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Help me pick a midi pad for finger drumming - Akai MPD218, Korg Nanopad2, or Arturia Beatstep?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Corvid, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Corvid

    Corvid Member

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    I'm looking to start recording some garage rock-style music at a very low/simple/introductory level at home. I've already got a way to record my guitar, and I'd like to use a midi pad plus a drum VST to "play" and record my own drums. This is hobby level for now, and the three pads mentioned in the title are what are available in my region and which fit into my budget. I only need the pads for drumming - I don't care about any other synth-style or EDM-style features. What I'd most like to know is if there is a significant improvement in pad sensitivity with the Akai MPD218 and/or Arturia Beatstep vs the Korg Nanopad2 (as the Akai and Arturia are around $100 vs the Korg's $50), and also opinions on the Akai's "standard" 4X4 pad setup vs the Arturia and Korg's 2X8 pad arrangement for finger drumming. Any other opinions or experiences anyone would like to share are also appreciated.

    In case it matters, I'm probably going to use Reaper as my DAW and start off with the free MT-PowerDrumKit2 VST (https://www.powerdrumkit.com/) and see how things go, then maybe get EZ Drummer/Addictive Drums/whatever if I feel the need.

    I'd prefer to go cheap and get the Korg, but I've read a lot of reviews on the internet saying it's pads are pretty crappy. I've heard the Akai was once considered very good but in recent years a lot of people are saying quality's dropped off and it's pads aren't very good, either - but the 4X4 grid seems to be more standard for finger drumming (but, in a further twist, when I checked prices today, it seems that nobody has the MPD218 in stock - everyone's saying it can be special ordered or stock will come in in a month or so - perhaps Akai's stopped making it?). The very few reviews I can find of the Arturia Beatstep regarding finger drumming suggest the pads are very sensitive, although I also found one review saying they're stiff, and the Arturia's pads are a little smaller and its form factor, with all the knobs up top, seems like it might be the most difficult of the three to use for drumming, although apparently it was originally designed with drumming in mind first.

    Thanks for anything you have to share!
     
  2. Fred Farkus

    Fred Farkus Gold Supporting Member

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    My son uses something like the Akai and seems to like it. I think I'd prefer the square shape over the other two in that there's more real estate for my fingers that would make it easier to find the pads. For now, I just use a simple MIDI keyboard controller (Korg, don't remember the model #, < $50) for tapping out drum parts.

    When you get familar with Reaper, give this a try for drums:

    https://bedroomproducersblog.com/2014/11/27/deepest-sampled-drum-kit/

    This is a free sample library of a 1965 Ludwig kit and it sounds great. You have to set up comp, eq, reverb etc yourself so it is not as simple as a canned plugin but once you get up to speed with FX, channel routing and etc, it's a lot of fun to play with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
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  3. Corvid

    Corvid Member

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    Sounds like you're using maybe the Korg NanoKey or Nanokey2?

    Anyway, thanks for the drum library link! Hopefully I'll be at a level to truly make use of it some day. :D

    Right now I'm leaning towards the Arturia Beatstep just because it's pads and build quality seem to be the best reviewed out of the three, but I'm still hoping to hear opinions from others.

    For posterity's sake and for anyone else interested in these, particularly the Beatstep for finger drumming, who might someday stumble on this thread, here's pretty much the only decent video I've found of the Arturia Beatstep being used for finger drumming:

     
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  4. Fred Farkus

    Fred Farkus Gold Supporting Member

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    I’m using one of the Korg Micro-key models.
     
  5. Bennihana

    Bennihana Member

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    Other than cutting and splicing a ton of loops in EZDrummer for my tracks, I add a new noodles and drum textures using an Akai MPK Mini. It is still taking a bunch of time to get used to and toying with getting the timing right.
     
  6. Corvid

    Corvid Member

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    Are you using the Mini's keys, drum pads, or both? If you have much experience with the pads, what do you think about their sensitivity? Do you get a lot of missed hits or misread hits, etc.?
     
  7. Corvid

    Corvid Member

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    And how's the sensitivity on that when using them to play/program drum samples?
     
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  8. Bennihana

    Bennihana Member

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    Ive only used it a few times. The velocity is good. For drums, I used the pads. For SFX, I used the keys in order to ensure they were the right note. Occasionally, the drum hits would be a bit off, but that can be adjusted on the midi roll (same with velocity and everything else). It's a nicely priced little unit to get started.
     
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  9. Digitalman

    Digitalman Member

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    I’m a Push 2 user nowadays, but I know that’s not in your budget. It’s incredible though.

    I can say I had a Korg Nano Pad 2 once and it stopped working within a few days. I’d go with Akai.
     
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  10. Fred Farkus

    Fred Farkus Gold Supporting Member

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    Can't say for sure. It is velocity sensitive. But I just use it to lay down a basic beat and then go back and edit in the MIDI editor for velocity, fills, and varying patterns/parameters for realism.
     
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  11. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    Everything you need to know about pad controllers is in this video:

    I can only add to this that a) all this sensitivity stuff matters a lot whether you’re on the beginner level or not. Actually, unless you have very well developed technique where you can hit pads firmly and accurately, it matters really really much; b) bad pads can be a nightmare to use. Double triggering, skipping hits, all that stuff gets very annoying very quickly; c) I really wouldn’t advise smaller pads.
     
  12. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    Good pads make it way way easier.
     
  13. Bennihana

    Bennihana Member

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    The pads are the first Ive ever bought. They feel alright to me. I don't plan on upgrading to anything fancier except for maybe an electric drum kit.
     
  14. vangrieg

    vangrieg Member

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    Well, whether you want or plan to or should upgrade is obviously none of my business, everybody decides that for himself. :)
     
  15. Mister Natural

    Mister Natural Member

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  16. Bennihana

    Bennihana Member

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    Yeah, I wasn't trying to be a prick or anything. Ive been playing guitar forever, but am just figuring out this recording world and building a small home setup at the same time. Diving in head-first and keeping a tight budget at the same time. I will upgrade pieces as I get further along, but for now Im just working on a year long art project in my free time.

    First sampling can be heard here:

     
  17. sixesandsevens

    sixesandsevens Member

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  18. MoarGear

    MoarGear Member

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    NanoPad2 has stiff pads. They rate a C-, IMO. Workable, but far from ideal.

    Akais rate a solid C+, IMO. A little better, but still far from ideal.

    LaunchPad Pros are definitely better than both, and rate a solid B. Good enough for most things.

    There's nothing cheap that actually has excellent Pads. Things like the LaunchPad Pro are a good compromise that's still inexpensive.
     
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  19. Mister Natural

    Mister Natural Member

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    as an added bonus, the LPad has the cool light show :
     
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  20. Corvid

    Corvid Member

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    I don't know about where you are, but where I am, the LaunchPad Pro is about three times the price of the Akai and Beatstep, at which point the Quneo and Maschine Mikro seem like better choices for pure finger drumming because of their larger pads (although less numerous than the LaunchPad Pro). Any thoughts on those two? Maschine's pads seem to be the gold standard, but I like the form factor and purported flexibility and durability of the Quneo.
     
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