During the past couple years, very sophisticated software has redefined the landscape of electronic music, and computers have become the de facto workstations for digital audio in both recorded and live formats. Instrument manufacturers also helped usher in this digital revolution by creating keyboard controllers that connect to your computer through a USB cable. The end result was a simple, single connection to a great deal of programming power. It was only a matter of time, then, before manufacturers took those keyboard controllers and morphed them into something that would be more comfortable, and potentially more powerful, for percussionists to use.
Welcome two new machines. M-Audio, well-known for creating high-quality instruments at reasonable prices, comes out swinging with the Trigger Finger. Korg, one of the most respected names in music technology, counterpunches with the padKONTROL. Both machines are perfect for programming drum patterns and techno-style bass and lead lines into your favorite sequencer. However, their potential applications dig much deeper and offer new levels of versatility to your creative output. Simply put: You can do things with these machines that you just can’t do with an electronic kit, multipad, or keyboard. Depending on your software, you could use these boxes to fire loops and hits in real-time performance software like Abelton’s Live, create an entire video set in software such as ArKaos VJ, or control real-time filter sweeps or pan position in soft synths such as Native Instruments’ Absynth or soft workstations like Propellerhead’s Reason.
We’re going to take a look at these two USB MIDI pad controllers and put them head-to-head in a five-round fight to the finish. Place your bets now.
FIG. 1 M-Audio Parameter Edit M-Audio’s window is basic and severe
FIG. 2 Korg Parameter Edit padKONTROL’s Parameter Edit window is clean and simple to understand