Sometimes you wish you could just take something off the NAMM show floor and put it in your suitcase. Such was the case with the padKONTROL, 4×4 triggering hardware from Korg complete with an X/Y touchpad and incredible customizability. Why am I thinking about this now? Because I sure could use it on some tracks I’m working on at the moment.

I was skeptical at first about the Korg padKONTROL pad trigger. Korg’s MicroKONTROL and KONTROL 49 keyboards, while they’re fantastic controllers with some great features, have fairly useless built-in 4×4 pad grids. They’re fun for triggering clips in Live or while VJing, but the pads aren’t sensitive enough to velocity to play musically.

The padKONTROL is different. The pads are the most reliable I’ve played yet: they’re extremely solid, responsive across their entire area (so if you don’t hit them dead-on, they still work perfectly), and extremely touch-sensitive. I’m even more aware of this as I come home to my M-Audio Trigger Finger, which, while a very good set of pads, isn’t nearly as reliably responsive by comparison.

Also in the padKONTROL’s favor:

  • Extreme programmability: Think different velocity curves on different pads, multiple messages for a single pad, and an easy editing interface (like M-Audio’s ENIGMA, but much more powerful).
  • KAOSS Pad: A small X/Y touchpad is handy for effects.
  • Bundled Software: I’m happy with my copy of NI Battery, thank you, but if you’re getting started out, there’s plenty of included software and sounds to get you started; competing units have next to nothing in the box.
  • Gorgeous, compact: This thing simply looks lovely, and it’s really light and portable.

  • Now, I’m not throwing away my Trigger Finger yet: I want to put the padKONTROL through its paces first. I was too dumb to check if it had the mounting hole on the bottom like the M-Audio hardware does, too. And one major advantage of the M-Audio is the Trigger Finger’s faders and knobs.


    NAMM Insider Analysis: New Music Product Trends, Toys, Under the Radar (CDM contributor James Grahame also singled out the padKONTROL)