IK Multimedia have released another in a long line of great products for musicians –

This time I’m taking a look at iRig Keys and once again, it’s impressive and very easy to use.

After taking it out of the box I immediately noticed a couple things – first off, it’s light, but not so much that it feels cheap.  Second IK Multimedia continues to do a nice job if including the required cables for their products.  This may seem like a non-issue but as someone who has tried out many products over the years, having the right cables is a huge plus.  This one comes with a 30 pin iDevice connector and the miniUSB connector if you’re hooking it up to a Mac or PC.  The instructions are relatively light, but I think that speaks more to the ease of hooking up and using the iRig Keys versus anything else.   It’s a keyboard; you plug it in and make music.  OK, OK, it’s not quite that simple due the software that you’ll be using – but your software’s instructions wouldn’t come with the iRig KEYS anyway, so the directions are going to be pretty straight forward.

Section 3 of the directions gets in to the complex stuff – but this is where the iRig KEYS can really shine due to its flexibility and programmability.  Here are some highlights – You can:

  • Set different velocity response for the keys – you get 6 settings – 3 are different ‘fixed settings’ at various levels and 3 different velocity sensitivity levels (light,heavy, normal)
  • Assign a specific MIDI control change number to the VOL/DATA knob.
  • Set MIDI transmit channel
  • Transpose the keyboard in semitones. “If you need to play a song that has been recorded in a key of D#, but you would like to play it on the keyboard as if it was in C, … “ you can set that up in Edit mode.

The iRig KEYS is mighty portable at 120 mm deep (4.72 “) and 1.45 lbs – it will fit most places very easily.  To squeeze in the 37 keys, plus other controls, the width of each white key is about .75 inches.  This is slightly smaller than a full size keyboard and to be expected in a device meant to be portable.

Take a look at the video for some up close photos and a recap.

Pros –

  • Light weight
  • Highly customizable
  • Pitch and modulation wheels (cool feature)
  • Reasonable price
  • Works with PC/Mac/Apple iDevices

Cons

It was really hard to select cons – if you’re looking for a portable keyboard that works with your laptop or iDevice, this is a good one!

  • iPad battery drain – this is a stretch.  I didn’t notice any significant additional drain on the battery.  Plus you can use the usb plug to power the keyboard if you don’t want it running off your iPad/iPhone/iTouch battery.
  • Short cables – the iDevice cable is just under 27 inches. So you can’t go too far away when setting up to play.  I tried with an extension and the keyboard didn’t power on.  This is also not a big deal, just a small inconvenience.

 

The iRig KEYS keyboard retails for $99.99 and comes with Sample Tank 2L ($79.99 retail).  It also works with IK Multimedia’s other music apps like SampleTank and iGrand Piano both of which come in free and paid versions.  I experimented with the keyboard using Garage band too and had no issues on the various instruments in that app.  This is just more great stuff from IK Multimedia.