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  • Ken Peel

Have Gadget, will travel. Korg Gadget and nanoKEY Studio away and at home with Ableton Live.

A new iPad and Korg Gadget have made working away from home 1-3 nights a week over the past 6 months or so not just bearable but creatively productive. I've been using Gadget as a sketchpad and idea explorer, along with the nanoKEY Studio. My daw of choice in the studio is Ableton Live where i've been developing the the rough cuts made on the iPad. There's reviews of Gadget and it's surprising depth of functionality all over the place, so here are just a few thoughts and observations on using it with the nanoKEY Studio and the VST Gadgets.


The Ableton Live export works well. It's not perfect, but it is good (and the perfect should never be the enemy of the good). It would be nice if track labels came over, and there's something not quite exactly the same about exactly how Gadget scenes translate to Live scenes but I can work with it. So much so that I bought the VST Gadget instruments for tweaking and developing the material proper (the MIDI and instrument settings) rather than just the wav exports.


The VST Gadgets sound great, but ... They do sound really good and their simplicity makes them fun, I particularly like the MS20 inspired 'Memphis' gadget and the PolySix inspired 'Pompei' gadget is, to me, great and sits really nicely in a mix. I think I'd very much like to get my hands on an original PolySix one day, more so than a Jupiter 8 which, if that upsets you, I apologise. But there is a but: the vst gadgets don't sound the same as the iPad ones. I don't understand why, but an export of wavs from the ipad sounds, well, like I thought it would on the studio monitors; the same track recreated on the vst gadgets sounds noticeably dull and a little muted in tone. Less bass, less treble. I wouldn't go as far as muddy, but it's not the same. It doesn't take much tweaking to get the VST versions sounding great (when starting with a Gadget export) so it's not game over at all. My best guess is that assuming we are starting with the same code base, the Gadget 'arranger' beautifies the audio output to make it sound good on the iPads built-in speaker and, in turn, the audio output. That same treatment isn't in Ableton, so the hosted VST gadgets don't get the benefit of that auto-tweak.


The nanoKEY Studio is worth it, but there's another but. The nanoKEY Studio works really well, out of the box with Gadget on the iPad, no config required. It is consistent too in the mappings of knobs between Gadgets (e.g. the cut off knob on one gadget is the same on another, same for amp envelope). It is as if the nanokey studio was made to help you get the most out of the Gadgets. So far, so iPad; but it's not the same for the VST Gadgets. Out of the box there is no mapping - each knob, pad, etc. has to be mapped individually. Korg - ouch. Maybe a little Live script could help with that, but I don't have the time for scripting and maybe the bluetooth midi driver that Korg provide (which works really well, surprisingly) could have done some mapping magic. Anyhow bit of a shame that, but never mind.


There are some tracks coming out in the next few months that started life on Gadget on the iPad and were developed using Gadget VSTs in Live. I'll point them out here on the Blog, let me know what you think of them!

#Korg #Gadget #Ableton

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Ken Peel is a music producer and sound artist specialising in electronic music based in the south-west of England.

© 2020 Studio Ken Peel