iRig KEYS Review
Model: iRig KEYS
Company: IK Multimedia
IK Multimedia has an incredible range of products in their lineup, from amp sim software and sample libraries to an entire suite of iOS products for the mobile musician (you can check out our review of their iRig MIC and MIC Cast here). One of IK’s newer iOS devices, iRig KEYS, is a MIDI keyboard controller that can be used on any iOS device as well as PC and Mac.
iRig KEYS hooks up via either a 30-pin Dock Connector on iOS devices like the iPod Touch/ iPad, or a micro USB connection for PC or Mac (both cables are included, thankfully). The keyboard has 37 velocity-sensitive keys (featuring three octaves), as well as pitch bend and modulation wheels. Using the Set function on the keyboard, users can save up to four custom presets for easy access. There’s even a port for hooking up an optional expression/ sustain pedal, which is a very cool feature – unfortunately I didn’t have a pedal to try it out with. The keys themselves are a bit narrow, but they’re comfortable once you get acquainted with them. There’s no discernible lag, and the keys feel quite responsive to input.
The keyboard itself is pretty light at just one and a half pounds, and due to its small size it is ultra portable. Upon registering iRig KEYS, users are gifted free downloads of SampleTank 2L for PC/ Mac as well as SampleTank and iGrand Piano, downloadable from the App Store. There’s a huge variety of sounds available with these apps/ plugins, allowing for maximum versatility and creativity whenever an idea might strike. I hooked up iRig KEYS to my PC and used it with some of my sample libraries in Pro Tools 10 & 11, and it worked flawlessly. It’s even easier to use with iOS devices as it’s literally plug and play with no setup needed.
iRig KEYS sports a volume adjustment knob on top as well as buttons for switching between the three octaves and two program buttons. Edit Mode can be activated to mess around with settings like velocity sensitivity, which is great as everyone has a different playing style. All settings can be restored to the factory default settings at any time. The keyboard uses power from whatever device it’s hooked up to, but it smartly turns itself off whenever it’s not in use. Unfortunately, since it uses the 30-pin connector to hook up to iOS devices, that means your device can’t be charged while playing, which would probably cause some problems if it was used for playing live shows. For what is, though – a compact, inexpensive, lightweight keyboard for writing and recording on the go – nothing on the market today can touch iRig KEYS.