Rhythm Wolf Analog Drum Machine Spotted In The Wild

The Akai Pro Rhythm Wolf Analog Drum Machine was one of the biggest stories coming out of this year’s Musikmesse. The new drum machine promised analog synthesis, MPC style drum pads, tons of tweakability and a killer $199 price.

The only catch? It wasn’t ready to demo at Musikmesse.

Now that’s changed.

Here’s the first video of the Rhythm Wolf drum machine in action. It’s not an official ‘polished’ demo video – it’s just 7:48 of uncut analog drum machine action.

The video below is some additional footage from Akai’s 6/17 video shoot. It shows some additional sound tweaking with the Rhythm Wolf.

Again, it’s not a polished musical demo or a intro video, just a preview of the new machine. Headphones or monitors are recommended, laptop speakers can’t reproduced the low end on this.

Rhythm Wolf Highlights:

  • 5-voice analog drum machine and synth, with analog design that references classic rhythm machines and synthesizers
  • Analog drum sounds: kick, snare, open and closed hi-hat, and metallic percussion
  • Synth bass module: selectable square or sawtooth wave
  • Onboard 32-step sequencer
  • Six genuine MPC pads for sequencing and finger drumming
  • “Howl” knob: custom distortion circuit for additional sound design
  • MIDI connectivity: USB-MIDI and MIDI In/Out
  • Gate Trigger: for triggering via modular synths, vintage sequencers, or external sound sources
  • Dedicated outputs for the drum machine and synth-bass

Pricing and Availability

Akai Pro’s Rhythm Wolf is expected to be available in the Fall with a street price of US $199.99. For more information, check out the Akai Professional website.

107 thoughts on “Rhythm Wolf Analog Drum Machine Spotted In The Wild

    1. You have to listen on headphones to get the low end…it goes deep. The sounds are pretty good. There’s a wide range of tones he goes through…maybe he didn’t settle in the one you wanted? Plus if a YouTube video is your final judgment of sound quality you have the wrong hobby. I preordered. Can’t wait.

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      1. I am listening to it through a pair of Adam A7X Monitors (in a room with acoustic treatment) and quite frankly the transients are lacking and sounds pretty average to these ears.
        Unimpressed,

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  1. I don’t like the sound (but difficult to have a real idea with a youtube video), the Kick is a bit tiny, the snare not snappy, the hihat just a sample and the bass without interest.
    But I found he have a great groove, not perfectly in time like TR style. That can be a nice midi sequencer instead of a nice drum machine.

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        1. The hihats are actually excellent, they’re the strongest sound on the machine. The percussion is OK. The bass is all right for subs (you can’t really tell from this demo but I have heard some other material). Some people hyped themselves into expecting a 303. The kick and snare are weak for different reasons, although the kick has some better options. I like the snare the least, I think.

          FYI this was recorded straight into a Macbook which doesn’t really help.

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          1. Yeah, the hihat seems to be the most interesting instrument there. Like the TR-606 has a lower, more gritty tone than the TR-808, Akai has taken it even further. Too bad the other sounds seem to be weaker, but let’s not judge before there are more demos.

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  2. A C64 can rock more than this. Reminds me a bit of Sugar Bytes Egoist, which is software (obviously), but just sounds better, more driving and inspiring.

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    1. Unfortunately, the Tempest drum machine costs 10 times as much as this.

      I think there will be a place for this!

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  3. This looks sick as f*ck to me.

    The Rhythm Wolf sounds are vintage sounding, it’s analog & it looks like it will be great to work with.

    Compare this to the Korg Volca Beats and you’re getting WAY more machine for $50 more money. The Korg’s got little pot shaft knobs in a tiny plastic box. This has real knobs, real MPC pads, real sequencing switches and twice the sequence length.

    The Volca is a high-end consumer music gadget. This looks like it will be a budget pro box.

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    1. Honestly, I was looking forward to this, but the sound quality just isn’t there. The Volca beats is 50 bucks cheaper and sounds much better.

      Why did Akai put out a video like this? Is this the finished product? After so much hype and anticipation, this just falls flat. Please Akai, do your homework.

