There are generally two kinds of KAOSS Pad users. There are people who play their KAOSS Pad(s) like an instrument, basing entire performances around slick finger moves. DJ Logic, for instance, has a new album coming out that makes heavy use of the new, flagship KP-3. Then there are people who just want an extra toy to add some effects and performance features, something they can toss in a laptop or instrument bag and have fun with.

Squarely aimed at the latter category, the mini-KP is the first pocket-able KAOSS Pad. It’s simple, small, cute, and cheap. It’s got the X/Y controller you’d expect on a KP, and still packs a decent number of features at a US$250 list price. (Street around $200, perhaps?) The only bad news: no MIDI, and that could be a deal-killer.

  1. 100 effects: Filters, reverbs, delays, decimator, looper/pitch-shifter, BPM-synced effects, and even RADIAS “inspired” synth sounds. (I’m guessing that means it doesn’t have the DSP in the RADIAS and new R3, so it just sounds similar.)
  2. Two memory keys: Well, they had to do something to keep this small, so you only get two. Use them wisely.

  3. Tap tempo / auto-detect tempo. Note that auto-detect works from audio only (more on that in a moment)

  4. Runs on AA’s/6V for up to five hours, weighs five oz (plus battery weight), does 24-bit/48kHz audio over RCA line in and line out jacks, headphone jack.

So, it’s perfect! We want one! Not so fast. To keep it small, Korg eliminated the MIDI jack. That has two very serious implications: first, unlike every other KAOSS Pad, you can’t use this as a MIDI controller. Second, you can’t receive MIDI clock. That should effectively scare off lots of would-be laptop buyers who would have otherwise loved this toy. (Of course, maybe you’ve gotten too lazy, and should buy this thing and use the tap tempo. But you see my point.)

I wish Korg would have found a way to squeeze a USB jack on this, or built a version for laptop artists with only USB. For those who don’t need it, this will be terrific. For those who do, do what the rest of us have done and get a model even cheaper used. It’ll be worth the extra ounces to get MIDI support.

Availability: March 2007 (US)
Price: MSPR US$250

  • Argh. I think I'd rather have an XY touchpad that was nothing but a MIDI controller.

  • might as well give up an extra 50 for the old KP2. Or hell, buy a used kp2 for the same price.

  • Tob


    For that, there's DSMIDIWiFi.

    Required hardware:

    Nintendo DS – $140

    R4DS (or similar card) – $40

    microSD Card – $10

    Card Reader – $10

    Total: $200. Oh, and you get a free game console with that MIDI controler.

    Sorry for the shameless ad 🙂


  • Tob, heck, yeah, I'm there! 🙂

    Also, while in fairness DSMIDIWifi can't process line in, I'm almost entirely certain the mini-KP is a terrible system for Mario Kart. Just a guess.

    Alternatively, line out from NitroTracker to the effects in the mini-KP could be a very potent combination for $400 total.

  • lollerpants

    So, is a DS really comparable as a MIDI controller? I don't care for onboard anything, I just need some MIDI X-Y action. How big are those things, how accurate are they, etc etc?

  • only 5 hours of battery life? pretty weak. i did a 6 hour dj set yesterday and i'll be damned if i have to swap out batteries mid set. no ac power option?

  • Pretty cool toy…… it's only I already got the new KP3

  • Tob


    Yeah, DS+KP would be a killer portable combination. Have you seen this DS guitar simulator by the way?


    There are two options to do MIDI with the DS: DSMIDI and DSMIDIWiFi.

    DSMIDI is an extension cartridge that has a standard MIDI port, the latter uses Wifi to transer MIDI signals to a computer.

    The advantage of DSMIDI is that it works without a computer and has lower latency. The advantage of DSMIDIWiFi is that there's no cable needed, so you can walk around while using it. Also, the DSMIDI cannot be bought, so you would have to build it yourself.

    The touchscreen of the DS has a resolution of 256×192, so it can cover the 0-127 range of MIDI CCs in X and Y direction.

    dave ahl:

    The DS Lite has a battery life of 12-16 hours on the lowest screen brightness setting. You can use the DS on Ac power if you really need it to stay on longer.

    While I'm at it: There's a new cool extension card for the DS, called the DSMotion, which adds three accelerometers and a gyroscope to the DS, giving it Wiimote-like motion detection. Mine just arrived a few days ago and it's really sweet! I'll think about how I can use this for my evil purposes 🙂

  • bindi irwin

    hello dave, if you looked at the photo you would see the words dc 4.5v at the top

    you're my wife now

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  • Tim

    Any ideas if you could just double sided tape this to a guitar for use style Kaoss Pad stuff?


  • jimijama

    this thing will be nice to hook up to my walkman and use it on the go

  • Downpressor

    These are now shipping in Tokyo. I got a mini-KP this weekend. I've never used a Kaos Pad before, but for just 13,000 Yen (~US$100) I got this on an impulse.

    I have not tested it extensively, but I do like some of its delay and reverbs. I'll probably get alot more use out of its synthy type bits as a dub siren. I'm not fond of RCA connectors, but considering the target audience, that is understandable. My only complaint is that the volume on the headphone jack is so low that its almost worthless.