Presonus ATOM Pad Controller$149.99
Drum Machines,MIDI Keyboards and Pad Controllers are bountiful in the market today, some will say they come a dime a dozen. However, few controllers – the likes of Native Instruments, Necktar, and Akai’s MPC Live/Touch/Studio line up offer standalone features and tight, industry-wide integration with majority of DAWs due to extensive mapping capabilities; If not right out of the box. Presonus aims to add the Atom Performance Box/Pad Controller to the latter.
Atom is a velocity-sensitive,LED powered,16 Pad Controller with four customizable knobs. It’s a capable piece of kit when used with any DAW or music production software of your choice, but it shines best when used with Presonus’ own DAW Studio One. That’s because it was made first and foremost for it. That’s not to say it’s not as useful when to perform pieces in Reason or Bitwig Studio, it just comes mapped out of the box to control practically every parameter of Studio One outside of naming your song or project.
Atom’s pads are surrounded by buttons arranged into columns have them organized in groups with similar functionality. There are Transport, Instrument, Event, Song and Navigation groups. as well as a mode section that let’s you switch between Full Level and Note Repeat on the pads. Lastly, there’s a Shift Button that gives you access to the double functionality assigned to the Pads- and many of the buttons. Pad response with Studio One works seamlessly, providing instantaneous timing for live performance and an excellent Note Repeat function for rapid hi-hat and trap drum patterns.
The two bottom rows of pads work in conjunction with the Note Repeat button in the Mode section to the left of them, which also contains a Full Level button- which registers all pads at full velocity (Disabling the Full Level button activates the pad’ velocity sensitivity). As mentioned previously, these features work flawlessly with Studio One, but I noticed a hit and miss in other DAWs. For example: while Atom seams to MIDI/Tempo sync with Reason 11, it did not in Bitwig Studio 3 – rendering Note Repeat useless in the latter.
The Atom is an enticing proposition, particularly if you use Studio One 4 – as it integrates so tightly that you could create a full composition without touching your mouse/touchpad. Quite similar to the way the MPC or Maschine’s hardware software ecosystem does, Atom is seamless with Studio One – it’s when you step out of it’s DAW breathren that you lose the sense of oneness. If PreSonus can add custom mapping abilities to the software for tight communication to other software on the market, Atom could become an undeniable proposition.