Akai Pro Debuts Rhythm Wolf: Drum Machine & Bass Synth, With “Howl”

Akai_Pro_RhythmWolfMusikmesse 2014: Akai Professional today announced the Rhythm Wolf, an analog drum machine and bass synthesizer module with built-in sequencing.

The Rhythm Wolf is an authentic analog instrument that incorporates the sounds of early electronic and hip-hop music into the Akai Professional workflow, enabling musicians to harness “iconic” analog sounds for music production and performance.

The drum machine consists of five “tweakable” drum sounds and includes a kick, snare, open and closed hi-hat, and metallic percussion. On-board controls allow users to separately customize the tuning, amplitude envelopes, and volume of each drum voice for precise real-time adjustment.

The bass synthesizer features a selectable oscillator (sawtooth or square wave), classic filter design, a filter envelope with variable decay, and is capable of creating powerful bass sounds and “squelchy” leads.

The Rhythm Wolf is also outfitted with six MPC pads and a built-in 32-step sequencer, for a responsive interface with a familiar drum machine layout. Drum patterns can be fine-tuned with Swing function, pattern select, and tempo control knobs. A custom distortion signal path is activated by the Rhythm Wolf’s whimsically named “Howl” knob. It also has USB-MIDI, MIDI In/Out, a gate trigger, and the Rhythm Wolf integrates easily with both modern and vintage equipment.

Rhythm Wolf Highlights:

  • 5-voice analog drum machine and synth-authentic analog design that references classic rhythm machines and synthesizers
  • Legendary 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
  • Independent audio outputs: dedicated outputs for the drum machine and synth bass module for more precise mixing
  • Dedicated outputs for the drum machine and synth-bass

Pricing and Availability

Akai Pro’s Rhythm Wolf will be available worldwide later this summer, with a “street” price of US $199.99. For more information, check out the Akai Professional website.

150 thoughts on “Akai Pro Debuts Rhythm Wolf: Drum Machine & Bass Synth, With “Howl”

      1. I think that “Last Step” is the option to flexibly tell each sequencer track where it ends in order to create different lengths of patterns. So you can create different time signatures globally OR you can make diffent lenghts for each track so you creat polyrythmic patterns.

        But my question is: where was that said in the description that it has such function? The Akai Pro Site seems to be down, so I cant check it there.

          1. All reasonable things to take issue with. Not everyone can be a big, fat, bag of stupid fun like me. Specs at this price are blowing my mind.

            1. isn’t the name an allusion to one of the greatest blues singers of all time – the Howling Wolf? I find it an interesting reference – the wolf was known for an unbelievably “rootsy” and “raw” sound. Here’s hoping this thing delivers on that front.

  1. Hehe, might be good, but it does look like they are desperately trying to get rid of all the buttons they made for the iMPC case thing that was such a flop πŸ˜‰

  2. I didn’t see this coming … 200 bucks is also the perfect price. Maybe companies are starting to notice Korg’s recent trajectory and want in on the action.

    1. They used Wolf in its name and then gave it a Howl knob. While the naming on this thing is pure kitsch fun, it would have been even more fun if they had given it a HAL button for evil mode and a red eye.

      1. I think they are implying that this box will sound virtually identical to a certain other new box with “legendary sounds”, because in the end those sounds are 30 years old and not that hard to reproduce.

  3. Damn – SOLD! Even if you dont’ like the sound this box is large enough to make modding extremely practical. And $200?! Read it and weep Roland. Did not expect this from Akai, I am very very impressed.

      1. RYTM is 12 voices, 8 simultaneous, with multimode filter per voice, several voices have selectable analog engines like “analog FM bassdrum”, user loadable sample layering on each voice, analog compression, analog distortion, true analog stereo through, 64-step track length, chainable patterns, more outs, more pattern banks, built-in high quality reverb, etc, pads also send aftertouch, swing is variable in more steps…

        1. It’s actually 8 analog voices, 6 simultaneously. Also, all those features are great if you want/need them but Elektron and DSI should consider stripped down versions of their drum machines. Sometimes you just want good analog drum sounds. Also, for $1549 there should at least be an external sequencer on the AR. You could pay $2900 for an AR and A4 and still only be able to sequence one external piece of equipment via CV on the A4, unlike Machinedrum and Monomachine which would give you at least 10.

