FK15: Ace Tone Rhythm Ace FR-3 for Kontakt
Ace Tone Rhythm Ace FR-3
Forgotten Keys FK15
All the names dotted about on the front panel and serial plate of this early analogue drum machine denote it as: Ace-Tone, Bentley, Rhythm Ace Full-Auto FR-3. Quite a mouthful! I’m going to stick with FR-3 from now on. The FR-3 was a very similar looking machine to the Korg Mini-Pops 3 in that it had the usual range of preset rhythms plus a selector knob that assigned variations to the left most rhythm button, 2 buttons in this case. Being an early machine, inductor coils or tuned tanks are used to create the drum sounds. Some of the individual sounds can only be isolated for sampling by messing around inside the machine, which is often the case.
The drum machine used for this project was very kindly lent to me by Steve at SynthMagic. He had just had it serviced so it worked perfectly and sounded very clean. Check out his site if you haven’t already.
- High Conga
- Low Conga
There are 8 sounds available on the FR-3 and they have all been isolated and sampled 8 times for the FK15. Unusually, the sounds are accented on certain beats. This is rarely seen on older machines and improves the rhythms considerably, especially the latin variety. The various accent levels have been sampled as well (8 times each) for all sounds that use it, making the rhythms very accurate to the original. When playing the sounds from your keyboard or DAW sequencer, these accent levels are assigned to velocity.
- 2 Beat
- 4 Beat
- Slow Rock
- Rock 'n Roll
All the preset rhythms including the 2-beat and 4-beat variations have been re-produced for Kontakt. Rather than playing back sampled loops of the rhythms, the individual sampled sounds are triggered as and when needed. This is essentially how a real drum machine works except that the diode matrix has been replaced with Kontakt scripting and the sound generator circuit has been replaced with samples of said sound generator circuit.
The balance control of the FK15 adjusts the balance between the drum and cymbal sounds when playing one of the in-built rhythms. Far more control is to be had however by way of the Setup tab.
The Setup tab offers greater control over how the FK15 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.
A working installation of Native Instruments’ Kontakt version 4.2 or higher is required. This Kontakt instrument is NOT compatible with the free Kontakt Player.
FK15 costs £4.00 (GBP) and payment is via PayPal. A personal download link will be sent automatically to your PayPal email address once payment has been made. This usually arrives in a matter of minutes, but please allow a couple of hours as email can get delayed en route. Also allow www.forgottenkeys.co.uk through any spam filter. Feel free to contact me if you require more information.