rhythmwolf

Dance music, it seems, has come full circle. Techno’s roots began with affordable oddball hardware, abused into new genres. And now, the appetite for cheap little boxes that make grooves is back.

But does “cheap” and “analog” always make for a winner? Well, not necessarily. But let’s find out why.

This is the AKAI Rhythm Wolf. When we first saw it, it was clear people would want it, because physically, visually, it has the things you’d want – even before you get to the accessible price. There are velocity-sensitive pads for each part, coupled (cleverly) with x0x-style buttons for simple 16-step patterns (which you can chain into 32-step pattern). There are the requisite controls for changing step length, and recording step sequences or performances. There’s ample I/O – proper MIDI in/out and thru (plus MIDI over USB), gate trigger in and out, and separate mono outputs for the synth and drums.

This is the body of a usable drum machine. It has all the controls you’d want, in a form factor people are bound to love.

AKAI Rhythm Wolf

Take the Rhythm Wolf out of the box, and until you plug it in, you’re still likely to be reasonably happy. The knob caps are somewhat unpleasant to tweak, but the build is otherwise great for a $200 piece of kit. It’s heavy and solid, with a metal case, and oddly has a bigger footprint than a new Elektron. The pads work just fine (even if AKAI now calls any pads “MPC”), and the triggers respond with a satisfying click. I’ll even excuse the strange plastic faux-wood end-caps; they don’t do any harm.

Of course, you’re probably not going to use a drum machine without plugging it in, and that’s where things suddenly go very wrong. There’s no gentle way to put this. It sounds not good.

The bass drum is fine. You can pitch it down and get something fairly workable. Personally, I feel it doesn’t compare with other offerings, and now thanks to KORG, that includes the dirt-cheap volca BEATS with its floor-rattling kick. But it’s usable.

The snare drum and percussion are, in my opinion … not fine. At best, they resemble sort of white noise generators; at worst, they’re flat and unusable. The hats and cymbals are even worse: noise-y, clang-y affairs that qualify as what they are, but only just.

The upshot is, even with the full range of knobs, I wasn’t able to find a set of variations I’d want to record. The sounds are perfectly fine for a $50 boutique kit, but not something that has an AKAI badge.

Processed with VSCOcam with j5 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with j5 preset

Then there’s the bass synth, which seems to crowd out an already-flawed design with something you don’t really want. The single-oscillator affair starts out sounding thin, so you think, perhaps, you’ll add the filter and it’ll improve. But the more you add resonance, the quieter the filter gets – the opposite of what you want. As mediocre as the drum parts are, the synth seems like wasted space.

Adding insult to injury, the so-called “Howl” knob just seems like overdriving gain: things get a bit louder and distorted and mostly you add copious amounts of background noise.

In fact, it’s all so shocking, I had a hard time telling anyone about it. If I described it without actually playing it, they didn’t believe me. I put off sitting down to write this review, partly because I knew I’d need to make some sound samples or video, and I really didn’t want to. (It doesn’t help that I’m my own editor, and no one from AKAI called wondering where the loaner was.)

But, then in my inbox, I got this video. And sure enough, it says exactly what I already said. I was relieved: maybe I’m not crazy.

The creator, space travel made easy, doesn’t mince words:

The other week I got myself an Akai Rhythm Wolf.
This was such a promising little drum machine but was one of the biggest let-downs I’ve ever had with hardware.
Watch the video to find out why I thought it so piss-poor.

http://www.spacetravelmadeeasy.com

He gets further than I did: I was already so unhappy with the synth that I didn’t bother to think about whether it would hold its tune across its multi-octave range. But it doesn’t. Yikes.

All of this is a shame, because recording patterns itself on the Rhythm Wolf is great fun, combining live performances on the pads with the x0x steps at the bottom. There actually isn’t another standalone drum machine I can think of for less than a grand that has something like this apparently-obvious combination of controls. The one kit that can compete is, ironically, Akai’s MPC. But they seem to have exited the standalone drum workstation market apart from entry-level stuff.

As it happens, you can use the pads and step triggers to transmit MIDI, both over USB and the onboard MIDI ports. But in another disadvantage to AKAI’s analog approach, you can’t use any of the 21 onboard parameter knobs to transmit MIDI – they’re analog only. So I don’t think you’d buy the Rhythm Wolf as a drum machine.

The box is fairly big and potentially hackable, so it’s conceivable someone would mod this into something, well, better. But they might just build their own drum machine instead.

Not everyone is unhappy with it. Presumably because it does make some noises, and the patterns are fun to play, and it has knobs, I’ve seen some happier YouTube users, and more power to you. Richard Devine used it as sort of a weird modular source for his Eurorack rig … but then, much of the actual sound is coming from elsewhere.

What you could do is of course route it through a whole bunch of guitar pedals. That, at least, sounds rather good, and then you can have fun. And in fairness, a lot of electronic instruments sound better with processing. So someone will find a way to make this their own.

#rhythmwolf getting some extra beef and delay on the synth from #malekko diabolik and lofi ekko 616 mkII ✨

A video posted by BASECK // TWIN BRAIDS (@baseck) on

So I’d love to be wrong… maybe, in fact, this review will be a bit like early reviews of the 808, and you’ll find a way to abuse this box into something useful.

But I like AKAI – and drum machines, and you – too much to hold back on this review. You could spend your $200 on almost anything else. Any number of digital drum machines will sound radically better. AKAI’s current MPX or XR20 are just sample playback machines, for instance, but they have usable sounds and I think you’d get more use out of them. You might even find someone with an old MPC you could unload. Or you could buy a controller and work with software (again, even from AKAI).

And KORG’s volca BEATS will go, essentially, unchallenged. It’s not an even-sounding drum machine – sometimes it sounds frankly weird and lo-fi, but at least it does so in an interesting way. If you want drum machine hardware with lots of hands-on controls and you’re on a sub-$350 budget, consider either the MFB 522 or the volca. They’re both great, and the volca should fit just about any budget.

Making hardware is hard. It’s not enough to make something work on paper; it has to sound good, too. And the Rhythm Wolf just seems like a good idea that wasn’t fully executed, or fully finished.

The surreal thing here is the marketing; AKAI is promoting the “fierce 100% analog signal path” of the Rhythm Wolf, perhaps in the hopes that you aren’t actually listening.

I think the Rhythm Wolf is going to be a really big seller, whatever I say. But let’s at least, some of us, declare two things.

First, “analog” does not mean “sounds good.” That does an injustice to the hard, mysterious, and pleasurable work of making great-sounding analog gear, and the many possibilities of digital gear, and that both are routes to solving problems. (Wood is nice; you can also make something poor out of wood, or something beautiful out of plastic or bamboo.)