          1. Last time I checked my A4 had CV A/B/C/D and could actually CV gate sequence 2 analog devices at the same time.
            Monomachine only has 6 midi channels by the way – just thought I’d clarify.
            The MD could if you wanted to sequence on all Midi channels without using the internal engine but that would defeat the whole point of owning one.
            As a Monomachine owner I’d rather get a Nord Drum 2 over something like this for extra percussion work but I digress.

            1. I was saying you could get away with 4 from the MD and 6 with the MM hence 10. The A4 from what I remember does have 4 CV outs but only 1 track for CV sequencing, I haven’t much experience with it but that seemed to be the case. Regardless the AR could offer something in the way of sequencing .

        1. you are very, very right.
          its easy to get caught up in consumerism and loose perspective.
          good of you to bring this up. thanks.

        2. Lithium sucks in general, especially since the largest deposits reside in China and Afghanistan. Here’s the alternative we really need. I’ll bet Duracell is all over this one. I’d love to kiss the geopolitics of lithium goodbye because this totally changed the field. Cross your fingers….


    1. I’d be sold if it had a very basic sequencer in it like the Yamaha SU stuff or the Akai S20(I think that’s the one). I miss simple gear like that, it pushes the creativity out and gets the juices flowing for me.

  4. so unexpected. and very very cool.
    still – akai continues to employ colour blind designers.
    but at this price – it can be pink itΒ΄s gonna sell mad.

  5. for $200, it doesn’t have to be the best synth or drum machine on the market. seems like a great addition to any studio at that price – instant rhythmic or sonic texture.

  6. Please stop saying ‘shut up and take my money’. It wasn’t cool the first time someone said it and espesially not the 3000th time

    1. Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money! Shut up and take my money!

    2. futurama isn’t even funny. nerds have absolutely no sense of humor. fuck monty python while i’m at it too (nerds ruined it ages ago).

  7. Wow…Lets hope we are standing at a dawm of some more new all hardware gooveboxes, c’mon Korg dig up the Electribe series and I am in Hog Heaven !!

    1. I think we are. I’m definitely expecting a a Super Volca Beats or something within the next year from Korg. It’s nice to see more and more options for reasonably priced gear.

    2. I know! I wish Korg would make a new groove-sampler like an updated ES/ESX or something to complement the Volca series with a sampler. I would love an all-in-one sample beat box that I don’t have to bid for on ebay and that doesn’t cost $700 to $1600 (like Machinedrum,etc).

  8. It makes simple business sense for someone to come out with an analogue drum box. Geez!
    Roland and Elektron … ouch! that one is going to hurt.

  9. soooo yeah this is a definite. its basically whats missing from all the new lines of groove/rhythm/hell even synths that came out in last year, for a ridiculously awesome price.
    great specs… just great.

    1. only cosmetic quam i have is the silver/grey section – the wood cheeks make up for it plenty, and at the price I don’t mind painting.
      gate in and out… i just… awe….

  10. When is the analog hysteria going to stop ?
    No one has even heard the thing and it’s all OMGWTFBBQPPLSHUTUPANTANDKEMYMONEY !!!!!
    Unbelievable – after all the Roland moaners around here carried on like they did and Akai has had some of the worst customer follow up and support of any company I have purchased goods from in the last 20 years.
    But hey, OMG its Analog & Cheap.

