While I haven’t gotten official word from Korg, it appears the KAOSS Pad KP-3 is now official, as reported widely. (First full scoop this time appears to be SonicState (who have the most details) after a leak and later confirmation on Music thing.)

Here’s what’s new, along with some other competing musical “grids”:

  1. 8×8 Matrix: 64 LEDs with varying levels, in an 8×8 grid, sit behind the pad so you can now use the KAOSS for sequencing and beats
  2. Real sampling: An SD memory card slot lets you record, though I’m awaiting details on length, whether that’s restricted by SD or internal memory
  3. Live slicing: Using eight program memory buttons at the top, you can slice up your samples live.
  4. FX release: This slider lets you transition between effects when you release the pad, instead of hearing choppy, unwanted “cuts”
  5. New effects: Including a grain shifter and bit-reducing decimator — sounds a bit like Ableton Live influenced the new KAOSS, huh? (Then again, these effects were available in other gear, so for Korg I’m sure it was a no-brainer.)
  6. Vocoder, vinyl looping, ring mod and lots of other effects make this a pretty hard-core effects unit on its own; the vocoder comes straight from the RADIAS
  7. Synth sounds, drum grooves: in case you want to use this as a synth
  8. MIDI everything: Hardware folks will love this for its built-in effects capabilities. Us software/computer people will love it because virtually every single control sends and receives MIDI. I’m specifically interested to know if we can easily hook that drum grid / sequencer into software; stay tuned here for the latest.
  9. Computer connected: USB, editor/librarian, and drag-and-drop sample loading could make this a nice supplement to your existing computer setup

Now the caveats: while the device features mic and line inputs, outputs are phono jack only (no digital), and Korg actually nixed the phono input (though you can still provide your own phono amp, of course).

It’s hard to tell just how this matrix will work; I think the relative coolness of the device probably depends on that more than anything, though this is, as always, still a bargain as a hardware multi-effects unit, particularly for beat-driven music. Korg is just over the river in Long Island, so once these arrive Stateside, I hope to get up-close-and-personal.

For more of a software solution, check out this DIY creation by Godzilla Frog in comments on Music thing, where Tom beats me to a much-blogged video demo of Jeff Han’s more futuristic touch interface. Futuristic interfaces aside, Mr. — erm — Frog has done for software what Korg did for hardware. (source)

Now the big question is, between these interfaces, the Tenori-On, and the Monome, is anyone ready to go off the grid? (Nothing against grids, of course; I guess you could think of a keyboard as an 88×1 grid!)