I love Kaoss Pads. They’re intuitive, easy to use, and you can get a decent sound within seconds of picking one up for the first time. In some respects they’re like an anti-music instrument, in the traditional sense. No lessons, no practising scales. Just pick it up and start creating funky sounds.
Of course, there’s a big difference between creating random sounds with a KP and using one to make recorded music – this is where the skill comes in (or if not skill, then trial and error and lots and lots of patience).
I’ve got three Kaoss Pads: one on the DS-10, one on my phone, and this one. They all have different uses. The iKaossilator on the iPhone makes ‘grooves’ using 5 channels of pre-made sounds and effects (but more on that another time); on the DS modifies synth sounds created using KORG DS-10. Neither can modify an external sound source: this where the Mini KP comes in.
The Mini KP has 100 effects that can be applied to any external sound via 2xRCA line in, and the modified sound can be output (again via 2xRCA) to a DAW, amplifier, synthesiser etc. Just drag your finger(s) across the touchpad to change the modification. There’s a ‘hold’ button to keep the effect in place, and you can tap or manually set BPM.
Annoyingly, there is no list with the instructions of what each effect actually does, but such as list can be found online, here.
While there are ostensibly 100 effects some are very similar sounding indeed. But plenty of the effects are awesome (I particularly like #23, Pitch Shift & Delay) and I’ve found it to be great for modifying my frankly weak-ass voice. It looks cool too, in red and black, and fits in with my tiny, corner of the room studio. And it’s fun just to plug your iPod into it to twist up your music collection; I think it’ll be a useful tool for remixes, something I’ve yet to attempt.
Full disclosure: what I really, really want is a Kaoss Pad 3. The Mini KP is like the stunted idiot brother of the KP3. But the KP3 is three times more expensive, and my budget for music is sadly limited. The MKP will do for now… but time to start saving those pennies.