Pad Controllers. Yes or No?

While I do have a basic electronic kit from where I can trigger BFD, my current situation imposes that I have to work without it. So I mostly program stuff by hand, OR I play them on a MIDI keyboard (without pads), with various levels of success or failure. I am wondering if getting a basic pad controller would improve my situation in regards to: dynamics and accuracy.

So, I ask thee:

Is a pad controller (e.g. AKAI 218) significantly better for BFD than an ordinary MIDI keyboard?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

The KMI Boppad is top of my ‘to buy’ list for bfd use. Not all pad controllers are equal it seems, depends on the keyboard/pad controller…

Thanks for the input @maximumdembo!

I’ve seen most of those videos, and I still can’t make heads or tails of it. It goes without saying that buying more expensive products will bring better quality to the table, and I especially liked the CC aspect of the bobpad as an idea!

What I’m wondering is if the AKAI in particular will be somewhat useful at that price point or completely thrown away money. It’s small enough, slim enough, 16 pads are enough-ish, the point is, is it sensitive enough?

I get the feeling its going to be quite subjective, and take some setting up. It might take a few devices before you find the one that works for you I think. Are shops open where you are? You ok returning stuff?

The reason I think the Boppad has potential is its the only one I like thats actually made for drum sticks (not that I’m a drummer, but im not a finger drummer either), and because its fabric and can go on a stand, it might make less noise that hitting pads even with just ones fingers. And its made for the sensitivity a drummer would bring rather than being made for anyone hitting pads. Its not a solid thing to WACK like a MIDI controller normally made for sticks.

I’m not sure I see the tech being much different under a key on a MIDI controller being that much different from whats under a pad on a MIDI controller, whereas the Boppad is something else entirely.

That being said, I havent used a boppad at all.

EDIT: Hence me not voting and just making things more confusing instead of helping :slight_smile:

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I have a Maschine to rig up for pad control, but use an Alesis Control Pad when I feel like hitting something!
Though I’ve always fancied one of these:

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Oh man the zendrum! I remember that! Very neat, but I’m afraid I can’t afford the luxury. I’d rather get a digital console or a good LDC or two at that price range. What a tool for percussionists though.

The maschine is highly recommended, but for my use case, wouldn’t it go to waste? I’m not looping much, I just record.

I just want a dumb controller with good sensitive pads to “replace” my e-drums that I can’t bring over to where I currently reside due to space limitations. I don’t care about crosstalk or double hits, I can make a cleaning pass in Cubase. I just don’t want it to fall apart in 6 months, or to have me tap my fingers like I’m hammering on .13 gauge strings for a simple mezzo piano hit.

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My Mascine is Mk2. With Maschine+ having just come out, I bet you could find a good deal on a used Mk2 or Mk3.

Yeah. Not too hard imagining Bill Bruford going off with one standing next to Tony Levin tapping away on his Chapman stick.

Can’t come down hard binary yes or no. It may be a particular pad controller may be scaled well for live dynamics, or the keyboard may be easier, I think it would tend to boil down to how comfy are you with a MIDI keyboard. IME the Zendrum is the only thing I’d throw money at, I find the AKAI kind of pad mushy and not any advantage particularly. Sensel Morph is tapping on an iPad essentially, its drum overlay are larger surface areas, and I still keep drumsticks…

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I got a novation 64-pad device and I’ve struggled to get things programmed to work well with bfd. I generally use a td12 to fire events into bfd but considering I’m not a good drummer, I thought a pad would fill that need just as easily. It’s nice late at night when I don’t feel like sitting at the drums but overall, I find more effort is involved if I’m using the novation device. I will say this, the novation is pretty cheap so I don’t feel like it was a waste either way. I’m still hopeful it will become my go-to when laying down drum tracks.

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Alright, after taking unprecedented abstention to heart I went ahead and got a 218 to test the waters.

For 85€, I can’t say I’m disappointed.

The good:

  • The device is the perfect size. Small, slim, fairly big pads (easily fit 3 fingers)

  • It’s very intuitive, fairly easy to tap undemanding grooves (much easier than using a piano keyboard), acceptably dynamic for this type of playing.

  • Endless potentiometers (not encoders) work pretty well in Cubase assigned to quick controls. I thought it would be more of a hassle.

  • Banks are easy to operate and set up.

  • Editor software allows for complete remapping of the device.

The bad:

  • Not very sensitive. Very light taps either don’t register at all, or trigger multiple instances of a note, depending on the pad of course, because…

  • It’s not equally responsive across all pads. Not all pads exhibit the same response, others are pretty sensitive and linear, others are more insensitive and ramp velocities faster or slower. Thus, for very soft and detailed playing, some setup is required for assigning special velocity curves, and playing soft parts louder. (so that the pads register better, and then velocity response curves bring them down to the desired dynamics)

That’s the bill. Now, would I pay 200€ more, to have more sensitive pads? Well… I don’t think so. If a project required very detailed drums I could always make it a special occasion and arrange to track a performance with my laptop & e-kit (sans BFD) and then bring it over to BFD, or track real drums (that’s what friends are for, right? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

So, all in all, pretty ok, I expected much worse out of this little controller, but at this price, I can’t blame it in the slightest.