Connecting USB Audio Interfaces, MIDI Controllers, and Keyboards to an iPhone or iPad

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akai mpkmini2ipad mainYou can connect any class compliant USB audio interface or MIDI controller or keyboard to your iPhone or iPad.  This article shows you what devices you can connect, and also includes some tips to ensure success when using the Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.



lightning camera connection kitMost class compliant USB peripherals, audio interfaces, MIDI controllers and keyboards can be connected to the iPhone or iPad using the Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.


What does 'class compliant' mean?

A class compliant device is one that doesn't require extra drivers to connect your Windows or Macintosh computer, or to your iPhone or iPad.  Class compliant devices use drivers which are built into the host (i.e. the computer or the iPad) operating system. 

These can include USB keyboards, MIDI controllers, and audio interfaces.

To find out if your USB device is class compliant, check the manufacturer's web page.  If it connects automatically to any computer without requiring you to install drivers from a website or a disk, it is probably class compliant.

ipad mpk mini


iPad Power - not as much as you might think

Many USB devices draw their power right from the USB cable that connects them to their host (a computer, iPhone, or iPad).  The iPhone or iPad can also supply power to connected USB devices.  The USB ports on computers supply 5V and 100mA-500mA of power.  However, through the course of several updates and revisions, Apple has decreased the amount of electrical power the iPhone or iPad is allowed to supply connected USB devices.

This means that some devices that draw only a little power can survive off of what the iPhone or iPad supplies, but devices that require more power may not find the iPhone or iPad USB connection sufficient.  Furthermore, Apple can and has altered how much power iPhones and iPads can offer connected devices, so what may have worked in the past, may not necessarily work in the future.


When you connect, the order matters

You have a MIDI or Audio device, a USB cable, the Apple Camera Connection Kit adapter, and your iPad...

Even if the device you are connecting requires very little power, if you connect them in the wrong order, you're likely to get the following error: Accessory Unavailable.  The attached accessory uses too much power.

ipad power error

To maximize the likelihood of a successful connection with an audio or MIDI device, you need to...

  1. Connect the USB cable to your Audio or MIDI device first.
  2. Next, connect the other end of the USB cable to the iPad Camera Connection Kit adapter.
  3. Last, connect the Camera Connection Kit adapter (with the USB cable already attached) to the 30-pin port on the bottom of your iPad.
  4. Wait 10 seconds.  The iPhone or iPad will take a few moments to fully recognize a connected device.

If you still get the error above, or if the class compliant device does not function within 10 seconds of connection, the device likely requires more power than the iPhone or iPad can supply.


If at first you don't succeed...use an AC Powered USB Hub

If the device you are connecting requires more power than the iPhone or iPad can supply, connect it to an AC powered USB hub.  Powered USB hubs have AC power adapters that connect them to an electrical socket on the wall.  This will help ensure any connected devices have enough power to operate.

Belkin Powered USB Hub

List of some compatible devices

Note that Apple can and has altered how much juice the iPad can offer connected devices, so what may have worked without a powered hub in the past, may not necessarily work in the future. If you discover that a device in this list requires a powered hub, let us know!

Akai Professional




ION Audio

*Powered USB Hub required.



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