KORG KAOSS PAD
Picking winners in this category is never easy. However, choosing Korg's KAOSS Pad was as close to a no-brainer as we could imagine. Aimed at the remix-production crowd, this tabletop box combines a phrase sampler, an effects processor, and an x-y controller pad that lets you "play" any of its 60 effects in real time. Rubbing, scratching, and tapping your fingers on the pad controls the way in which effects are applied by modifying separate parameters along the horizontal and vertical axes. You can take your sound from subtle to extreme in a single stroke.
Because of its brilliantly simple interface, anyone with fingers can get up and running with this thing. In fact, it begs to be played with, and after spending a few minutes auditioning the totally cool effects, you'll be hooked. The KAOSS sports separate line- and mic-level inputs along with phono jacks, making this an ideal companion for studio use and live gigs. What's more, its MIDI Out port lets you use it to shape and freak out your favorite synth patches.
If "Most Inspiring Product" were a category, the Korg KAOSS pad would be the undeniable champion; it has to be played to be believed. As one electronica junkie put it during the review, "Why doesn't everyone have one of these?'