Retrokits RK-008 Multitrack MIDI Recorder Review

Why Would You Need a Hardware MIDI Recorder?

Brian Griffith · 04/03/23

Retro Kits makes incredibly handy MIDI tools like cable type converters, DIN-sync adapters, and TRS MIDI hubs. They also have one of the coolest devices: the RK-008, an Alesis MMT8-inspired multi-track MIDI recorder and looper. Robust and compact (thanks to TRS MIDI connections), the RK-008 can send out a full 16 MIDI channels with no polyphony limit, as well as store 16 Songs each with 100 Parts of any length.

In the video above, we used two multitimbral synths, the NINA and Virus TI, which is a wonderful use-case for this RK-008. But you might wonder…why would you need a hardware MIDI recorder/looper?

The benefit of this type of looping versus audio looping is the option to continue to play the instrument without having the sound baked in. For performances, this can be a great way to use stored parts but keep the audio fresh. MIDI can be edited non-destructively, meaning each part can have its own transposition, swing, and can even sent to different channels at will. You can edit notes on-the-fly to have a different feel for each performance, or use the web-based management app to save everything, as well as upload SMFs to the device.

Interfacing between different hardware devices is a breeze with the RK-008, but it can also be incredibly helpful if you are connecting to a DAW. While most pieces of software let you play and load up MIDI, by having the recorder as a stand-alone piece of gear, your performances can be smoother. Your computer can focus on generating the sound, as opposed to firing off MIDI notes and, best of all, you can have a truly screen-free experience by using additional knob controllers mapped to your soft synths.

The options are endless, as most things accept MIDI to some degree. In addition to note data, RK-008 can also record and sequence Program Changes and CC data—in fact, any MIDI data can all be stored and recorded. At just the size of a calculator with the option to load in a rechargeable battery, the Reto Kits RK-008 is perfect for your next off-the-grid adventure or to simply have with you, ready at a moment's notice.