It looks like Korg have hit the mark again with their new range of NANO controllers, comprising nanoPAD, nanoKONTROL and nanoKEYS.
These tiny USB powered MIDI control units take care of the Pads, Faders and Keyboard respectively and are small enough to fit in most laptop bags. Incidentally, you'll have no problem powering these from a regular USB hub without power - they don't draw much current.
I'm looking at the nanoPAD this time, with the others to follow. The nanoPAD has 12 rubber, velocity sensitive pads, an X/Y touchpad plus three functions - HOLD, FLAM and ROLL.
HOLD - just freezes the current value of the X/Y pad when engaged
FLAM - X axis changes the interval or speed of the flam, Y axis the velocity of the second hit
ROLL - X the speed of the roll Y the velocity
Controller and note assignment are access via the KORG KONTROL editor, which you will have to download from Korg directly - there is no CD in the box. The software allows you to program each of the four available scene memories and transmit them back to the unit - not real-time.
Pads can be assigned to note or controller values, with up to eight layers on each - these are not mixable unfortunately, but in practice this means you can program chords on pads for instance or transmit a number of controls to change the sound of a synth perhaps.
Each pad can have it's own MIDI channel or take the Global one and be excluded from Roll or Flam.
In addition to the X/Y control values sent by the touchpad, you can enable something called Touch/Release, which sends out a user configurable control number with min/max values when you place your finger or remove it from the touchpad. You can apply an attack/release time to the max/min value so you could use it as fade in out for a particular MIDI parameter - nice touch.
Touch Me, Feel Me
In use, the nanoPAD was positive and pretty easy to play with the additional X/Y and ROLL/FLAM features adding another dimension to any performance, I was disappointed not to see that the Flam and Roll features were just arbitrary tempo - there doesnt seem to be a way to link this to the tempo of your sequencer, so the applications for these aren't quite as wide reaching as they could be.
I cant see why you wouldn't want to have one of these lying around at this price - especially if you are a desktop kinda person as I am and play some beats. At the price, I cant see any disadvantages to the nanoPAD and will be hanging on to this one.
nanoPAD comes with a USB cable and discount coupon for Ableton LIVE which will save you $50 or â‚¬30 on LIVE or LIVE LE
Available now - just in time for Christmas....
$59.99, Â£41, â‚¬59