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      1. Well, the video is titled test, so I can’t imagine it is a final product. I’m happy they decided to put SOMETHING out, considering there was talk on Gearslutz about Akai inventing the Wolf as a marketing distraction from Roland’s Aira line at Messe – and nothing more. Until now, I wasn’t convinced that this was actually going to be a thing.

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    2. you have no idea what you’re talking about. The volca beats kills this thing. I have the beats and i’d buy this too if it were any good. the beats is amazing and one of the best designed pieces of hardware to come out in years. i’m sick of n00bz who don’t know anything about production calling innovative hardware a toy because it’s done cheaply. korg could charge at least twice what the beats is selling for and it would stiil be a good deal. don’t try to tell me you’ve used one because i know you haven’t. everyone who has has changed their tune.

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      1. I was SUPER skeptical about the volca beats until I got my hands on one a friend had. Then I had to get myself one. It’s actually encouraged me to move away from the computer and start getting interested in hardware again. It’s absolutely ridiculous how inexpensive it is.

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      2. “the beats is amazing and one of the best designed pieces of hardware to come out in years. i’m sick of n00bz who don’t know anything about production calling innovative hardware a toy because it’s done cheaply. ”

        user4600

        The Beats is a nice cheap gadget, but if you think it’s pro quality or even just ‘quality’ construction, you must not have any experience with any Roland boxes, Korg’s own Electribes or pro music gear in general. The Volca Beats are made ultra cheaply, and it shows.

        And have you forgotten about the Beat’s lousy snare – which you can fix by adding the part that they left off the circuit board? Or how noisy the thing is?

        Again – the Volca Beats is great for what it is – a high-end consumer gadget, but it’s not pro music gear by any leap of the imagination.

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        1. pro gear is gear used by a pro. yes the construction is cheap. yes it’s noisy. yes it’s not anywhere near the quality of an electribe. know what else is cheap and noisy? the ms20 reissue. and just like the beats it kills. if you use the beats like a pro it’s pro. no the quality won’t ever be good, and no it wouldn’t be my drum machine of choice if i had alot of money to spend. but ‘consumer gadget’ is a flip camera or a portable dvd player. a musical instrument is not a consumer gadget. and the volca beats can be as musical or more than most any other drum machine under $500. the creativity you bring to it is what makes it musical. and i never said it was pro, i said it’s not a toy.

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        2. I find these conversations hilarious, knowing how the 303/808 were considered cheap crap by most people when they were released.

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        3. I have a volca beats. I’ve not only used it in live performances (a paying gig, meaning I’m a professional), but I also have used it on an upcoming release…as the MAIN drum sounds. Proper perspective (and EQ) are sometimes all it takes to make something ‘pro.’

          I am digging the Rhythm Wolf for the Hi-hats and the sequencer…and the bassline sounds like there’s some work that can be done with it (though the basslines the performer was creating weren’t to my own liking).

          A DX100 isn’t a ‘pro’ piece of gear, yet for some reason its plastic casing and guitar strap-buttoned, mini-keyed self became the backbone of some of the most seminal releases in Dance music history. I love Korg for building something that works quite well and less than $300, and they have been a pleasure to work with on questions (they also come with a 1 year warranty against defect-which they actually honor).

          Noise is something that is still a subjective issue. Some like a little noise-I’m not opposed to it. To each their own. Not all of us have thousands to spend on a Macbeth synth or a vintage 808…some of us ‘professionals’ look for things that are light, portable and give a unique character.

          I’m off to go play with my battery-operated toys.

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        4. Made cheaply? Yes. I would hardly say the Volca it isn’t pro quality with what you can do with it though. It’s not an 808 or a Tempest, but it delivers what it promises and it does it well. The Rhythm Wolf has more pro looking hardware, but the sound quality in this video at least is definitely lacking when I A/B it with the Volca sounds.

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  4. At first when watching this video: Dissapointed !

    Discovering this demo is from AKAI themself: Really dissapointed.

    I truly wanted to like this product, but this sounds awful :/ Why put up such a bad demo ?

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  5. I hope that they follow Korg’s lead and make this mod-friendly.

    This is a steal, but I’d love to see individual outs on the drum sounds.

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  6. I’ll reserve judgement until I hear it in person, as some of the early Volca demos sounded dire. I wonder if it’s going to be as easy to mod as the Volca range.

