iRing Review

manufacturer: IK Multimedia date: 05/26/2014 category: Others

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IK Multimedia: iRing
The iRing is the first motion controlled midi controller compatible with iOS devices, and is extremely fun to play with. It recognizes motion and gestures.
 Features: 7
 Sound: 8
 Reliability & Durability: 6
 Ease of Use: 7
 Overall Impression: 7
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
review (1) pictures (3) 1 comment vote for this gear:
overall: 7
iRing Featured review by: UG Team, on may 26, 2014
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Price paid: $ 24.99

Features: The iRing is basically a motion-controlled MIDI controller that uses your devices' cameras for tracking. In short that means that you need good light for the camera to track the iRings, and it seems to track a lot better on an iPad than an iPhone. There are two rings included in the purchase of the iRing, each is 2-sided with a triangular pattern of dots on one side and linear dots on the other - this allows you to wear a ring each way on each hand to control parameters separately. Using a ring on each hand, and tracking 3-dimensional space means controlling up to six parameters simultaneously. The iRing is good for a little over 2 feet of distance with the front-facing camera. In addition to coming with iRing Music Maker and iRing FX/Controller as free apps, the iRing is also compatible with Groovemaker 2 and DJ Rig. // 7

Sound: In addition to the iRing Music Maker app that I tested, there was also a free iRing FX/Controller app, which is used for touch-less control of MIDI effects processing - essentially, it can send signals to other music apps being run in the background. The parameters this allows you to control are fully assignable and includes Control Change, Notes, Program Change, Pitch Wheel, After Touch, MIDI System Realtime, and MMC. The iRing rings can also be used with Audiobus and Inter-App Audio compatible apps to control up to 16 high quality creative DJ effects. Really, at this point what you can do is just the tip of the iceberg as this new motion-controlled MIDI control is being worked into different apps' capabilities. // 8

Reliability & Durability: The iRing rings are sturdy and made out of hard plastic, but paying approximately 25 bucks for two of them you have to remember that to an extent you're paying for the app development and deployment, and the apps out right now are free. IK Multimedia has made an SDK and a free licensing program free to other music app developers, so that additional apps can be made compatible for the iRing. This will lead to more avenues of self-expression with the iRing in the future. I think it is necessary to bring up the tracking issues with the iRing again. This is really mostly effective for electronic music and with a long-term focus of being effective for performance. Electronic music isn't often played in venues with "good lighting," so that becomes a problem pretty quick. // 6

Ease of Use: Testing the iRing, I used the free app also made by IK Multimedia, iRing Music. Essentially, after registering your iRing and your app you basically can start motion-controlling the app immediately and it quickly begins to feel natural. You can play little loops and use the rings to control the loops and the filters and such. There are, of course, specific gestures that the app can read, which makes this potentially a very versatile device. Some of the gestures recognized by the device is to show and hide the iRing with the camera, to rotate the iRing left or right, to make a punching motion at the device, or to center the ring with the screen. I tested the iRing rings with an iPhone and had a lot of fun, but ran into some small issues with tracking. First, it seemed like the rings needed the area I was in to be very well lit, and secondly, the tracking seemed to get confused if I wasn't wearing a solid colored t-shirt. // 7

Overall Impression: One of the things to remember with the iRing is that this is still the early days for motion-controlled MIDI control with iOS devices. What are the pros of the iRing? It is definitely a new way to make music with iOS devices, and it feels exciting to control multiple parameters with movement and a few gestures. It is also fun to just play around with. What are the cons of the iRing? Well, for the time being about all you can do is "play around" with the iRing. A lot of the success of the iRing is going to depend how quickly apps are deployed to take advantage of the motion-control functionality. If you have 25 bucks to spare, it is definitely a cool toy. // 7

- Brandon East (c) 2014

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