Second, “cheap” should not mean lowering our standards. Someone could serve me a junior McDonald’s Happy Meal and then punch me in the face. It’d be cheap, but I’d get very angry. This isn’t that bad, but at least feels like a Happy Meal without a free toy.

The Rhythm Wolf is worth talking about, because it could have been something great. In fact, I hope AKAI have a second go at this. I wish they had simply gone with digital sound sources combined with hands-on controls – really, there’s no reason that couldn’t work. But whatever they do, I’d love to see AKAI’s name on a drum machine worth endorsing. This just isn’t it, by a longshot.

Anyway, here’s another jam from space travel made easy:

And Richard Devine, going rather wild with this. (I agree with what he says about “analog” gear, just not necessarily that that has to mean analog signal path – it can mean digital instruments, and controllers for software, too, just so long as you’re using your hands.)

http://www.akaipro.com/product/rhythm-wolf

Addendum: Well, that has certainly brought out discussion. And it seems that people either are forgiving of the Rhythm Wolf’s eccentricities and are happily making music with it, or they react rather negatively as I did – and without a whole lot of middle ground. It’s good to see some discussion, though. I’d much rather talk frankly about what we think of gear than have the same vanilla review of everything – and the surprising upshot is that the criticism here appears to be giving the Rhythm Wolf some impassioned advocates.

  • brian hennessey

    Yikes. Guess I’ll wait for the new Electribe…

  • brian hennessey

    Yikes. Guess I’ll wait for the new Electribe…

  • griotspeak

    It can’t even be addressed with a firmware update.

    Rough.

  • griotspeak

    It can’t even be addressed with a firmware update.

    Rough.

  • Helvetica666

    Signal to noise level is acceptable and, you know, this noise is kind of dithering – adds more character to sound, kind of that. It’s if you never heard vintage russian synths. As I see – I like the sound of the Wolf – it’s raw and meaty. And snare not the same with percussion – yes, in some cases, but what a lame to compare them. I’d like to watch more tweaking videos. And for 200 bucks – it’s not much for the half of that device, ‘coz multiout, effects per voice and so on, will makes it costs more.

    • Sac Chin Chump

      +1

  • Helvetica666

    Signal to noise level is acceptable and, you know, this noise is kind of dithering – adds more character to sound, kind of that. It’s if you never heard vintage russian synths. As I see – I like the sound of the Wolf – it’s raw and meaty. And snare not the same with percussion – yes, in some cases, but what a lame to compare them. I’d like to watch more tweaking videos. And for 200 bucks – it’s not much for the half of that device, ‘coz multiout, effects per voice and so on, will makes it costs more.

    • Sac Chin Chump

      +1

  • I spent 20 minutes at a Guitar Center, playing around with a Rhythm Wolf. I spent most of the time wondering if I was missing something. Was there a “Crappy” switch that I needed to turn off somewhere? Disappointing : /

    • Fj F

      Well Get a Crappy TR-8 and problem fix!

  • Guest

    I spent 20 minutes at a Guitar Center, playing around with a Rhythm Wolf. I spent most of the time wondering if I was missing something. Was there a “Crappy” switch that I needed to turn off somewhere? Disappointing : /

    • Fj F

      Well Get a Crappy TR-8 and problem fix!

  • mike

    There needs to be a way on the RHYTHM WOLF to select a drum pad without playing a sound. I want to edit patterns live without triggering a drum pad sound. Intuitively this can be done by holding shift and selecting a drum part. If anyone from AKAI is reading this, please add this feature to an update.

    • Sac Chin Chump

      Just use the mute button.

  • mike

    There needs to be a way on the RHYTHM WOLF to select a drum pad without playing a sound. I want to edit patterns live without triggering a drum pad sound. Intuitively this can be done by holding shift and selecting a drum part. If anyone from AKAI is reading this, please add this feature to an update.

    • Sac Chin Chump

      Just use the mute button.

  • SpaceTravelMadeEasy

    Thanks for including my review video in your review Peter – and for the extra jam you threw in too.

    In the comments in my video I’d replied to someone saying that I would have happily paid another £50 (or more!) for the Wolf to have some of the features that would make it into a real competitor for the TR-8 at about half the cost.

    • JJ Black

      Oh, dope to see you on CDM! Following you on Twitter as well. Nice to see the community making gear reviews more available.

  • Thanks for including my review video in your review Peter – and for the extra jam you threw in too.

    In the comments in my video I’d replied to someone saying that I would have happily paid another £50 (or more!) for the Wolf to have some of the features that would make it into a real competitor for the TR-8 at about half the cost.

    • jblk

      Oh, dope to see you on CDM! Following you on Twitter as well. Nice to see the community making gear reviews more available.

  • Sac Chin Chump

    BOO HOO! I spent $200 and it doesn’t have everything I want! I have a Wolf and I too at first was like “man this thing sounds bunk”. Then I spent a couple weeks with it, ran it through my modular, and the thing came to life. I don’t want it to spit CC data. I don’t want it to do anything fancy. I want it to sit there like the good little drum machine it is and make boom boom sounds.

    • dreamlogicc

      dude, if you’re not spending $2k on an 808 kick, you’re not making real muzak!

      • Wait a second – he was the one who spent something in that vicinity on his modular.

        I compared it to a volca beats, which sounds better, doesn’t have circuitry bugs like dropping volume on resonance, and costs less.

        Honestly, I think I would have had to be gentler in this review if the Rhythm Wolf were a rarity as a low-cost drum machine. But KORG has made the going tougher. And on top of that, if you don’t want something that sounds perfect and do want something weird, there are lots of more interesting weirder things…

      • Sac Chin Chump

        no way bro….. DEVIL FISH 303 FOR THE WIN.

    • just passing

      “ran it through my modular”

      OK, so it’s reasonable to conclude that you can afford to experiment with $200. A lot of people can’t, and I think they’re the people the Rhythm Wolf was aimed at. And there’s a world of difference between “doesn’t have everything I want” and “doesn’t sound good by any objective standard”, which is the charge being levelled.

      I’m glad you like yours. But I’m kind of appalled that you seem to have reacted to finding yourself in the minority by whining about the majority’s unrealistic expectations (when Korg have already demonstrated that the expectations are rather more reachable than you seem to think) and plebeian tastes.

      • Sac Chin Chump

        Run it through some cheapO guitar pedals then. The only thing I was using on my module was a filter to get some neat harmonics.

        To each his own. I don’t like the sound of the Volca beats.

        My opinion is the people complaining about the little Wolf are expecting too much from the box. It’s good cheap fun – in the right hands.

        I find the majority is typically unrealistic when it comes to fussy gear heads.

