Greetings mate and Welcome aboard. Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…
The KORG padKONTROL just may be the best midi controller on the market. Before I get into the specifics, grab a snack, sit back, and relax because you’ve come to the correct domicile.
The concept of playing drums with your fingers has become an odd and controversial one in recent years.
If you were to tell someone in 1975 that you were triggering sounds with a square piece of plastic and 16 soft pads, they would most likely laugh at you.
Nowadays it has become commonplace.
Though I have gotten some less than flattering remarks over the years, it doesn’t change the fact that I love using the padKONTROL, and always have.
It gives us musicians an easy way to vent our frustrations and stress after a long day. It’s therapeutic! For a long time, my go-to stress relief was banging out a sample on the padKONTROL.
There’s just something so magical about hearing a sample come together to form a really nice beat.
But as for the unit itself? Where do I even begin?
This little beast of a machine held up for me from 2007 all the way until 2016. Out of all the studio equipment I’ve ever had, the padKONTROL got by far the most use.
The only reason I sold it was because the knob that you see pictured (under the 5.01), broke on a flight to Greece somewhere in luggage claim.
Being that it’s such a rock-solid piece of equipment, I can only surmise that the reckless handling of my bag had something to do with it. Or maybe not, who knows?
I traveled with it quite a bit and it’s always been very reliable.
Even after it broke, I continued to use it because it still worked!
I was still able to make songs, although it was much harder because the knob that broke is what enables you to switch between keys and sounds.
I liked it so much in fact, that just recently I purchased another one!
This time I chose all black, which looks great in my studio and matches all of my equipment. I have to say that the white one looks pretty neat, but the black one is just too slick. 🙂
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Ease of Use
Out of the box, it’s really easy to set up and runs off of USB. Just plug and play.
To sync it up with your sequencing program is super simple as well and usually involves going into preferences/midi options, etc. and doing an “auto-detect”.
Each program varies slightly in its method, but setting up the padKONTROL is quite simple.
- Go to Edit > Preferences (at the bottom)
- Click the drop-down menu where it says “page”
- Keyboards and Control Surfaces
- Click Auto-detect Surfaces
- If that doesn’t work, click Add
- Choose “KORG” from the Manufacturer dropdown
- Click “pad KONTROL” from the model drop-down menu
- For “In Port”, select padKONTROL 1 Midi In
- For “Out Port”, select padKONTROL 1 Midi Out
For FL Studio:
- Options > MIDI settings.
If your pad isn’t visible, click “Refresh Device List” at the bottom. You should see the pad appear.
Now click the “Enable” button and you’re ready.
You can also look for yours in the drop-down menu where it says “Controller type”, but generally speaking it should just appear under Input.
The padKontrol has 16 assignable pads, a scene selector, and a really nice knob to scroll through your sounds. To map them is really easy:
- Hold the scene button, and tap a pad.
- Press the setting button (to the left of scene)
- turn the knob to any key you desire (G, C, A, etc.)
Assigning sounds in Reason
- Open up Redrum. Create > Redrum Drum computer.
- Click on a folder icon
- Find a Kick, snare, or hat in your sound pack.
- It should automatically assign to the padKONTROL in Scene 16.
So basically, a great way to get rolling is to lay down a sick beat and build off of that.
As far as sampling in Reason, you will need Reason’s ReCycle.
I used it a lot when I first got into sampling, but wouldn’t recommend it. It’s kind of limited with what you can do. FL Studio’s Edison or Slicex are my go-tos for chopping.
- Recommended: How to sample in FL Studio!
A video that really helped me out when I was starting with Reason:
Assigning Samples in FL Studio
Once you’ve chopped your sample in Edison, navigate toward the top left and click Add > FPC.
Now go to the top right of the FPC and you’ll see 2 arrows pointing away from each other.
Right-click one of them and hit “empty.”
Alternatively, you can click on each pad and press “delete” to dump the sound, but who wants to waste time doing that?
In any event, now we can put our own sounds in.
Before doing so, press F6 to bring up your channel rack, and note where it says “Empty.”
Right-click the button and hit “Rename, color and icon.”
Rename it to “FPC.”
