I don’t get very excited about iPad accessories these days, and I have even held off the purchase of a new iPad as well as some of the new Bluetooth styluses (styli?) on the market.
Today something arrived in the mail, and I am simply thrilled to have it in my hands to show you. My two Miselu C.24 keyboards arrived in the mail, and I’m just thrilled with the potential of the device in my life–and perhaps yours.
The C.24 started as a Kickstarter campaign, originally intended to be a “flip-up” piano that would also serve as an iPad cover. That was back in 2013, and there was calendar setback after calendar setback. At the time, I debated whether to buy into the project…and did so with two units, as they were supposed to connect together to make a larger keyboard (I seldom need more than four octaves while working with any notation app). Additionally, the device would be Bluetooth–a decision made long before Apple introduced the concept of Bluetooth LE MIDI this past fall with iOS 8. They started shipping some keyboards this past November, and then production issues caused the device to be further delayed–and just a few weeks ago, the company that was building the C.24 in China had a warehouse fire that destroyed all of the C.24 parts (you can’t make it up, and I hope they have good insurance).
The delays did result in a noticeable loss of planned functionality with the C.24…newer iPads (specifically the iPad Air and iPad Air 2–although having the same screen size) are thinner and less wide, meaning the C.24 cannot act as a case for newer iPads. But the delay did result in one wonderful addition…the new Bluetooth LE MIDI standard found in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 is SHIPPED with the C. 24’s firmware, and is likely the first product to do so.
So, if your app recognizes the Bluetooth LE MIDI standard (I believe Yosemite does naturally, iOS apps require enabling of that standard by each individual app), you can use the C.24 without any background app (Miselu’s “Key” app) and no wires. If you are using your C.24 with non-updated apps for the MIDI standard, all you have to do is run Miselu’s Key App, and then select the “GarageBand” function, which is the Core MIDI Driver as well.
As you know, I speak at a number of music education conventions, and of course I blog about these things, so I have been bugging the company to send me one of the early units so that I could show music educators what is coming–and today these are in my hands, which means they will travel with me to Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and Utah in the coming weeks.
My first impression is incredibly favorable about the c.24. It flips up with ease, and the actual key presses, while light, work well. Miselu spent time studying historic keyboards and found that there have been other sizes of keyboards, settling on a key size that matched an earlier century’s keyboard for women. What I have found in comparison to my Akai LPK25 MIDI Keyboard is that the LPK key press (springs, not magnets like the C.24) is stiffer, but the shortened white keys of the LPK25 make it harder to play than the C.24. Miselu got the design right, even for my size L hands. There is a groove in the keyboard where you to place your iPad, a feature similar to many iPad typing keyboards, such as the Zaggfolio keyboard that I still use today from time to time, even though it was purchased for an iPad 2. I need to add that the Miselu Key app easily discovers and links C.24 or C.24s to your iPad, making the process of connecting the device to your iPad a breeze.
The C.24 is a bit heavy, weighing in at 1 pound, 3.1 ounces, where my Akai LPK25 weighs just over 15 ounces. Then again, I don’t need to bring any adaptors or cables to use the C.24 as I do with my LPK25. I see the magnetic “clamp” of the C.24 (which makes it an iPad cover) disappearing in future models, and in truth, a greater than 1 pound iPad cover is a little unwieldy. I would simply recommend carrying the C.24 in its original fabric case that it ships with. My iPad 4 weighs 1.7 pounds…so together the C.24 and the iPad weigh in at over 3 pounds, which is still significantly lighter than my 2008 Unibody MacBook.
The C.24 will eventually have multiple controllers/modules that simply plug magnetically into the keyboard (they have thought about future expansion in the design), and there are optical sensors on the left (octave) and right (sustain) of the C. 24. The octave optical sensor simply makes too much sense for someone wishing to use the C.24 for notation products (I love this feature). With this first batch of C.24s, the module is simply a dummy panel that hides a USB cable for charging, which you can also use to manually connect the keyboard to a computer or iPad.
[On a side note, my two year old loves piano keyboards and was instantly in my lap checking things out as I was working. He quickly learned how the optical sensor worked, and then proceeded to keep changing octaves on me while I was working).
Anyway–count me as impressed with this device. I have no buyer’s remorse (always a good thing), two keyboards that I can use to work on Notation on Mac or iOS, with the ability to link them for a larger keyboard experience. It is a keyboard I can take traveling that lies flat in my gear bag. And I’m excited to see what modules come out for the keyboard in the future.
The big point for most buyers will be price. You can preorder yours from www.miselu.com for $249. That might seem like a lot of money–but I would temper the price the same way I would with any good iPad keyboard…if you are planning on continuing to use an iPad, this keyboard can (and will) follow you from device to device, taking full advantage of no wires and new the Bluetooth LE MIDI standard. Furthermore, this is a true travel keyboard (as big as you want it, based on the number of units you purchase), and it will be expandable with future modules. No, it probably won’t be your iPad cover. That’s okay–the design resulted in a naturally more flexible tool, cover or not.
One other note…this device (when used with Bluetooth) is intended for the iPad 3 and newer, although you can connect it to an iPad 2 with the attached cable and the Apple USB Camera Connection Kit.
If you are at any of my sessions in Illinois, Ohio, Texas, or Utah, come check out the C.24. If not, check out my latest (hastily made) YouTube Video introducing the device.