How To Use Irig Keys Pro With Garageband Mac

  1. How To Use Irig Keys Pro With Garageband Mac Pro
  2. How To Use Irig Keys Pro With Garageband Mac Download
  3. How To Use Irig Keys With Garageband
  4. How To Use Irig Pro With Garageband
  5. How To Use Irig Keys Pro

I've just bought IRIG Key IOS 49 today. I've tried my best to use it either on my Mac laptop and iPad Pro. I used the keyboard with GarageBand and by plugging in and out many times, the sound worked once. Then I unplugged the USB and for few hours later trying to use it again, it still didn't work, although GarageBand still recognized the IRIG. So you want to learn how to use GarageBand on a Mac. Apple’s GarageBand is a great choice of recording software (DAW) if you’re just getting started with recording, as it’s free and relatively simple to use. In this tutorial, I hope to walk you through the basics to help get you started. IRig Keys is a MIDI keyboard with extras. The keyboard part is nice, with full-sized velocity-sensitive keys, plus a set of hardware knobs, and pads, which can be used to control the software. Now you can with iRig Keys 37 PRO, an ultra affordable and extremely portable full sized key USB MIDI keyboard controller for your Mac or PC. It features 37 full-sized velocity-sensitive keys (that’s a full 3-octave range plus 1 note), takes up minimal space and can easily fit in a backpack or a carry-on bag for use on the go with your laptop.

Have you ever wished you could have one keyboard that worked on your iOS devices and your computer? IK Multimedia reckon they might have just the thing and Hollin Jones is on call to test it out.

IK Multimedia seems to have an insatiable hunger to create iOS-compatible audio and MIDI devices, and we are seeing new stuff with astonishing frequency. The latest is the iRig Keys Pro, a bigger brother to the iRig Keys that has full-size piano keys and a few other tricks up its sleeve as well. It's one of a new wave of hardware products that span both the iOS and desktop worlds. Developers and manufacturers are realizing that musicians usually have a computer, an iPhone and an iPad, or some combination of the three, and that they want their devices to work with them all.

The tricky part here hasn't been so much the software side of it: Core MIDI is built into OS X and iOS and generally means no drivers are required for external hardware. It's the physical ports, with computers using USB and iOS hardware using 30-pin Dock or Lightning connectors (depending on its age). IK deals with this in the Pro by providing all three, which few competitors are doing at present.

What do you get?

In the box are three cables, though they're not exactly what you might be expecting. Two are for iOS devices and have a small MIDI / power connection at one end, and a 30-pin and Lightning plug on the other, respectively. The third is a micro USB to USB cable for connecting the keyboard to a computer. Micro USB has presumably been used as part of an overall aim of achieving minimal weight. Indeed, the Pro is extremely lightweight and portable while still feeling solid.

It's great that IK is supplying all three cables since this should account for everyone's setups. If like me, for example, you have an iPhone 4S and an iPad 4 you'd need both connection types to use the iRig Keys Pro with the two devices. This is largely down to Apple's policy of never being afraid to ditch technologies in the name of progress, and support for both connections will likely have to continue until the most recent 30-pin devices eventually become obsolete. One small gripe is that the cables could do with being a bit longer. I know you're probably going to have your iPad nearby when playing, but the cables feel a little bit restrictive in length at the moment.

Up and running

Once connected to an iOS device, the keyboard powers from its battery, though helpfully will only come alive when a Core MIDI-capable app is launched. So initially you wonder why nothing is working, but when you launch GarageBand or one of the free bundled apps'iGrandPiano or SampleTank Free'it all wakes up. This is useful since it shouldn't drain your battery when the keyboard is connected but a music app is not in the foreground. On your computer it is active the whole time, and you get SampleTank 2L for Mac or PC as a bonus.

MIDI control on iOS is something of a mixed bag, with the level of flexibility usually coming down to the design of whatever app you happen to be using. A couple of free piano apps I tried exhibited a little latency, but the vast majority of iOS music apps exhibited none at all, suggesting that it was poor coding of the free apps that was at fault. For the most part, the Pro is 'plug and play' both on iOS and on a computer. No drivers are required and it triggers the currently selected patch in whatever app is live.

The 37 keys are full size and actually feel pretty good, especially for such a portable controller. IK suggests that you can play properly with two hands and I'd have to agree. Obviously you are always going to be a little restricted by the physical number of keys but between the octave and transpose controls and the keys you can make a decent job of 'proper' playing. There's a pedal input too which accepts either a sustain or an expression pedal for more natural performance, and mod and pitch bend wheels.

