It seems everyone one is making a very definite move back towards hardware synthesizers these days. 15 years ago there was a very different approach to synthesizers. The new century seemed to herald the end of the hardware synthesizer as just about everyone was heading towards software development and hardware sales were slowing year by year. Finding a keyboard that did what you wanted within a realistic budget became harder and finding that sound meant turning to older equipment once again. But, a drive by certain manufacturers and a demand from users has seen this turn around slowly. Getting the classic tone is still what users want, but with a more modern way of working and better control and integration. This is where Akai Pro is now stepping up to the plate, with not only a competitively priced analogue synthesizer, but a selection of products to meet a range of needs.
Raining Cats and Dogs
So, Akai Pro has really gone all out this year with their new product releases. Those of you who are going mad trying to keep abreast of all these new analogue developments and releases will be rather excited. Not one, not two, but three new products are on their way from Akai Pro. The one that will no doubt get the most attention is the Timbre Wolf, a 25-note, four voice analogue synthesizer with a built in step sequencer. This should come in around $1000 and will give the competition something to think about. It looks like a simple layout that allows for maximum control over each of the four voices to be used separately or as one and promises a range of sounds that we haven’t heard from Akai Pro before. The next in the line-up is the Tom Cat, an analogue drum machine that is going to get retro junkies absolutely raving. This is something that has been seriously missing from the market for many years, but the humble drum machine was the stalwart of electronic music production for years before the computer shunted it aside. So now, Akai have brought back the old with a modern twist to allow you greater control and better sounds in your drums than was previously though possible with a drum machine. Naturally, it has a built in step sequencer and includes MPD style pads to allow you to drive in your beats the way you want. I think this will be a very popular unit for producers across a range of genres. The final addition to the all-new analogue approach from Akai Pro is the Rhythm Wolf, which is a drum machine and bass synthesizer in one. At this stage, I am a little unsure of what this will bring to the table, as it is built into the exact framework as the Tom Cat. There is the same amount of buttons, knobs and pads as the Tom Cat, so it really cannot deliver as much in the way of drums if it is going to bring the bass too. This might be a bit of an all rounder that takes a little from the Tom Cat and a little from the Timbre Wolf whilst not really offering all the advantages of both. These three products represent a big step for Akai Pro, as they haven’t really been in the synthesizer game for a few years now in any seriously manner. This does show that they are looking to impress and I personally can’t wait to get my hands on all three of these units to see what they can produce. 2015 is proving to be a big year for synthesizers with more keyboards available from an ever growing range of manufacturers. It really is a synth lovers’ dream right now.