I've been a fan of Keith McMillin Instruments aka KMI for a while now, from their innovative QuNeo to their game changing K-Mix this boutique controller company is always innovating.
We caught up with KMI (as we always do) at NAMM 2017 to get a preview of the BopPad back in January, their cool new MIDI drum pad controller for percussionists and those that just want to hit something to trigger sounds.
I finally got a hold of one to test it out and decided to take it on a road trip with me to the mountains, hence the reason the video was shot on a deck overlooking a golf course.
The basic setup is simple, you can either put it on a table or desktop and play it flat or to make it a little more fun you can mount it on a cymbal stand at a slight angle (I've tried both, mounted is more functional). The BopPad is a plug and play situation, and the pad is split into four specific sections that represent four notes delineations, A, B, C and D which are easy to figure when the pad is mounted with the KMI logo at midnight (at the top dude). You can also program the BopPad however you want using the editor, this allows you program five notes per section (see below). So you can get super creative and custom with how you program it. I kept it simple for this review, but have messed around with the editor and it's a very helpful function for dialing it in for specific types of performances.
D = Top Left
A = Top Right
C = Bottom Left
B = Bottom Right
Just like all KMI products the BopPad is built Ford tough, this thing can be dropped, spilled on and slightly abused and it will be just fine. However, just like any piece of gear you should keep it clean and not intentionally spill your beer on it, you're smarter than that. It's just nice to know that the pad can handle most standard accidents.
Playing the pad can be done with your hands or a pair of sticks or mallets, there is no one right way to play it. I used it with Garage Band and Logic Pro to mess around and found that it works well for a variety of tasks. The great thing about the BP is the insane low latency and pressure sensitivity, which makes it feel like a real instrument. The harder you hit it, the louder it sounds, and the strike point is exact almost like you are hitting a real drum.
Playing Drums - If you don't like programming your drums, then meet your new best friend. You can simply pound out your pattern to perfection, quantize it or let it sit their au naturel with some organic swing on it. In my opinion, it's much more fun to play out patterns and loops than to click a grid.
Playing Bass / Synths - If you want to make basic patterns this surface works well and is a lot of fun. You can get creative with the pressure sensitivity of the pad here extracting all sorts of great sounds. I experimented with the 'Ghost Voices' synth in Garage Band and got lost in the weirdness, tweaking the reverb and delay was too fun. (Check the video).
Summary - If you are looking for a MIDI pad that will bring the joy of percussive control, look no further. The BopBad is great for both live performance and working in the studio to program/play your drums as well as mess with simple synth and bass lines. I love this thing, and for the price, it's a welcome addition to any studio set-up and will get you out of the box for a bit.
Added bonus - The BopPad can also function just as a practice pad for drummers on the road or in environments where you need to be quiet.
MSRP $199 | KMI Website
Official KMI Description
BopPad is the expressive electronic drum pad for drummers, percussionists, and producers. BopPad gives you accurate hit detection (with latency under 3ms!), velocity, continuous radius, and pressure. Four independently programmable zones output MIDI notes, velocity, pitch bend, pressure, and location CCs.
BopPad has an extremely wide dynamic range and measures strike velocity from the softest hand drumming to the most brutal percussive assault. A robust tuned elastomer surface covers a 10” circle of our patented Smart Fabric Sensor Technology to give you traditional feel and a new dimension of expressivity.
BopPad can also operate as a conventional practice pad with a realistic feel and portable, lightweight design.
With BopPad you can bring a new range of sonic possibility to your drum set, trigger samples, sound effects, pads, and chords. Unleash your creativity by playing your software instruments and synthesizers in a whole new way. So portable you can bring it everywhere and never miss a beat when inspiration strikes.