For connecting music hardware from the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and today, you can’t beat MIDI and the standard MIDI connector (5-pin DIN). This week, both IK Multimedia and Line 6 announced adapters that support Core MIDI. Previously possible on iPad via the Camera Connection Kit, the new adapters support the 30-pin dock connector for the iPad (no additional adapter needed), iPhone, and iPod touch.
IK’s iRig MIDI has a number of features that set it apart from previously-available iOS adapters:
It’s got MIDI Thru. MIDI Thru means you can route MIDI into your iOS device, so an external keyboard can play an iPhone synth, for instance, and route that same signal “Thru” to another device – say, if you want to also record your playing, or layer another synth with the same notes an octave higher. (I can rant about the disappearance of Thru on other hardware some other time; it’s great to see it here.)
There’s a USB power port. This one’s huge, especially having tested Line6′s adapter. Normally, any hardware you plug into your iOS device takes over the jack you’d use for power – so you have to watch your battery life as you use it. By adding an additional USB jack for power, you can connect both MIDI and power – problem solved. That’s especially essential if you plan on using this a lot, or onstage.
A Gig of Sounds, to Go… IK Multimedia is also bundling a new SampleTank app for iOS so that anyone buying the adapter gets sounds straight out of the box. SampleTank has 1 GB of sounds (500 of them), 20 insert effects, and a master reverb-delay — yes, really on iOS, for free. (8 GB owners may not be thrilled about that, but those of you with more storage might.) You get acoustic, electric, and electronic instruments, and even orchestral and sampled Moog sounds.
Detachable cables; “pocketable” (also true on the Line 6)
IK claims the hardware is “lightweight” so that you don’t hurt the fragile connector on the iOS gadgets
iRig Recorder for free MIDI recording and playback (there’s a similar feature on the Line 6 offering)
iRig MIDI, US$69.
SampleTank for iOS, price TBD.
iKlipMini is a little adapter for clipping an iPod touch or iPhone to a mic stand. US$39.