The iOS family of devices have enjoyed no shortage of outstanding apps aimed at creating music through on-board sounds. I mean the collection of music workstations, standalone synths, and retro beatbox apps are truly amazing. Since a big part of the electronic music world has traditionally involved MIDI as a means of communicating, it was only a matter of time before hardware solutions arrived that enable iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touchs to be talk to MIDI enabled devices.
IK Multimedia has certainly been at the forefront of music and hardware products for iOS musicians, with products such as their iRig guitar interface and iRig Mic, and although they weren’t first to market with a MIDI solution, they’ve recently joined the likes of Line6, iConnect, and Yamaha, and released their own dedicated product, predictably called – iRig MIDI.
This small, light-weight box, features a standard 30-pin connector on one end that plugs into a supported iOS device, and then it has three ports on the other end labelled MIDI IN, THU, and OUT. Because of the small size of the product, these are not the standard 5-pin DIN ports used for MIDI, but instead are RTS (ring/tip/sleeve) sockets. Included with the iRig interface are 2 special cables that plug into these ports and have the 5-pin male plugs on the other end.
Other features on the iRig MIDI interface, include indicator lights that let you know when MIDI IN/OUT information is being passed through the device, plus the interface also features a handy Micro USB port, which is designed to charge/power the iOS device while in use, as the interface will drain some of the power while it’s connected and being used.
Now, naturally since standard MIDI offers two way communication, the iRig MIDI interface can be use in a variety of situations, including being able to use any type of MIDI controller, from synth keyboards to electronic drum kits, and even a piece of MIDI software running on a computer, to be able to control a virtual instrument within an iOS app, provided it supports Standard Core MIDI. Simply connect the external device to the MIDI IN on the iRig MIDI interface and it will be able to talk to a music app, such as IK Multimedia’s SampleTank for iOS.
The other option, by utilising the MIDI OUT, on the interface allows you to send MIDI information from an app, to an external MIDI device, like a synth, sound module, or sampler which would enable the app to ‘play’ the other devices, effectively acting as a MIDI sequencer. There aren’t a great deal of options as far as apps go, but Genome MIDI Sequencer is certainly one worth looking into. IK Multimedia has also released a basic FREE app called iRig MIDI Recorder, which you can grab the details about here.
In use, there really isn’t a great deal to say about the iRig MIDI interface, other than that it just works as advertised. You simply connect it up, load up a supported app with Standard Core MIDI, and it just works. Most importantly, there is no noticeable delay between playing external devices and hearing the sound played back within the app. I haven’t experienced a huge drain on my iPad’s battery while using the iRig MIDI for an hour at a time, and am yet to try it on an iPhone/iPod Touch, though I assume the result will be similar.
For more details on IK Multimedia’s iRig MIDI interface, click here.
Here’s a video trailer