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  7. Sounds fine, just needs a lil’ distortion and compression. It’s super cheap, I hope the quality is good and the labor conditions are not horrible.

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  8. Great price, but, all the sounds sound a bit flat to me IMO. There’s no character. The price tag alone is not going to attract people i think. It’s gotta offer something BEYOND the novelty of having analogue circuitry. Its gotta sound decent. 😛

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  9. I’m in the market for something around this price point, and it’s either this or an old Electribe ER-1 (or mkII). They are more or less the same thing, but I like the gate trigger on the Wolf. I’ll wait to see a Sonic State review before I make any final decisions.

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    1. This looks way better than a ER-1. ER-1 never really delivered any analog ‘umph’.

      Also, weren’t the Electribe’s $300-400 when they were new?

      I’m looking forward to hearing more from this.

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      1. the er1 can make a much wider range of sounds though, quite different sounds than the rhythm wolf, i feel like they would complement each other well

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  10. I think it sounds rubbbish. Ask yourself this, if you were given a drum rack in ableton with those sounds with the ability to change parameters like this can, would you honestly even give that snare or kick or bass another look? Id personally rather use a 909 sample pack. It sounds like it would need a tonne of eq just to sit right.

    This may be ok for the enthusiast who does music as a hobby and jams in his bedroom, but I think youd be hard pressed to make this sound good on a record.

    The other question is: is it even worth using on a record or are you all just frothing cos it says analog?

    Either way, poor sound is poor sound at any price

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  11. Looks good for the price. But with the dedicated outs for the drums and bass, is that one output per drum + bass (which would be really nice), or just a stereo out for all drums and another for the bass?

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    1. Stereo, bass on the left and drums on the right. Word is that it will be easy to mod and the large size of the box relative to something the Volca units will certainly help with that.

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  12. I listened to this on headphones a few times and I don’t think it sounds that bad for the price it’s offered at. Looks like a sturdy, fun to play with box with decent sounds. The bass is a joke, but using it to sequence a proper synth has a lot of potential, and I think the drums have WAY more potential to be beefed up by effects than the volca beats can be. Stick it through a low pass filter with a compressor and some distortion and you have something that can probably beat pretty hard. People expect to much from single units these days…

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  13. I read the comments before I listened unfortunately, and was expecting something like it was described (flat / not that great).

    I am using Grado SR60s for headphones, and this machine sounds really good to me…? What is everyone else listening to this with? It sounds unique and seems to have a wide array of tweakability on the drums (though not showcased that much here). Everything is nice and punchy. Not trying to be inflammatory, I was just pleasantly surprised…

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    1. Yeah, sounds good on my KRK’s.

      I really like the old-school analog drum sounds of people like Kraftwerk and the normal, though, and this sounds like it’s going for that vintage vibe.

      Remember people – even a real 808 sounds different than the 808 that you’re used to hearing. First time I heard a real 808 I was like ‘is that it’, until I saw how people used it.

      I’m interested in learning more about the individual outs. To me, the individual outputs on old-school drum machines are their most important feature.

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  14. wow , just buy an old yamaha DD Drum series ! for 20$ and some circuit bends u get both aira roland and wolf akai !

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  15. Well… i like the metalic feel in hi-hats, but in overall, the whole thing sound a little too dull, what a pitty. its maybe just low-quality video. The snares are definitelly bad: just a scrambled white-noise, with no edge, no crisp, no character. Kick may get job done, but its average.

    but there is still a big if: volca beats without hacking sounds squishy bad as well without some circuit bending… maybe this will be easy hackable as well and with some capacitor replacement we can get some serious sound…. time will tell, although: nice to see the demo and what’s this is all about.

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  16. The jury is out on this til we hear more demos!

    Kudos to Akai for doing a $200 analog drum machine, though! This proves it can be done!

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  17. Well it sounds like it’s worth $199.

    Hoping for some awesome mods as this is completely within my budget.

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  18. So love the setup and functionality of this machine but if it had the the capability to sequence samples from an SD card then I would freak. Does anyone know of any sequencers that are samplers as well?

