IK Multimedia released its iRig Keys 2 Mini keyboard a while ago and we got the chance to try it out. The keyboard is a 25-note velocity-sensitive version with a 1/8” TRS headphones output and MIDI IN/OUT ports that works as a stand-alone controller or with your DAW. It’s compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and with Mac and Windows computers. It has illuminated Octave Up/Down buttons and Program Change Up/Down buttons, four user SETs for quick setup recall, 4 4 assignable control knobs and an assignable push-encoder. Finally, there’s an edit mode.
The iRig Keys 2 Mini is small, which makes it the perfect fit for creating music on the go. It allows you to play notes between C2 and C5. If you need to play notes lower or higher than this range, you can shift the whole keyboard in octaves using the OCT up and down buttons. You can shift a maximum of 3 octaves up or 4 octaves down. OCT up or down buttons will illuminate when an octave shift is active.
The keyboard is well made, from a sturdy type of plastic but with just the good weight for easy use on your lap while still having a stiff ‘frame’ not to feel flimsy. The knobs and other controls are well-finished and the keys themselves have a nice feel/touch to them — of course they are no match to the bigger keyboards but they’ll allow you to have that emotional connection with the music you’re playing or experimenting with, nevertheless.
Because of its small size, the iRig Keys 2 Mini has a special button, the 5–8 button, which activates the knobs from 5 to 8. That’s not as comfortable to use as a large keyboard, of course, but necessary because of the size of this keyboard.
A DATA knob acts as browsing control when used in specific software or can be used to send a generic programmable CC number. This knob can have different behaviours (relative or absolute). When working in absolute (ABS) mode the knob will send values from 0 to 127 on the selected CC in 1 increments per clockwise encoder steps and -1 decrements per counter-clockwise encoder steps. Once values 0 or 127 are reached, they will continue to be sent if the knob is rotated in the same direction. When working in relative (REL) mode the knob will send custom values to the selected CC. This allowed Logic Pro X, my test DAW, to browse long lists of elements easily.
I also tried the Program Change MIDI feature. The iRig Keys 2 Mini sends Program Changes by pressing the PROG up or down buttons and in EDIT mode allows you to set the MIDI Transmit Channel, different touch (velocity) sensitivities, send specific MIDI Program Change numbers and set the current program number, transpose the keyboard in semitones, reset a specific SET to factory state and set a different velocity (touch) response.
What I also tried is to use the iRig Keys 2 Mini as a controller to many of the Final Cut Pro X features, including moving through the timeline, by routing via the BetterTouchTool MIDI controller functionality, and guess what? It worked like a charm. The latest versions of BetterTouchTool (→ website) let you assign a MIDI control to whatever action you’d like and it has a built-in MIDI Event Trigger window that displays which keys or controls you have activated.
That opens up a lot of additional use case scenarios for a keyboard the size of the iRig Keys 2 Mini beyond traditional music making.