Pulse Surface Controller System

Some people like to turn any surface—desk, steering wheel, kitchen table—into a drum. Thanks to Pulse, there’s now a way for those amateur musicians to turn those beats and thumps into real music. The Surface Controller System ($59-$64) combines a microphone, suction cup, and custom software together to turn any flat surface into a playable MIDI instrument.

Available in two different packages—the less expensive set includes the mic and software, while the other one also includes a 1/4” to 1/8” adapter—the controller sticks to whatever surface you’d like, potentially providing a much larger tappable area than small (and sometimes less expensive) drum pads do. The piezo microphone then picks up the vibrations, turning them into beats and notes in your favorite audio software. Pulse claims that the mic is sensitive enough to pick up differences in velocity, and in addition to percussion allows you to play predefined musical scales, albeit with the equivalent of a single drum pad rather than a grid. Will pro musicians use it? Maybe for the occasional live performance, maybe in a home recording studio, maybe not. But amateurs and hobbyists will likely have some fun playing around with this neat device.

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