IK Multimedia are doing amazing things to push iOS as a platform for music creation. We’ve looked at a number of their peripherals over the years and they keep adding wonderful ways to unlock the musical potential of tablets and smartphones. Their latest (and easily my favourite) is the iRig Pads – a MIDI controller arranged as an MPC-like collection of pressure sensitive pads.
The iRig Pads is light enough to pop in a laptop bag/backpack but sturdy enough to take a pounding as you tap out complex rhythms and trigger carefully crafted samples. The iRig Pads connects via a bespoke lightning cable although you can order a 30-pin connector for older devices. You can also use the mini-USB jack to connect to a laptop so it’s a really great all-rounder in that sense. The four by four pads support 128 levels of pressure (MIDI standard) and are also backlit with a range of colours, which is great for when you’re triggering things in a DJ set. The colours also convey various bits of MIDI information. The pads don’t feel as a great as more hi-end devices (like a classic Akai MPC) but are better than bargain basement rubber, and are responsive enough to thump out a fun back beat. The Pads also has a slider, two knobs and some scene based control change buttons.
The Pads work with some, but not all apps. A great compliment to the device was how badly I wanted it to work with every music app I had – most obviously iMaschine. The fact that it’s not siloed to iK Multimedia’s apps, and can work with wonderful things like Garageband is great. It’s small and light enough that you can feasibly hook it up to an iPhone and really make something interesting on the go.
It’s not just for laying drum loops down (although this is so great that I’m already sold on the device). It’s pretty easy to live DJ Mix with the Pads – especially using IK Multimedia’s DJ Rig. With iRig Pads you can pitch adjust, tweak effects and EQs, and cue samples. You can also save up to 16 MIDI scenes with assigned notes or CC commands, so there’s a tonne of flexibility if you really dive in and get to know the device. And with all the fun it offers, that’s something that’s definitely worth doing.