The last six or seven years has seen the development of the iRig range grow from a simple compact mobile phone guitar plug to a full selection of interfaces, keyboards, microphones and even monitor speakers. It’s no surprise then that these products began to get morph into one another to create new possibilities and reduce the clutter of unwanted cabling. I think we can go back to the original iRig MIDI device to see the beginnings of the development process that has lead us to this new product. From a humble MIDI interface to a keyboard to a fully integrated recording and production device, we have finally ended up with the iRig Keys I/O. This is one of the coolest products released by IK Multimedia and one that will keep plenty of home and mobile music producers pleased.
Available in two sizes, I got to test out the 25-key model this month, and was surprised at just how much could be squeezed into such a compact unit. You get 25 velocity sensitive keys with a ‘synth-like’ feel to their action. A host of MIDI controls are also found on top with eight pads, five knobs and two slider strips for pitch and modulation control. It’s essentially not unlike many other MIDI controller keyboards available on the market, although it’s refreshingly compact. A special clip is added to allow a tablet to be slotted in like a sheet music rest, so you can have your touch screen right above the controls of your keyboard. That’s all very handy for a MIDI controller, but there’s more hiding around the back.
IK Multimedia have gone all out with this puppy by including an audio interface as well, so that all your production can be done with this one single unit, no matter where you are. There’s a Neutrik combination XLR/TRS input for connecting either a microphone or guitar cable. It supplies phantom power, so condenser microphones are not an issue either and all this can be powered off just four AA batteries if you want to go mobile with your tablet. It can operate via bus power when using the USB connection or an optional power supply, so you don’t have to worry about hoarding battery stocks for any long sessions.
The iRig Keys is designed to work with a range of DAW software platforms, but you also get a selection of IK Multimedia software plugins bundled with the unit so you have access to a great range of sound and effects right away. Mac users will love its integration with GarageBand, as it then presents a complete recording and production solution without needing anything more than a microphone and your computer. PC users are not to be left out, as the iRig Keys I/O is compatible with Windows as well, so you can power the unit from any laptop or desktop and begin the creation process anywhere.
Hits and Misses
MIDI controller and audio interface in one
Built in tablet stand
Super compact design
No talk of Android support