Nuts and bolts

The controls on the front panel let you make settings, the utility of which varies depending on what software you are triggering. On iOS, the degree to which an app can accept MIDI CC messages depends largely on how it has been coded. On a computer, software tends to usually be receptive to all CCs by default. There's a volume / data dial, a USB / iOS indicator, octave and program change controls and the ability to store four different setups in memory for easy switching. An Edit mode allows access to more functions with piano keys labeled to let you do stuff like changing MIDI channel, velocity, transposition and yes and no commands. There's no onboard LED display which makes things a bit old school, but it does seem to work.

When connected to a Mac or PC, the Pro behaves much more like a conventional MIDI keyboard, with its commands generally mapped automatically to software. In iOS for example, I found that many apps didn't seem to accept the program change shortcuts from the keyboard, but on the Mac they did. You can set up special presets for your favorite software of course, which gets around some of these issues.

Final thoughts

In some ways the iRig Keys Pro is something of a throwback to MIDI keyboard controllers of old in the sense that it has no screen, no drum pads and requires multiple button presses to tweak its behavior. Of course it is more than this in reality, with a lightweight form factor and support for the latest iOS and desktop operating systems. It addresses an important gap in the market: a controller device that works on mobile and desktop platforms and has all the connectors thrown in. That some iOS apps are not yet massively flexible when it comes to MIDI control is not IK's fault, and as devices like this hit the streets, developers should be pressured into supporting better MIDI control. I'd also venture that this keyboard is a little on the dear side, although that is mitigated somewhat if you factor in (and use) the bundled desktop SampleTank instrument.

Price: $149.99

Pros: Very lightweight and portable. Comes with every connector type for iOS and computers. Nice and playable keyboard. Only wakes when needed. Pedal input.

Cons: No onboard display. Cables could be longer. A touch expensive.


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So You Want To Record Authentic-Sounding Guitar In Your DAW

In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to plug your guitar into GarageBand. The way that I find works best is the most convenient and sounds pretty good as well while minimizing latency and other problems.

How to Plug Your Guitar Into GarageBand

There are a few different ways of doing this, and some are significantly better than others. I’m just going to show you the way that I do it.

I have a couple of pieces of necessary gear:

  • Obviously, your guitar.
  • A Firewire to USB Cable
  • an Audio Interface (I use the Focusrite Saffire 6USB. The Scarlett 2i2 is good too.)
  • A USB-C to USB cable (The only reason this adapter is necessary is I’m using the latest edition of the MacBook Pro. The older generation MacBook Pro doesn’t need this adapter).
  • Regular Guitar Cable.

If you’re new to music production, understand that a lot of this equipment will come in handy for years to come.

If you’re serious about recording and producing, much of this equipment and more are a necessity, so just grab some of it off Amazon and be done with it.

Without further ado,

The actual steps:

1) Connect your Firewire cable to your MacBook Pro. In most cases, this cable will come with your purchase of an audio interface, or a MIDI keyboard. However, if you don’t have one for whatever reason, I’m sure you can pick one up from Amazon for cheap.

2) Usually, the port for the firewire cable is on the back of the Audio Interface. Plug the other part of the firewire cable into the back of the Audio Interface.

In my case, the Firewire to USB has to go into the USB-C adapter that I mentioned earlier.

3) Now, assuming you have the Focusrite Saffire 6USB, it should be powered by your computer. You don’t have to plug it in or anything like that, so all of its lights will turn on which you can see on the front of the unit.

4) Open GarageBand.

5) Click “Open Project,” or one of your old existing files. It doesn’t matter.

6) Once it brings up the “Choose A Track Type Page,” Click on where it says: “Built-in Input.”

7) This should be all that’s needed for this part of the process. However, assuming this is the first time that you’ve ever done this, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to click on where it says, “Built-in Output.”

8) That should bring up your “Output” and “Input” Devices under the Audio-MIDI region preferences.

9) Make sure you’ve selected “Built-in Output,” if you’re using your computer as your speaker, or the speakers that are hooked up to your laptop.

10) Select your Audio Interface for the “Input Device.”

11) Now, once you’re back at the “Choose A Track Type Page,” then click on one of the two subheadings below, either the “Guitar option,” or the “Microphone option.” This should bring up your MIDI Region and all of your controls.

12) In the “Smart Controls Area,” make sure that you’ve selected your audio-interface where it says, “Input.”

13) Now, plug your guitar into the front of your Audio Interface.

14) Click on the “Monitoring Button,” which looks like an upside down Wi-Fi symbol. This part is important, otherwise, you won’t be able to hear what you’re even playing.

15) You can now select whatever kind of amp you want, whether it’s a “clean guitar,” “crunch guitar,” “acoustic guitar,” “distorted guitar,” “experimental guitar,” “clean bass,” “crunch bass,” and “experimental bass.”

