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irig keys 2

 ·  Source: IK Multimedia

IK Multimedia today introduced the iRig Keys 2 MIDI keyboard controllers. The new line-up comprises iRig Keys 2 and iRig Keys 2 Pro, the ‘key’ differences being size and price. Both keyboards offer slim profiles and 37 velocity-sensitive keys, with iRig Keys 2 getting mini keys and iRig Keys 2 Pro getting “big boy” keys.

That aside, the sleek bus-powered controllers connect to MIDI, PC, Mac and mobile devices out of the box, with IK providing the right cables (USB and USB-Lighting) and Apple’s MFi certification ensuring a solid experience on iOS. Most Android devices are in on it, too, although you are asked to supply a micro-USB to OTG or micro-USB to USB-C cable of your own. MIDI I/O is also there for connecting to compatible equipment, turning the keyboards into basic MIDI interfaces for your computer and mobile device.

Operation-wise, both keyboards have pitch and mod wheels, four assignable encoders (knobs), octave and program up/down buttons, and headphone outputs with volume controls. This means you don’t always rely on your computer, phone or tablet to monitor audio. With mobile devices ditching headphone jacks left and right, this feature makes complete sense. An on-board Edit mode is there for transposing, adjusting touch sensitivity, changing MIDI channels, assigning CC to knobs and other settings which are stored as presets. Presumably, it makes use of your computer, phone or tablet’s display as the controllers have none of their own.

The package is complete with SampleTank 4 SE for PC and Mac, IK’s take on giga-samplers like Kontakt and home of over 2000 ready-made sounds. On mobile, you get to use the free versions of SampleTank for iOS, iGrand Piano for Android & iOS, and iLectric Piano for Android.

All things considered, these keyboards pack good value alongside the kind of fun, immediacy and portability that don’t lend themselves to more complex controllers.

Price and availability

At EUR 130 for iRig Keys 2 and EUR 150 for iRig Keys 2 Pro, IK is clearly homing in on mobile musicians. No one does mobile MIDI on a budget quite like IK, except for Nektar whose SE25 keyboard is an exceptional bargain at USD 50, but is also lighter on features. If one’s primary production device is a computer, I think the NI Komplete Kontrol M32 and the Nektar Impact LX49+ (both USD 139) are better ‘starter’ choices for a typical DAW workflow, while Ableton users are nicely covered by all sorts of AKAI keyboards and pads. iRig Keys 2 / Pro are available now.

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