    1. Damn, well said. If it sounds good, and I think it will, I’m all over it for that price but I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve heard bad analog, and great digital, apparently a lot of people haven’t. I also think the TR-8 sounds pretty damn good. It’s funny too because for a long time just about the only hardware drum machine that wasn’t vintage or a Boss Dr whatever, was the Machinedrum, and most people seem to agree it is a great machine (even before UW) and no one ever seems to care it’s digital and it certainly isn’t because it doesn’t sound digital, because it does. I don’t get it, I’ve got virtual analog synths that sound amazing and are more capable than plenty of analogs that people will pay out the ass for( all I can say is What Would Jexus Do?). Give me a Korg Z1 over a Korg/Arp Odyssey any day. Somehow Squarepusher seemed to be able to make plenty of tracks with a Boss Dr 550 but he’s just some goofy hack I guess. I will say that in most cases when it comes to mono synths I want analog (but I have deep love for The Prophecy) but I think there are plenty of great digital drum machines and poly synths

      1. I agree but 500 dollar differences buy you a lot of other things to go with it if it’s a decent sound.

        Right now my drums come from VSTs or high quality samples and no one has complained, so unless this sounds worse than that I’ll take the 500 dollar savings, the size difference and get some other cool stuff I can use live, which most people aren’t even going to use the Roland gear or this for.

      2. Indeed, couldn’t have put it better.
        I see people fawning over some seriously b-grade analog gear these days.
        I have seen many digital synths of a superb pedigree going for a pittance lately.
        Yamaha An1X, TG77, SY99, DX7IIFDe, RY30
        Korg Wavestation AD, Radias, Trition rack, Z1 & Prophecy, S3
        Kawai XD5 and K5000S
        Roland JD990, JD800, JV1080, JV20080, XV5080, D550. R8 Drum Machine, VSynth (orginal)
        And some of the older samplers like the E-Mu, Akai S Series, Roland S750 (which has superb filters) can all be had for an absolute steal right now. I’ve also noticed DCO based analogs tend to fetch lower prices and have seen JX10’s w/programmer going for rather good prices and Juno 1’s for less than $200 around the traps also.
        The mind boggles really and lets face it as you stated the Machinedrum is 100% digital and still one of the best drum machines on the market. Personally I wouldn’t buy anything from Akai post Numark acquisition era due to the absolutely shitty track record with product support.
        The MPC1000 wouldn’t be what it is without the JJOS – enough said really !!!!!!
        I’d still rather save up for something like a Jomox than get a piece like this and I’d get more mileage out of something like an E-Mu E6400 Ultra and Pittsburg Foundation Modular creatively also.
        I’ve actually got a Microbrute and MS20Mini that constantly get fed into an EMU Ultra sampler all three costing me less than $900 in total and offering way more flexibility for the outlay.
        No point in going on as I’ll only preach to the converted so i’ll just end this post with a 3 cheers for the Monomachine (one of my favourite synths ever).
        To all the digital detractors that post here go listen to this live set and tell me that it suffers any for not having a single analog element in it what so ever …………..

        100% Monomachine with the OT as a mixer and processing tool only – blows my tiny mind every time I listen to it.

        1. Very nice performance. The Monomachine is probably Elektron’s best machine and it’s unfortunately probably its least popular. That thing is is truly innovative. The A4 is really cool for what it is but I’d choose MM any day. You mentioned some of my favorite synths too. Still have my AN1x, would love another Z1 and one of my all time favorites is the Microwave XT. Also, Nord has some of the best drum sounds out of any synth, drum machine I’ve used ever used. Oh, and the OP-1!! Definitely my favorite synth in the past few years.

        2. I agree with the whole statement, the only caveat is the 200 dollar, almost intermediate guitar, level you can look at this thing (If it sounds alright) for live performing).