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    1. People like to complain that it is too expensive or ‘for hipsters’, but the Teenage Engineering OP-1 is pretty amazing in the sampling/sequencing department. It’s got some really far out sequencer options and wild fx, too.

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  19. Quite disappointing, that, unless the idea was to showcase a static middle of the road approach to electronic drums. Granted, just a test, not showing all of the sounds’ potential, recorded into a Macbook, all that – what I found unnerving was the total lack of character in there, even when the parameters were being tweaked. No parameter lock to the rescue either, right? Wolf my ass. Come on Akai, make a proper demo or a proper product.

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  20. May I ask why people drool over second rate “analog gear” ?
    The Kawai XD-5 kills this in everyday imaginable if you have decent sequencer.
    Ditto the Nord Drum 2.
    A second hand R8 (with cards or Yamaha RY30 both of which would give you way more mileage also.
    Strange days indeed,

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  21. Does everybody who’s slamming this box work for Korg or something?
    Sounds absolutely fine to me!
    Snare is bigger & noisier than the Volca (I have one) which is what most peeps moan about it.
    For $200 these boxes are both great!
    If you want something more versatile go buy a used Jomox & quit yer whining…..
    I’ll buy one no probs.

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  22. “sounds like crap” compared to what? your samples? some wet dream of a distorted 909?
    okay, maybe it is too generic to be a go-to studio tool; but I don’t believe that’s the Wolf’s M.O.

    this is a wicked awesome groovebox

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    1. Sounds pretty average compared too Maschine, Korg Er1 MkII, Kawai XD5, Nord Drum, the modelled drums in Tassman, percussion synthesis on the Monomachine & Analog 4 or older drum machines like the R8, RY30, an MPC loaded with a good custom library, the Roland TR8 and a few other cheap options I could mention like a 4 operator fm synth and a hard or soft sampler or even something like a Waldorf Micro Q.
      There are lots of low cost alternatives that won’t break the bank that would yield better results IMHO but hey it’s a free world and if this floats your boat who am I to argue otherwise.

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        1. Nord Drum 1 , Kawai XD5, R8, RY30, 4op Dx, Electribe ER 1 MkIII and older Hardwsre Samplers for example can all be found for under $300.

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  23. Separate outs for the drums and synth:
    Run the drums through a compressor, EQ and verb.
    Run the bass synth trough a fuzz and a delay.
    Recombine on mixer channels and send to speakers.
    Can’t wait!

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  24. Seems maybe people were expecting a lot for 200… im not going to buy it and wasnt looking forward to it… but i dont think its that bad… kick seems more midrangey than say the volca, snare is flat and washed out not snappy (but thats just its sound it seems), rim sounds good but was overbearing in that demo, i think the hats sound really good… really terrible demo video tbh… i think 75% of people want a TR clone in every machine… i dont want it but it seems good for 200 to me…

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  25. Disappointing. Since they were going for a low price point to begin with, they should have left out the bass synth (replaced it with extra DRUM features) and concentrated on just making the drum machine as best as it could be instead of trying to be everything to everybody. The fact that this has “metallic percussion” but not a CLAP seems like an unforgivable oversight. Missed opportunity.

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    1. yeah i agree… the groovebox idea, adding the bass synth was not optimal i think… like you say better to have another drum element… its cheap, its ok that it only does one thing…

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  26. The sound of this demo is very promising! It sounds very pleasing to me, like a modern day budget 808 without trying to be anything modern, just doing its job as it should. Finally!

    Going to get this and sync to my TT303 Bass Bot for sure! 🙂

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  27. I been waiting for this, hoping it’s gonna be a good one.
    And it is! I’ve got a Volca beats (which i do still love), yes the snare isn’t the best but the clap makes up for it and the kick slams. And it’s got more percussion than this. But this wins with the interface, and the bass is much better than the Volca bass imo, it even sounds more like a 303 than the volca, with a bit of swing on it. Throw some distortion on it, and i think it will be bitchin. But please everyone, don’t buy it and tell everyone it sucks, cos i’ll be getting one for sure. I might even trade it the Volca!?!?! Nah, probably not…

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  28. i would have loved to toss in the bass sound for a clap and some toms to round it out and make it “House-able”. seems like its trying to be jack of all trades but appears to be master of none.

    having said that, if all the sounds are analog then i rekkon i could mod them to make them better 😉

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  29. Ok, this is the first thing your potential market is going to see/hear. Why would they record it straight to a macbook without a proper audio interface? Also what’s up with the filter on the bass not going above 2khz? I’d feel ashamed of myself making a video like this or having to try and sell it. Akai wants to dip their toes in the analog market, but they forgot to make it sound good.

