AKAI Timbre Wolf Analog Synthesizer (Video Preview)

This video, via perfectcircuitaudio, previews the Akai Timbre Wolf – a new analog 4-voice polyphonic synthesizer.

The Timbre Wolf is unusual in that it can be configured in multiple different modes:

  • You can use the Timbre Wolf as four individual monophonic synthesizers;
  • A 4-voice unison monophonic synthesizer, or
  • As a 4-voice polyphonic synthesizer.

Because it has separate controls for each synth voice, you can independently customize the sound of each voice as you play.

The Timbre Wolf also offers a 32-step sequencer that can be programmed individually per voice, allowing each of the four voices to have its own stepped sequence that can be played simultaneously.

Each voice also has its own independent filter settings and tuning that can be adjusted individually, and each voice can also transmit its own MIDI messages for a wide range of routing possibilities.

There are also four individual outputs so you can route out individual sequences, or use a sum of all four voices from the master output.

There’??s a gate trigger In/Out that will allow you to trigger sequences via modular synths, vintage sequencers, or external sound sources.

Features

  • 3 Modes of playing – 4 mono synths, a 4-voice unison or a 4-voice polysynth
  • Independently customize the sound of each voice as you play
  • 32-step sequencer for each voice
  • Professional-quality 25-key custom Akai Pro keyboard
  • Gate trigger In/Out, for triggering sequences via modular synths, vintage sequencers or external sound sources

The Timbre Wolf has a street price of about US $500.

77 thoughts on “AKAI Timbre Wolf Analog Synthesizer (Video Preview)

  1. I suppose for £295 you get what you pay for but with the sequencer per voice it does add value and extra utility that the competition in its price range don’t.

  2. Wow, I thought AKAI completely abandoned this! Four rhythm wolves in a box, woohoo :/
    On a positive note the electric piano sound at 0:56 is actually pretty nice, kudos to perfect circuit for figuring it out

      1. It sounds ok. It’d be a great first synth. The sequencer is a definite plus. But I’d hope it was a bit cheaper. Microbrute sounds better to me, I’d be spending my money there (for a first synth)

    1. Snide comments like this add nothing to Synthtopia. By all means critique something in specific terms, eg the oscillators sound thin or the self-oscillation on the filters are tame or you don’t like the physical design or whatever. I found the demo a bit tame myself, suggesting that this is like the synth version of the cheap starter guitar – it works, you can make music with it, but it doesn’t seem to have much tonal depth.

      But when you leave posts like ‘worst synth ever made’ I just hear them in the voice of the ‘comic book guy’ from The Simpsons – ie a self-absorbed jerk whose opinions don’t matter. Perhaps you were trying to be ironic/sarcastic, but we have more than enough of that to go around already. I’m not saying your opinion must be positive, but please consider making it substantive.

      1. Yep – most useless comment ever from thug.

        I can think of a lot worse synths for a lot more money.

        This is the one of the only multitimbral keyboards I can think of, except for the JDXI mini synth, in this price range.

  3. It sounds like they’ve gotten the tuning/scaling issues under control.

    If they have, this will be a killer box for people that know what to do with it.

    Not really a powerful poly synth, but a cool multitimbral sound module that can also double as a cheap poly.

    1. My very least favorite thing that synth nerds do (besides buying expensive equipment and making awful music with it), is putting down inexpensive instruments and recommending gear that costs three times as much. Honestly, I think the demo sounded pretty good (thanks in no small part to some pretty alright playing, the synth itself just sounds kind of serviceable), and I’d rather listen to this video again than most of the shit people make with their $10k eurorack setups.

      Now, a better suggestion would have been for someone to get a micro or minibrute in place of this, unless they *really* need a polyphonic bass synth for some reason.

