Korg is never shy to push product design and create new, innovative products. The original Kaoss Pad, aimed at DJs, arrived in the late 90s. It offered multi effects, inputs for line or record deck inputs and most importantly, the now iconic X-Y pad, with backlit LED feedback as you played.
The QUAD isn’t so much a step forward from the current MK3 Kaoss Pad (KP3) – instead, it’s aimed at being simpler to just get on with. Accordingly, it offers little more than FX and X-Y pad control. What the QUAD does have over other Kaoss Pad models though is, as the name suggests, its ability to run four effects simultaneously.
All of the controls for these are placed above the X-Y pad for quick access. But there are no recalls or presets here. The Pad’s connections are pretty sparse as well, with just stereo RCA in and out and then mic and headphone sockets, so there’s no using MIDI for sync, and no using it as a controller for other equipment.
Divided by four
The four simultaneous effects can be independently engaged, and will either track finger movements on the X-Y pad, or can be frozen in their current position, which frees up the pad for other active, non-frozen effects.
All effects run in series from one to four, and the first three are balanced against the dry signal with a master FX depth knob. This works well for creating an extreme FX chain and then moving rhythmically between the dry and wet, although this would be even easier if a fader had been used instead of a dial. The final block is positioned post-FX depth, as it contains delays and reverbs to add to the whole signal.
Block one is for time manipulation, including a basic forward and reverse looper, a loop slicer for more intricate measures, a grain shifter for super-short, tone-creating loops, and Vinyl Break, which offers a pretty realistic turntable stop and scratch effect. Effects block two holds distortion, flanger and phaser effects, then filters and pitch-shift are in block three.
BPM can be set via tap tempo, rotary dial or an effective auto BPM function which coped with any genre we threw at it, including troublesome dubstep and D&B beat patterns. Another feature that is different on this Kaoss Pad than on others is that LED tracing as you move around the pad has been omitted. Instead, you get a pulsing set of corner light that follow the music. These go bright enough to uplight your face on the stage… but they’re so bright that we dimmed them within minutes.
We first passed various full tracks through the unit in its dry state, and noticed only a touch of fidelity loss, and next to zero delay time. The effects themselves are easy to control and sound quite good: the filters are a bit sterile-sounding and we found using them along with the distortion effect gave meatier results. The popular Jet filter is nice and creamy-sounding, and has a smooth portamento reaction time when holding one finger on the pad and tapping with another.
Vinyl Break is one of our favourites, as we could slide our fingers forward and catch the tip of a kick drum to scratch, tap the pad for a strobing effect, or tap and hold for a quick wind-down. It’s also fun when used on single sounds, like creating drops in a bass line or getting a Hoover sound on lead lines as you pull down the pitch.
The freeze function on each effect block also works as a temporary recall once set, so you can get a sound you like from an effect, freeze it, then momentarily un-freeze it with your finger on the pad to animate the sound.
Overall, the effect combos, X-Y pad, freeze buttons and FX depth give you a lot of instant, easy-to-use control. MTM
7/10 Verdict – Useful for DJs and live performers who want a simple interface and more simultaneous effects than the KP3 can offer.
+ Easy functionality
+ Bright backlight on pad
+ Small but diverse effects range
WALK ON BY
– Not as many effects as the KP3
– No general backlight for buttons
– No position lights for any frozen effects