Aug 22

Korg Kaoss Pad Kp3


Korg describe the Kaoss Pad KP3 as ” More than a processor, the KP3 is a complete instrument allowing you to manage, recall, and play back samples; sample on the fly; and add dynamic processing to any audio signal or to the samples themselves”. It has the X-Y touch pad to control multi -effect parameters in real time and it has been around since October 2006 and is still being widely used by musicians, producers and DJ’s. It is Korg’s third version of it’s Kaoss Pad and I wonder as this is nearly four years old now, will there ever be a KP4? The KP3 was upgraded to Version 2 on 9th July 2009. This Kaoss Pad is not just a great hands-on effects module it is also quite a remarkable Midi controller.

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Korg Kaoss Pad Kp3


The Korg KP3 is loaded with cutting-edge creative effects ranging from Decimators, Real Time Sample Stretching, Compressors and Pitch – Shifting. It gives you capabilities to mangle sounds anyway you can imagine.The KP3 even has the Radius Synth killer effects like Multi mode filter, Vocoder and Drum and Bass and Lead Synth Sounds. The 128 Programs are divided into the following  Program Categories: 16 Filters, 2 EQs, 12 Modulators, 2 Compressors , 25 LFOs , 16 Delays, 6 Reverbs, 5 Grain Shifters,  13 Loopers, 7 Sample Effects, 4 Sample Bank Crossfades, 6 Drums, 10 Synthesizers and 4 Vocoders.

I love the Decimator. It is really a Bit Crusher which seems to really get hold of your audio and smash it into Lo-Fi. I also found that they have improved the filters from what I remember of the KP2. Apparently it has been expanded to offer up to 72db cut-off which is “Wow”. Add some of the Kaoss resonance and you are in Filter Dreamland. The EQ is also worth a mention. Korg have cleverly placed this around the Control Pad. I found that after a couple of days of use, I was very familiar with how they had placed this which enabled me to control the Kaoss more effectively.


I found the layout of KP3 to be very simple and user friendly. There are 3 main knobs which let you instantly adjust Input Volume, effect depth (which is similar to dry-wet setting),  and BPM. The BPM is adjusted by pressing the knob and turning it, alternatively you can adjust it by tapping. The KP3 has fast accurate BPM detection and automatically syncs the delay and LFO effects to the incoming signal’s tempo.  The hold button lets you freeze your position on the pad when you find that precious sweet spot. You can also use the hold function to tap on the pad modulating the effect to your own rhythm. The Mute button cuts the input signal momentarily as you hold it down but the effected signal continues to play.

I tried to create that Transformer technique that you hear DJ’s do. You have to get a continuous sound going and then quickly tap the mute button to create your rhythmic effects. I think as a drummer I did quite well and was proud of the results. The FX release lever assists you with making the transition smoothly from a very hard sounding effect (like Distortion) back to the original unaffected signal. Above the X-Y pad at the top you have the Input Select Switch for MIC or LINE and the Peak indicator which lights Green then Orange and finally Red where you need to adjust the Input Volume. I enjoyed the Pad motion button. This let me record my own finger movements and then play them forward or backward- great fun. There are 8 function buttons above the X-Y Pad and you can use these to store and recall your eight favourite effects. At the bottom are four Sample buttons. Each of these can hold a one-shot or a looped sample and they are colour coded – Green for a loop and Red for a one-shot. These samples measured in beats rather than seconds, can be sped up or slowed down in real time just by adjusting the tempo.


I had a go at Sampling from this month’s Computer Music DVD. I found the Sampling on the KP3 to be easy, and very powerful. Basically all you have to do is hit the Sample button and then the Pad you want to sample into. To re-sample you just hold down the Shift button first. Korg state that “All samples are recorded using high resolution 24-bit converters, and are stored in16-bit/48 kHz format. Samples can be saved on a Secure Digital (SD) card or transferred to computer via USB. With both mic and line inputs, the KP3 allows you to sample from a wide variety of sources”.


The KP3 has a reasonable amount of connections on the front and back to connect up in your studio or live setup. I have already mentioned the RCA inputs and outputs but in addition to these on the back there is a Direct / Send switch so you can use it in an effects loop. There are also Midi In and Outputs plus a USB connection. The USB port is great for sending Samples To and From the KP3. On the front are Mic and Headphone connections with a Volume and Trim control and an SD card slot to save up to 2 MB of samples.

You can also import 8, 16, and 24-bit mono or stereo WAV or AIFF files at 44.1 or 48 kHz; the KP3 converts the file to 48 kHz and truncates the length to 16 beats. Samples can be saved to and loaded from the SD card as well, although they must be named with 2-digit numbers, not text.You can also use the included Editor Software to manage your Samples, Reorder effects Programs and Setup external Control. I installed the KP3 MIDI driver and editor-librarian on my Windows XP. I had no trouble transferring my samples from and to the PC.


As a MIDI Controller you can transmit MIDI messages from the X-Y Pad, the Slider, the effects knobs and the whole sample and function buttons. You can even setup the Pad to control 8 faders at once in your DAW and have visual feedback to show when your levels are set. If you then setup the Sample buttons for Rewind, Play, Stop and fast forward, you have the perfect control surface. In addition to sensing fingertip position, the pad also detects taps, which you can assign to MIDI events such as Note On commands. It doesn’t, however, detect Velocity or Pressure. I can also see some people using the X-Y control pad to control Filters and resonance on their Soft Synths.

The Korg KP3 Kaoss Pad is great fun, delivers great results and is really easy to use. It is awesome at beat sync and matching of effects and samples. I really enjoyed playing with the Pad Motion facility  and putting a Mic through it.  You can always have more and more facilities but these always come with increased cost. What you have here is a cost-effective sound mangling effects processor, sampler and midi controller  for you to add some Kaoss to your music – very useful indeed.

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