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.

Samples of those samples, via SoundCloud:
Two New Products Coming Soon by ikmultimedia

Other specs:
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.

  • Does sampletank let you load your own samples?

    The thru is nice, specially since it seems that ios5 work with the cck the same as usb devices can on the iPad…

  • abluesky

    I think this is fantastic.  As someone whose creativity surged after using FiRe, Loopy, Filtatron, and Nanostudio, this will really help integrate my iPhone into my stationary workflow.  

    I, too, am amazed at times at the kind of quality and capabilities of iOS and the iDevices, especially the Filtatron.  Can't wait to include Sampletank into the mix.

  • seems great but also a little silly that you don't appear to be able to get a digital audio stream back from the iOS device.

  • Please rant about missing midi thru. I know it's not exciting but it would be oh so convenient if my gear had midi thru.

  • vinayk

    Looks great. Is the midi is running through custom cables? 

  • Andy


  • Tilden Thorne

    I agree with the above post about not being able to get audio straight from my iOS device's USB connector cable to my notebook (or desktop)… It seems odd that this has not been discussed more. It does not seem to even be a difficult feat… Just have the option for Audio/MIDI setup (OSX) to treat the iOS device as a USB audio interface. That should solve the problem elegantly. No additional AD/DA conversion… the connection already exists… just plug in your iPhone or iPad to your computer with it's standard USB cable and set your Audio/MIDI settings and go… Oh how I wish… PLEASE APPLE! THROW US MUSICIANS A BONE AND GET THIS ONE DONE! We helped champion this platform, so do as a solid… Please… I repeat… Please give us the ability to stream audio across the standard USB interface cable that comes with your iOS device… Just so I am clear… Sorry for the off-topic rant…
    P.S. Don't get me started asking why we have not seen a Jack for OSX port for iOS… I mean iOS is based on OSX right? We all would love to be able to stream audio between iOS apps right? The line between point A and point B does not seem too terribly far…
    Again my apologies… wrong place… just got sparked by the previous post…

  • Radiophobic

    Kind of dissapointed that I bought an iRig just over a month ago. If I had known this was going to come out I would have waited.

  • suck my gonads

    it's getting more and more convoluted.

    just use a friggin laptop already.

  • Radiophobic

    Making music on an ipad is both fun and completely different than using a laptop.

  • I have a laptop, but my ipod allows me to work on things, stick it in my pocket, whip it out mess about a bit more, make some changes, them back in the pocket, Moog Filtatron is amazing for this, creativity that just doesn't happen sitting at the laptop, the ipod allows me to listen through headphones while doing something else, not sure what this is going to bring, but looks very interesting, I was hoping for more of a io dock style device, I am very worried about the clip in adapter getting bent or snapping and messing up my ipod, an io dock style adapter would hold things nice and would do the audio and midi in one package allowing input and outputs, Alesis you listening?

  • I still don't like how delicate the connectors are on the iPhones/iPads.  For a device like this, I would prefer there to be some cable before the device, so this brick like thing wouldn't be plugging directly into my iPhone/iPad.  It would also allow me to keep the dimensions of my iPhone/iPad closer to what they are, rather than adding another 1"-2" to it.

  • lainol

    Johnny Tomasello check this out:

  • Gabe

    I think this look awesome! Can't wait to put this together with my midi rig for live gigs! Somehow this with my iPhone and a midi controller and I'm good to go!

  • Bently

    This looks great! I decided I was going to get one after watching some of the Youtube demos, sounds amazing!

  • If you get one of those extender cable make sure it has as close to all 30 wires going all the way thru. MIDI and stuff may not work otherwise.