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In-Depth Review: IK Multimedia iRig MIDI Set

Introduction:

We were able to get our hands on the newest release of SampleTank for the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Let me just say, musicians are going to absolutely adore this application along with the accessories and tools that goes with it on IK Multimedia’s online store. We were sent a couple of accessories to review and one of those was the iRig Mic cast, which essentially allows you to record for podcasts, singing and etc. The next thing we were sent was the iKlip which essentially allowed you to “Klip” on your device to a mic stand. Lastly, we were sent the iRig MIDI.  Which essentially allows you to play instruments on stage with the iRIG MIDI Interface and a keyboard or pad controller just as you would do with any regular synthesizer.

iRig MIDI – 7/10:

The first thing I’m probably going to mention is the packaging. Everything was very well packaged but at the same time was a very tight fit. If you’re looking to keep everything neat and in one place, good luck getting it back inside the box because you’re going to have a really difficult time getting it in there. I was happy to see that the cables were all in their own separate packaging instead of just looking like it was stuffed in there If I were to compare the packaging to the ASUS Transformer Pad, I’d have to say fantastic job. Definitely not the same devices, but I’m just saying that you won’t have any trouble with possible dents in your connectors. Upon getting my Transformer Pad, for some reason the connector pins were dent or something and it just wouldn’t fit in the charging. I’m leaning towards thinking that it was because the cables were just laying around loose so who knows what kind of situations the box went through. Thankfully, due to the fantastic packaging in the iRIG MIDI each cable has its own bag so it’s almost impossible for the pins or connectors to bend.

The iRIG MIDI works for the iPhone, iPod and iPad. It has your standard MIDI In, MIDI Out and MIDI Thru along with a micro USB port to charge the device with. Really anyone who’s reading this review has most likely used a MIDI before, so I’m not going to go into details on how it works but instead cover it’s performance and latency. The latency wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, it was a ton better than I was expecting. There wasn’t any disconnect issues, very low latency and best of all, no drivers to install. Basically it felt like it was really a “plug and play” sort of device. Which I guess, that is essentially what it is, except in a professional sort of way, if you know what I mean.

One of the best things about the iRig MIDI is that really, as I said earlier, it’s basically a plug in and play sort of device.  Just throw it in your iOS device, connect it up with your instrument or whatever you’re using and just get what you need to done. It’s literally that simple. I’m not a huge musician and by no means am I even close to professional, but as a tech geek, I was very happy of the overall quality of the device. It lets you bring in almost realistic audio, it’s not “digitized” in anyway. At least, it does not sound that way.

That aside, the MIDI itself feels like cheap plastic. I hate it when things feel like cheap plastic and is easily breakable. The iRig MIDI is $69.99, for that much of a price I would expect the iRig MIDI to at least feel durable like it could be dropped on the floor without breaking open. Of course, no one is going to try and throw this thing across the room, but accidents do happen, thus, having some durability would of been a nice feature. IK MultiMedia does have a warranty policy. From what I understand and if I read the warranty policy correctly, the iRig MIDI has a general 90 day warranty and after registering I think it’s about a year long warranty.

I did test the MIDI out on the iPod and I would definitely suggest using an iPad instead if you have it. I don’t know what’s wrong with the iPod version or if its just a preference, but it just feels so cluttered on the iPod. I’d almost suggest picking up a used iPad if you were looking to get one just for the MIDI player, but other wise, the iPod works fantastically with it, it just feels really cluttered. In this case, I guess the clutter is a good thing as it helps you understand that IK Multimedia put a ton of work into making this all happen. Props to them, but my OCD goes off when using it on the iPod still.

It is a fantastic MIDI but if you’re looking for durability because you travel a lot or something and the chances of dropping it is higher, it’s probably best to look for something a bit more durable.

The plus to the iRig MIDI is that when you register it you’ll get a bunch of extra sounds that you don’t have in the free version of SampleTank which is the application you’ll be loading up on your iOS device. You basically get 48 extra sounds for SampleTank for free and rightly so after picking up a $69.99 piece of hardware. Once you register it the sounds are instantly and automatically available in the SampleTank application.