        Also…..

        INTERNET FIGHT!

      • Zartan The Destroyer

        You’re appalled? Calm your tits.

  • Sac Chin Chump

    BOO HOO! I spent $200 and it doesn’t have everything I want! I have a Wolf and I too at first was like “man this thing sounds bunk”. Then I spent a couple weeks with it, ran it through my modular, and the thing came to life. I don’t want it to spit CC data. I don’t want it to do anything fancy. I want it to sit there like the good little drum machine it is and make boom boom sounds.

    • OneTwoTalkinbout

      dude, if you’re not spending $2k on an 808 kick, you’re not making real muzak!

      • Wait a second – he was the one who spent something in that vicinity on his modular.

        I compared it to a volca beats, which sounds better, doesn’t have circuitry bugs like dropping volume on resonance, and costs less.

        Honestly, I think I would have had to be gentler in this review if the Rhythm Wolf were a rarity as a low-cost drum machine. But KORG has made the going tougher. And on top of that, if you don’t want something that sounds perfect and do want something weird, there are lots of more interesting weirder things…

      • Sac Chin Chump

        no way bro….. DEVIL FISH 303 FOR THE WIN.

    • just passing

      “ran it through my modular”

      OK, so it’s reasonable to conclude that you can afford to experiment with $200. A lot of people can’t, and I think they’re the people the Rhythm Wolf was aimed at. And there’s a world of difference between “doesn’t have everything I want” and “doesn’t sound good by any objective standard”, which is the charge being levelled.

      I’m glad you like yours. But I’m kind of appalled that you seem to have reacted to finding yourself in the minority by whining about the majority’s unrealistic expectations (when Korg have already demonstrated that the expectations are rather more reachable than you seem to think) and plebeian tastes.

      • Sac Chin Chump

        Run it through some cheapO guitar pedals then. The only thing I was using on my module was a filter to get some neat harmonics.

        To each his own. I don’t like the sound of the Volca beats.

        My opinion is the people complaining about the little Wolf are expecting too much from the box. It’s good cheap fun – in the right hands.

        I find the majority is typically unrealistic when it comes to fussy gear heads.

        Also…..

        INTERNET FIGHT!

      • Zartan The Destroyer

        You’re appalled? Calm your tits.

  • Thomas Piper

    I Got the Volca it has a vibe. i didn’t like the Akai. I’m gonna get a Tempest

  • Thomas Piper

    I Got the Volca it has a vibe. i didn’t like the Akai. I’m gonna get a Tempest

  • Lindsay

    Nice handling, nice layout, nice industrial design, yet it sounds worse then a 1970’s Bontempi home organ set to rumba or chachachaa and that’s baaad!

    • ac

      You can appreciate the Bontempi as a found instrument in all its shitty, broken sounding charm, but you shouldn’t be have to make such concessions for brain damaged new products. A manufacturer should know better than to market something this broken.

      • Lindsay

        Even the crappiest of the crappiest Bontempi of 1979 set to Mambo is
        actually a tad better then RW. Three little pigs said: Who’s afraid of the wolf?

  • Lindsay

    Nice handling, nice layout, nice industrial design, yet it sounds worse then a 1970’s Bontempi home organ set to rumba or chachachaa and that’s baaad!

    • ac

      You can appreciate the Bontempi as a found instrument in all its shitty, broken sounding charm, but you shouldn’t be have to make such concessions for brain damaged new products. A manufacturer should know better than to market something this broken.

      • Lindsay

        Even the crappiest of the crappiest Bontempi of 1979 set to Mambo is
        actually a tad better then RW. Three little pigs said: Who’s afraid of the wolf?

  • dreamlogicc

    This sentence sums it up, really:

    “maybe, in fact, this review will be a bit like early reviews of the 808, and you’ll find a way to abuse this box into something useful.”

    • theeternalspiral

      I agree. I actually quite like the ‘noise’ it makes. I could see artists like Techno Animal, Scorn, Surgeon – more industrial acts finding a use for this. It sounds quite distorted out the box. Could become quite a cult item in the future I reckon.

    • tb303

      For the price it makes a brilliant little drum controller to trigger other things for a start, even other synths, and the sounds inside aren’t anywhere near as bad as the review suggests once you start tweaking you can get some very decent results, especially with the kick, the snare you just have to get the level right, the only bad thing I would say is the envelopes aren’t very good they’re too linear.

  • OneTwoTalkinbout

    This sentence sums it up, really:

    “maybe, in fact, this review will be a bit like early reviews of the 808, and you’ll find a way to abuse this box into something useful.”

    • theeternalspiral

      I agree. I actually quite like the ‘noise’ it makes. I could see artists like Techno Animal, Scorn, Surgeon – more industrial acts finding a use for this. It sounds quite distorted out the box. Could become quite a cult item in the future I reckon.

    • tb303

      For the price it makes a brilliant little drum controller to trigger other things for a start, even other synths, and the sounds inside aren’t anywhere near as bad as the review suggests once you start tweaking you can get some very decent results, especially with the kick, the snare you just have to get the level right, the only bad thing I would say is the envelopes aren’t very good they’re too linear.

  • Silverfish

    Some angry genius in a basement is going to mod the living shit out of this and make us all wish we’d picked one up when Guitar Center was blowing them out for $99.

    • Maybe. But angry geniuses also make their own drum machines. And it seems to do a disservice to them to assume that you need AKAI’s box to get started.

  • Silverfish

    Some angry genius in a basement is going to mod the living shit out of this and make us all wish we’d picked one up when Guitar Center was blowing them out for $99.

    • Maybe. But angry geniuses also make their own drum machines. And it seems to do a disservice to them to assume that you need AKAI’s box to get started.

    • Dre Morningstar

      That’s what I’m like!

  • Paul Walsh

    I’ve had a Rhythm Wolf for a few weeks now, and I really enjoy it. It is a pity about the tuning issues on the synth, but I’m not really trying to use it as a fully tuned synth anyway. I reckon I got great value for the price, and I’m *sure* that many people will do cool things with this machine.

    • sic

      Try the downloadable tuning utility off the Rhythm Wolf’s docs&downloads page, it even resolves discrepancies between octave changes.

      • Boogers make interesting pets

        Awesome man!!! I was just getting used to playing the bass synth like a guitar, having to hook it up to a tuner before I play it everytime.

    • DJ JOY DEEP

      Bush man in africa make music out of nothig, you`ll get maced what the bush man will do to the Wolf Rhythm…
      DJ JOY DEEP

  • Paul Walsh

    I’ve had a Rhythm Wolf for a few weeks now, and I really enjoy it. It is a pity about the tuning issues on the synth, but I’m not really trying to use it as a fully tuned synth anyway. I reckon I got great value for the price, and I’m *sure* that many people will do cool things with this machine.

