Forget about using keys, buttons, knobs, or pads on a MIDI device. With the Pulse Surface Controller, you create sounds by banging on your desk, computer, or anything, really.

The Pulse controller's construction centers around a piezoelectric microphone—a special type of transducer that's designed to turn physical vibrations into electrical signals. When you attach Pulse to a surface like a desk, the signals are sent back to your computer and processed as MIDI input. And of course, your software then converts those MIDI signals into whatever sound you want. The most obvious use for Pulse system is to play your desk like a drum kit, but it can also be used to play melodies.

At $60, the Pulse Surface Control System is cheap enough that anyone can buy one. The controller looks straightforward enough that it could be fun for beginners, but it is also sophisticated enough enough for experienced musicians to rock on. [Pulse Controller via Creating Digital Music]