum machine. So far only disappointment. Now I'm hoping Grendel does as well. Either would imo be a dream come true. Both would likely be pure drum machine porn nirvana.
Old 21st January 2015
  #2720
VST
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VST's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackbelt Jones View Post
Good to know. Do you do a "Sweep" followed by a "Fine" tune, or just run the "Sweep"?
I just end up doing a sweep. I guess I should experiment more with the fine tune, but my studio is pretty cold right now so the sweep seems more pertinent after I havent used it in days. If I'm doing a long session I do a fine tune after a few hours. It's easy to forget to tune it, until you've recorded it and then want to lay some other synths on top. Then it becomes obvious.
Old 21st January 2015
  #2721
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Blackbelt Jones's Avatar
 

^Thanks!

Interesting... When I ran the initial Sweep Tune the utility had me center the tune knob at 12 o'clock. Scaling issue resolved. I just ran the Fine Tune now and it had me set the tune knob at about 10 o'clock.

Now every time I run the tuning utility with either Sweep or Fine it forces me to "center" the tune knob at 10 o'clock... and of course the Wolf needs the tune knob at 10 o'clock to match standard A440. This may of been the case yesterday as I wasn't paying attention to the tuning as the RW was running mostly solo (other than to test some MIDI sync and sequencing).

Open question... do you'all have to leave your Bass tune knob at 10 o'clock for standard tuning or are you able to set it at 12 o'clock?

EDIT - Google reveals others using the utility are forced to "center" their tuning knob @ 10 o'clock and then leave it there in order for the RW to have a standard tuning
EDIT x2 - Just submitted a support ticket. Will see what they say and update here.

Last edited by Blackbelt Jones; 21st January 2015 at 09:48 PM..
Old 22nd January 2015
  #2722
Gear Addict
 

Tom Cat is like.. what?
Old 28th January 2015
  #2723
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Blackbelt Jones's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackbelt Jones View Post
OK, had it less than a day. Some thoughts.
  • Build quality surprisingly good for the $
  • Layout and general workflow are quite nice. A strong point of the unit.
  • Bass Synth sounds better than I thought it would... run through guitar pedals it is actually pretty cool. I don't really need another limited mono bass synth, but it is so well integrated in the machine I am sure it will find its uses.
  • I was able to get really solid sounds out of the kick, snare, hats and percussion, but it seems that once you find the sweet spots there is not much wiggle room before it goes back to "meh" territory, so aggressive live tweaking doesn't seem to net great results.
  • The levels are all over the place... you basically have to leave the kick at max and turn the other levels waaay down in order to get some semblance of a working output mix.
  • A little "Howl" goes a long way, but I found it necessary to add a touch just to bring some aggression to all the drum sounds. If you add a hair it beefs up the sonics in a nice way without distorting it or adding noise. Again, it's a narrow sweet spot but it works for my purposes.
  • Some knobs/parameters don't seem to alter the sounds much which is disappointing. You can still sculpt sounds but your range is limited with some parameters.
  • The MIDI Out for the Bass seems to set permanently to Channel 1 as there doesn't appear to be a way to change it. I used the Wolf as a master for my other gear and of course the notes from the Bass part started playing all my other gear set to Channel 1. I changed MIDI channels on my gear so problem solved, but it's annoying that Akai doesn't give you the option to change MIDI channels for the Bass on the RW. Perhaps I missed this in the manual, but I don't think so.
  • Sequencing another synth via the Bass part is quick and easy which is a bonus.
  • I/O is impressive. Nice to see a balanced TRS out for the drum piece as well.
  • MIDI Clock Sync works great. No drift that I noticed and my other gear locked in tight.
After spending more time with the RW I decided it was not for me. I wanted to add a few new points to my original review mostly to warn off new hardware users on a budget: the RW would simply not be a good box to start with. The sonics are too limited and I think most would be very unsatisfied with their purchase.

