The Forgotten Keys FK11 Kontakt instrument is a close virtual re-creation of the Korg Rhythm-55B (AKA KR-55B) analogue drum machine which was the 1982 follow-up to the Rhythm-55 released in 1979. The sound generation of the 2 models was identical but the KR-55B saw a doubling of preset rhythms, intros and fill-ins as well as a major overhaul to the existing rhythm patterns. There were actually 2 versions of the KR-55B with rhythms suited to different geographical locations (presumably).
The 12 sounds of the FK11 originate from the same carefully sampled KR-55 as the FK10. Each sound was sampled 8 times to preserve the subtle differences involved in playing analogue sounds, especially the snare and toms where random transistor noise is used as part of the sound. Of particular note are the cymbal and high-hats which have a very metallic ring to them and are more realistic compared to other analogue machines yet still unmistakably synthesized. The congas and toms have a slight downward pitch as they decay adding more realism and the toms have filtered noise which adds a subtle almost room reverb effect. A Mytek Stereo96 ADC was used for the recordings and great care was taken to achieve the best signal to noise ratio. The sounds are in 24-bit 44.1KHz wav format.
The FK11 includes all rhythms, intros and fill-ins from both versions of the KR-55B. Some rhythms are identical between the 2 models but analysis of all the rhythm data created for the FK11 reveals that there are 149 rhythms, 51 intros and 54 fill-ins. These are the unique patterns not including those that are the same on both models. The rhythms are not sampled loops, rather they are created using Kontakt scripting and trigger the individual sampled sounds when played. This way it is easy to manipulate individual sounds, create artifact-free tempo changes and to combine rhythms without volume and phasing problems. Rhythms couldn’t be combined on the KR-55B as such. If you were to combine a 3/4 or 5/4 rhythm with a 4/4 rhythm however, the later would take on the time signature of the former, but that’s all. Because the FK11 can combine rhythms, a separate meter control has been included so that you can replicate this effect.
The swing control allows you to alter the feel of the rhythms. By default it only applies to the 6 jazz rhythms but can be switched to affect all rhythms. Used carefully it can create some nice new swing or shuffle rhythms from the available presets.
The mixer controls allow you to balance the volume of individual sounds in the same way as on the KR-55B, however, finer control can be had on the Setup tab in the FK11.
The Setup tab offers greater control over how the FK11 sounds and operates. There are volume, pan, tune and mute controls for each sound. Incoming MIDI notes can be mapped to any rhythm or sound and outgoing sounds can be assigned to any available Kontakt output. Random tune and volume controls add a little human element to the sounds.