16) You want to hit the “Monitoring” button beside your track-header as well. I’ve highlighted the upside down Wi-Fi-looking symbol with a black circle. It’ll turn orange once it’s been selected.

Under each heading, there are quite a few options that all sound pretty good, especially after you tweak them to your preferences.

And it’s pretty much as simple as that.

There are some problems that you can run into when doing all of this for the very first time. For that reason, I’ll explain some of the problems that I’ve had when I first started out.

How To Use Irig Keys Pro With Garageband Mac Pro

Common Problems and Annoyances As A Beginner

How to use irig keys pro with garageband machine

1) Make sure that the gain on your Audio-Interface isn’t turned up too much, otherwise, you’re going to be feeding GarageBand too hot of a signal, which will make it sound distorted and bad.

2) Make sure the “Pad,” and “Inst,” buttons are turned off on your audio interface, assuming you own a Focusrite Saffire 6USB. I imagine there are similar controls on other audio interface models.

I find that these buttons make the signal too powerful as well, and thus, create distortion.

3) Latency. I’ve never actually had latency problems when using an Audio Interface, but some people do have this problem. I have an entire article on Latency which you can read more about here.

Essentially, if you’re having latency issues, there could be a number of different causes, however, most of them will be a result of your set-up and incorrect settings for your gear.

How to use irig keys pro with garageband mac pro

How To Use Irig Keys Pro With Garageband Mac Download

For instance, you want to make sure that – if you’re running more than one track – you have the monitoring button turned on for only one of them, rather than every single track.

Other Ways Of Recording Your Guitar In GarageBand

1) You can also use your MacBook’s microphone. This is for very rough demos, obviously, because this way of doing it is going to make a very low-quality recording. However, if you’re desperate, and want to record something, this method will work.

  • To do this, you just open a new “Audio” track in your workspace.
  • And then click on the “Record” button.
  • Start playing the guitar with your amplifier close to it, and that should be enough for a very rough demo.

2) You can also purchase a Guitar to USB cable and hook your guitar directly up to GarageBand. This is an inferior way of recording guitar tracks as well, but it works if you’re running on a string budget.

(This is what a guitar-jack to USB looks like. I don’t own one so I couldn’t take a picture. I had to piece these two images together, but this is what it looks like).

How To Use Irig Keys With Garageband

GarageBand will immediately recognize this as an input, so you don’t have to worry about there being compatibility issues.

However, like the method above, you’ll likely run into latency.

3) Use a small portable audio interface if you plan on only running one instrument through your DAW. This is pretty much the same as the main method which I described in detail above.

The only difference is that you’ll be using a much smaller, and likely, limited audio interface. The good thing about this is that it’s relatively inexpensive. Small interfaces are becoming exceedingly popular, like the iRig for example.

I haven’t picked one of these up yet, but once I start traveling around Europe, I imagine I’ll eventually purchase one. I’ll make sure to write a review on it once I do.

Update: You have to use the iRig HD if you want it to work with a PC computer or Mac. The iRig 2 is only good for mobile.

4) Another popular way would be to mic your guitar amplifier up to your audio interface and then through GarageBand.

This is a decent option, but I prefer just to run my guitar directly through GarageBand, rather than doing this. Amplifiers are too big and cumbersome, and I would much rather limit the amount of gear I own.

Before playing your guitar in GarageBand, know that there’s an actually fairly useful tuning mechanism set up in the DAW. It’s not as good as a good old fashioned Korg tuner, but it still works pretty well. I usually use it if I’m too lazy to go over and grab my tuner.

You can read more about other audio interfaces on my recommended gear page.

How To Tune Your Guitar Using GarageBand

1) Your guitar is plugged into your audio interface in the computer, so it’s as simple as clicking on the tuning fork beside the center of the DAW where it shows the time signature, tempo, and key signature.

How To Use Irig Pro With Garageband

2) When you click on the tuning fork icon, it’ll bring up the meter where you can tune your guitar.

Other Features

How To Use Irig Keys Pro

One of the great things about using a DAW for your guitar is all of the great VST plug-ins that you can use for your guitar.

For example, you can download amplifier simulators and cabs for your set up, and while it may not sound good as the original which the plug-ins are modeled after, they still sound good enough to use, and they’re good enough for the vast majority of people who aren’t tone-purists.

I’ll show you how to download plug-ins into your DAW in a later article.

That’s all for now. If this helped you out, do me a favor and share it on social media.

YouTube Video Tutorial


I hope this was helpful to you. Share it on social media, it would be greatly appreciated.