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Retrokits RK-008 is a pocket-sized MIDI sequencer

Terrence O'Brien
Retrokits RK-008 is a pocket-sized MIDI sequencer

If you are a fan of Korgs Volca lineup then there is a good chance that you have heard the name Retrokits before. The company builds a lot of useful tools to get the most out of your electronic music setup, but its specially designed MIDI cable, which adds features like speed control to Volca FM, has proven quite popular. However, the latest member of its range is a lot more ambitious.

RK-008 is a fully-fledged MIDI control center. It is an eight-track MIDI sequencer and recorder, which makes it possible to be the glue that holds your rig together. It also has a built-in metronome that helps you stay on time with your instruments, which is important as all MIDI data is recorded without quantification. (Although you can quantify it afterwards, and then regret it if you prefer to go back to your original sloppy game.)

Each track can record on multiple channels, so you can actually control multiple devices from a single track, so the other seven are open to … even more devices? You can even record eight sections across the eight tracks and then consolidate them down to one, freeing up more space for sequencing. And of course, you can dubb or overwrite performances.

Each of the tracks can also be manipulated independently. Allows you to quantify them, add swings or transpose them. And it’s all non-destructive, so you can easily undo your changes.

There is also a simple step sequencer built into the RK-008. It probably won’t work for complex chords, but it works fine, it looks like for four on the floor drums.

There are two MIDI inputs and two MIDI outputs on the back, plus a separate dedicated sync port. Tracks can be assigned to one or both outputs, which is convenient if you have one drum machine that insists on having each instrument on a separate channel. The two in ports mean you can merge MIDI from different sources, but also use different controllers for different instruments.

It’s quite a feature list as it is, and Retrokits says more and more needs to be revealed, which is incredibly impressive for something resembling a 1980s calculator – and I mean that as a good thing. The RK-008 appears to be part MPC, part HP calculator that could probably fit in a pocket and still seem to be able to control an entire live music war.

However, there are still some outstanding issues, most importantly when it will come out and how much it will cost. But hopefully we will find out sooner rather than later.

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