    • sic

      Try the downloadable tuning utility off the Rhythm Wolf’s docs&downloads page, it even resolves discrepancies between octave changes.

      • Boogers make interesting pets

        Awesome man!!! I was just getting used to playing the bass synth like a guitar, having to hook it up to a tuner before I play it everytime.

    • DJ JOY DEEP

      Bush man in africa make music out of nothig, you`ll get maced what the bush man will do to the Wolf Rhythm…
      DJ JOY DEEP

  • Scott White

    Hmmm. I had just ordered and paid for a Sonic Potions LXR when I saw the first ads for the Wolf, and honestly thought “Well, shit!” But after hearing it… Well, let’s just say I’m not disappointed in buying the LXR one bit. It almost seems counterproductive to NEED to run a piece of gear through a modular or a series of effects pedals for it to be usable. For $200? I’d rather buy another Dr-110 and mod the beelzebub out of it (again). Just my two yen’s worth…

    • JJ Black

      Have you played with any of the Acidlabs.de drum synths? I messed with their 808 clone at Schneidersladen recently and was really stoked on the sound and playability, but not the options for shaping some of the sounds. Looks like the LXR is super menu-driven, which is the exact opposite of what I want, but definitely need more than the acidlabs gave. You know, like the basic ability to tune toms.

      • Scott White

        Acidlabs stuff is very nice but out of my price range. I was hoping to get a Yocto but missed out… You’re right about the LXR being menu-heavy, but once you get your head around it it’s no big deal. The thing has lots of secret-weapon features, like the Probability parameter, which you can assign for each step of the pattern, and it gives instant, real-time, interesting pattern variation. Why this is something I’ve not seen on other rhythm machines is beyond me.

        • JJ Black

          Wow, that does sound cool. Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to check the LXR out.

          Never peeked at the pricetag of that sleek little acidlabs box I was playing with, which is probably a good thing. Must have been scary.

  • Scott White

    Hmmm. I had just ordered and paid for a Sonic Potions LXR when I saw the first ads for the Wolf, and honestly thought “Well, shit!” But after hearing it… Well, let’s just say I’m not disappointed in buying the LXR one bit. It almost seems counterproductive to NEED to run a piece of gear through a modular or a series of effects pedals for it to be usable. For $200? I’d rather buy another Dr-110 and mod the beelzebub out of it (again). Just my two yen’s worth…

    • jblk

      Have you played with any of the Acidlabs.de drum synths? I messed with their 808 clone at Schneidersladen recently and was really stoked on the sound and playability, but not the options for shaping some of the sounds. Looks like the LXR is super menu-driven, which is the exact opposite of what I want, but definitely need more than the acidlabs gave. You know, like the basic ability to tune toms.

      • Scott White

        Acidlabs stuff is very nice but out of my price range. I was hoping to get a Yocto but missed out… You’re right about the LXR being menu-heavy, but once you get your head around it it’s no big deal. The thing has lots of secret-weapon features, like the Probability parameter, which you can assign for each step of the pattern, and it gives instant, real-time, interesting pattern variation. Why this is something I’ve not seen on other rhythm machines is beyond me.

        • jblk

          Wow, that does sound cool. Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to check the LXR out.

          Never peeked at the pricetag of that sleek little acidlabs box I was playing with, which is probably a good thing. Must have been scary.

  • just passing

    Oh dear. The curse of Numark strikes again…

    I think more of the snare and less of the bass drum than the common consensus, and I quite like the hi-hats; for analogue, I think they don’t sound too bad at all.

    But oh god, that bass synth! It sounds quite competent… UNTIL you turn the resonance up, and the bass response drops into a little black hole. This was actually not an uncommon complaint about bad filters, back in the 70s when everyone and their dog was knocking up synths and they had to step round all the patents on the good filters; more than one monosynth sank into utter obscurity because their filters lost all their power and presence when you turned the resonance up. So the Rhythm Wolf isn’t just bad, here, but objectively and provenly bad. Nice going, Akai.

    And the decision to have the Howl thing – and to be fair, adding volume and hiss is what distortions *do* – going across all the outputs at once is just insane. Awful, awful decision. Maybe I’m missing something, and you can switch each output individually onto a clean path? If so, then I withdraw that complaint – but that still leaves the filter, which is objectively bad.

    And since the combination of drum machine and synth is the only reason I’d buy this thing over a pair of Volcas – which are now going for £99 in the UK, so the £159 RW price only represents a saving of £39. I cannot imagine any circumstances under which that’s £39 worth saving. Hell, even Akai have outdone it – the MPX16 is a genuinely attractive little sampler (that actually SAMPLES, Korg…) for £129, and I would suggest that it’s likely to be far more fun. But this thing? Just bandwagon-jumping. And apparently missing its foothold and getting dragged in the dirt for a while before falling off.

    And all because they couldn’t be arsed to stick two diodes in the resonance path (and, if I haven’t misunderstood, a couple of CD4051s on the outputs).

    • just passing

      Fact-checking:

      * The Rhythm Wolf is being sold for £149, not £159, in the UK. it’s not £49 worth saving either.

      * There’s a separate synth out, which the manual indicates bypasses the Howl circuit (which makes it kinda pointless) but could maybe be used to rescue the sound of the synth (compression compression compression!). Well… there went that £49 saving.

      * You do get MIDI OUT, so it might be worth buying for the ability to sequence external gear (without necessarily having that gear around when you compose the sequences). I can see someone considering that sequencer to be worth £149 on its own. If they ever get remaindered off at £75, I’ll probably make that consideration myself…

      • Wait a minute. The Arturia BeatStep is a more capable sequencer (and has drum pads), and its encoders send CC. And it’s £80.

        • just passing

          So it is. I did cast my mind to the BeatStep, but was thinking (a) that it was still £99; (b) that the sequencer was oriented rather differently – less 303ish, more Oberkorny – which will necessarily lead to a different style of use; and (c) of the Analogue Solutions Europa as a more direct comparison, which is… not £79. Or even £149. Also, isn’t the BeatStep’s pattern capacity lower?

          But yes – leaving aside the very different style of sequencing offered and its silence, the BeatStep looks like a way more competent MIDI controller/sequencer. And I might have to get one. 🙂

          Incidentally, what’s become of the Teenage Engineering PO-12?

          • DJ Hombre

            PO12 due 2015

        • Aaron

          Totally disagree. I sold my Arturia Beatstep after 2 weeks of owning the RW.

          Arturia has basically abandoned it and its almost useless without a computer.

