The mighty Associated Press is reporting M-Audio’s knob-filled USB interface for GarageBand, iControl, is now shipping. Or, in the words of the article, M-Audio is “expected to launch” early next week at Apple Stores in the US. Price: US$179.95 MSRP; a pretty decent, low price. Only bad news: you’ll need a separate audio interface for a high-quality input for your guitar, etc.

Which brings us to the next question: what the heck happened to Asteroid, the rumored Apple audio interface that caused a heated legal battle over rumor sites? Various bloggers are pointing out that the AP story says M-Audio developed iControl “at Apple’s request.” But Apple was supposedly planning an audio interface, not a control surface. If anything, Apple may have simply killed Asteroid to keep M-Audio and Digidesign happy — or, we could see an M-Audio iAudio interface next month at NAMM. Really, I have no idea.

The only sure thing in life, really, is that the mainstream press has a really hard time describing what an audio interface is: AP says “An audio interface, known in the industry as a “breakout box,” is needed to transfer the sound from a guitar, keyboard or vibraphone into a computer.” Of course, it’s not known as that in the “industry,” but hey, I guess it’s useful to have hardware that . . . transfers sound . . . from your vibraphone . . . Boy, that’s a weird image. Do they really think the concept of a microphone would be so hard for their readers? (On the other hand, this is a lot better than USA Today.)