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.
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
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.
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.
HoboMedia.com Ltd 2000