A few months ago we were ordered a keyboard controller that is compatible with iOS devices, Macs and PCs, but it’s taken sometime to get this device tested. Without any delay… The Line 6 Mobile Keys 25 (US$99.99 MSRP) is a 25-key keyboard controller that is useful with music apps like Garage Band.
It is USB powered, so you don’t need to plug in any AC power or use batteries. I was surprised at how low powered the keyboards are, as use for an hour or two with Garage Band on the iPad didn’t seem to have much of an impact on battery life. Line 6 says that you can use the Mobile Keys 25 with an iPad for almost 9 hours. The keyboard is perfect for musicians on the go and for music students.
The Line 6 Mobile Keys 25 is a compact USB-powered 25 key MIDI keyboard controller that works with iOS, OS X and Windows devices. It comes with a special cable that is designed for use with the iPad or other iOS devices, so no Camera Connection kit or other accessory is required. It is compatible with iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS, iPad (3rd Gen), iPad 2, and iPad, as well as Mac and PC computers. OS minimum requirement of: Mac OSX 10.4 (Tiger) or higher – iOS 4.2 or higher – Windows XP/SP3 or higher.
Upon hooking up the Mobile Keys 25, an iOS dialog let me know that I needed to download the app. This app enables MIDI recording, but is more commonly used to apply firmware updates to the keyboard controller. The firmware update took very little time to install and unplugging the cable between the iPad and keyboard performed a reboot.
Line 6 doesn’t provide any software, but notes that it works perfectly with Garage Band, 50in1 Piano, NanoStudio, Music Studio 2.0, and Pianist Pro. I liked the feel of the keys. They weren’t noisy and the velocity function (a real piano by plays louder as you hit the key harder) was accurate. The Mobile Keys 25 has ¼ inch ports for both sustain and expression pedals, a USB port for connection to your Mac or PC, and a special mobile port that allows attachment to your iPad or iPhone with a proprietary cable. The special cable is device specific and you do not want to damage or lose this. It seems just like something you’d lose and never be able to find a replacement for.Controls on the controller include pitch and modulation wheels, volume and pan knobs, and octave up/down buttons. The shift button can be used to access transpose, MIDI Channel, program change, velocity curve, and controller assign functions. Instead of having these functions printed above the keys on the keyboard, Line 6 decided to use a sticker.
The Line 6 Mobile Keys 25 has a good feel and the keyboard is quiet. It does require that an app be installed on an iPad to install firmware updates. The special functions were printed on a cheap sticker instead of screen-printed onto the keyboard itself. Seemed cheesy, but were still functional. The connection to iPad uses a proprietary mobile cable that may be hard to replace. The USB and the Special connector could not be used simultaneously for performance. Only one or the other can be used. For an very simple all in one type solution this is a great buy. If you are interested, you can make the purchase here at Ant Hill Music.