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We recently sent one of these to Tiny Dinosaurs (aka musician Julie Jay) to create some videos for our YouTube channel, but this is the first time outside of NAMM we’ve been able to get hands-on with the new iRig Keys I/O ourselves. And I must say, I can’t believe this hasn’t been brought to market earlier.
If you’re not familiar, the iRig Keys I/O is a MIDI controller and audio interface all-in-one. Yeah, the perfect recording solution for home studios, bedroom producers, and just about anyone who uses MIDI and needs an audio recording solution, but doesn’t want a ton of cables and hardware boxes clogging up their precious desktop real estate.▼ Article continues below ▼
Our unit features a 49-key MIDI controller, although a smaller version is available, which would be even more suitable for on-the-go or laptop sessions. But we prefer the 4-octave range for desktop scenarios and creating wide, lush pads. The MIDI controller worked great, the keys felt responsive and tracking virtual instrument parts and drum pads in multiple DAW’s proved to be no challenge; the unit simply worked with everything we tested.
On the interface side of things, we ran it over USB to desktop and laptop machines with ease, again trying out multiple DAWs in an effort to trip it up. It never faltered. You get hi-res 24-bit / 96kHz audio coming into your session, plus phantom power on-board for your nicer condenser mics, which is a huge bonus (no additional outboard power supplies necessary, yay!). You can even run this thing on batteries, how awesome is that?
The only minor thing we could find was the limited number of inputs for audio devices. You can plug in an XLR mic and a 1/4” instrument cable, which will suit a lot of recording situations just fine. But it would be awesome to have a more “pro” model in the future that retains the MIDI controller but simply adds more I/O to the interface side of things. Then again, for all you get, and at the price point they’re hitting, it’s REALLY hard to find fault with what’s on offer. It even comes with a full complement of awesome IK software to check out, which makes it truly an all-in-one recording solution, basically everything you’d need (minus headphones or monitors) to get a portable studio up-and-running in no time.
Super affordable unit combines everything you’d need to start recording right away.
More audio inputs would be nice in future iterations.
$299 ($199 for 25-key version)