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Drum pads- Velocity vs. Pressure Sensitivity
Old 13th June 2009
  #1
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Drum pads- Velocity vs. Pressure Sensitivity

Drum pads- "Pressure" vs. "Velocity" sensitivity

Hey those in the know, I've been looking at getting a new midi Drum Pad controller (ie MPC-style) for composition, even mixing/daw control and possibly live performances. I've had my MPD16 forever now, and it needs replacing. I demoed the Korg NanoPad a tiny bit and was really impressed by the feel of the pads (not to mention the X-Y screen, programmability features and looks). The one thing that scares me is that its pads are apparently 'only' Velocity Sensitive, where as the MPD controllers are Pressure Sensitive as well.

I think I understand the meaning of the two terms. With both kinds of response you can express TWO parameters via your playing, instead of just one. So for a hi-hat, for example, you could modify the sample's pitch by how quick you hit the pads (velocity) and its volume by how forcefully you press them (pressure). Am I on the right track? Having both would allow you to play fast & soft, or slow & loud, which wouldn't be possible with only one expressive parameter. "Presure sensitivity" isn't just another word for "Aftertouch", is it??

So if I'm on the right track my question is for those with real-world experience to draw upon. How much does having Pressure Sensitivity really effect the use and playability of these devices?? I mainly do hip hop, so I'll be using it mostly to record drum and percussion tracks, trigger samples, etc. One thing to keep in mind in my case is that the PadKontrol actually lets you change the velocity-response curve of each pad (I believe) , so perhaps some of the lost functionality can be made up for that way?

If anyone has any advice or lessons learned by experience with this topic I'd appreciate your help.
Old 13th June 2009
  #2
Gear Head
 

I think it's the same as aftertouch? I used to have a triggerfinger but I just got the korg Pad kontrol and it's great. Both velocity, aftertouch and the X/Y pad.
Old 15th June 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swedish Sam View Post
I think it's the same as aftertouch? I used to have a triggerfinger but I just got the korg Pad kontrol and it's great. Both velocity, aftertouch and the X/Y pad.
Actually the Korg PadKontrol was exactly what I was looking at and the advertising for it just mentions Velocity and nothing else. You sure it does Aftertouch or Pressure, etc. too?
Old 15th June 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Head
 

Yeah pretty sure it does it all. The pads are amazing compared to the trigger finger. thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
Old 16th June 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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Eloheim's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swedish Sam View Post
Yeah pretty sure it does it all. The pads are amazing compared to the trigger finger. thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
ya that's what i've been hoping
Old 16th June 2009
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eloheim View Post
I think I understand the meaning of the two terms. With both kinds of response you can express TWO parameters via your playing, instead of just one. So for a hi-hat, for example, you could modify the sample's pitch by how quick you hit the pads (velocity) and its volume by how forcefully you press them (pressure). Am I on the right track? Having both would allow you to play fast & soft, or slow & loud, which wouldn't be possible with only one expressive parameter. "Presure sensitivity" isn't just another word for "Aftertouch", is it??
Usually, "Channel Pressure" (which the parameter might be called in your sequencer) is indeed the same as Aftertouch.
Things are a little different than what you describe, though.
Velocity is about how hard you hit your keys/pads, has got nothing to do with how quick you do it.
Aftertouch is about how much you press the key down once you've hit it.

IMO Aftertouch is more or less irrelevant when dealing with drums/percussions. Usually we're dealing with one shot samples here, and unlike you want to modulate them through longer pressed keys, there's little reason to have Aftertouch.
Of course, on the slightly more experimental side of things there might be benefits in having Aftertouch as well, but for a drum trigger pad it shouldn't really make much of a difference.

- Sascha
Old 16th June 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sascha Franck View Post
Usually, "Channel Pressure" (which the parameter might be called in your sequencer) is indeed the same as Aftertouch.
Things are a little different than what you describe, though.
Velocity is about how hard you hit your keys/pads, has got nothing to do with how quick you do it.
Aftertouch is about how much you press the key down once you've hit it.

IMO Aftertouch is more or less irrelevant when dealing with drums/percussions. Usually we're dealing with one shot samples here, and unlike you want to modulate them through longer pressed keys, there's little reason to have Aftertouch.
Of course, on the slightly more experimental side of things there might be benefits in having Aftertouch as well, but for a drum trigger pad it shouldn't really make much of a difference.

- Sascha
Thanks you so much for the thoughtful reply! So "Velocity" really isn't anything to do with speed of play? (Of course I didn't mean just as in playing a fast sequence, but how fast you physically depress the key.) That's really good to know.

