FK8 Kontakt instrument is based on the Maestro Rhythm King MRK-4 analogue drum machine from the mid 1970s. Whereas the MRK-1 and MRK-2 models were transistor based, the MRK-4 used inductor coils, or tuned tanks, to produce the drum sounds. It actually had fewer sounds and rhythms than the previous models, but was less noisy (judging by the examples I owned anyway) and the cymbal sounds were noticeably different. The rhythms provided were more rock orientated and it had an intro/fill-in function.
The FK8 features individual samples of all the internal sounds of the MRK-4. Each sound has 8 variations that are chosen at random in Kontakt. This is done to avoid the static-sounding “sampled” effect that you get when playing a fast high-hat pattern for example. Like its predecessors, the MRK-4 brush and cymbal sounds had various decay settings depending on the rhythm chosen, and all these variations have been sampled. The sounds are in 24-bit 44.1KHz wav format.
There are 2 bonus sounds on the FK8 from the Maestro Rhythm ‘N Sound G2 kindly provided to me by fellow enthusiast and customer, Todd Watson. They are brush and tambourine. The G2 was an unusual instrument aimed at guitarists providing them with both effects and accompaniment. I decided to add the sounds to the FK8 as there wasn’t enough to justify a separate Kontakt instrument. Todd wisely sampled these sounds 8 times each and so they fit perfectly with the random sample selection found in Forgotten Keys drum machine re-creations.
The 16 rhythms of the MRK-4 have been faithfully re-created in the FK8 along with the 2 intro/fill-in patterns that are chosen automatically depending on the rhythm selected. These rhythm patterns are used to trigger the individual sound sampled in much the same way as the rhythm patterns in the real drum machine are used to trigger the sounds on the circuit board. This allows for much greater flexibility than just sampling a 2-bar loop of every rhythm on the machine at some arbitrary tempo.
The balance control is used to adjust the balance between the drum and cymbal sounds. This is good for quick adjustments and adds to the authenticity of the FK8, but more flexibility can be had over on the Setup tab.
The Setup tab offers greater control over how the FK8 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.
Here’s a sneak peek inside of the MRK-4 for those who like to get the lid off and see what’s going on in there.