On the very left where it shows the pad numbers, there’s an arrow pointing down.
Click that, and then hit “Map notes for entire bank.”
Shift your attention to the padKONTROL.
Hold “Scene” and press the first pad. Hit the setting button to basically arm the bank for samples.
Now physically press each pad on the padKONTROL, from left to right starting at the bottom left corner.
Now go back to Edison and on the very bottom left corner there’s an arrow.
Click it, scroll down to snap > snap to regions.
Now highlight the entire first slice in Edison with your mouse and drag it onto the first pad using the “Drag / copy sample / selection arrow that we used in Part 2 on the top right of Edison.
Do the same for the rest of the chops!
When you’re finished, the pads should look something like this:
Upon hitting one of the pads, you may notice the sample plays over itself and results in a terrible mess.
To fix this, use the Cut By feature (shown with the arrow above).
Near the top right of the FPC, you’ll notice it says “Midi Note” “Cut” “Cut by” and “Output.”
Both the cut and cut by are set to 0. Using your mouse, raise them each to 1 and repeat for all of the samples.
Now when you play a sample and hit it more than once in succession, it won’t overlap.
This is what really sells me on the padKONTROL. Not only is it really fun to play with, but it also feels really great to the touch.
The pads on this controller feel amazing. They are very sensitive and trigger quite easily.
You hardly have to hit them at all before a sound registers.
I suppose this is personal preference, but I put more stock into softness and sensitivity than I do in the size of the pads themselves.
I will take this to the grave with me. This thing looks amazing. It always has, and always will.
There’s just something about it that I can’t quite put my finger on.
When idle, the pads light up and go through a series of patterns, which looks really cool in the dark (for those late-night sessions).
The pads also light up every time you hit them, which is kind of a small detail but still nice.
I had a very specific goal in mind when shopping for drum pads. Convenience.
That said, The padKONTROL has a great feature that I thought I would mention. The X-Y pad. Amazing.
Some don’t think too highly of it, but when I was first starting out and experimenting, I wore this thing out. It’s great for just that: Fooling around and whatnot.
Here’s a quick rundown:
- Looks beautiful.
- Pads are extremely responsive and feel great.
- Lightweight but durable.
- Pads light up, which is a cool effect at night.
- Reliable. Will stand the test of time.
- User friendly.
- There is a small learning curve, being that it’s just a simple MIDI controller, and doesn’t actually play any sounds of its own.
What you will need
- A basic understanding of how MIDI works. Related: What is MIDI?
- A PC that will support KORG drivers.
- A sequencing program such as the ones we discussed in this article.
Recommended but not mandatory
If you’ll only be mixing on headphones, you won’t necessarily need an audio interface and studio monitors, but it’s highly advised.
In my younger years, I mixed exclusively on headphones (Sony’s MDR-7506) and while my mixes came out fine, I eventually bought a set of monitors.
Well, it’s always good to have both to go back and forth with. This gives you a better idea of how your mix actually sounds vs. the way you think it does in your head.
I primarily use the AKG K702 and OneOdio Monitor 80 when mixing on headphones, but check out my 12 Best Studio Headphones For Mixing, Mastering, And Music Production for good measure.
The Korg padKONTROL is a stellar piece of equipment that will stand the test of time.
The learning curve isn’t “easy” by any stretch, but it’s not hard. I’d consider it intermediate.
You will get the hang of it relatively quickly. With a beautiful layout, and some cool features, there is a potential for loads of fun with this beast!
As great as the padKONTROL is, I just got back into beat making and decided it was time to move on.
Well, because it’s a bit dated. It still works pretty well, but it’s never been very intuitive with FL Studio and that’s what I primarily use. I ended up buying a Novation FL Key, but if you don’t run FL Studio, you can just get the Novation Launch Key as it’s bassically the same thing only it’s for everything else.
If you do use FL Studio, I would highly advise checking out my guide on how to sample because it discusses in depth why the FL Key is so much better than pretty much every other pad.
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you enjoyed this Korg padKONTROL Review and came away with some valuable insight.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or Contact me!! I look forward to hearing from you..
What do you think?? Do you have any experience with this piece? Let me know!!
All the best and God bless,