And as far as using (or not using) two expression parameters for playing percussion parts, esp. in hip hop, you hit on what I was wondering exactly. I haven't really seen more than one used under most circumstances. It would be nice for creative possibilities, but then again, I still do have my old MPD16 if I really want that.
Old 16th June 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eloheim View Post
So "Velocity" really isn't anything to do with speed of play? (Of course I didn't mean just as in playing a fast sequence, but how fast you physically depress the key.)
Not at all. The speed at which you play is represented in your note length.
On a sidenote: There is something such as "release velocity", but I have never been completely aware of what that might be good for (and it's hardly implemented in both synths and sequencers anymore).

Quote:
And as far as using (or not using) two expression parameters for playing percussion parts, esp. in hip hop, you hit on what I was wondering exactly. I haven't really seen more than one used under most circumstances. It would be nice for creative possibilities, but then again, I still do have my old MPD16 if I really want that.
See, for percussive things Aftertouch really doesn't make too much sense. AT usually is used for held notes. As an example: You play a synth chord/lead and while you hold your notes down, you want them to start, say, vibrating. With AT supported (by both your input keyboard and the synth), you'd just press the held keys a little harder to get there (of course assuming AT is routed to some LFO on your synth).
When programming/recording percussive tracks, you hardly ever keep a note held down.
So, if you still wanted some variations (or modulations), I'd rather recommend using a ModWheel (or any other continous controller for the matter) instead of aftertouch.

Cheers
Sascha
Old 19th June 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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I just wanted to post a few corrections for this thread. Apparently I was confused about the MPD16's pressure-sensitive (aftertouch) capabilites. I may have been looking at the MPD24 or 32 specs by mistake. I discovered this by looked more in depth at the "manual" (if you can call it that) and also experimenting to see what midi messages the controller was transmiting; aftertouch was definitly not among them. So it looks like the PadKontrol is just as good with expression as my MPD16 in that respect.
Old 10th July 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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Just spotted this and thought...could a.t. be used for brush swirls ??
Old 10th July 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old crow View Post
Just spotted this and thought...could a.t. be used for brush swirls ??
Hm, interesting idea. I don't have the proper samples to try with, but that'd be one possible purpose which might as well feel more or less "natural", given that brush swirling is indeed something not one-shot but more like a held down key with some "further action".

- Sascha
Old 10th July 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

I would suggest going with the PadKontrol. I own that and the MPD16 and the MPD just sits in my closet. The PadKontrol can do so much that others cannot such as the roll and flam functions with the XY pad, those are just amazing!

You can adjust velocity curves for each pad, but I've found that you get weird results with most of them, so I just use the default. I guess it just depends on what you are triggering. I mainly just use it for programming beats and use my MIDI keyboard for everything else.
Old 11th July 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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I see my thread here has been revived! I'm still thinking about pickin up a PadKontrol when I have $$ to spend. To extent the OP a little, can someone who actually prefers the MPD 24/32 or Trigger Finger (etc.?) to the PadKontrol fill me on why? In other words, what can the other MPC-esque midi controllers out there offer that PadKontrol can't? (Aftertouch notwithstanding...fuuck) I'm thinking mostly about dedicated pad-controllers here, but I'd be open to comparisons with the pad-functionality of more integrated options as well (eg. akai's MPK line).
Old 11th July 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Addict
 

I bought the Akai MPD24 and didn't like it at all. You have to hit the pads really hard so it's difficult do get varied velocities. It's all or nothing sort of. Also if yoy hit the pads towards the corners they sometimes doesn't trigger at all. I returned it and got the Korg padKontrol. Works like a charm! Much more sensitive. You don't have to hit as hard and the pads work all the way to the corners. And they light up when you hit them! ;-)

Now I just want that BPM app from MOTU to go with it, looks like a killer app for use with MPD/padKontrol/Trigger Finger!
Old 11th July 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FutureLegends View Post
I bought the Akai MPD24 and didn't like it at all. You have to hit the pads really hard so it's difficult do get varied velocities. It's all or nothing sort of. Also if yoy hit the pads towards the corners they sometimes doesn't trigger at all. I returned it and got the Korg padKontrol. Works like a charm! Much more sensitive. You don't have to hit as hard and the pads work all the way to the corners. And they light up when you hit them! ;-)

Now I just want that BPM app from MOTU to go with it, looks like a killer app for use with MPD/padKontrol/Trigger Finger!

I have a MPD16 and it's the same, complete junk. All I use it for is to quickly tap in a beat when I don't want to go to my V-drums/handsonic and it's really only good for electronic stuff with little to no dynamics.
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