          There are two sides to the EDM coin, they are seriously out of balance right now, studio and live. People will say things like “I’m not bringing my *insert 1500-2000 dollar device here* to a bar or whatever” which makes those instruments studio magnets and there are a plethora of options not the least of which are VSTI’s at this point, but the cheap, non-budget breaking LIVE EDM P.A. instrument market is sorely underserved and it is represented in the lack of live performers nowaddays (coupled with promoters who don’t care to book them) the more VERY affordable instruments like this, the better for the live performance to get a kick in the rear. The new Roland stuff is probably the upper echelon of price range of “feeling ok if something happens”. There’s lots of talent out there, give all the income levels options and the industry and concert scene thrives, so unless this is just terrible the package of it is a very good step IMO and I hope more companies take it. and not the Volca territory, those are sort of almost too limited and cheap in a fisher Price sense but 200-350 dollar range instruments and not just midi gear will open up some new avenues for interesting shows, cause right now there’s a divide and I don’t blame people that won’t bring extremely expensive stuff out.

          Like who would ever perform with Moog Guitar unless they were a millionaire?

        3. I don’t mean to be rude, but please shut up. Prices are good because people online aren’t wanking over them. We don’t need more collectors and spectators killing the remaining deals out there.

          And really, let’s be honest, the digital stuff is only good if you feel like putting the time and effort in and most people won’t / don’t. They want analog that sounds like sample packs full of proven “good” sounds.

          1. Don’t dismiss sample packs too easily. I used to just hot-rod hardware synths with Boss pedals and the software alternatives are extremely close in tone, REAL close. Having worked with both, IMO, people are too demanding. There’s work and expense to consider when you pile up a lot of hardware. Finding a middle ground works best for me and its satisfying in several ways, so don’t ache for more gear too much. You probably have 90% of what you need sitting there right now. Most of what you will want is just three or four minutes of tweaking away.
            Easy for me to say, since I’m not a pad user. I flail away at it like Animal from Sesame Street too much.

  11. I don’t know what the bitching is about, I think it looks cool. The inclusion of MPC pads was a brilliant idea. Step sequencing on tic tacs is cool, but not so great for finger drumming. If this thing sounds good, AKAI has a huge win on their hands here. I can’t wait to play around with one.

  12. Low risk. Sports wood (real?). Got to support Akai Pro. It would be shame to see the brand name crumble away. Hope this is one of a whole series of new stuff from AKai Pro.

  13. Well, there goes $200 I guess. Pretty much no way I’m not going to buy this. My only concern is that the unusual pad setup (five in a row) may mean individual sensors like we saw on the original MPC1000, and a return of the dead pads issue. Not a huge deal, since I’ll be sequencing this from a 2000xl, but food for thought.

  14. It looks like a great deal at that price. I can wait to hear it in action.

    I have really been enjoying my Volca Beats, but I would really like a unit with slightly less noise and a 1/4 output.

  15. hate to be a skeptic but if this thing is so great why can’t I find any demo of it anywhere? not buying anything without hearing it.

    1. Relax, it was announced yesterday! And it’s going to premiere at MusicMesse in a matter of days, you’ll get 1,000 videos soon enough.

  16. I might have missed the comment if it were made, but has anyone noticed – No hand claps! Really? I would trade the on board “everyone will use it to death” bass synthesizer, for a hand clap any day. Not a huge complaint, however a very strange omission.

    1. I agree handclap is a strange omission. I was thinking about that last night. Who knows maybe they’ll introduce a pro version of this next time around and it’ll come with more voices.

    2. Hand clap is usually noise, maybe the metallic percussion can make some decent ones.
      @the bro
      If it’s cool and it works well for them we’ll have a bigger version. Akai always expand their concepts in vertical

    3. My guess is because claps are one of the harder things to synthesize.

      Tbh, I wouldn’t be surprised if this thing sounds like a Simmons synth drum or a Mattel synsonics or something. I know they have their fans, but they’re super simple sounds and not all that interesting to me.

    1. unless the flood of cheap analog junk getting dumped on the market signals the end of the craze and Roland actually timed it right and now people are going to start looking for good quality next-gen digital gear…

    1. …but, but, it’s ANALOG bro! who cares what it actually sounds like!!!

      I wonder if this is the release where analog has finally peaked…

      1. i think thats mostly the general excitement from the specs and price – ntm the only thing ‘hard to imagine’ would be the metallic noise/percussion node. I’m most exited about the sequencer and interfacing, its sound can be nominal and I’m sure id still be pleased with the purchase, as it would still be getting use sequencing other gear.

