IK Multimedia’s iRig MIDI 2 ($100) is the successor to the company’s original iRig MIDI (review), a pocket-sized accessory for connecting Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) equipment such as piano keyboards and drum machines to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. As was the case before, iRig MIDI 2 can be used with IK Multimedia’s own collection of iOS apps such as SampleTank, or any Core MIDI compliant iOS app such as Apple’s GarageBand; it’s a streamlined and enhanced sequel that simultaneously takes steps forwards and backwards from iRig MIDI.
Most obviously, iRig MIDI 2 adds Lightning compatibility and abandons the dongle-style design of its predecessor. Now built as a separate self-contained module that connects to a companion iOS device, it uses an adapter cable with the same seven-pin DIN connector found on many other IK Multimedia accessories. This new design allows iRig MIDI 2 to be used with Lightning devices or Mac/PC computers using included Lightning and USB cables; a Dock Connector cable for older iOS devices is available as a separate purchase. It’s also worth noting that the separate module design feels slightly more durable than the prior version, thanks to its rubberized plastic enclosure and lack of any protruding connectors.
The new design also allows iRig MIDI 2 to fully incorporate three standard five-pin DIN MIDI ports, rather than relying on the adapter cables bundled with the prior module. This should help to lessen cable clutter and provide more flexibility for incorporating the device into a variety of studio setups. The same three MIDI ports from the prior version are found here: standard MIDI IN and MIDI OUT ports, as well as the MIDI THRU port. This latter port remains somewhat unique to IK Multimedia’s iRig MIDI accessories, and allows for more flexibility for professional studio environments that may incorporate hardware such as sound modules and sequencers into their rigs. Two LEDs display activity on the MIDI IN and OUT channels.
As with the prior version, iRig MIDI 2 draws a small amount of power from the connected iOS device; unlike the prior model, however, no external power port is provided, so you can’t charge an iPad or other iOS device from an external power source while using the adapter. To be fair, normal iPad battery life should usually suffice and most musicians will likely prefer the bus-powered design to save them the trouble of carrying yet another power adapter, but it was still nice to have the option on the prior model.
Since it’s really just an interface for converting digital signals from one format to another, iRig MIDI 2 works identically to its predecessor, so what we’re really dealing with here is a redesign that adds Lightning compatibility and incorporates full-sized standard MIDI ports. The major downside is that iRig MIDI 2 gets a $30 price bump over its predecessor, and loses pass-through charging. From our perspective, this is a solution that is guaranteed to work with all iOS devices in a simple, attractive and durable package, with features such as the MIDI THRU port that are not commonly found on comparably-priced MIDI adapters. In terms of design and compatibility, IK Multimedia has built a better device that arguably justifies a somewhat higher price tag than before, however, iRig MIDI 2’s $30 premium feels a little too steep given what’s actually being gained and lost functionally. It merits our B+ rating and strong general recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: IK Multimedia
Model: iRig MIDI 2
Compatible: All Lightning iPads, iPad minis, iPhones + iPod touches, Other iOS Devices*