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Ion bolsters its musical training tools (hands-on)

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Ion has broadened its range of musical entertainment and learning tools with the Guitar Apprentice, Drum Master, Drum Apprentice, Piano Master, Piano Studio, and iDJ2Go.

Ion Guitar Apprentice
Ion Guitar Apprentice

Ion Audio has bought its musical gear out in force this year, bringing a host of new musical training and entertainment products to CES. The easy highlight is the Guitar Apprentice — an iPad based training tool with light up keys for each fret. It's a bit reminiscent of the Yamaha EZ-AG, with translucent light-up keys showing you the correct finger positioning as you play. However, in place of the strings sits your iPad, and since the axe is Core MIDI compatible you're able to use it with almost any iOS music creation app, including Garageband. Ion also promises that a proprietary teaching app for the device is on its way, giving you a chance to use it as a training tool as well as an interface. It's launching in August this year for $149.99.

In a similar vein for the rhythmically inclined is the Drum Master. It looks similar to the Guitar Hero drums, though offers four pads, two cymbals and two pedals. All of these are pressure sensitive and light up as you play. Again, it's built for use with the iPad and is Core MIDI compatible for use with other apps. It's expected in September for $299.99. There's also a smaller version, the Drum Apprentice, which will be released around the same time for $149.99.

Besides these, there are a couple of successors to the popular Piano Apprentice: the Piano Studio and Piano Master. The Master is a larger version of the Apprentice, offering four pressure sensitive octaves over the original's two. The Master is hitting in May for $179.99, while the more flexible (but not pressure sensitive) Studio is set for release in September for $149.99.

Less educational but good fun is the iDJ2Go, a mini turntable-style controller for your iPad. It's compatible with a variety of different DJing apps, and gives a rotary scratch dial, play and cue controls, pitch, volume, and monitoring settings for each deck. It's one of the smallest devices of it's kind we've seen and works pretty well, though the rotary controls feel a little light and lack some of the resistance you'd hope for. It's coming in May this year for an MSRP of $129.99.