Hands On with iRig KEYS from IK Multimedia

In my quest for putting together a portable recording system I had to somehow incorporate a MIDI controller keyboard. I’m not much a keyboard player but I do need to tap out some drum beats or add some basic keyboard sounds now and then. In my home studio I use an Axiom Pro 61 however that’s too big to move around just for some basic functions. Late last year IK Multimedia announced its iRig KEYS, an ultra-slim and highly portable universal MIDI controller keyboard for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac/PC. Along with apps such as iGrand Piano, SampleTank, and iLectric Piano, IK Multimedia has your iOS music creation needs covered.

The iRig KEYS is Core MIDI and USB class compliant controller that works as a true plug-and-play experience both with iOS devices or Mac/PC, with no additional apps, software or drivers needed. For total mobility, iRig KEYS also is an ultra-low power consumption unit. When hooked up to an iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, it can be powered by the device and for longer playing sessions it can be powered by the available USB port. When connected to a Mac/PC, the USB port powers it.

In my testing of the iRig KEYS, I found it to be an ideal unit for working on my iPad as well as my MacBook. It performed all of the functions that I need when using Garageband, Pro Tools and IK Multimedia’s own apps including their newly released iLectric Piano for the iPad. The 37 velocity sensitive mini keys give me a bit more room to work with than most small controllers and the pitch and mod wheel give me the ability to add more spice. There are also octave buttons to expand the range of this keyboard.

As I mentioned above, IK Multimedia has a number of Apps that are designed to work perfectly with the iRig KEYS controller. These include iGrand Piano, SampleTank, and iLectric Piano, a studio-quality electric piano app for iPad offering over 40 classic electric pianos, electric grands and clavinets, all carefully sampled from the original instruments. To be honest, I got lost for over an hour in this app. I put on my headphones and just scrolled through most of the pianos playing each one.

For me the iRig KEYS fits an immediate need. It’s small, portable and extremely functional. I mainly record with Pro Tools and use VI plug-ins. I’m still trying to figure how to incorporate IK Multimedia’s apps into my recording environment as the sound samples from iGrand Piano, SampleTank, and iLectric Piano are top-notch. If you are a keyboard player, the mini keys might not be to your liking but for someone like me who uses the controller to add sounds and work out drum beats, the iRig KEYS work perfectly.

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