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Akai Professional Rhythm Wolf

   1 review  -  863 views
    Description
    Analog Bite

    Rhythm Wolf combines a drum machine, bass synthesizer, and step sequencer into one rugged device with a fierce, 100% analog signal path.

    Take the beat off the leash with fully tweakable kick, snare, open and closed hi-hat, and accent percussion sounds. Use the oscillator with selectable waveforms (sawtooth/square wave) and analog filter to create bass sequences that squelch and growl. Gate Trigger In/Out, USB MIDI, and 5-pin MIDI In/Out enable Rhythm Wolf to join your inner-circle of vintage and modern gear to integrate with hardware synthesizers, sound modules, DAWs, and more.

    Into the Wild

    A 32-step standalone sequencer and six custom-calibrated MPC-style pads are onboard for extensive programming and finger drumming. Mute/solo, intro/fill and sequence A/B switches give you the space to roam with complete control over your beat.

    Torn into Parts

    Carve out the perfect drum textures with continuously variable volume and tuning for each part. The kick drum attack and decay are adjustable for transients that hang, bang, and crush. Snare and open hi-hat also feature decay controls for unique sound design while the adjustable accent percussion can be modulated to click, punch, knock, "shush" and more.

    The Face of Bass

    Make menacing basslines with a tweakable, onboard bass synth. Envelope, filter and waveform controls let you design low-end that goes from liquid-smooth to bone-crushing and everywhere in between. Filter Resonance and Cutoff add distinction and movement to live or studio performances, while the step-sequencer keys let you program parts across a 3-octave scale.

    Trigger Happy

    Rhythm Wolf mates with your collection of synths that support Gate Triggers to create exclusive sonic offspring. Use it with supported homebrew hardware, classics or modern machines and infuse Rhythm Wolf DNA into all of your creations.

    Let it Howl

    Get your hands dirty with a custom noise, grit and distortion effect completely unique to this breed of instrument. The Howl knob lets you mangle the music into all-new textures, transitions and progressions that snarl, bark and howl. Use it as an effect or a part of your signature sound that stands alone on the food chain.
    Images
    Architecture
    Type: Analog
    Synthesis: Subtractive
    Pattern Notes:
    + Pattern consists of four sequences
    + Sequence A, Sequence B, Fill A, and Fill B.
    + Store up to 16 patterns.
    16 and 32-steps
    Sounds Per Pad (+) Open Manual Page
    Sounds Per Pad: 1
    Sources: Synthesizer
    Filters: 12dB Slope (2-pole), Low Pass, Resonance
    Polyphony & Tuning
    Polyphony: 5
    Timbrality: 5
    Tuning: Standard
    Modes: Mono
    Storage
    Patterns User: 16
    Patterns Preset: 16
    Storage: Internal, USB
    External Storage: USB
    Case
    Case: Desktop
    Trigger Pads : 4 pads, Soft Pads
    Controls: Buttons, Knobs, Sequencer, Tap Tempo , Velocity
    Display Type: LED
    Display Count H: 3
    Display Count V: 1
    Dimensions (WxDxH): 12.4" x 8.7" x 2.0" / 31.5 cm x 22.1 cm x 5.1 cm
    Weight: 4.6 lbs / 2.1 kg
    MIDI / Sync / Trigger (+) Open Manual Page
    Audio Outputs: 1/4" Phone Jack, Mono Out
    Audio Output Count: 2
    Audio Output Notes: Main, Synth
    MIDI Ports: IN, OUT/THRU
    CV Ports: Trigger In, Trigger Out
    Power: 12V DC 2A center-positive tip
    Pricing
    List: $299
    Retail: $199
    Used: $90 - $150
    Production
    Released: 2014
    Manuals & Documents

    Product Sites & Reviews
    Company Product Sites:
    [+] www.akaipro.com

    Shopping
    YouTube Videos
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Jon Johnson

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   1 of 1 member found this review helpful 1 / 1 member

Depending on how you view and perhaps use the Rhythm Wolf from Akai, you either hate it or love it. Or like me somewhere in between. Initially I liked it when playing with it at the music store. It sounded interesting going through the powered speaker setup and the bass synth sounded everything like it was described to be in the early reviews. I figured out some of the ways to get around the instrument without much knowledge of how to use it but the intuition factor with this unit is on the lower side of learning when finding certain functions with the "Shift" button.

A couple of weeks later and I decided to part with some hard earned dough since it was not that expensive of a machine to begin with. (Note: After two years there are plenty of used Rhythm Wolfs going for as low as $70 or so at the usual used places.) Once home with the unit the first thing I regretted in buying was the drum sounds. They just don't sound that great but can be tweaked to something acceptable...err sorta but its such a unique kit that it makes up for it by being different.  It would have really helped to have separate outputs for each drum voice for external processing which the bass synthesizer does offer. The Howl knob, which is global to the unit, beefs up the drums by adding some type of distortion/compression. It can make it sound better or more crappy at the same time. Never the less I find it useful in the middle of jams to boost the signal of the unit with the Howl function. Follow this link to see a user modded Rhythm Wolf with separate outputs for each voice as well as other tweaks. http://karg-music.blogspot.com/2015/07/rhythm-wolf-individual-drums-outs.html

The bass Synthesizer has good tone in the 303 genre and can be tweaked with it's simple envelope of attack and decay. The signal of the oscillator (triangle and square wave only) is strong and can be beefed up with the global Howl knob or run through it's separate output. When run through this output the Howl function is disabled from the bass synthesizer. The filter is good at some tweaking but the problem start when you increase the resonance. The signal practically disappears from the mix. Its a shame because its a lost opportunity for self oscillation. Better to approach it in a non traditional way. The bass synth can be tuned and is best to let warm up for about 10 minutes before it becomes stable. Akai also offers a tuning app and procedure should you have drift problems which I've noticed but it makes it more authentically analog that way. Something to be reckoned with. 

The best part about this unit is not it's sound but it's 16-32 step sequencer which is MIDI. When used this way it's really flexible for making on the go jam sequences. Everything can be "On The Fly". each of the 16 sequences can be saved, Each has two sequences plus two fill sequences which can also act as two more sequences if desired. The Fill sequences can also be set to move between each other in a looped fashion. No drum or synth settings are saved which takes a little to get used to and if there is something you want to keep in the instrument section you either have to rely on memory or write it down. Even so sometimes its hard to get back what you had the day before with some sounds.

The unit has MIDI IN/Out and the Out can be set as Thru in a larger setup.  which you'll need for inputting more complicated bass synth sequences but the 16 malfunction buttons used for inputting drum and bass sequences is easy to use and covers a lot of the main functions. You can definitely cover a lot of "Berlin" school EM sequencing with the MIDI output as well as anything your imagination can come up with. 

Over all the Rhythm Wolf is something I keep around for jamming and for a simple hardware MIDI sequencer for outside the loop of the DAW but it can play nice with it if you decide to integrate it with larger hardware setup or computer(s). It does have some major limitations and criticism deservedly so but its also rewarding once you see how you can use. Again MIDI wise it shines but there's plenty of software and hardware that can toss it into the trash heep but hardware wise the cost is higher than a used Rhythm Wolf. As of this writting there are many users who have modded their Rhythm Wolfs to make it a much better instrument. Just do a search. You can hear me using the Rhythm Wolf on my track Imperfect Tense for the recent Raymond Scott tribute  album from Aural Films at https://auralfilms.bandcamp.com/track/imperfect-tense

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