Akai Rhythm Wolf Demo and Review

This little drum machine has gotten some serious bad press, but is it really that bad? Here is a quick demo that I made using the Rhythm Wolf exclusively. I recorded multiple passes in order to multi-track the sounds. Then I eq’d them and added reverb and delay.

The Good:

  • Analog synthesis has a certain something that makes it work.
  • The sequencer alone is a great add-on to any studio.
  • Great build quality. Full size pads and full size knobs, unlike the Volcas which are hard to play and tweak.
  • The drums respond to velocity with a couple different articulations. The hats and snare decay longer, the kick snaps more when hit harder, the bass volume gets louder. That means each voice has an “accent” compared to other XoX sequencers.
  • MIDI input and output. Use this as a sound module, or as a sequencer for external gear. USB midi integration. (Try that with your TR-808!)
  • The Howl knob is like a built in distortion pedal, great for when you are multi-tracking takes to add grit on the synth or kick drum.
  • A synth and drums in one unit like this reminds me of an Electribe. Good for quick jams with friends.

The Bad:

  • Limited range of sounds (but I intend to mod mine to extend tuning range and add some passive high-pass filters on the perc and hats)
  • Noisy circuit when turning up the “noise” on the perc sound, it bleeds through.
  • No independent outputs (although what machine at this price point does? Sure, get a TR-808 clone for $1000 and have individual outs, or do like I am an put them in yourself. A simple mod for anyone with soldering experience)
  • Synth tuning

The Ugly:

  • The synth tuning can be a bear sometimes. I have had the best success letting it warm up a bit and tuning the lowest “c” with a tuner plugin or accurate guitar tuner before using the Akai tuning app. Then it is OK, but never rock solid. It drifts over time and with temp fluctuations.

So overall I like the unit. I use the synth occasionally just for its squelchy-ness when the “Howl” is cranked. I am looking forward to modding it and adding individual outputs, high-pass filters on the perc and hats (which sound a lot more like a 606 hats when high passed. They have frequencies into the 400hz range. Too low!), and extending the pitch ranges of all the sounds and synth if possible. This unit could have made tidal waves if they made it 8 or more drum sounds and left out the synth. Then they could have released the synth separately with more controls. Basically they should have done what Korg did with the volcas. It would have been amazing if it was just drums and a couple more tones.  


3 thoughts on “Akai Rhythm Wolf Demo and Review

  1. Just got one of these and I am thinking about modding also. Please update and let me know how you got on with modding. I read somewhere that modding individual outputs is easy as Akai have incorporated this possibility inside the box.

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