Through many of us may kitchen-top-finger-tap or office-desk-thumb-drum out of impatience or boredom, folks like Jeremy Ellis and Wilhelm Grahsl have turned it into an impressive art form, with a little help from some digital friends. The latest version of the latter's hand percussion weapon of choice has now been released, the Roland HandSonic HPD-20.

The most versatile and powerful HandSonic instrument to date, the HPD-20 promises smooth dynamic expression and natural tone quality thanks to the inclusion of Roland's SuperNatural sound engine, the same multi-layer modeling technology found in the top models of the company's V-Drums line. The user interface is divided into 13 velocity-sensitive silicone rubber pads placed in a circular arrangement, and while one pad is being played, another can be used for dampening or muting, or to alter the pitch, through touch or pressure.

Created for both live performance and studio work, the device includes 850 instrument sounds from around the world. Players can use these to build up to 200 custom kits, or make use of the 100 ready-to-play sets. Parameters like volume, pitch and decay are at the user's control when creating custom kits. A single pad can be assigned two layered sounds, with dynamic blending or switching determined by playing strength. To make sure that everything sounds just right, 3-band EQ and 10 types of ambiance settings can be applied to full kits.

Players can import up to 500 WAV files at 44.1 kHz/16-bit resolution into the device's memory via USB (or as much as you can squeeze into 12 minutes of available time for mono audio files, or six minutes in stereo), which can then be assigned to pads, looped, edited or processed in much the same way as those already included.

Three banks of multi-effects are available, each containing 25 different effects, along with a Roll button that turns your tap into a drum roll, and a Realtime Modify control for pitch and effects adjustment in, erm, real time. Mid-air hand gestures can also be used to control and influence the device courtesy of Roland's D-Beam technology.

Users can monitor what's going on via the 128 x 64 dot LCD display, plus there's a Quick Rec function for slamming down ideas, and players can export creations as WAV files to USB flash drives. Trigger inputs offer the opportunity to connect external controllers, such as hi-hat or kick unit, and MIDI in/out caters for communication with V-Drums sound modules, SPD Series pads, keyboards and other external controllers.

The HandSonic HPD-20 digital hand percussion instrument is available now and carries a recommended retail price of US$1,049.

The video below offers a quick overview of the main features.

Product page: HandSonic HPD-20

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