  4. People can say what they want. I will be buying one I’ve got a lot of ideas in mind for how this will fit into my larger setup. People who are genuinely creative will know how to use this, people slating it as the worst synth ever just strike me as stuck in there ways ‘if it’s not some kind of variation on a 40 year old design’ kind of people. Get some creativity these will be considered like 303 in ten years. History repeats

    1. The problem I have with it is the feature set for the price and the sound capabilities.

      I could take that same money and buy a Arturia Minibrute or a Novation Bass Station 2, both of which are capable of producing a far greater range of tones. Yes they’re not poly, but they have actual ADSR’s, LFO’s, switchable filter settings, etc. The Timbre Wolf in unison mode doesn’t even have a way to sweep the filters on all 4 oscillators at once (unless you use four hands). It’s not about sticking to conventions, it’s about giving me the flexibility to tweak and explore, which this synth lacks in many areas other than its sequencing of the 4 oscillators independently.

      1. You’re obsessing about what it wasn’t designed to do, instead of what it was designed to do.

        The MiniBrute and Bass Station are never going to sound four oscillators fat, or play a sequence while you layer chords on top, or do a 4-part chord with one key, or serve as a multi timbal sound module.

        There are a lot of great polysynths that have very basic synthesis capabilities, like the Alpha Jiuno. Specs matter less than doing it well.

    2. Yea. I like how you underhandedly insult peoples creativity for not “knowing how to use this.” It’s doesn’t deserve the hate, but come on man… Creativity is not about the tools. You think Hanz Zimmer is going to use this? Amon Tobin? Oh right… Those guys aren’t creative.

  5. If the filter could be key tracked, it would sound so much better!

    That filter stays parked and makes higher notes sound dull.

    Aside from the lack of key tracking, this sounds much better than the tradeshow.

  6. I think this synth has a very high educational value. I mean you can learn to avoid crappy gear. But knowledge comes at a cost – $500 in this case.

  7. After being stupid enough to jump into buying an MPX16, which is still staring at me basically unused on my desk, I can honestly say I will never touch another piece of Akai gear ever again. So poorely supported and with such poor customer feedback that it boggles the mind how they are still duping people.

    1. I kinda like the “howl” distortion… After all, what is “good” or “bad”? Its noise! Maybe put it trough an EQ/Compressor/Harmonizer/Whatever Guitar pedal, add some reverb and listen.

  8. Well thanks a lot Akai, you’ve set the analog vs digital debate back by about ten years..

    You can actually get better synth sounds than this inside your web browser, for free..

    I just hope that the kids who buy this don’t get put off making music for life..

    Once again, well played chaps!

  9. “I just hope that the kids who buy this don’t get put off making music for life”

    Well, maybe that wouldn’t be such a terrible thing..? I mean, if they’re not savvy enough to do some research and see what else is out there at this price point, maybe they shouldn’t be making music in the first place…

    1. Or… you know, savvy enough to sit with it for more than 10 minutes and actually discover the potential in this thing. It sounds like a perfectly usable instrument that I’m seriously considering buying. I feel like people are still riding the hate train started by the NAMM videos without even watching this demo.

    1. You can’t think of something to do with a 4-voice poly timbal analog synth with individual outs for the price of a microKorg?

      This is no Analog Four, but it is 1/3 the price. I can see a lot of people using this for what it is at the price. $415 at some online stores.

      1. It’s definitely word springing for a used Tetra. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a synth that sounded so clearly bad as this. And not in a charming casio way. It’s strange.

  10. i don’t think this is as bad as most people make it out to be., but it seems like akai couldn’t decide if they wanted to make a decent poly synth or a real sequencer/acid box. Pulse width mod and a full ADSR would make this a nice poly. A better filter and a bit more on the sequencing side would make it a good acid machine. Tries to be a jack of all trades and ends up being a master of none.

  11. Nice demo and an interesting little synth. Looks like they did this one right.

    For $500, it’s this or mini synths like the JDXI or the MiniNova, and this is way more interesting.

    This is basically the poor man’s 4-Voice, with very basic synth voices.

