Korg KAOSSILATOR 2: There are no wrong notes

Korg are no strangers to the electronic music game and have been lovingly giving the world organs, beatboxes and synths since the sixties. It’s refreshing to see such an old hand at the music game constant exploring change and looking at new ways for people to create crazy sounds. Whilst still doing sterling work with larger keyboards and drum machines the company has also been active with things such as iOS apps (the iMS20 is a beast to be reckoned with) and with fun handheld devices such as the new Korg KAOSSILATOR 2.


The KAOSSILATOR 2 is a mini synthesizer with an intuitive touchpad. Technically it enables you to easily build your own tracks without any musical training, although I still feel that people who know nothing about music should be discouraged from making it.

Ever so slightly bigger than a mobile phone, the new battery powered synthesizer comes with an enhanced sound generator that lets you create synth and drum combinations across a range of genres, from R’n’B to D’n’B. There are 150 sounds built-in and you can tweak these to your heart’s content. There’s a PCM sound engine on board, so you can have some pretty realistic drum sounds going as well. If that isn’t enough, you can record using the built-in mic; or use the mic input for recording of external input.

An ideal instrument for the highly tactile, you create your sounds by stroking, tapping or rubbing the touchpad, then loop them into continuing patterns. You can even layer two loops together to make DJ-style mixes. What’s more, there’s a built-in Gate Arpeggiator with adjustable gate time and swing settings and you have Scale Key and Note Range to eliminate “wrong” notes. You can save the whole thing onto a microSD card, as well as playing it back via the built-in speaker or headphones.

KAOSSILATOR 2 is out now with a RRP of £155.99
For more information head to www.kaoss.co.uk

QuNeo 3D: “The World’s Most Expensive Controller”


California-based tech developers Keith McMillen Instruments (KMI)  announced recently that they’d be unleashing the next generation of music software and hardware controllers for electronic musicians, DJs, VJs and DIY hackers. It’s called the QuNeo 3D Multi-Touch Controller. Yes, you’ve heard this kind of thing before, we know. But this, tech-fiends, appears to be the ultimate hybrid of all those things.

What’s the big deal then? Well err, QuNeo (pronounced kyoo-ne-oh, FYI) seemingly covers all of the functionality of other controllers, while adding some new and rather funky dimensions. Big deal? Yep. The QuNeo provides 27 pads, sliders and rotary sensors with 3D Multi-Touch recognition for pressure, velocity, and location sensitivity, which in-turn allows musicians playing electronic sounds to change their timbre (the quality, brightness and volume…). That means that harder or softer sounds can be varied by simply varying touch pressure – fancy yourself the next Thom Yorke (Radiohead) or Trent Reznor? (Nine Inch Nails, The Social Network OST), then this bad-boy could be for you. The pads are also responsive to X (left – right) and Y (up – down) and recognise multiple gestures for pinching and swiping. Fancy (yet refreshingly simple) stuff, eh?

We admit that with most of the first-gen software that’s come before, the options for controlling music have seemingly been pretty limited. To be fair, us using the term limited might even be a stretch; you could only ever hit a pad, twist a knob or push a button to manipulate sounds and effects (nope, the theremin’s got nuttin’ on this). KMI though, has attempted (and potentially resolved these restrictions) with its new line of Multi-Touch controllers:  SoftStep, 12 Step, and now QuNeo, that transforms musical intent into audio through physical control of 3D Multi-touch sensor technology. Well funky, yeah? The other cool thing about the QuNeo is that it’s built for portability. It’s basically a low-cost iPad-shaped music controller and as such, it fits into most iPad accessories (stands, clips), and cases. It actually feels a lot easier to handle than the iPad itself. Seriously.

See the product in action:

KMI founder Keith McMillen says of the product: “Great musical instruments push back and convey a sense of the physical. They have depth and dimension and show you what they know. We have developed sophisticated and innovative sensor technologies for musicians that enable this next generation of musical instruments – controllerism 2.0.” Nice term there, Keith.

If you needed any further proof of this thing’s quality (aside from our nice words, obviously), the QuNeo has had a viral effect on internationally-recognised crowd-sourced funding platform Kickstarter (it’s the first time a music tech company has actually used this method) with record-setting pre-sales, hitting its original funding goal in just 36 hours. Why Kickstarter? The KMI QuNeo campaign project is doing its level-best to make use of the platform and enable electronic musicians, DJs, VJs, and DIY hackers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and order through a pledge of just $200. Now, as a result, the product is well over 400 per cent funded. Good work.

The QuNeo will be available by March 2012. It will be priced at $200 (around £129) for pre-sale at Kickstarter.com at the following link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kmi/quneo-multi-touch-open-source-midi-and-usb-pad-con.