iRig Keys Pro review

When trying to find the right portable keyboard controller you often have to sacrifice the size of the keys. IK Multimedia launched iRig Keys a few years ago which had some great features but the mini-keys made it a bit clumsy if you are used to a standard-sized keyboard or piano. The new Pro version achieves the same compact finish, the same great features but this time boasts 37 full-sized keys playable with two hands. Here's our iRig Keys Pro review. See also: IK Multimedia iLoud review

iRig Keys Pro review: Price

If you head to IK Multimedia's website, you'll find prices in Euros, and the Keys Pro costs €182.99. However, go to Amazon.co.uk and you will find it for only £80, much cheaper than the listed £130 RRP.

You can also buy a travel bag for about £45 which is a sensible option as it is just that bit too big to fit in a rucksack unless you are prepared to have it sticking out the top. The bag has useful pockets to store the various leads it comes with and will also fit an iPad so you can have one bag for a complete keyboard setup.

iRig Keys Pro review: Features and design

The first thing you notice when you pick up the iRig Keys Pro is how light it is, weighing at only 1.5kg which makes it really portable. It will also sit comfortably on your lap while playing which is useful if you were to take it somewhere which doesn't have table space available. Despite being light, the quality of the build is good and doesn’t feel tacky.

iRig Keys Pro review

To achieve the lightness of the keyboard, weighted keys have been sacrificed. However, that is quite common for small portable keyboards. It does have a light action and the velocity-sensitive keys feel great when playing unlike some which feel like you are playing a toy keyboard.

It is easy to set up using the provided lightning lead if you plan to use an iPad or iPhone, a Micro-USB lead for an android device or a USB cable to connect to your Mac or PC. You can also purchase a 30-pin lead if you want to connect to an old iPhone or iPad.

As soon as we plugged the keyboard in to an iPad we were able to open a MIDI-compatible app and it worked straight away thanks to it being bus-powered - meaning it gets its power from the device it's plugged into. You can download IK Multimedia’s SampleTank or iGrand app for free or use Garageband to instantly give you access to multiple sounds to record and edit. Once you are comfortable using those apps you can find a whole host of MIDI apps on the app store which will give you an endless amount of sounds.

iRig Keys Pro review

Read next: How to make music on your laptop or PC with Garageband or Mixcraft

There is space at the back of the keyboard to attach a sustain pedal, and on the side of the keyboard it has a modulation and pitch bend wheel which responds well when playing. The modulation wheel is particularly useful when you apply it to a synth sound to change the shape of the sound.

You'll find a volume/data control and a few soft-touch back-lit buttons on the control panel at the top of the keyboard. It includes octave and program up and down buttons and a set button that allows you to store up to 4 different set ups. You can also get to an edit mode if you hold the octave up and down button down together. This allows you to transpose the keyboard, send specific program change messages, customise touch sensitivity, change the midi channels and provide access to other functions. All of these options can be stored using the set button and quickly recalled for quick sound switching and easy control of various instruments or apps.

iRig Keys Pro review

Although it sounds like there are a lot of options it does feel like it is lacking more MIDI controls like a few faders or pads to give you more control over the sounds. For a lot of people this won't be a problem, particularly if you want a simple keyboard to practice or use for song writing.

IK Multimedia iRig Keys Pro: Specs

  • • Android and Mac/PC connection • iPhone/iPod touch/iPad connection • Sustain pedal input (optional) • Volume/Data knob (assignable) • 4 configurable setups • Octave up/down buttons • Program up/down buttons • Pitch bend wheel • Modulation wheel • 37 velocity-sensitive keys - 3 full octaves • 590 x 189 x 57mm (W x L x H) • 1.59kg
  • • Android and Mac/PC connection • iPhone/iPod touch/iPad connection • Sustain pedal input (optional) • Volume/Data knob (assignable) • 4 configurable setups • Octave up/down buttons • Program up/down buttons • Pitch bend wheel • Modulation wheel • 37 velocity-sensitive keys - 3 full octaves • 590 x 189 x 57mm (W x L x H) • 1.59kg

OUR VERDICT

The iRig Keys Pro is a good keyboard but lacks some extra features which could be useful if you were to use it in a live setting. It’s a nice light keyboard and is fantastic to travel around with as it is easy to set up and works instantly. Some highlights are to use it to practice along to other songs, to jot down your own song ideas and to have fun experimenting with sounds.