The Forgotten Keys FK14 Kontakt instrument is based on the 2nd incarnation of the Hammond AutoVari 64 rhythm unit from the early 1980s. The official model number was 101300 and it replaced the 101100 model. They were very similar in function, but the later model was very different inside and added a rhythm break feature as well as a programmable variation mode. The design of the unit gives the game away that it was meant to sit on top of a home organ. Indeed, this unit was also built into several Hammond organs from that period. The sounds were very distinctive with a rich bass drum and a nice snappy snare. The cowbell sound was surprisingly realistic for the time which may account for why it was so loud and pops up in the most unlikely of places! The “64” in the name refers to the 64 rhythm patterns available (16 main rhythms with 4 variations), while “AutoVari” refers to the way these variations could be stepped through automatically every so many bars.
Each of the 10 internal sounds of the AutoVari 64 have been carefully sampled in order to achieve the best signal-to-noise ratio, which is important in these older, often rather noisy machines. If you know Forgotten Keys drum machine re-creations, you will know that the sounds are sampled several times and picked at random in Kontakt to avoid the sterile sound of the same sample being repeated. Most noticeable with snare and cymbal sounds.
The sounds are in 24-bit 44.1KHz wav format.
The 64 rhythms of the FK14 are divided into 4 groups, A B C and D. By using the AutoVari function, it is possible to step through the 4 variations sequentially at an interval determined by the measure slider, or program a sequence of up to 16 steps in any order. The 4 variation buttons can also be selected at will even while AutoVari is active. There are 6 rhythm breaks that are assigned to specific rhythms, though some rhythms have no break.
The Setup tab offers greater control over how the FK14 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.