To my fellow groovebox freaks (and you know who you are)… unless you are a collector of groove boxes and quirky gear (and there is nothing wrong with that!), you may be better off spending those two bills on a new effects pedal or something like a Volca Sample. I am not saying that you couldn’t make a cool track with it (provided you brought some stomp boxes to the party) or even work it in to a production, but when time and space are limited I view it as taking up room on my jam table when something more worthy could be sitting there.

So my “in conclusion” thoughts….
  • The sweet spot on the RW is so narrow at times that I feel there is almost no point to having knobs. Twist one, and it may take you a minute to get it back to sounding acceptable... which sucks if you are a live-jammer type.
  • As Vstace mentioned, the RW likes to drift out of tune. You have to run the tuning app between sessions.
  • After using the utility to fix the scale issue I have to keep my tune knob set at 10 O'clock on order to have the scale adhere to A440. That means if you crank the tune knob for effect you then have to work at getting it “roughly” back to 10 O’clock in order to play nice with your other gear. Kind of kills the mood. I am not alone w/ this problem as the Akai tech boards report others with the same issue. I contacted Akai tech support last week but they never got back to me...
  • One point of clarification about using the sequencer for external gear: the note range is limited to a few octaves, so it really only works as a bass sequencer. It is a bass synth after all so it is understandable, but I did want to level set others so they are aware of this limitation.
  • A positive I want to re-emphasize: the workflow and panel layout are perfect for jamming. I loved it so much that I kept the RW on for several days hoping I could work within the limitations of the sound. It's super-fast and intuitive and does what you need it to do with no wasted motions. Akai gets slagged for many things but at least someone over there really understands how muscians interface with instruments. If only the UI was married to quality sonics, it would be a KILLER box.

So that's that. If they ever issue a MKII version that gives the audio engine a serious kick in the ass I would certainly be keen to check it out, because, well, I love me some grooveboxes.


Last edited by Blackbelt Jones; 29th January 2015 at 02:09 AM.. Reason: Fixed formatting
Old 28th January 2015
  #2724
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monkeyxx's Avatar
what were they thinking?
Old 28th January 2015
  #2725
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Blackbelt Jones's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
what were they thinking?
Yeah, I dig. I still think a budget all-in-one analog rhythm machine is a great idea and there are aspects of the RW that are well executed, but the MOST important thing... the sound + control ranges to shape that sound in a meaningful and musical way... are just not up to snuff IMO. :(

Wish it had another year in the oven or even a higher price tag to ensure it had an acceptable audio engine, because I really think it could of been a gem.
Old 29th January 2015
  #2726
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steveswisher's Avatar
 

How many of you guys who tried the Rhythm Wolf will give the Tom Cat a chance? It sounds like a fair amount of you returned it. Is there enough sonic difference to take another shot at Akai's analog drum machine line?
Old 29th January 2015
  #2727
VST
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VST's Avatar
For those wanting to hear the acid side of the Wolf synth here's a quick track I did. I really go back and forth on the RW. I really just wish it had auto-tune and that the knobs shaped the sounds more.


Old 29th January 2015
  #2728
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Blackbelt Jones's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vstace View Post
For those wanting to hear the acid side of the Wolf synth here's a quick track I did. I really go back and forth on the RW. I really just wish it had auto-tune and that the knobs shaped the sounds more.

That's fantastic. I see people slag the RW the bass but I felt it sounded pretty decent if you sequenced it right and put a tad of FX on it. Sounds really great on your track.

And yeah, I went back and forth on it the whole (short) time I had it too... it was somewhere between twisting the hats knob to little effect and re-tuning it for the Nth time that pushed me over....
Old 29th January 2015
  #2729
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Sotsirc's Avatar
I really doubt that I will ever buy something from them again. Pretty much lost all confidence in Akai.
Old 29th January 2015
  #2730
Deleted User
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vstace View Post
For those wanting to hear the acid side of the Wolf synth here's a quick track I did. I really go back and forth on the RW. I really just wish it had auto-tune and that the knobs shaped the sounds more.


Wow, this is not at all what I expected after reading all the reviews. Good job!

So it's actually a little acid box. A one trick pony perhaps, but it does the trick!

If I didn't already have so many quirky machines I would probably pick one up used in a few months.
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