iRig Pads is the latest greatest controller from IK multimedia. The difference between this iRig controller and the previous iRig controllers is the fact that it’s called iRig Pads. Indeed, and no doubt, IK Multimedia has just dropped a pad controller bearing the classic 4 x 4 pad configuration to give you 16 pads of boom BAP and beat making fun.
Now I must say, that I remember seeing an iRig Pads last NAMM 2014. I snapped a pic of it and I was asked not to share. None the less, now that I have one in my possession let’s go ahead and dig in.
So the first impression, I got when I saw it at NAMM is the fact that it’s literally the pad controller incarnation of iRig Keys. It’s kind of / “sorta” got the same body and building blocks indeed. Standing about an inch tall, the square controller makes for a really nice portable controller that easily stows away in your backpack on the go. Obviously, it has 16 velocity sensitive pads. It has two encoders and one slider. The iRig Pads also has an fix velocity button and a presets one and two buttons which double as record and play / stop transport buttons. Additionally, iRig Pads allows you to edit params, if you hold down the scene and fixed vel buttons. And last but not least on the top side there’s the data wheel. Twist to browse through presets and push to select presets. All in all this little groove box controller makes for a neat package with lots of duality in functionality.
On the back you have three connections one is for USB connecting to your computer. The other is your iPhone connection or iOS device connection and allows you to send midi to your iOS device. Lastly, you have a sustain pedal connection so that’s pretty nice and might I add that it is a bit unexpected.
The build is typical for IK multimedia. It is very similar in build quality to the iRig Keys, which is plastic. That’s not a “knock” though. If it were metal it would be more heavy, likely less portable and definitely more expensive. However, it is sturdy enough and it will survive in your backpack just like iRig Keys. Still, keep in mind you don’t want to go kicking this thing around because it is not built for the beating. Given that this is the iRig Pads, you’d like to know that this thing can and will take a bit of a beating from the typical pressures of banging on those pads. I can bang on these pads till the cows come home and it still holds up.
iRig Pads is packaged with one lightning pin connector and one USB connector and of course one iRig Pads itself (but of course). As I mentioned before you can use the lightning connector to connect your iOS device and you can use the USB connector to connect with your computer. iRig Pads is pretty flexible and diverse from that perspective. You can actually run the ios version of Sample Tank or tehter to your the laptop/desktop computer version of SampleTank for beat making at home or on the road. iRig Pads is also compatible with your favorite beat making apps such as iMPC Pro and Beatmaker 2. Obviously, it works with groovemaker, DJ Rig and even FL studio and garage band. You can use it as a standard midi controller with any of those but the specific and most tight integration comes with use of Sample Tank. On a side note, and possibly a more obvious note, keep in mind that iRig Pads is a controller and not a stand alone groove box. However, when paired with your ios device and Sampletank you have a really capable groovebox solution on your hands. If you want to rock with it you should grab headphones and plug into your iOS device or simply jack it into your sound card or mixer when in the lab.
Alas, everyone wants to know how the pads feel. Well I have to tell you, I kind of dig them. They are some of the best feeling pads I’ve felt to date, no joke. (I dont get paid to say things like this…) There’s nothing like the MPC pads, of course, and these are no exception to that rule, however they are really nice, spongy but firm pads. One of the first things I noticed is that they have a sort of smoothed out and rounded edge which makes it very comfortable to play, unlike some pads that have sharp edges. These pads are very comfortable to bang on. They are even soft to touch. Still, they remain pretty firm so you can feel comfortable and confident when beating the crap out of these things. The pads also light up in three different colors (green, orange & red). So they go from green to red depending on the velocity at which you hit them. If you deal in grooveboxes and controllers, you are familiar with that sort of feature. Visual feedback is a must and in this small inexpensive package, it adds a lot of value.
iRig Pads also comes with a sound kit called The Grid. This kit comes with an exclusive collection of 50 additional instruments that consist of 800 samples for total of 300 MB a sample content. How do I like the grid, well the jury is still out on that but with all that content you are bound to find some rather useful sounds there.
Overall, the iRig Pads is a solid controller. It’s perfect for studio or on the go beatmaking. It pairs well with Sampletank either on your ios device or your computer. It also pairs well with the iRig Keys. I think we will see a lot of these floating around for may reasons. One reason would be that it is a good controller with tight integration in Smapletank but perhaps more appealing is the idea that it can be used in other music programs as a basic controller as well. So beatmaker 2 fans and iMPC pro fans can partake in the iRig Pads fun as well.