Review of the iRig Keys Pro MIDI keyboard

The iRig Keys Pro keyboard is a 37 notes keyboard annex MIDI controller with velocity sensitivity. It is compatible with iOS devices as well as with Mac and Windows computers. The iRig Keys Pro has a pitch bend and modulation wheel, illuminated octave selection buttons, four user sets for quick recall of MIDI programs and a control knob that can be freely assigned. Its touch weight is excellent and it can be equipped with an optional sustain or expression pedal to closely resemble a real piano keyboard.

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The iRig Keys Pro is an IK Multimedia product, which means it’s well built and comes with a whole slew of extras. At the time of my review, the iRig Keys Pro came with a time-limited offer to download IK Multimedia’s brilliant SampleTank — the full version, with all the included sound banks — of which I reviewed the limited version earlier and gave a fat thumbs up. Needless to say the full version is even better.

For my tests, I used iRig Keys Pro with Logic Pro X, SampleTank and Reason. The iRig Keys Pro was a breeze to use with Logic Pro X, but Reason needed a bit of help to recognise the keyboard as a MIDI input. Logic Pro X didn’t need the extra hand, but just like Reason, it didn’t recognise the keyboard as a MIDI controller. Having said that, it did recognise the MIDI controls available on the iRig Keys Pro. I’m still working out how to handle the intricacies of MIDI controllers, so I could just have missed what is obvious to digital musicians, but I have yet to succeed at using the keyboard as a MIDI controller in Logic Pro X.

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Still, that’s not the main reason why I wanted to review this keyboard. I wanted to see if the iRig Keys Pro would keep its own when compared with one of the more expensive big-name keyboards. It actually does stand up well against comparable keyboards like those from Nektar, Nord and Roland. One of the major reasons why it does so is its touch.

Except for the MIDI capabilities, which the iRig Keys Pro has, the keyboard sets itself apart through its touch and touch weight. It’s not a piano, of course, but it allows you to apply velocity at a very fine level. To try that out, I loaded the Steinway Grand Piano in Logic Pro X as well as its pipe organ samplers. It was incredible how good the feedback was when I applied a little force, how big the dynamic range and how close the audible feedback was to my hitting the keys.

The only thing I would have liked differently is the number of keys that are available on the iRig Keys Pro. The 37 keys are too limited for usage with pipe organ samplers, but I don’t know of MIDI keyboards that offer the same sort of capabilities in terms of registers, stops and octaves as you’ll find in a digital pipe organ ‘simulator’ (that costs several thousands of Euros).

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In addition, this keyboard is portable and designed to work with iOS devices. It worked like a charm on my iPad and with GarageBand — no settings must be changed, nothing needs to be installed. It comes to life only when you start GarageBand. The iRig Keys Pro does get its power from your iPad, so if you want to play for a while, it pays to also invest in an iRig PowerBridge.

Another item you’d want to invest in is a longer Micro-USB to USB cable. The one that’s included with the iRig Keys Pro is quite short. An extension cable also works, I found out. Other cables in the box include an USB/OTG cable and a Lightning cable. The keyboard is lightweight but not too much so that it feels flimsy. Its rubber feet also help prevent it from skidding across the desk. And of course, you can hold it upright without much effort as well.

The iRig Keys Pro costs €183.00.

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