If you’re a fan of Korg’s Volca lineup, then there’s a decent chance you’ve heard the name Retrokits before. The company builds a bunch of valuable tools for making the most of your electronic music setup. Still, its specially designed MIDI cable that adds features like velocity control to the Volca FM has proven quite popular. The latest member of its lineup, though, is quite a bit more ambitious.
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 keeps your rig together. It also has a built-in metronome to help you stay on time with your instruments, essential since all MIDI data is recorded unquantized. (Though you can quantize it after the fact and then undo if you prefer to go back to your original sloppy playing.)
Each track can record on multiple channels, so you can control various devices from a single way, leaving the other seven open for… even more devices? You can even record eight parts across the eight tracks, then consolidate them down to one, freeing up more room for sequencing. And, of course, you can overdub or overwrite any performances.
Each of the tracks can be manipulated independently too. Allowing you to quantize them, add a swing or transpose them. And it’s all non-destructive, so you can easily undo your changes.
There’s also a simple step sequencer built-in to the RK-008. It’s probably not going to work for complex chords, but it does the job just fine, it seems for four on the floor drums.
Two MIDI inputs and two MIDI outputs on the back, plus a separate dedicated sync port. Tracks can be assigned to one or both outcomes, which is handy if you’ve got that one drum machine that insists on having each instrument on a separate channel. The two ports mean you can merge MIDI from different sources and use other controllers for various devices.
It’s quite a feature list as is, and Retrokits says there’s still more to be revealed, which is incredibly impressive for something that looks like a pocket calculator from the 1980s — and I mean that as a good thing. The RK-008 looks part MPC, part HP calculator, could probably fit in a pocket, yet seems capable of controlling an entire live music rig.
There are still some outstanding questions, most notably when it comes out and how much it will cost. But hopefully, we’ll find out sooner than later.