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IK Multimedia iRig KEYS review

Sections: iDevice Accessories, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Macintosh/Apple Hardware, Peripherals, Reviews

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Provides: Portable keyboard input for Mac/PC and iOS devices
Developer: IK Multimedia
Minimum Requirements: iOS device or computer
Price: $99.99
Availability: Now

The latest gadget from IK Multimedia isn’t designed to interface your instrument with your iOS device, it is the instrument. The iRig KEYS is a very portable keyboard with 37 keys and options to connect directly to your iOS device via 30 pin dock connector or to your computer over USB. It’s an affordable and portable option to keep a keyboard at your fingertips wherever you are.

The iRig KEYS is a deceptively small keyboard that still has a decent amount of keys. With 37 keys, you’d assume this keyboard was too big to carry around, but it’s actually scaled down a bit. Unlike a scaled down keyboard for typing, however, this doesn’t seem to pose any huge problems. Actually, I think it’s a great compromise for the enhanced portability.

You might also think it scrimps on features to be so small, but that’s not true either. The iRig KEYS has all the usual functions, like a pitch wheel, mod wheel, and several buttons (octave and program). You can even store four separate keyboard models for instant access to specific settings. There’s also a nice big volume knob. Inside of Garageband, it actually controls the track volume directly, which is a welcome surprise. You can even connect a single pedal to this guy if you have one.

The iRig KEYS has two options for connecting to your computing device of choice. You can connect directly to your iOS device via a special cable, which has a 30 pin dock connector at the other end. I’m sure they’d like to put a Lightning connector on there too, but it’s not yet an option. Thankfully, a 30 pin to Lightning adapter does the trick just fine. So if you have one already, great. If not, that’s another $30 to $40 expense you might need to consider if you’re an early adopter.

The other option allows you to connect to your computer with the included USB cable. Honestly, the only gripe I have about connection options is that the iOS cable is a special cable you can’t get anywhere else.

While the iRig KEYS keyboard is a very nice compromise between having enough features, being portable and not costing a ton, it’s not perfect. This keyboard reminds me of something I might use to play the game Rock Band. What I mean is that it feels a little plasticky and light. It doesn’t give the feel of a well-built machine that could really take a beating. Then again, it’s highly portable and won’t weigh you down.

Ultimately, this keyboard really aims to be portable without sacrificing the necessary features. It definitely succeeds in this regard. While it does feel a little like a music game controller, it has enough features to really be useful. It might be nice to have this keyboard be a bit more solid, but that’s a bit beside the point. The iRig KEYS is a great keyboard for anyone who wants to be able to throw 37 keys in their backpack and go. It’s also great if you want to try your hand at learning keyboard or even just messing around with Garageband for fun.

But if you really want the full IK Multimedia experience, check out their iGrand Piano app. The two make a great combo.

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iRig KEYS review
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