IK Multimedia iRig Pads: Simplifying Beat Making on Your iOS Device

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Apple’s mobile operating system iOS has come a long way since its inception, in many regards. It has long since left its roots as a platform for straightforward communications devices, and now, thanks to the processing power of the recent iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch pack, iOS provides broad possibilities as a creative playground for the music-minded.

As more and more synthesizers, drum machines, and DAWs hit Apple’s App Store, taking advantage of what iOS devices can do, there is a growing need for peripherals to accompany this software. Whether it is MIDI controllers, audio interfaces, or USB microphones, there is a large demand for ways to get audio into your iPad, as well as control the ever-expanding selection of music-making apps that seemingly get added to the App Store daily.

It is clear that the folk at IK Multimedia have been proponents of using iOS devices as a creative tool almost from the ground floor, and have been making audio-centric devices for the iPhone and iPad since the first music apps hit the platform. In that tradition, the company has released an addition to its iRig line of MIDI controllers, with the new iRig Pads.

Programming to Go

One distinct challenge in creating full-fledged controllers and interfaces for iOS devices is to pack the necessary feature sets into a form factor that is not too large and impractical to be used with the portable iPhone or iPad. While smaller-sized audio peripherals are far from unique to iOS devices, unlike almost any other category, smaller size is a definite prerequisite.

Just a bit smaller than an iPad, at less than 1" thick, and geared toward musicians of all varieties (with a certain appeal to beat-makers and EDM producers), the portable iRig Pads boasts 16 velocity-sensitive pads laid out in a familiar 4-by-4 grid. Knowing that the look and, more importantly, the feel of the pads directly affect playability, IK Multimedia provides you with sizable controls despite the unit’s relatively compact size. Its controls are rounded out by a MIDI programmable slider, two MIDI programmable knobs, two edit pushbuttons, a rotary encoder, and two assignable pushbuttons, packing quite a bit of control into a small package.

To help streamline its portability, the iRig Pads is entirely powered by your iOS device, and will light up, ready to go, as soon as you connect it to your device’s Lightning port with the included cable (it will support 30-pin devices, but does not include a 30-pin cable). Not limited to just your iPhone or iPad, the iRig Pads features a USB port for connecting to your Mac or PC, which will also provide power to the iRig Pads in the same manner as your iOS device.

Program Your Beats, and Trigger Your Clips

One neat feature on the iRig Pads is the variable backlit colors of the 16 pads themselves. Corresponding with the velocity with which you’re hitting them, they will display in one of three colors, providing some visual feedback about how you are controlling your software of choice. The additional controls on the iRig Pads are straightforward, giving you fairly basic functionality that can be very useful, without increasing the size of the unit.

Thanks to its MIDI programmability, iRig Pads can also be used to launch clips and control a variety of other MIDI-based functions. You can create and save up to 16 MIDI maps or scenes for quickly switching back and forth between different software. Thanks to its compatibility with IK Multimedia’s DJ Rig iPad app, you can even integrate the iRig Pads into your DJ rig, using it to push the pitch, control EQ and effects, and cue samples.

IK Multimedia includes the Sample Tank Free app for iOS devices, as well as a copy of Sample Tank 3 SE for Mac and Windows.