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