As obviously ideal as the new Korg Kaoss Pad 2 Dynamic Effects/Controller is for DJs, other performers, regardless of their instrument, the type of music they play, or the nature of their live performances, shouldn’t miss giving it a try. With its unique control interface, the ability to switch easily between three stereo inputs (Phono. Line and Mic) and its capabilities act as both an effects processor and a MIDI controller the device could easily find a home in anyone’s live or studio rig. And gear snobs be warned … it’s a mistake to dismiss the new KP 2 as a toy. It may be small enough to pack along with your average laptop, but it packs a fair bit of power and has a large variety of applications. Beyond traditional live performance use and being a fantastic tool for adding interesting textures in the studio, the machine is perfect for anyone working on live music for dance, multimedia audio-art installations and is simple enough that anyone can use it to great effect.
Overall the options for sound manipulation are impressive – The Kaoss Pad‘s 100 preset areas are divided into five main sections: 50 general effects (Filters. Modulation, Delay, Reverb and SFX), 20 BPM FX/Beats, 15 synth patches, 5 Vocoder settings and 10 preset sample playing options. An actual text list of these presets is printed right on the front panel, making only a simple LED display necessary, so there’s no need to scroll through endless pages looking for what you need and plenty space for a variety of hardware controls.
It’s these controllers that make this unit such a pleasure to play. Particularly its primary controller – a good sized track pad that allows the user to apply effects to vocals, sounds input by other hardware as well as manipulate a selection of onboard synth patches, BPM effects and drum loops in a variety of ways. For all its simplicity, the track pad is an incredibly versatile interface. Alone, or combined with the KP 2’s other controllers, different types of movements and combinations of movements applied to different areas of the track pad allow the user to create rhythms and unique textures from basic sounds generated by both external and internal sources. Thus opening up sonic possibilities that are not easily duplicated using other machines.
By tapping the track pad, or rubbing it diagonally, vertically or horizontally along its X and Y axis and you can control a number of parameters for a given preset. For example: when using the machine’s LFO Wah setting, dragging your finger from side to side will adjust the speed of the effect and dragging vertically will adjust the depth. When using the Filter and Delay effect, horizontal movement controls cut-off frequency and vertical controls delay level. Parameters vary from preset to preset. The track pad also allows a great deal of control over the KP 2’s onboard synth patches, providing the user with a means of controlling such parameters as pitch, speed, modulation, echo feedback, reverb level and more. Similar control is possible when using the unit’s onboard beats; including such parameters as decay time, mod depth and choice of several drum pattern variations depending on the chosen preset.
Additional controllers include a Data knob for switching programs that doubles as a tempo change control for BPM effects and the KP 2’s onboard rhythm patterns, a Tap BPM button, Hold button, effects depth knob, eight assignable buttons to save your most used Kaoss Pad setups and the Pad Motion/Mute lever. This last feature enables the user to save the results of almost four seconds of pad movement temporarily so that the same manipulations can be used repeatedly during performance.
And there’s more – new to this version of the Kaoss Pad are two buttons that allow the player to sample roughly six seconds of sound each, play them back at any time as a raw sample along with other sounds, or use either sample as a sound source to be affected and manipulated using the units effects or its dedicated sample playing presets. The latter allows the player to use the track pad to control a number of options through 10 sampler specific presets, including forward play, reverse play, level, scratch, loop start/loop end times, and time stretch.
Beyond being powerful and having a well-organized performance interface the KP 2 also has great physical details and lights up in all the right places making performance a breeze regardless of the light level on stage. The bottom line it’s sleek, it’s fun and it’s powerful. No, it’s not necessarily going to replace your current FX unit, but that’s not the point. Far more than a FX unit with a unique interface, it’s an instrument in itself: a versatile machine that will inspire far more creativity than your average rack mounted FX interface.