I would suggest this (again, not if you’re looking for durability) if you’re looking for a fantastic MIDI player. This is definitely a whole lot better than a lot of iOS MIDI players just because of how low latency it is. Not only that, but it’s easy to hook up and doesn’t have a hundred and fifty-two pages of instructions on how to work it and set it up. The instructions it has also seems like it’s geared towards those who have already used MIDI Players, so picking this up as a beginner might be a little difficult.

iKlip Mini5/10:

IK Multimedia had the idea of putting this tool out for really anything. It’s really cool to have the iPhone or iPod hands free even if you’re not using it for any of the applications that IK Multimedia. It’s really cool to just attach it to a stand and use it as a hands free device. Arguably, there are a lot of different tools out their that will let you do this, but the iKlip also offers some extra spots for other IK Multimedia accessories. Obviously if you’re using an iPad instead of the iPod or iPhone you’ll be wanting to use the iPad version of this. To my understanding, the iPad version is about the same price as the iKlip Mini. The only difference you’ll notice is that the regular iKlip for the iPad will help distribute the weight so the mic stand will not fall over.

That’s pretty much the iKlip mini though. It’s essentially just a stand for you to use the iRig software with. You can really use anything else too, you aren’t required to use their software. Thus, you’ll just have a hands free device to use, which is pretty cool in itself. The iKlip Mini does take a little setup, but it’s nothing tedious and is fairly easy to put together.

Again, the iKlip Mini is ONLY for the iPod and iPhone. If you’re looking to use your iPad you will need the regular iKlip. As for the overall durability of the iKlip Mini, it also feels like the standard cheap plastic that the iRig MIDI had. Again, I really hate it not being durable. I’m not very confident in cheap plastic when it’s holding a $400+ device.

 

iRig Mic Cast 5/10:

The iRig Mic Cast was a pretty interesting device. I went ahead and watched some video reviews along with some text reviews and they all say that the iRig Mic Cast is pretty high quality. Now, I’m not sure if I just got a bad unit, so forgive me if this opinion sounds a bit off to what you’ve heard other wise or have experienced yourself even.

First of all, the iRig Mic Cast plugs into your iPhone, iPod or iPad and will then allow you to record your voice in either low or high proximity. Low proximity is for holding the mic by your mouth while high is for a distant recording. Say, in the case of an interview with someone and your sitting at a round table, you’d want to use the high proximity settings. If you’re standing next to each other like you would in a news report, that is a case where you would want to use the low proximity settings.

I found that on both settings the mic quality wasn’t necessarily high or even bad. It felt like your standard minimal equipment that anyone just starting out in the music field would use. It was nothing extraordinary and I’m definitely not going to suggest buying it for $39.99. Not only that, but like it’s brethren accessories it once again, feels like very cheap plastic. Even the microphone area of the hardware feels cheap. It’s definitely not something high quality, and feels like it would break if accidentally dropped on the ground much like the other accessories.

One cool thing about the Mic Cast is that I actually tried to plug it into my Android powered Transformer Pad. The tablet actually detected that something was plugged in, so it makes me wonder if some of the software will eventually be coming out on Android devices. Since the software I thought was really high quality, that would be something really cool to see happen. I also tried to download an app that allowed you to record your voice and threw the Mic Cast back in there. To my surprise, when I compared it without it in, the Mic Cast actually acted as a mic without the iRig software. I’m not sure if that was intended or not, but props to IK Multimedia for unsuspected surprises!

The Mic Cast also comes with a sort of dock to hold your iOS devices in. Obviously that is mostly used when one is using the high proximity settings on the Mic Cast. It’s a very stable dock, but at the same time it is made of the same cheap plastic materials that the other accessories are using. I don’t have to say anymore on how much I hate cheap plastic I guess!

After finding out that the Mic Cast worked in my Transformer Pad tablet I decided to try it out with the dock too. It works and distributes the weight pretty well! It was definitely made for a iPod or iPhone, or even any cellular device. With the tablet, it’s a little shaky and sometimes wobbly, but it still works pretty well. I do enjoy using it with the iPod as it is another way to get a sort of hands free device, even when you’re not using the SampleTank software that IK Multimedia created.

I think the Mic Cast was pretty cool (aside from the cheap plastic) but I think my favorite hardware was the iRig MIDI. That ended up working really well and while you can use it professionally with your iOS devices, I’d probably suggest doing some research for something different first. $70 is kind of cheap for a MIDI player, so if you want absolutely no latency, looking for something with a higher price tag and more quality would be a optimal choice. Either way, I’m not discounting IK Multimedia at all, some of the hardware is fantastic. Feels cheap, yes, but works very, very well with the iOS devices and even some Android devices as I talked about in the Mic Cast section.

In terms of score, I’d have to say 6 out of 10.

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