RK-004 – The New MIDI Thru/Merge/Sync Gem From Retrokits

What’s not to love about those DIY wizards at Retrokits? When we found out about their brilliant RK-002 MIDI cable – a must-buy if you have a KORG Volca Sample or FM – and the impossibly tiny RK-003 – an 8 channel passive mixer – it was immediately clear that their problem-solving approach was right up our alley.

Now Retrokits has something new in store for you, the RK-004, an ultra-compact 7-sockets MIDI Thru-Merger beast. In their words “the RK-004 is not your ordinary merger or splitter. The 7 midi DIN5 sockets hide a bit more than you would expect at first sight.”

Let’s check out the main features of the RK-004 and see why it could become a killer item for your MIDI & vintage analog-based setup. We are looking forward to putting it through its paces soon…

MIDI message arriving at an input will be casted-thru to all connected outputs. This makes the RK-004 behave like a MIDI-Thru box. The cool thing is that each connector can act as MIDI input or MIDI-output. This means you can use the RK-004 to merge up to 6 MIDI-sources into one output, or split one MIDI source up to 6 outputs. The direction of the ports is ad hoc, and the direction is detected automatically: this means that you just can “plug and play™”, and use the connectors as you like.

MIDI Merge
Today you want to control your sound module with 2 controllers(=’merge’): just connect and it will merge. Tomorrow you want to control 2 sound modules with 1 controller (=’split’): just connect and it will split… any other combination is valid also! The good thing is that you don’t have to reconfigure: the direction will be auto-detected. Note that the MIDI-in mode of the RK-004 is not opto-isolated like regular MIDI-in ports.

Analog SYNC input
In order to use your favorite analog sync source there is the sync-in connector which accepts good-old analog sync input. With this connection, it is possible to use an analog sync generator as master clock to which the whole remaining system will lock. So yes: this will generate MIDI clocks from analog sync input!

Analog SYNC output
The other way around: if you want to slave-sync your analog equipment with a clock originating in the digital MIDI world there is the sync-out connector. On this connector, you can connect analog equipment which will lock to the generated sync signal.

Last but not least, ports can be defined as sync-only. You can change the MIDI connector into sending out sync signals. With the use of a MIDI to Mini-jack converter (as provided with e.g. the Arturia Beatstep) in reverse to the RK-002, this enables you to use the MIDI-connectors as sync output. This way you can also use the RK-004 to drive (for instance) a bunch of Pocket Operators.

Once you get your RK-004, using this handy web settings page you can easily configure clock divisions for each port and change other parameters. I told you these guys are brilliant!

Price and Availability

€104.00 – €114.00 (with extra silicon case). The RK-004 can be ordered here (you might have to wait a few weeks though, the product is currently out of stock).

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