  17. I have used Akais since 92 . The fact that this machine as separate outputs really does make it worth having.
    I bought the mpx 8 and it sounds great ,although the operating system is a bit shakey, ( I have the mpc 2500also) The new sampler looks more substantial and again worth a look at. Well done akai. Keep making sure your gear has loads of outs on it.

  18. Uhh!!!
    So maybe no tr8 for me, its not the same thing but we’ll see.
    I like the pads and I hope the thing doesn’t suffer to much being used and abused ^_^

  19. I have a feeling the “individual outs” just means one for the bass-synth, and one for the drums (maybe stereo). Still a great move by Akai to stir up the market.

    1. So, they had one available for press but didn’t plug it and play with it for even a couple seconds? Sorry, but this gets more bogus every minute. This thing is like the Bitwig of analog.

    2. Only problem is the Rhythm Wolf wont be avail till September according to Akai UK ,so with everyone saying its release is later summer is a joke!!! Try winter ??? πŸ™

  20. It only has 2 output jacks on tieback of unit for audio and two 1/8th inch trigger outputs – so thats mono for bass and mono for all drums 9you have to laugh really).

  21. This idea of half a drum machine does not sit well with me. No rimtap, no cowbell, no clap. So you need a real drum machine such as the RYTM or DSI Tempest anyway. Save your money and get a whole drum machine or stay in this price category and get a used Korg Tribe.

    1. or combine it with another cheap drum machine to fill out the sounds, or combine it with an analogue synthesizer with a drum sound patch, get creative no need to spend the silly money a tempest costs as nice as that machine is

      1. I own the Tempest, and I am very happy with this. I do not at all believe that this Wolf is supposed to play in the same league at all. I could indeed imagine this one to complement the Tempest nicely. It is a completely different market. Idea: use it to run it alongside Traktor or whatever other DJ software to chip in basic beats. Or take it with you for quick beat and bassline layouts (yes, the TR/TB association is probably not miles away.)

    2. What exactly is “half” about kick, snare and hihat? That *is* a drum set at its core. If you can’t make a groove with the most basic ingredients possible, you should probably think about your beat making skills. But that aside, it would of course be “nice” to have just a few more sounds available. However, I like that very basic, stripped down approach: No fuss, just kick and bass.

  22. Wow, nice!!! Almost looks like Akai go someone from MFB for product consultation. Personally this is what I want to see from a manufacture of EDM gear -(Affordable,analog, digital interface,21century cosmetics with or with out retro-cosmetics). Also would be great if Akai would in similar fashion follow Korgs creative-process by making many different types of affordable analog/digital music gear that may be retro-analog but still can be interfaced with say computer software-iPad systems keeping it cutting edge.

          1. Oh please no. Informed, deterministic modding to add functionality? Yes please. Experimentation to find hidden potential in the circuitry? Also okay. “Circuit bending” creating a noisy mess out of a previously functional and interesting device? No thanks. I can’t complain when people turn an old portasound into a glitch machine, but when it’s done to perfectly functional synths and samplers (like the much-abused Yamaha SK series, which are now harder to find un-bent than “modified) it just grates.

            I don’t remember if it was here or on another website that someone said “future musicians will look back on this as the ‘age of the circuit benders’ as they try to find an un-destroyed example”.

  23. I think its caf, nice wee drums and bass machine, not unlike monotribe, i recon that would be a good wee pairing those two, nice cv inout, and midi, cheap as chips, tie them together with volcas etc..nice, I like the name too, bring on the bass leopard, the pad platypus, the sine dingo, the saw ocelot, the sample bandicoot, the baboon synth, the gibbon master 5000, i want a whole fucken zoo of cheap boxes llf

  24. Has anyone heard anything further about the ‘Rhythm Wolf’? …it’s available for pre-order, but I’ve not found any recent news, or more importantly demo’s.

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