    If you can’t make some fat sounding sounds with four analog oscillators, it’s time to give it up and try another hobby.

  12. Its probably worth reiterating but even if you think this is really versatile and at a great price and has just what you are looking for in an analog synth hold your horses and wait. Guaranteed bugs, poor support and bad build quality. Akai are churning out products but as opposed to Korg they’re not supporting them at all. At least wait a few months to see if they release firmware for the inevitable bugs and then play one in a shop and then consider buying.

    1. I don’t know. It’s not like it actually sounds good or anything. Seems to me that most of us just know a lemon when we hear one – why not call it out?

      1. No, trolls just think alike.

        There’s always a dozen people that complain about any new keyboard that doesn’t come frome DSI or Moog. And if it does come from one of them, you get a dozen people complaining about them being ripoffs.

        The only comments that make sense are the ones from people smart enough to consider what a piece of gear might be used for.

  13. Is each voice super limited? Yes. Would I buy something like this? Never.
    Do I respect that they actually tried something different? Definately!
    Kids: don’t buy this as your first synth! Get a Roland System-1 or wait for the Roland Boutique if you need analog sounding polyphony. BTW, for the price of this you can get a used real synth on ebay.

  14. well I don’t hate it as much as I used to but it has a kind of polyphonic monotron vibe which isn’t ticking off any boxes I need ticked. For the money I’d say a Minibrute or a Bass station 2 is a better investment. If this was $300 and marketed as an analog alternative to the Roland boutiques then they’d sell more of them I suppose.
    I don’t know maybe my Rhythm Wolf burn just hasn’t healed yet.

  15. I think they just hate everything and want to die, and can’t tear themselves away from themselves.this synth is a nice addition to the…….fat market….(I like the way the extremes come together?..)the analogues , lead, bass, monophonic, etc -fats maybe little or no presets or 100 or under for sure….like 64 sometimes….I know what I am talking about but it is synths not the void-
    Fat and Beat
    the groove: many program,or hundred or 100’s- of presets…. arpeggios,sequencers, polyphonic, fm’s….
    a very nice market indeed…….Fat.& Beat.and some are thin or almost transparent….right to KAOSS

    1. the well groomed paste allocates the shade. the roll details the wandering opinion.
      fat market groove examines?
      not for sure the mist tracks the memory.
      arpeggio. melody… beat fat market something
      right to be an incoherent twat.

  16. the fact that so many people are slagging this synth kind of makes me want to buy it. There was a lot of hate for the p12, and it’s probably my favorite synth out of the 30+ that I own. I love Perfect Circuit and have gotten some really great deals from them, but their demos are not the best. Check out the Korg Prophecy demo as an example. I echo previous posts that creative individuals will make good use of this thing. Avoid herd mentality. It is boring.

  17. Sick analogue sound. Sequencer is nice. Don’t understand the haters.

    Granted, the previous model had tuning issues and the drum boxes couldn’t compete with the korg beats…

    This synth is not for me, but no doubt in my mind that put in the right hands this can see its involvement in dope tracks.

    And I can’t help the feeling that people trust and regurgitate forum comments before using their own ears. Could be wrong. I often am.

    1. It may be analog, but it still sounds dull to my ears. Could be the lack of key tracking on the filter, which would be really dumb.

  18. Last Akai product I’ll ever buy was the EIE pro, which is currently holding a door open in my apt. It was a good lesson in how this company doesn’t support their equipment (after waiting almost 6 months for new os drivers) and has piss poor customer service. I’ll spend my $ somewhere else

  19. Listen, it’s a cool affordable synth that does a lot of things that others in the same price range and even above don’t do. Everyone here that’s complaining about it and writing it off before they get their grubby little hands on it are morons. You people have asked time and time and time and time again on this site for companies to make cheap analog poly synths. Well guess what?!? They did! Still not impressed?!? Good you shouldn’t be. What part of your brain thought making an analog poly synth that costs so little was going to yield a synth of epic proportions?!? It seems like a fun quirky synth….pretty much like every synth ever made.