          If you do stomache and use it without a computer then you are stuck using it as a master sync device because it has no input….and what makes that totally horrendus is that there is no bpm readout.

          The Gate output of the Beatstep only serves 1 purpose and that is to couple it with the pitch/cv out…because of that and no other option, it only outputs a gate sig. on the steps where notes are assigned. So that rules out using the gate for sync. Stupid… should be optional.

          I’d sum it up as this… The Wolf is awesome as a master sync device + midi out bass step sequencer with some nice sounding kpr77ish style drums.

          That plus it is insanely cheap for it does. The Volca Beats doesn’t honestly sound that great either.. in fact these two compliment each other weakness very well. The 2 of them combined you actually have a pretty solid analogue drum machine duo.
          Bass synth is garbage…but again, don’t care.. I got it to control my ms-20 and/or minibrute. They said they’ll address it, but we’ve yet to see.

  • just passing

    Oh dear. The curse of Numark strikes again…

    I think more of the snare and less of the bass drum than the common consensus, and I quite like the hi-hats; for analogue, I think they don’t sound too bad at all.

    But oh god, that bass synth! It sounds quite competent… UNTIL you turn the resonance up, and the bass response drops into a little black hole. This was actually not an uncommon complaint about bad filters, back in the 70s when everyone and their dog was knocking up synths and they had to step round all the patents on the good filters; more than one monosynth sank into utter obscurity because their filters lost all their power and presence when you turned the resonance up. So the Rhythm Wolf isn’t just bad, here, but objectively and provenly bad. Nice going, Akai.

    And the decision to have the Howl thing – and to be fair, adding volume and hiss is what distortions *do* – going across all the outputs at once is just insane. Awful, awful decision. Maybe I’m missing something, and you can switch each output individually onto a clean path? If so, then I withdraw that complaint – but that still leaves the filter, which is objectively bad.

    And since the combination of drum machine and synth is the only reason I’d buy this thing over a pair of Volcas – which are now going for £99 in the UK, so the £159 RW price only represents a saving of £39. I cannot imagine any circumstances under which that’s £39 worth saving. Hell, even Akai have outdone it – the MPX16 is a genuinely attractive little sampler (that actually SAMPLES, Korg…) for £129, and I would suggest that it’s likely to be far more fun. But this thing? Just bandwagon-jumping. And apparently missing its foothold and getting dragged in the dirt for a while before falling off.

    And all because they couldn’t be arsed to stick two diodes in the resonance path (and, if I haven’t misunderstood, a couple of CD4051s on the outputs).

    • just passing

      Fact-checking:

      * The Rhythm Wolf is being sold for £149, not £159, in the UK. it’s not £49 worth saving either.

      * There’s a separate synth out, which the manual indicates bypasses the Howl circuit (which makes it kinda pointless) but could maybe be used to rescue the sound of the synth (compression compression compression!). Well… there went that £49 saving.

      * You do get MIDI OUT, so it might be worth buying for the ability to sequence external gear (without necessarily having that gear around when you compose the sequences). I can see someone considering that sequencer to be worth £149 on its own. If they ever get remaindered off at £75, I’ll probably make that consideration myself…

      • Wait a minute. The Arturia BeatStep is a more capable sequencer (and has drum pads), and its encoders send CC. And it’s £80.

        • just passing

          So it is. I did cast my mind to the BeatStep, but was thinking (a) that it was still £99; (b) that the sequencer was oriented rather differently – less 303ish, more Oberkorny – which will necessarily lead to a different style of use; and (c) of the Analogue Solutions Europa as a more direct comparison, which is… not £79. Or even £149. Also, isn’t the BeatStep’s pattern capacity lower?

          But yes – leaving aside the very different style of sequencing offered and its silence, the BeatStep looks like a way more competent MIDI controller/sequencer. And I might have to get one. 🙂

          Incidentally, what’s become of the Teenage Engineering PO-12?

          • DJ Hombre

            PO12 due 2015

        • Aaron

          Totally disagree. I sold my Arturia Beatstep after 2 weeks of owning the RW.

          Arturia has basically abandoned it and its almost useless without a computer.

          If you do stomache and use it without a computer then you are stuck using it as a master sync device because it has no input….and what makes that totally horrendus is that there is no bpm readout.

          The Gate output of the Beatstep only serves 1 purpose and that is to couple it with the pitch/cv out…because of that and no other option, it only outputs a gate sig. on the steps where notes are assigned. So that rules out using the gate for sync. Stupid… should be optional.

          I’d sum it up as this… The Wolf is awesome as a master sync device + midi out bass step sequencer with some nice sounding kpr77ish style drums.

          That plus it is insanely cheap for it does. The Volca Beats doesn’t honestly sound that great either.. in fact these two compliment each other weakness very well. The 2 of them combined you actually have a pretty solid analogue drum machine duo.
          Bass synth is garbage…but again, don’t care.. I got it to control my ms-20 and/or minibrute. They said they’ll address it, but we’ve yet to see.

  • Kim

    Thanks for this Peter. I also have an affinity for Akai, having used a number of MPCs since 1997, love those things. Then recently I got an MPX8 just to trigger some sounds in a stage performance, and for that price, and in 2014, I can’t for the life of me believe how fantastically crappy that thing is. Sound quality, build quality, usability, everything. It’s a shameful piece of kit. Akai is not what it once was.

    • pree

      the crappiness of this unit is well documented. also it seems like the new 16 pad version is just as bad. too bad it looks like it could be neat

      • Kim

        Yes, really simple, good idea. If well made would have been winner.

  • Kim

    Thanks for this Peter. I also have an affinity for Akai, having used a number of MPCs since 1997, love those things. Then recently I got an MPX8 just to trigger some sounds in a stage performance, and for that price, and in 2014, I can’t for the life of me believe how fantastically crappy that thing is. Sound quality, build quality, usability, everything. It’s a shameful piece of kit. Akai is not what it once was.

    • pree

      the crappiness of this unit is well documented. also it seems like the new 16 pad version is just as bad. too bad it looks like it could be neat

      • Kim

        Yes, really simple, good idea. If well made would have been winner.

  • Winter Soldier

    Thank god somebody finally said something about how shitty this machine truly is. I was very excited until I heard it then I thought there must be something wrong how could it sound this bad? Maybe it will be clearenced out and modded into something great. I think we can all agree the name is bad asssssssss!

    • Roger Moore

      the name is the only thing i dont like about it…

  • Winter Soldier

    Thank god somebody finally said something about how shitty this machine truly is. I was very excited until I heard it then I thought there must be something wrong how could it sound this bad? Maybe it will be clearenced out and modded into something great. I think we can all agree the name is bad asssssssss!

