Sonic LAB: Korg nanoPAD MIDI Controller

A little thing to hit      12/12/08

No flash plug


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5:22 mins
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. Pads/Buttons
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 Edit Me
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. Conclude Me
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 €30 on LIVE or LIVE LE Available now - just in time for Christmas....
$59.99, £41, €59
Check the Price - at these online stores.
$59.99 Korg nanoPAD MIDI Controller MusiciansFriend.com
$59.99 Korg nanoPAD MIDI Controller Standard Music123.com
More From: KORG
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7 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Marc JX8P    Said...

Very cool product, very good review! I loved what you were doing in that short piece where you did the chords and the rolls.

12-Dec-08 08:25 PM


circuitslave    Said...

Another great review, thanks, Nick. I'll be ordering the black version--is it out yet in the UK? I'v heard probably not yet here in the US until spring :( Can't wait 'til you review the other Nanos. Thanks!

13-Dec-08 01:26 PM


Greg    Said...

I picked up a Nano Pad and a Nano Kontrol. The Nano Pad works as advertised; no problem. I didn't think USB powered devices could go wrong but the Nano Kontrol gives a "Power Surge on Hub Port" message on a PC and a similar message on Mac. So watch out even these simple devices can go wonky.

16-Dec-08 11:47 AM


Nick B    Said...

@Greg - really? I had no trouble until I plugged the nanoKontrol in, then it bonked the MIDIdirvers in the system. At that point I had to install the Korg one and remove all the old ones I had still on the system.

that fixed it though

16-Dec-08 03:21 PM


Steve Cooke    Said...

The nanoPAD is certainly a great product. Very solid. Nice feel to the pads. Easy to set up with your DAW.

The nanoKEY, on the other hand, is not very good at all. The keys are flimsy and seem likely to fall off with the slightest provocation - which isn't much use in a product that's supposed to be highly portable. One of the keys on mine dislodged itself only the second time I played on it. No rough treatment was involved. Fortunately, it snapped back in place but I don't have much confidence in its longevity now.

17-Dec-08 05:05 AM


Nick B    Said...

Steve, I just reviewed the nanoKEY and I would agree that it has a flimsy quality to it, it's still dirt cheap, and easy to transport. I mean I'm not sure there are many other options in this size/weight category.

19-Dec-08 07:56 AM


Brianrost    Said...

I hope you'll have something out on the nanoKONTROL soon, that's the one I'm really interested in. Esp. how usable the short throw faders are.

19-Dec-08 09:53 AM


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