The Akai Professional Tom Cat is an exciting true analog drum machine with five built-in percussion voices, including Kick, Snare, and Clap sounds with chromatically tunable Disco Toms. Onboard controls—all continuously variable—enable users to customize the tuning, amplitude envelopes, and volume of each drum voice separately for precise real-time adjustment.
Outfitted with six MPC-style pads and a built-in 32-step sequencer, Tom Cat provides an ultra-responsive interface with a classic drum machine layout. Drum patterns can be fine-tuned using the Swing function, Pattern Select, and Tempo Control knob. A custom signal path, activated by its unique “Maul” circuitry, lets the user ‘dirty up’ their drum beats for just the right effect.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What makes an analog drum machine different from a digital drum machine?
- Sometimes my Tom Cat's disco drums go a little sharp or flat. Is this normal?
- Which outputs does the MAUL knob affect?
- How many steps can be recorded in the step sequencer?
- How many patterns can I store?
- When I press play, my sequence isn't starting, what should I do?
- Are the trigger pads and sequencer velocity sensitive?
- Can I use the Tom Cat as a USB MIDI controller?
- Can I record my audio directly to the computer with a USB cable?
- How can I save my presets?
- What is the Gate Trig In and Out used for?
- Where can I find more information about these terms, such as Env and Decay?
- Are there any additional resources?
- Where can I get further technical support?
Analog synthesizers and drum machines use electronic components, such as oscillators and filters to manipulate the sound of the instrument. There is audio in the form of electricity running through each individual component. Analog synth enthusiast argue that this allows the synth to have a warm, organic sound that can't be 100% replicated by digital systems. A digital synthesizer uses processors in order to generate and modify the sound. While there are pros and cons of both, the Tom Cat was designed with a fully analog signal path which makes for easy knob per function editing of the parameters. When you turn the Maul knob, a gritty distortion is mixed into the signal, which can add old school character and make for some interesting sounds with experimentation.
This is absolutely normal. The Akai Tom Cat is a fully analog instrument - like a piano or guitar - and will act in a similar manner. For example, we recommend letting the Tom Cat warm up for a few minutes before playing. The pitch will stabilize, and any differences in pitch will be discreet, and only add to the character of the instrument.
The HOWL knob affects the main output and headphone output, but does not affect the 4 individual Voice outputs. The HOWL knob will add overdrive to the output signal, resulting in an aggressive, crunchy tone.
While there are 16 available steps to record, you can hold SHIFT the press SEQ VARIATION to switch between playing one sequence or to automatically switch between SEQ A and SEQ B, leaving you with a total of 32 steps to sequence.
The Tom Cat can store 16 patterns, but each pattern stores 4 complete sequences. Sequence A, Sequence B, Fill A, and Fill B can all be saved to the pattern.
Make sure your Tom Cat's sync clock source is set to Internal. Hold down Shift and press step number 13 (Sync) until the display reads Int.
Yes. The output of the Tom Cat will be louder if the pads are hit with more force. Additionally, by pressing and holding the VELOCITY button, you can set the velocity of each individual step on the sequencer by pressing it. The light indicates the velocity level, so green is low, yellow is medium, red is high.
Yes. Using the USB or MIDI cables, you can interface the Tom Cat with your computer and any other hardware that sends and receives MIDI.
The USB connection is specifically for transferring MIDI and timing information between the computer and the Tom Cat only.
Once you've found a sound you like, you may be compelled to save it for future use. With the Tom Cat, each knob is controls an analog electronic component. This information is not stored digitally, so what you see is what you hear when it comes to parameter values. There is no saving of presets, which isn't uncommon for analog synthesizers.
The Gate Trig In and Out is used to send and receive control voltage, or CV from other synthesizers and sequencers. Unlike MIDI, CV uses voltage to trigger certain events. In this case, the voltage being sent in or out will send or receive a message to turn notes on and off. For example, you could connect the Gate Trigger out on the Tom Cat to the Gate Trigger in on an Akai Timbre Wolf. This would make it so that every time the Tom Cat plays a drum beat, the Timbre Wolf will follow, based on the timing of the Tom Cat.
We have written a great guide about common synthesizer parameters and how they affect the sound you're creating. You can find this here.
- Sound Synthesis and Virtual Instruments - Common Terms Explained
- Akai Pro Timbre Wolf - Frequently Asked Questions
- Akai Pro Rhythm Wolf - Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you are a customer or dealer, if you already own an Akai Pro product, or if you just have pre-sales questions, the Akai Pro technical support team is available to help!
Visit the link below to connect with any of the following support options: online community support, phone support, email support.