Coinciding with the release of their iGrand Piano app, IK Multimedia has also introduced a MIDI keyboard controller, the iRig Keys for iOS devices and both Mac and Windows PC. Stuffing in 37 velocity-sensitive mini keys, the add-on peripheral has a three full-octave range, modulation / pitch bend wheels, an input for a sustain / expression pedal and an assortment of controls for customizing your sound. The iRig also connects via USB to a computer for a studio-like experience.
The unit is Core MIDI compliant and features plug-and-play functionality alongside the units SampleTank family of apps. These apps can function on its own on the PC side or as a plug-in for more sound offerings including GarageBand, Pro Tools, Cubase and Sonar.
The iRig Keys has a slightly larger form factor than some of its competitors, but as mentioned, it does include 37 velocity sensitive keys vs 32, and the size makes the keyboard feel a lot more spacious than you might expect from mini keys. At 503 mm in length, it can fit in a backpack or small duffle.
The iRig Keys connects directly to the dock connector on your iOS device. Sorry, no Lightening adapter compatibility as of yet. IK’s cable is not permanently attached to the keyboard, so you’ll need to remember it should you travel. The iRig Keys also connects to an included Mac via USB.
Looking at the front panel, the IK sports the standard pitch and mod wheels, a Volume/Data rotary control and five ‘soft touch’ switches, which combined with functions assigned to the MIDI keys themselves, allows for the editing of a wide range of parameters.
As MIDI keyboards go, the iRig Keys wins a best-in-class. Using various sound options, it performs like a beast in such a small footprint. Its editing feature allows you to choose one of six different velocity responses – three fixed settings and three velocity sensitive settings- light, normal and heavy.
At $99.99, the IK iRig Keys ain’t cheap, but it’s worth the money in our book, and the additional half octave, editing features, and no requirement for extra adapters makes it an ideal option for iPad and Mac musicians who require a portable keyboard.
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