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By far the smallest of the units in this round-up, the PAD-One has 12 backlit silicon pads rather than the conventional 16, allowing it a shorter, ingot-shaped footprint.
In a nod to Akai, there are four available pad banks, bringing the effective total pad count up to an impressive 48. The pads have a satisfyingly rubbery feel, and are tactile, bouncy and responsive. Illuminated green when at rest, each pad flashes orange when hit to indicate the transmission of MIDI data.
The PAD-One is a breeze to set up, requiring merely the connection of a USB cable for power and MIDI data. The only other connectors are a six-pin MIDI Out port and a socket for an optional DC mains power supply. Assigning note numbers to pads took us seconds to figure out, with no consultation of the documentation required. Just press the Edit button, hit a pad and scroll to the desired MIDI note number.
The anodised metal finish gives the PAD-One a solid, durable appearance, perfectly matching the current crop of MacBook laptops. Sadly, however, the encoder knob feels a little bit cheap, and the miniature Edit button is disappointingly peg-like. The X/Y pad, used to control the rate and velocity of the roll function, feels equally bargain-basement, and we found it a bit imprecise.
These minor niggles aside, we rather like this chunky little unit as a compact and cost-effective way of squeezing 48 pads onto a congested desktop.