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DJ Gear - Numark EM460 "Kaoss" Mixer
Christopher Evrard

Numark_EM460Dance music bands such as Kojak, who performed a rib-tickling set at this year's Glastonbury Festival, have taken their music into a new dimension by using what has to be the best product launched for DJs in the last two years - the hugely desirable Korg Kaoss pad. Now, with mouth-drooling marketing suss, Korg and Numark have teamed up and sensibly designed two DJ mixers - the EM460 and soon-to-follow EM360 - each with an integrated on-board Korg Kaoss pad. Wicked.

Both the EM460 and 360 are closely related to the larger DM series Numark mixers, which have been a mainstay in the dance music technology market for many years. The EM460 is £100 more expensive, and it offers EQ controls on the inputs and has one extra channel. Both mixers are on offer in a Ferrari red "landscape" (horizontal) housing which can be incorporated into a 19in rack.

For those poor souls unacquainted with the essential features of the Korg Kaoss pad, it's basically a two-dimensional ribbon controller which enables tactile pressure placed on a plastic surface to modulate and effect an incoming stereo signal. The pad is divided into four quadrants with tasteful, coloured back-lighting. Each quadrant is evenly placed around the X-Y axis of a cross. By applying finger pressure into different axis lines on the pad, individual or groups of parameters can be varied - simple but bloody effective.

If any of you have swished the filter open and cranked up resonance on a Moog synth (the first people to integrate ribbon controllers), then you'll know how subtle vibratos can be added to sounds just by gently warbling your finger in the right spot. This is the type of "tactile" control the Kaoss pad excels at.

Sixty versatile effect settings can be tweaked and totally edited all using finger pressure on the pad. Favourites include spatial-type effects such as delay, reverb and pitch shifter; filters with maximum resonance; and modulation-type effects such as flangers, phasers and a very useful pan setting which allows you to "draw" sounds into any left or right direction with your finger. Effect programs are selected via a tactile knob, and can be assigned to any of the six buttons for immediate recall.

You can use the Kaoss Pad to sample an external audio source (for a maximum of five seconds at 48kHz) and then control that sound from the pad. The sampled source can be modified using a variety of effects such as time-stretch, reverse playback, and pitch change - an ideal way to create sound material for further sampling or to integrate sampled effects into your live act.

As an example, you can do things like simultaneously control the delay time and the feedback of a DDL setting, or simultaneously modify the LFO and resonance of a filter - complex operations that would be cumbersome with sliders or knobs. The X-Y pad can also be scraped or tapped to control the effect, letting you produce switch-type effects that are impossible with knobs or sliders, and making it possible to control the effects in time with a rhythm or phrase - just as if you were playing a musical instrument.

By connecting a microphone to the Mic In jack you can apply the internal effects to your voice - and use the X-Y pad to freely control the results.

The Kaoss Pad is also a powerful contender for the most avant-garde MIDI control device ever known. Connect your fave synth to the MIDI Out connector and use the Kaoss Pad to control the parameters of an external keyboard, sampler, or effect processor - check out the excellent Korg website for continuing news and updates on the parameter settings suitable for control on third party gear by the Kaoss Pad.

Closing Thought:
All the beauty of a fully integrated Kaoss Pad inside a DJ mixer - that's what Numark have brought to the table . And the result is a burning red powerhouse of sonic possibilities, which enables various deck and mike inputs to be assigned to the amazing Kaoss Pad electronics, all at a sensible price. The combined Numark/Kaoss EM460 mixer will be available in the UK this Christmas (the EM360 will follow in the New Year). Highly recommended.

Copyright © Ltd 2000



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