If you are a fan of Korg’s Volca line-up, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard the name Retrokits before. The company creates a bunch of useful tools to get the most out of your electronic music setup, but it’s specially designed MIDI cable which adds features like speed control to Volca FM has proven to be very popular. The latest member of its lineup is a bit more ambitious, however.
The RK-008 is a full-fledged MIDI control center. It’s an eight-track MIDI sequencer and recorder, which allows it to be the glue that holds your gear together. It also has a built-in metronome to help you stay in tune with your instruments, which is important because all MIDI data is recorded unquantized. (Although you can quantify it after the fact and then undo if you’d rather go back to your original sloppy play.)
Each track can record to multiple channels, so you can control multiple devices from a single track, leaving the other seven open for … even more devices? You can even record eight parts on the eight tracks, then combine them into one, freeing up more room for sequencing. And of course, you can layer or overwrite any performance.
Each of the tracks can also be manipulated independently. Allowing you to quantize them, add swing or transpose them. And everything is 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 does the job seemingly very well for four on ground drums.
There are two MIDI inputs and two MIDI outputs on the rear, as well as a separate dedicated sync port. Tracks can be assigned to one or both outputs, which is handy if you have a drum machine that insists that each instrument be on a separate channel. The two input ports mean you can merge MIDI from different sources, but also use different controllers for different instruments.
It’s a feature list as is, and Retrokits says there’s even more to reveal, which is incredibly impressive for something that looks like a 1980s pocket calculator – and I mean that as a good thing. . The RK-008 is part MPC, part HP Calculator, could probably fit in a pocket and yet seem capable of controlling an entire live music platform.
There are still some unanswered questions, however, especially when it will be released and how much it will cost. But I hope we find out sooner rather than later.