    • Roger Moore

      the name is the only thing i dont like about it…

  • max

    akai is a joke now, nothing to see here, move on

  • max

    akai is a joke now, nothing to see here, move on

  • heinrich zwahlen

    Your frankness here was refreshing and exhilarating: ‘ It sound not good’, gave me a good lough.

  • heinrich zwahlen

    Your frankness here was refreshing and exhilarating: ‘ It sound not good’, gave me a good lough.

  • Aaron

    I disagree.. I think it sounds great. Other than the bassline, which I never intended to get any use out of in the first place and use that part’s midi to sequence my ms20 or minibrute.

  • Aaron

    I disagree.. I think it sounds great. Other than the bassline, which I never intended to get any use out of in the first place and use that part’s midi to sequence my ms20 or minibrute.

  • JJ Black

    It there something wrong with me that I like the sound in that first video? I even like the noise. I would buy this used, for sure.

  • jblk

    It there something wrong with me that I like the sound in that first video? I even like the noise. I would buy this used, for sure.

  • Andy

    The honesty of this review is refreshing and I appreciate it for sure. But from what I’ve heard I’m actually digging the drum sounds a lot. Definitely sounds nothing like the punch and depth of an 808/909 obviously, a lot more primitive and cheap in a way… Almost reminds me of those old preset Roland CR machines. But honestly I really like that. Especially the kick and snare!

    Probably won’t ever buy one, just because I have no particular need for one, but I could definitely see this thing getting a lot of mileage for anyone trying to make some kind of more old school industrial/electro-type, ala John Foxx’s tune “Underpass”

    I give props to Akai for even attempting something like this.

  • Andy

    The honesty of this review is refreshing and I appreciate it for sure. But from what I’ve heard I’m actually digging the drum sounds a lot. Definitely sounds nothing like the punch and depth of an 808/909 obviously, a lot more primitive and cheap in a way… Almost reminds me of those old preset Roland CR machines. But honestly I really like that. Especially the kick and snare!

    Probably won’t ever buy one, just because I have no particular need for one, but I could definitely see this thing getting a lot of mileage for anyone trying to make some kind of more old school industrial/electro-type, ala John Foxx’s tune “Underpass”

    I give props to Akai for even attempting something like this.

  • Calaverasgrande

    you demonstrate that the RW sucks by hitting the pads over and over and not changing anything about the snare/perc/hat sound?
    Those knobs are there for a reason.

    Do you want it to edit itself into a perfect 909?
    $200 is dirt cheap for anything musical these days. I spend that much on a stand to hold up 2 keyboards. You want CC transmitted by the knobs then you want rotary encoders, which cost more than simple pots.

  • Calaverasgrande

    you demonstrate that the RW sucks by hitting the pads over and over and not changing anything about the snare/perc/hat sound?
    Those knobs are there for a reason.

    Do you want it to edit itself into a perfect 909?
    $200 is dirt cheap for anything musical these days. I spend that much on a stand to hold up 2 keyboards. You want CC transmitted by the knobs then you want rotary encoders, which cost more than simple pots.

  • Frank

    Finally a review that tells it like it is.Fact: The RW sounds crappy.Flat, thin, crappy.The worst is the snare.When i first checked it out i couldn’t believe it how thin and useless the snare was.And yeah, who needs that one oscillator bass thing ? Oh and thanks for mentioning Akai’s overuse of calling everything “MPC” when it comes to pads as if all potential buyers were totally retarded – i mean, what do they think ?! That no one actually does research but instead will buy anything has soon as they hear the magic word “MPC” ?! Fools.

  • Frank

    Finally a review that tells it like it is.Fact: The RW sounds crappy.Flat, thin, crappy.The worst is the snare.When i first checked it out i couldn’t believe it how thin and useless the snare was.And yeah, who needs that one oscillator bass thing ? Oh and thanks for mentioning Akai’s overuse of calling everything “MPC” when it comes to pads as if all potential buyers were totally retarded – i mean, what do they think ?! That no one actually does research but instead will buy anything has soon as they hear the magic word “MPC” ?! Fools.

  • Denny Kane

    Spent 30 min on my friends RW, he then asked me if i could fix the tuning on the hihat,
    we opened it up and started to hack it, but after hours we both realized we could not
    even hack it to sound usable! It’s so badly designed the engineers and managers
    should be fired from their jobs and Jack oDonnel get a 10 million punishment for being
    an arrogant multimillionaire making crap pouting China using child labour to makes this!

  • Denny Kane

    Spent 30 min on my friends RW, he then asked me if i could fix the tuning on the hihat,
    we opened it up and started to hack it, but after hours we both realized we could not
    even hack it to sound usable! It’s so badly designed the engineers and managers
    should be fired from their jobs and Jack oDonnel get a 10 million punishment for being
    an arrogant multimillionaire making crap pouting China using child labour to makes this!

  • heyguy

    looks like akai knew it was a crap module so they paid richard d. a large sum to plug the hell out of it despite what he actually thought so it would sell. Anyone with ears and a brain knows this thing sucks. Companies do this shit all the time. Usually a quality product will come first and then a price. In this case it seems the price came first and they built the product around that.

  • heyguy

    looks like akai knew it was a crap module so they paid richard d. a large sum to plug the hell out of it despite what he actually thought so it would sell. Anyone with ears and a brain knows this thing sucks. Companies do this shit all the time. Usually a quality product will come first and then a price. In this case it seems the price came first and they built the product around that.

  • Guest

    I’m glad I know that Richard Devine will say anything he’s told. It saves me thinking about any other pitch he’s making.

    • just passing

      It’s not just him. Remember The Crystal Method’s shilling for the M-Audio Venom? I guess the best explanation is that the economy is tight, and tighter for musicians than most.

  • Guest

    I’m glad I know that Richard Devine will say anything he’s told. It saves me thinking about any other pitch he’s making.

    • just passing

      It’s not just him. Remember The Crystal Method’s shilling for the M-Audio Venom? I guess the best explanation is that the economy is tight, and tighter for musicians than most.

  • NotARegularhere

    I have been using the RW for around 2 weeks. Nothing has been as objectionable to my ears as everyone is sensationalizing here. Sure the tuning has been a bit of a downer but I would rather get a machine that produces unique sounds than a clone. Overall I am happy with the build, sequencing and sound not being the center of my setup.

  • NotARegularhere

    I have been using the RW for around 2 weeks. Nothing has been as objectionable to my ears as everyone is sensationalizing here. Sure the tuning has been a bit of a downer but I would rather get a machine that produces unique sounds than a clone. Overall I am happy with the build, sequencing and sound not being the center of my setup.

