Go into any music instrument store—or visit any Web site selling music gear—and you’ll find a DJ department. Yep, being a party DJ is firmly entrenched in the live music landscape these days, and those departments will be filled with turntables (for CD or vinyl) and all manner of effects units and mixers, which can run into the thousands.
As the trend in the gadgets biz these days is to make electronic devices that are smaller, cheaper, and filled with features, why not do so for the DJs out there? That’s the philosophy behind Korg’s recently unveiled Mini Kaoss Pad 2, an amazingly versatile, fun, and useful portable effects unit that can be had for a fraction of the price of full-sized effects units. It lists for $230 but can be purchased new on Amazon (and elsewhere) for around $160, and it packs an amazing wallop for a unit of this size and price.
An update of Korg’s previously Mini Kaoss Pad, the Mini Kaoss Pad 2 is incredibly easy to use right out of the box. Plug in the two included 2AA batteries (thanks, Korg), hit the power button, and you’re ready to start mixing. You can port in music one of two ways: either plug in your portable media player through the audio jack, or put in a MicroSD card containing your mp3 or WAV files.
For my test, I opted to plug my iPod into the in jack, my headphones into the out one, and I was good to go. I got things rolling with an ironic selection from Joe Walsh—his fun 2012 album Analog Man—and started playing with some of the effects.
Wow. There are 100 different effects available on this unit! They were easily accessed by sliding my finger on the touchpad in the center of the unit. Each time I moved my finger just a hair to the right, I could call up another effect. Then I could play with the effect using the square touch screen at the bottom. The touch responsiveness is excellent—move your finger quickly, and the effect modifies the sound fast and furiously. Hold your finger in place and there’s a more subtle implementation. Move your finger to the far right and the high end is accentuated, do the opposite and the sound is somewhat muffled. Slide your finger up and the sound gets louder; slide it down and the volume lowers.
It would take an article the size of War and Peace to list all of the effects, but they break down into eight groupings:
• Filter—Fifteen sound treatments including low- and high-pass filters, and telephone- and radio-emulating settings.
• Modulation—These 15 effects change the tone and pitch of your music.
• LFO—Stands for “low frequency oscillation,” a family of 20 settings that vary speed, including flanger (mixing different effects), slicer (like it sounds), and phaser (giving your music a “spacegun” feel) effects.
• Delay—Ten different settings that can “freeze” and “unfreeze” your music, among other cool things.
• Reverb—Five effects giving an “echo” feel.
• Looper—These 20 effects create “loops”, small sections of audio that can repeat or embellish your music.
• Vocorder—The name given to this family refers to an artificial voice instrument, which these five effects emulate.
• Synth/SE—Ten effects that just whack out your music, no better way to say it.
If you opt for putting a MicroSD card, you can actually “record” and save your unique versions of the effects for use in live settings. That could be a real boon to professional DJs who want to call upon their particular spins on these effects, which are totally free-form in live play.
I could see pros really going for this unit. It adds a nearly endless palette of sound treatments sure to liven up any music and really “get the party started,” at a low cost and with an amazingly small footprint—this won’t take up any more space on a DJ table than an iPod or smartphone. Even non-pros will enjoy nights of fun with this unit, pumping their music through it and modifying it with their own unique variations. Musicians with home studios will also have a great time using this to enhance and add some “freakiness” to their mixes.
I would recommend getting the optional AC adapter from Korg to go with this unit; it runs for about five hours on AA batteries, so that’s something to consider.
But the Mini Kaoss Pad 2 is an amazing product (especially at this price point)—fun, functional, and a great way to bring the party with one small box.
Go to www.korg.com/minikaosspad2 for further details.Buy the Korg MINI KAOSS PAD 2 on Amazon