Looking for a gift idea for the musician in your life? Check out our review of the iRig Keys Pro and see if this MIDI keyboard the right choice for you.
The iRig Keys PRO is a pretty rad MIDI Keyboard.
What is a MIDI Keyboard?
For those of you not in the know, MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. What that means is that it's basically a way for your keyboard, musical instruments and computer to all talk to each other.
Remember when you were a kid and had keyboards with a bunch of preset sounds on them? Now imagine if you could take all of those sounds, record them on individual tracks, download millions of other sounds and create music without having to go to a music recording studio.
Yeah, that’s what the iRig Keys PRO allows you to do at home. It’s that easy.
The iRig Keys PRO is not my first go around with MIDI controls, but it is the 1st MIDI keyboard I have owned. I’ve played around with tons of different MIDI keyboards over the years and I’ve owned lots of regular keyboards too. There are some things I really like about the iRig Keys PRO.
As with any keyboard, the very first thing that runs through your mind is, how do the keys feel? The iRig Keys PRO has almost full sized keys. They are the standard 7/8” wide and 5 ½” in length opposed to the standard 5 ¾” in length.
That said, you can’t tell a difference in the size. (I know some piano aficionado who touches a musical instrument once a year will make a fuss saying “I can totally tell the difference” well, okay then… got me.) But seriously, you can’t tell.
The keys have a great feel to them. I know “feel” is subjective, but I bet we can all agree the feeling of cheap plastic keys under our fingers sucks. The iRig Keys PRO is the exact opposite of that.
The keys are velocity sensitive. Oh yeah, love that feature. What’s velocity sensitive mean? That means the harder you hit the keys, the more sound comes from them and vice versa.
The keys are on the “softer” side as opposed to being hard. I don’t really care for hard keys. Hard keys truly express the feeling of playing a piano, hitting keys that make little hammers hit strings. However, this is a MIDI and you really wouldn’t want that effect when trying to play a bassline or other instruments.
The iRig Keys PRO is very light weigh,t weighing in at only 3.5 pounds. I’ve used MIDI keyboards in the past that weighed almost 10 pounds. Having a light MIDI Keyboard that you can sit on the couch and make music with is pretty awesome as it won’t be crushing your legs.
The iRig PRO is an Apple Product, made to integrate seamlessly with Mac products. But wait, it integrates with PC products too.
So there are tons of free programs that come along with iRigs Keys PRO (you should not be buying this awesome piece of gear for the free programs). The programs that come free integrate with GarageBand or allow you use your iRig Keys PRO with a PC.
I own a PC and hooked up my iRig Keys PRO to a program I already have called Mixcraft 7. It’s basically the PC version of GarageBand. If you don’t want to drop more cash on a program like Mixcraft 7 for your PC, the free programs that come along with iRig Keys PRO are totally fine and suitable.
I can say this – the iRig Keys PRO is plug and play with Mixcraft 7. I was shocked at how easy it was to use.
Mixcraft 7 is pretty much a spitting image of GarageBand from the way it looks to the way you use it. I loved GarageBand back in the day when I had a Mac.
After I plugged in the iRig Keys PRO into my PC (there’s no external power as it gets the juice from your PC), I played with it for a while. It’s so fun. Then I decided to record something.
I made this 1 minute song using the grand piano, cello and a bass. You might want to use good speakers or earbuds to hear the bass come through. As far as ease of use, I wrote and recorded this song in less than 10 minutes and converted it to the MP3 you’re listening to.
There's one final thing I will say about the iRig Keys PRO. If you’re looking at a MIDI keyboard for yourself, get it. You won’t be disappointed. If you’re thinking about giving a gift to someone that will spark creativity and rewire their brain with sweet sounds of music, the iRig Keys PRO is that gift.
I’m teaching my girls (6 and 8) to play piano right now, they also have a solid foundation on drums. The iRig Keys PRO is going to open their eyes and world to recording music in the very near future. Hopefully it does the same for you or someone you know and care about in the very near future too.