  • EDdiE

    Akai always looks great on paper, but I’m done with them for good after their service department repeatedly sent me non-functioning, defective gear as replacements for the defective gear I’d sent in. After 3 times, I just took the loss and gave up. I will never buy Akai again.

  • EDdiE

    Akai always looks great on paper, but I’m done with them for good after their service department repeatedly sent me non-functioning, defective gear as replacements for the defective gear I’d sent in. After 3 times, I just took the loss and gave up. I will never buy Akai again.

  • Mikko Sundman

    First of all, I like this unit, I want one. This definitely is a second (third, n:th) option to me, If I could afford Aira TR, I would take it instead, again, If I could afford Jomox, I would take that instead of Aira. So price and quality are on par with my expectations.

    RW vs Volca Beats comparison is irrelevant, as they’re so cheap we’ll grab both sooner or later. AND Spark LE. So, for price of Aira TR, I’ll get RW, Volca Beats AND Spark LE – I am sure I’ll find the sound I need in one of them every time.

    Being all analog – and dirt cheap, I wonder if this tuning issue is too hard to fix. There’s probably a low tolerance 10% resistor/chain that needs to be replaced with 1% versions, so it holds the tuning better. I am sure Akai knows the reason to this and fixes it in next assembly runs.

    I make house music myself, and I love the general Bass/Snare/Perc sound set of RW. I am sure I can get good sounds out of it with help of individual EQ/Compression/effects on each sound. This you can do with a <200€ analog mixer / multi channel compressor unit, or in DAW.

    However, I did read there's 4 individual output channels in back of this thing. 2 for drums, two for bass? No panning for each sound, right? Has someone opened it up already, how hard it will be to hack more separate outs or manually re-assign the output configurations?

    Dear AKAI. If you're reading this, do Mk II really fast. Replace VCO's with DCO's to fix the tuning issues, give us separate outs or more freedom in output assignment. And fix the tuning issue to every sold RW Mk I, to save your face.

    • Mikko Sundman

      Oh well.

      After 2 days of thought, I think I’ll pass RW for a while, buy Arturia Spark LE first, route each individual sound from my sound card to an analog mixer for EQ / compressing. If I cannot get that sounding warm enough, I’ll reconsider RW.

      Thanks for a good review!

  • Mikko Sundman

    First of all, I like this unit, I want one. This definitely is a second (third, n:th) option to me, If I could afford Aira TR, I would take it instead, again, If I could afford Jomox, I would take that instead of Aira. So price and quality are on par with my expectations.

    RW vs Volca Beats comparison is irrelevant, as they’re so cheap we’ll grab both sooner or later. AND Spark LE. So, for price of Aira TR, I’ll get RW, Volca Beats AND Spark LE – I am sure I’ll find the sound I need in one of them every time.

    Being all analog – and dirt cheap, I wonder if this tuning issue is too hard to fix. There’s probably a low tolerance 10% resistor/chain that needs to be replaced with 1% versions, so it holds the tuning better. I am sure Akai knows the reason to this and fixes it in next assembly runs.

    I make house music myself, and I love the general Bass/Snare/Perc sound set of RW. I am sure I can get good sounds out of it with help of individual EQ/Compression/effects on each sound. This you can do with a <200€ analog mixer / multi channel compressor unit, or in DAW.

    However, I did read there's 4 individual output channels in back of this thing. 2 for drums, two for bass? No panning for each sound, right? Has someone opened it up already, how hard it will be to hack more separate outs or manually re-assign the output configurations?

    Dear AKAI. If you're reading this, do Mk II really fast. Replace VCO's with DCO's to fix the tuning issues, give us separate outs or more freedom in output assignment. And fix the tuning issue to every sold RW Mk I, to save your face.

    • Mikko Sundman

      Oh well.

      After 2 days of thought, I think I’ll pass RW for a while, buy Arturia Spark LE first, route each individual sound from my sound card to an analog mixer for EQ / compressing. If I cannot get that sounding warm enough, I’ll reconsider RW.

      Thanks for a good review!

  • aaron

    FYI.. the tuning utility is out: http://www.akaipro.com/product/rhythm-wolf#downloads

    “The utility will run through a firmware update first (only required once), then the tuning calibration. You’ll need to connect the Rhythm Wolf to your computer via USB as well as connect the SYNTH OUT to your audio interface. The utility listens to the bass synth audio input as it’s tuning.”
    And from user comments & investiations, it appears to do the trick.

  • aaron

    FYI.. the tuning utility is out: http://www.akaipro.com/product/rhythm-wolf#downloads

    “The utility will run through a firmware update first (only required once), then the tuning calibration. You’ll need to connect the Rhythm Wolf to your computer via USB as well as connect the SYNTH OUT to your audio interface. The utility listens to the bass synth audio input as it’s tuning.”
    And from user comments & investiations, it appears to do the trick.

  • Bod

    Bought one and although it does sound a bit sh!t and is limited, it IS fun to play and a few external effects increase the fun. Paramater lock would make a big difference.

  • Bod

    Bought one and although it does sound a bit sh!t and is limited, it IS fun to play and a few external effects increase the fun. Paramater lock would make a big difference.

  • I have a RW, I like it! Its very hands on, great jamming with (my band does a lot of improv and aleatoric music live), the sounds are tweakable and fun. Im am using a dash of reverb and comp treatments and wee bit of howl and I think it sounds interesting, also I’m taking the midi out into my Akai S2000 (picked up fully loaded with extra memory and 8x out board for £27) so I have extra sounds being fired off. So for lest than £200 you could have a cool live setup (with cheapo Behringer guitar pedals) like mine 😉
    I think for people with a bit imagination and a desire to do something quirky/different this could be the machine for you, if you want a cheap 808/909/303like studio machine then you will be sorely disappointed, it does not sound perfect, in fact its rough as hell!
    I am almost hoping its a flop and not too many people use it, selfish I know but I would love to be able to pick a few of these up cheap, chain them together, mod the bedjezus out of them!

  • I have a RW, I like it! Its very hands on, great jamming with (my band does a lot of improv and aleatoric music live), the sounds are tweakable and fun. Im am using a dash of reverb and comp treatments and wee bit of howl and I think it sounds interesting, also I’m taking the midi out into my Akai S2000 (picked up fully loaded with extra memory and 8x out board for £27) so I have extra sounds being fired off. So for less than £200 you could have a cool live setup (with cheapo Behringer guitar pedals) like mine 😉
    I think for people with a bit imagination and a desire to do something quirky/different this could be the machine for you, if you want a cheap 808/909/303like studio machine then you will be sorely disappointed, it does not sound perfect, in fact its rough as hell!
    I am almost hoping its a flop and not too many people use it, selfish I know but I would love to be able to pick a few of these up cheap, chain them together, mod the bedjezus out of them!

