Sonic LAB: Kaoss Pad Quad Review

Exclusive first review of the dynamic effects processor      10/02/11

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And so it came to pass that there was another Kaoss Pad born of Korg from the East. It was written that the new Kaoss Pad should be forthwith known as Kaoss Pad Quad,  the other Kaoss Pads were fearful, for they did not have the four simultaneous effects....


Sorry, I got carried away. But this new Korg Kaoss Pad Quad has a habit of doing that to you. Out of the box, you’ll notice that its not got the sturdy metal case of the 3 or Pro, but it should hold up under all but the most extreme punishment. Also the back-lights are limited to the four corners, I’m not entirely sure what they represent, but they look pretty...

What you have is four simultaneous effects groups,each with five effects. Each of the five effects has a dedicated back-lit button, so you know exactly what you’ve let yourself in for. When an effect is selected, the X/Y pad then controls parameters, typically, speed or time and depth. You can also freeze any of the effects - which is like a hold function, keeping the current X/Y position held. You can then select another effect or effects and carry on with the gestures.

Connect
In and out are on RCA phono connectors, -10dB as with previous KPs, there’s a Mic in with level, Headphone out with level, a select switch for in-line or effect send operation depending  on your setup. Mains in and power switch complete the rear panel. On the top you have input volume, fx depth, BPM readout and auto BPM button/ tap tempo for use with loop and delay effects.

Effects
1 - Looper Group:
  • Looper - 1 bar mac time at BPM
  • Rev Looper - same but backwards
  • Loop Slicer - sliced loop plays back sections at X/Y points
  • Grain Shifter - short granular loops
  • Vinyl Break - deck stop and scratch

2 - Mod Group:
  • Dist - filtered distortion
  • Decimator - bit/sample depth reduction
  • Ducking Comp - gives a pumping compression
  • Flanger - nice deep resonant flanger
  • Phaser - ditto

3 - Filter Group:
  • LPF - low pass filter
  • HPF - high pass filter
  • BPF+ - band pass
  • Jet - like a manual flanger
  • Pitch Shifter - shifts pitch (not particularly high quality)

4 - Delay/Rev Group:
  • 1Delay - single delay
  • Delay - stereo delay
  • Tape Echo - coloured, distorted delay
  • Reverb - short/long with mix
  • Delay Reverb - combination of the two


While on paper, this looks like a bit of a meager offering after previous KPs, they are all actually pretty usable and bring something to the party. Favourites were the Dist, flanger, phaser, jet, looper, 1delay and reverb.
Its quite easy to create an impressive performance using these effects and judicious use of the depth knob makes for some quite subtle processing.

BPM
Some of these effects - the Looper and delay groups, have tempo based  settings. You can either tap the tempo to set, or hit Auto (hold the TAP button). Auto is generally super fast at getting the BPM right, (like 2-beats) but can occasionally misfire and require a little assistance - hit the TAP button in time. I was hoping that the Auto BPM would work real-time, so if the tempo changed it would follow. This is not quite the case, Korg say that it would be impractical if you had a loop runnint to change the BPM as it would affect the existing loop, which I can understand, but if you werent looping, then you might want it to follow. The upside is that it is really fast to either read or TAP a new tempo in.

Overall
I was impressed, even though some people may see this as a dumbed down KP, it actually makes sense to me. The absolute real-time nature of it and the combination of four effects, make it a very creative, playable effect. For me, its the most playable Kaoss Pad yet and despite the BPM niggle, its got a lot to offer the real-time user.

Priced at £275/$350 Full list - cheaper online no doubt.


 


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