Korg Gadget — Reviewing the Drum Modules

Korg’s “studio-in-a-tablet” app, Gadget, continues to amaze with its intuitive interface and versatile collection of sound-producing “gadgets.” We previously gave Gadget a positive review, and also took a closer look at one half of its synth collection followed by the other half.

What follows in this article is a more detailed analysis of Gadget’s three drum modules. Well, it’s really more like two-and-a-half, as Amsterdam provides a full range of sound effects, pads, and hits in addition to some drum sounds — ultimately, it fits better in this article. Hopefully, more drum modules get added in a future Gadget update.

London calling out PCM Drum Beats

London is Gadget’s main drum module. It offers a host of PCM sounds — over 400 — geared towards the dance beat creation scene. The gadget includes three main screens used for editing, fine tuning of effects, and mixing.

Korg Gadget London

London is Gadget’s go to drum module featuring PCM sounds. Screenshot by author.

You can edit each of the eight voices’ pitch as well as switch between a gate and a one-shot envelope using a knob to control the release time. There’s one master effect for each drum patch, with each individual voice also providing punch and low boost controls. The mixer offers the standard pan and level functionality by voice.

London is a solid PCM drum module and the lack of many other alternatives means it needs to be used on most non-ambient tracks created in Gadget.

Tokyo goes Virtual Analog Percussion

Tokyo offers great-sounding virtual modeled analog drum sounds and an effective modular-like interface. Frankly, I wish it provided more than four voices — maybe a six or eight voice version would be included in a future Gadget update? It especially works well when enhancing the PCM sounds coming out of London.

Korg Gadget Tokyo

Tokyo brings virtual analog drum sounds to the Gadget equation. Screenshot by author.

The four modules within Tokyo are geared towards creating kick, snare, tom, and percussion sounds respectively, but strategic knob-twiddling makes it possible to conjure up some interesting effects. Each module sports similar controls, like Tune and Decay; the differences between the four warrant additional experimentation. A master effect at the patch level rounds out Tokyo’s sonic design.

A Boombox in Amsterdam

Korg calls Amsterdam a PCM SFX Boombox, and its funky interface definitely looks the part. A wide array of sounds, effects, and musical pads lurk within. There are four different voices, making it possible to program simple chord progressions or a collage of sound effects.

Korg Gadget Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a versatile module, giving Gadget a wide range of drum sounds, effects, and even musical pads. Screenshot by author.

Amsterdam’s one screen includes a mixer, tuning and envelope control for each sound, and controls for the master effects. The ability to load one’s own samples would be a really great addition to Amsterdam in a future update. Still, the included sound set offers a good measure of sonic versatility.

Well that’s it. Considering the robust collection of synth modules, the inclusion of so few on the drumming side of the shop is arguably Gadget’s biggest weakness. All three modules have their unique strengths and will serve you well in your own beatmaking exercises.

My biggest hope is that future updates mean more percussion sound options — in addition to more voices for Tokyo. That latter point is made as an iPad 2 owner who can only run a limited number of gadgets at one time!


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