Akai Pro Tom Cat Drum Machine Hands-On Demo

This video, via HardtekStudios, captures a demo of the sound of the Akai Pro Tom Cat drum machine.

It’s not a technical overview, but instead focuses on exploring the tweakability of the Tom Cat’s sounds. 

The Tom Cat is a true analog drum machine with five percussion voices: kick, snare, and clap sounds, with chromatically tunable Disco Toms.

All sounds are from the Tom Cat, with no external processing.

41 thoughts on “Akai Pro Tom Cat Drum Machine Hands-On Demo

  1. Give me a C
    Give me a R
    Give me an A
    Give me a P

    How comes that they have been able to sell any of these ? The sound of this bitzva is worse than anything I have heard before. The bossanova rythm of my little nephew’s PSR sounds better than this.

  2. they really should focus on the stuff they built in the 80s and stop everything else, this is just embarassing. year after year even more.

  3. I actually like it for what it is, sort of half-baked somewhat badly designed analog drum voices. The kind of stuff you wouldn’t really get from a typical (digital) drum machine/sampler/sequencer. The drum voices actually sound useable to me in the context of electronic music. I’d be interested for $100 to $150 2nd hand (sells for $200 now), maybe I’ll look.
    I’m certainly no Akai fanboy, their attempt at analog bass synth with rhythm wolf and timbre wolf was atrocious.

    1. I agree – if the price came down I would totally get one – it would be a great “electronic percussion” machine – everyone tries to compare it to more high end things but that isn’t what it is

  4. For certain kinds of music, that sound totally usable. Not nearly as bad as the other Akai analog offerings. The tom fills sound cool as f.

  5. I played with one of these at Guitar Center last week for quite some time and i have to say the sounds are pretty weak and uninspiring…

  6. Seems like Akai are continuing in a long tradition of being only good at one thing, Old School samplers like the famed S series and MPC, and sucking at everything else. This is not their first foray outside of their traditional product line and those instruments were pretty shit also. Why this is so and why they haven’t improved in the 25 years, since those instruments were produced, is anyone’s guess.

    1. Well for one thing they aren’t the same company they were 25 years ago. They were bought by inMusic years ago and the people making it aren’t the same and they probably aren’t putting the same time and quality in.

    2. The MPC guys and the new guys are as different as left is from right…

      You can’t even mention these new developer with the old ones…

      It’s like basketball, the new LA Lakers vs The old.

  7. I feel that this needs some kind of Slipknot based endorsement to reassure me as to its proper credentials. Until this happens I have some doubts.

  8. Eek. I mean, I could maybe imagine using those sounds on like one song, but I think if you had two songs like that on an album there would be a crowd with pitchforks.

    This is a one-trick-poney that makes me regret all the other times I’ve used that phrase.


  9. If only they spent as much time on the guts as they did the drum machine case. dumb sounding for that much money and they made two worthless models instead of making one that sounded good. COMEON Akai “professional”

  10. Though it’s the proverbial apples and oranges between hardware and iPads the latter offers an obscene amount more sonic possibility on every level to (things like) the Tom Cat. Though maybe “More” is not the point here and being hands-on is.

    At one point I had a Drumulator as my only percussion source and enjoyed it greatly however unlike now there weren’t umpteen other choices for relatively dirt cheap that are arguably just as fun and more capable so the question is (in my mind at least): can Hands On trump the plethora of other options in todays bountiful climate?

  11. It seems to me that you can at least still use it as a basic midi drum sequencer and controller for cheap ..with extra cheese. I’d consider that for sure.

  12. Remember how many people thought the Roland drum machines and bass accompaniment synth was shit and no one wanted one, could buy brand new in a pawn shop for $50 shortly after they arrived on the market, now look at the prices and the 9345789347653845934758923475628457526456489276598476897549687546754789547675490465902433607575.5 and a half hardware and software emulations…..

    Its not always the equipment, but how its used that can turn shit into gold.

    1. Yeah, but now people are more gear savvy, and there are too many competing options for garbage like this to be presented in the market place. It’s fucking pathetic, to be frank.

      1. until someone makes this one track that everyone is like “OMG it amazing, how’d you get those drums like that…” and he/she is like “oh from this really crappy old vintage drum machine called a tom cat I picked up in a pawn shop for $2.50, I just ran it threw an old boss distortion pedal and then into ableton…”

        2 days later Tom Cats are gonna be $850 used at that same pawn shop…. and I’ll probably buy two


  13. I think it would probably be better used to make some down tempo beats at a lower BPM. I’d like to see a demo of something like that rather then random knob twiddling over a fairly static pattern.

  14. Yeah… I actually wanted to like it because I love cheap drum machines! But come on, my PO-12 Runs circles around it all day sound wise (best kick in a sub $500 synth easily) Even with no drum pads, and click in id rather use the PO any day.

    With stuff like the Volcas and the POs dominating the cheap end and the TR8 and recently price dropped machinedrum (having a hard time not buying one at $600) squeezing into the mid range I think its pretty clear that akai flubbed this one in pretty much every way. (An questionably priced unit with sound that is far inferior to stuff that is much cheaper)

    But thats sadly just par for the course right now. They don’t make a single good product since they killed the 1k and 2.5k and they stopped making the push.

    Maybe i’ll pick one up for $20 at a pawn shop in a decade, I might like it more then. 😉

  15. I don’t know if id even pay $50 for one of these, it is just so completely limited in sound. who cares if its analog when it offers so much nothing.

  16. Negative reviewers, what did you try using the Tom Cat for? For me, I have yet to find a competitor for this piece for my needs. It’s the only hardware drum synth and sequencer in which I can program pitch notes to a kick drum–which is actually the “disco toms” with the pitch and tune knobs down, and the decay maxed out. This is very popular in hip hop music at the moment. I believe it’s commonplace for those making music on the computer, but here I am doing it with this $165 drum machine. To me, the sound is also good overall. What am I missing? What’s an alternative that’s better? I believe the new MFB Tanzbar Lite can do this, but only via a midi signal? My plan was to use the Tom Cat until that came out, but at this point, I don’t want to lose the ability to program the trap-style bass drum pitch changes so easily. I suppose it’s worth noting, I do run my signal directly into Reaper for processing. I would not be able to use the Tom Cat’s audio in a recording without doing this, but I can’t imagine anyone would expect to do this with any drum analog drum machine.

  17. hahah I just bought one yesterday…$150 bucks. I sat playing with this and the DrumBrute for about an hour at the music store. Looked at my bank account, tried a few different pairs of headphones and decided that I actually liked the Tom Cat’s sound because it CAN sound really junky. The DrumBrute it was hard to make sound shitty or unexpected, or more importantly, different. Paired with a KP3 and some HP combo filter effects the results are pretty neato. the Kick controls on it is a little weird, the sweet spot requires some bloom just after the initial hit, you can decrease the decay so much that the actual depth of the kick is lost. All in all after jamming with it in a rig with a mopho keyboard, minilogue and KP3 I found I was able to spend less time dicking around with the beat and more playing with filters and arps on the synths and the effects on kp3 than trying the same old breaks that are drivien from the Electibe ESX effects and parameters. Simple and quirky with a trash factor that plays well against good analog sounds from synths. I like it.

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