  • sic

    I’ve just used the downloadable Tuning Utility! Suddenly this thing sucks a lot less!

  • sic

    I’ve just used the downloadable Tuning Utility! Suddenly this thing sucks a lot less!

  • googie

    It seems to me that the reviewer is paying $200 for an Akai but expects a DSI tempest
    You getting what you paying for so stop complaining the Akai isn’t that bad run it through a few fx on your daw and it can sound awesome

    People were raving about how great the TE op1 was and I made the mistake and bought one and must say it was one of the biggest regrets of my life , the speaker shat itself within weeks and TE costumer service was horrible , the input was just terrible and the unit in general was nothing that a $300 ipad with $50 worth of apps couldn’t do and it could do it even better .
    Also all the slack that the m-audio venom and the korg ms-20 were getting
    I must say both were the two greatest purchases of my music career , the venom is one of the best “dirty” synths ever

    The korg volca series is total crap too especially the keys and beats not too mention were too overpriced
    I preferred the simple monotron series which sounded much better

  • googie

    It seems to me that the reviewer is paying $200 for an Akai but expects a DSI tempest
    You getting what you paying for so stop complaining the Akai isn’t that bad run it through a few fx on your daw and it can sound awesome

    People were raving about how great the TE op1 was and I made the mistake and bought one and must say it was one of the biggest regrets of my life , the speaker shat itself within weeks and TE costumer service was horrible , the input was just terrible and the unit in general was nothing that a $300 ipad with $50 worth of apps couldn’t do and it could do it even better .
    Also all the slack that the m-audio venom and the korg ms-20 were getting
    I must say both were the two greatest purchases of my music career , the venom is one of the best “dirty” synths ever

    The korg volca series is total crap too especially the keys and beats not too mention were too overpriced
    I preferred the simple monotron series which sounded much better

  • djsmps
  • djsmps
  • Oops, I farted

    I run this thing through an EHX Attack EQ and it now sounds delicious.

  • Oops, I farted

    I run this thing through an EHX Attack EQ and it now sounds delicious.

  • Octavio

    there you have a sampled rythm wolf for free so you dont have to deal with the rythm wolf!!!

    http://download1211.mediafire.com/wcgh4f0214tg/g0el5z4o2kd6jnb/Akai+Wolf+Samples.zip

  • Octavio

    there you have a sampled rythm wolf for free so you dont have to deal with the rythm wolf!!!

    http://download1211.mediafire.com/wcgh4f0214tg/g0el5z4o2kd6jnb/Akai+Wolf+Samples.zip

  • Paul

    The sounds of this thing really remind me of my Mattel Synsonics Drums. In fact, it has that lo-fi charm that a lot of more sophisticated machines lack. However, since I already have a Synsonics Drums (modded with trigger and sync inputs) I think I’ll have to give the Rhythm Wolf a hard pass.

    Maybe they’ll come out with a Rhythm Wolf Mark II with the same controls and updated sound circuits. Then I might reconsider.

  • Paul

    The sounds of this thing really remind me of my Mattel Synsonics Drums. In fact, it has that lo-fi charm that a lot of more sophisticated machines lack. However, since I already have a Synsonics Drums (modded with trigger and sync inputs) I think I’ll have to give the Rhythm Wolf a hard pass.

    Maybe they’ll come out with a Rhythm Wolf Mark II with the same controls and updated sound circuits. Then I might reconsider.

  • iamdave

    I don’t see how anyone could prefer the Volca beats over the RW sound wise. The Volca has a broader range, but aside from the kick its very thin. The RW has a limited range sound wise, but the sounds are much fatter and definitely usable. I enjoyed the Volcas a lot, but when it comes to making music they just dont cut it.

  • iamdave

    I don’t see how anyone could prefer the Volca beats over the RW sound wise. The Volca has a broader range, but aside from the kick its very thin. The RW has a limited range sound wise, but the sounds are much fatter and definitely usable. I enjoyed the Volcas a lot, but when it comes to making music they just dont cut it.

  • Brett Anthony

    This would have ot be one of the worst reviews Ive read, just terrible. Is there anyone reviewing here that actually knows anything about analog and drums? You were actually comparing this to sampled sounds…WTF my brain hurts. I sure hope you don’t write for a living, you’d starve.

  • Brett Anthony

    I couldnt build one of these in Eurorack for under a $1000. A 32 step seq, midi to cv, 5 analog voices, which when separated out the back ( they are easily modded) and put through some basic eq and comp sound great. (Even the damn bass sounds great with external processing, its just an oscillator with VCA, ENV and a filter…fuck what do want for the price) Electronic music is dying through an utter lack of technical ability. Learn electronics, it will make you a better electronic musician and help you see that cheap bits of kit like this can be useful when the operator has a brain. These things are great for the price and even better when your innovative.

  • Brett Anthony

    Why is that a “disservice”? The only reason I mod something is to make it sound better..to me. These are cheap, it makes them the perfect candidate to mod, nothing to loose. Why would you buy an analog drum machine worth over say $700, which is about the closest Ive ever seen any other true analog drum machine, it would be like modding a moog. Cheap bits of kit like this are perfect for modding. Thats WHY they are great for modding. Not a “bright” comment dude.

  • Brett Anthony

    Agreed. This was a CRAP review.

  • Brett Anthony

    Obviously youve never played many true analog oscillators!

  • Brett Anthony

    Yeah, its a real bummer that these things dont come with a button called “Push if your too stupid to use analog”.

  • Philippe Verlinden

    just bought one S/H and the tempo screen shows U56 anyone has any idea how to unlock it, also the play start light is off! I’ve tried Akai support still no response from them. Much appreciated if anyone has any idea how to start the sequencer, thank you. p

  • Philippe Verlinden

    I’ve just bought one S/H and the tempo screen shows U56, anyone has any idea how to unlock it, also the play start light is off! I’ve tried Akai support still no response from them. Much appreciated if anyone has any idea how to start the sequencer, thank you. p

  • John Johnson

    I stopped by my local Wanker Ctr. for something else last week and had a few minutes with it. Fully expecting it to suck and be just like all the negative reviews said it would be.Surprisingly I think its great and I was able to get deep bass sounds and open the filter and squelch out my heart;s content. I think people dismissed this too quickly without trying it in the real World.

  • NoMadMongol

    This is the first time I’ve visited this site and after reading this ignorant opinion based on a lack of imagination, creativity and ingenuity, the last. I don’t respect critics who speak for us all as in, “Akai let us all down”? You probably think the AX60 is a useless Synth with the necessary analog basics too. I see nothing constructive here.