Keyboardists Can Leave their MacBooks at Home Now: IK Multimedia Introduces the iRig Keys

Who are we kidding? You’re still going to bring your MacBooks. You’re that type. But maybe you’ll find less of a need to pull it out. Yet another iPad/iPhone tone generator has arrived on the scene, this time from IK Multimeia, one of the big names in mobile amp modelling. IK Multimedia’s Amplitube app (god that capitalization looks terrible at the beginning of a sentence, but I’m leaving it there for spite) has never been my go-to iphone virtual amplifier, mainly because its chitzy interface is the mayor of Hum City. That’s the bad “bzzzzzzz” hum, not the good “Green To Me” kind. Last I researched it, Apogee’s Jam interface, when paired with Garage Band, was the only route to decent iPhone guitar tone (the Jam seems to work with virtually every guitar app except Amplitube, unfortunately).

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But we’re not talking about guitars now. IK Multimedia and their iRig line make some good software, so I’m way more interested in their new keyboard app since the fidelity of the interface obviously isn’t an issue. This newly released Keyboard platform is the iRig Keys. It’s a keyboard interface with MIDI and USB outs, but the USB is plug and play ready to be connected to a 30-pin or Lightning port on an iPhone. It pairs with the free (and paid upgradable) SampleTank and iGrand apps, or SampleTank 2L on PC and Mac. Alright, all this internal capitalization is making me agitated. Let’s try to get through the rest of this with normal spelling…

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So the iRig Keys is essentially just a new portable keyboard designed to seamlessly integrate with IK Multimedia’s software, although it’s functional as a general purpose MIDI keyboard. There are two versions, the regular one and the Pro. The only difference between the two seems to be the size, yet even the Pro is elfin. IK claim that it is “is the most compact full-sized-key MIDI controller on the market – up to 30% smaller than other full size MIDI keyboard controllers.”

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Size aside, you wheels for modulation and pitch, an expression pedal jack, and full-size keys on the Pro. I’m assuming they’re not weighted because there’s no mention of it anywhere. The iRig Keys and Keys Pro are out now for $130 and $150 respectively.

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.