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    1. I wouldn’t say Akai are “dipping their toe’ into the analogue market, given they made plenty of analogue kit in the past, including the magnificent VX 600 (one of the synths I lust over most)

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  30. This is not 200 USD, but 200 EUR in my country. For that price you can get used volca beats AND bass and you have perfect acid combo. Hell you can even get something like DR110 (or TR505 or DR660) and monotribe and it still sounds better. This is a disappointment, bass sounds like worst VA 303 emulation. The only interesting thing is kick. And you can get two MBASE01 for the price of this.

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  31. Now really,… this retro looking box did not show much in these videos. Pretty cheesy sounds. Might have powerful low end but in total I do not know whay I would need this box beside a Motif XF, NI KOMPLETE ULTIMATE and NI Maschine…

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  32. I have no strong opinions on the sound, but the name reminds me of that execrable Coors “Beer Wolf” ad campaign from 20 years ago. Whoever thought that was a good idea should have their marketing license revoked.

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  33. Why must every drum machine video demo start with quarter notes on the kick at 120? And if you’re going to put a bass line, can you please use good notes instead of random weird lines?

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    1. Because most people buying it will make music built around “quarter notes on the kick at 120”.

      Just sayin’.

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  34. It looks interesting but there’s no way I would make any kind of judgement based on these videos. The presentation is too distracting (Can I see the front panel please??) and the sound quality is not very good.

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  35. What a pity: extremely boring videos. extremely boring concept and sound… hellllooooo! We dont want another 808 909 303 !!!! We want a new, other and fresh sound. Is this really so complicated… Good bye Akai.

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    1. “We dont want another 808 909 303 !!!! ”

      And yet everybody complains when new drum machines “don’t sound 808/909 enough”….

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  36. Nothing spectacular in the video. I imagine if you had a good selection of quality effects units and pedals you could work something interesting with the raw sound if it.

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  37. this is pretty anticlimactic.
    funny thing is – affordable analog drum boxes are a thing for some time now.
    MFB 503, 522, all sound bloody great and can be had for just above 100€.

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    1. Most of them lack accents though, and this finally has ACCENTS and also it sounds just normal, not crisp or flat or anything, just what a random drumcomputer should sound like. I’m so glad Akai is taking this step of keeping the spirit alive instead of trying to create some hip cult nobody wants to listen as Korg did.

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  38. huh, that was interesting. doesn’t sound like a tr-x0x at all (or like its trying to be). don’t know what I think about it. might be worth it just for the sequencer.

    also, the people repping the mfb boxes must not have tried to use one. sounded great, sync was so bad on my mfb 522 as to be totally unusable. plus the interface was painful. someone else up there mentioned a dr-110, great sounding box, sync out, no sync in, bizarre interface. I would argue playability and the ability to use an instrument with others is often more important than sound. This is why the electribes, volcas, and monotribe are so excellent. this looks very nice is that respect.

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  39. The kick has no balls…. sure they gave it bass, but the kickdrum punches like a 2 year old on tranquilizers. The rest of the analog sounds are typical, but not anything that grabs the ear. Some people might have a good use for it, but it’s too niche and not enough punch to it for me.

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  40. Great to hear the Rhythm Wolf; warm natural sound with a woody tone…much better than I had expected…
    Rhythm Wolf is smooth (boring???;-) vintage and the Volca Bass is edgy acid (Vive la difference)…
    The Wolf is a low cost TB303 plus drums and the Volca is a low cost Korg MonoSynth plus sequencer.
    (as for MFB522 sync issues, holding the play button down while powering on to switch between ext and int sync worked fine on mine…)

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  41. Inital pre-orders have shipped and guys on GearSlutz are reporting a number of quality issues. The bass is consistently out of tune and can’t seem to get in to tune. A few other reports of the main out going bad. This is after like two days.

    Not good.

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