    1. So true – people always complain when Dave Smith or Moog intros a great new synth – with full size keys and metal and wood construction and great sound – that they are rip offs and someone should build a cheap analog.

      Here it looks like they’ve done just that – built a well-made analog poly. For less than a MiniBrute, they are making a 4- voice multi timbal synth. Seems sick as fuck to me!

  20. The ironic thing about this forum is that people will pile on the hate when a company releases something that doesn’t match their expectations of what a synth should be, but then at the same time will praise the wild sonic possibilities of some new DIY noise box that has very few features and an awful squelchy sound.

  21. Judging by a single demo video only may be too fast to draw a conclusion but the sound is generally uninspiring, especially the poly mode (there’re some good ones though) however the spec sheet is awesome for the price…

  22. I thought it sounded alright and seemed reasonably priced for what it is. Certainly shows more promise than its predecessor. But “haters gonna hate” as the kids say.

  23. It sounds okay, and you surely don’t get any other new poly-analog for 300 euros, with big keys… but still, I’d save that money for a more serious poly, or would buy a good analog mono or a va poly instead.
    Actually, the Volca Keys beats this synth in some areas, and that is only 1/3 of the price.

  24. Hmmm let’s see….copy sarcastic response to Rhythm Wolf hate thread….paste….

    Oh no! It’s a different take from what others are doing. Oh no! It sounds different too. Why can’t they read my mind and those of the other sheeples! Fall down…..fart.

  25. no offense haters, I actually kinda like it – it is just that the price tag is too high for what it is…if it was more like 300, I would be thinking about it

  26. Did someone mention that it sends midi on all its parameters? If this is so means that this is basically programmable, the one bug bear I have with this synth :/ If your going to do a poly with this many controls its GOT to be programmable or what a freakn nightmare to use professionally. In the back of my mind me thinks no to midi send as it would b costly, perhaps on the mk2 aye Akai….

  27. Look….. NO it doesn’t sound that great… not dreadful just not great…. and YES it’s really limited in what you can do sound creation-wise….. but it’s cheap… and the MAIN thing is that at least they’re trying to do something a bit different at this price point…. It’s not for me AT ALL… but I can see some people that will do some clever things with one of these…. and for all of you haters out there I was around when the 303 came out… EVERYONE came down on it like a ton of bricks because it DID (and still does) sound shit….. and look at the reverence that THEY’RE treated with now????!!!! Just saying…..

  28. I agree it never sounds like they get the filter fully open but I would like to play one and maybe put it through a few effects before I discarded it outright. Cheap four voice poly with a keybed would have uses for me. Mind you for the price I’d probably just buy the reface CS.

  29. an all-time low for Akai right here. god-awful sounding oscillators with almost no variance in sound, lame filters, just a car-crash of a product.

    when Akai releases this kinda rubbish it undermines the perceived quality of their otherwise decent controllers and other products. FAIL

  30. I loved my Poly800…for a first synth it was reasonably simple and fascinating to create rock hard or silky sounds and alien soundscapes. I’d take my old Poly800 any day over this monotonous, uninspiring and very disappointing synth.

  31. It is what it is, seems fine to me. It is an instrument no better or worse than any other. It is the artists duty to bring it to life by finding its role in the big picture. In an era of digital FX, this board would be a good base. I’m already thinking up a ton of uses for this one. The haters are helping keep the price down. Thanks!

  32. Thanks to all these haters I have just picked one up 2nd hand for next to nothing. Ignoring the limited sound control options this is, actually, rather a neat little box of tricks, especially if you have a small modular or semi-modular. I bought it simply as a sequencer but can see that, by using the separate outs, I can run these “oscillators” through various modules on my modular thus adding envelopes and more. This isn’t the way it was meant to be used but at the very low 2nd hand price it’s an absolute bargain…

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