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There are some wonderful bits of kit in the world allowing you to manipulate your music, but some just go that extra mile and attempt to break the mould with a brand new user interface that is completely different to the conventional buttons and knobs on most pieces of hardware.

It’s time they were recognised – here’s the Top 5 craziest hardware effects units…
5. Korg nanoPAD

Korg’s Mac-based MIDI controller provides several pads and an X-Y touch pad to give the user a variety of methods to trigger and alter their effects.   While this does require software to function, it is a hardware unit, so it can sit proudly among the others in this list!

4. Behringer Tweakalizer

Behringer’s entry into the field of obscurely operated effects processors comes in the shape of the fantastically named “Tweakalizer” – a device that looks not unlike a CDJ, with the prominent jog wheel taking up the majority of the space on it, but a plethora of lights, knobs and buttons adorn the silver casing, making it look like something that fell off a UFO.

With the previously stated jog wheel, it allows the user to dial in effects, making it interesting to use as well as futuristic!

3. Pioneer EFX

Another one that chooses the jog-wheel approach, but this time with considerably more effects and the high-quality pioneer brand behind it; The EFX series of controllers are for those rich musicians who want something more fun than a rack mounted unit!

2. Alesis airFX

Here’s one for those gear freaks out there that love their fun user interfaces – an Infra-red beam creates an invisible sphere of control that the user puts their hand in, moving it to change the effect parameters.   Fun, huh?   The airFX is unfortunately discontinued now, but I’m sure a quick eBay search will give you your fix of Theremin-like effects manipulation!

1. Korg Kaoss Pad

Quite possibly the most popular effects unit that dares to be different – the Kaoss Pad is used the world over by musicians ranging from Brian Eno to Matt Bellamy to The Prodigy.

With its intuitive X-Y touch pad interface, it’s certainly got the fun factor down.   While it may look a bit like a toy, its effects speak for themselves, with hundreds of options available on the Kaoss Pad 3.   With all these features and the brilliantly accessible light-up pad user interface, the Kaoss Pad gets a well-deserved number one spot.


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