Tuesday, February 8, 2022

CONTROLLER KEYBOARDS. Alesis VI49 and VI61 Review. 49 and 61 Note USB and MIdi Controller Keyboard


Alesis VI49 Key and VI61 Note Controller Keyboard Review. 

So I thought I'd start at the centre and move out to the fringes as it were, and take a look at some of the more popular controller keyboard product 'types' which will 'fit the bill' for a large number of musicians and producers. Here we'll try and find the best 49 key controller keyboards and 61 note controller keyboards with advanced functionality and features including trigger pads, transport controls, assignable knobs and fader controls.

These will have the functions and features to satisfy most electronic, EDM, rap and hip-hop producers as well as more than enough for songwriters and producer/singers. 

The easiest way is to break them down by manufacturer/range and take a closer look at the facilities offered by each range as well as the differing bundled software packages that may appeal to different artists, writers, and producers. 

The aim of the pages and posts in this series is to be the most in depth and comprehensive guide to controller keyboards, and the best review of controller keyboards there is, so I'll come back, revisit and update these pages as new products and technologies are released and emerge, so why not follow my Facebook Page for info on the updates. 

Alesis VI49 and Alesis VI61 USB Controller Keyboard Review. 

One thing that immediately strikes you about the Alesis VI Series is the arrangement of the controls with the trigger pads being placed to the left of the keyboard with the performance controllers at the top left. This arrangement differs from the rest of the products in this category and whilst it makes the product physically longer, it also makes it narrower, which might just fit your requirements, or remove it from your list of possible options instantly, depending on your needs. 

Secondly, you may also notice that the VI Series employ 'square front' piano style keyboards, with know gap underneath and no 'edge' to the front of the key. Some player prefer these types depending on their playing style. Not, however, to be confused with a 'waterfall' sty;e organ keyboard, it still has the slight 'lip' at the front, like piano keys. 

The performance wheels are positioned above the trigger pads and are nice big chunky types. instant octave up/down buttons instantly shift the keyboard up/down 1 octave. 

Transport buttons for controlling your DAW are provided and include play, record, stop, forward, rewind, and loop. Your software's master tempo can also be controlled remotely. 

12 assignable knobs are available to control your synth or mix parameters alongside 32 assignable controller buttons which can be set to momentary or toggle type use.

As mentioned, 16 pads are available to the left of the keyboard and these are touch sensitive dedicated trigger pads that don't perform any additional function(s). They can be used in conjunction with the 'roll' button and tempo control to repeat at given tempo and time divisions. The time divisions can be specified using the dual function switches, 25 - 32, and assignable knobs 1/2 can be used to control gate/length, and shuffle. 

One of the VI Series' limitations is that it has no on board programs that can instantly switch the controller assignments. Instead this is achieved through editing software, so you can change your controller assignment 'en masse' but only via software. This may limit it's appeal for live use. 

I also find the ratio of knob controllers (1-127) to switch (on/off or 0/1) controllers a little strange. Given the choice I would have preferred more continuous controllers and fewer switches/buttons but the individual can decide on this. It does have many more switch type controllers than any other keyboard in this series of posts so if you need lots of switch controllers they may well fit the bill. 

Midi out is provided as well as USB so the VI Series can be used as a controller for other Midi equipped hardware devices as well as a computer music system. Elsewhere around the back there's a sustain/hold connector for a pedal as well as the power pack input and power switch. 

 Alesis VI49 and VI61 Bundled Software.

The software that comes bundled with the VI49 and VI61 includes Ableton Live Lite entry level DAW and the AIR Music Tech Xpand2 rompler with a selection of 'essential' sounds. 
I have to admit Ableton is not my 'cup of tea' but it is very popular and with the Xpand2 instrument you've got a fun and quite capable introduction to computer music, although you can download Pro Tools First with Air Xpand2 and some more sounds from UVI free without any purchase at all and you could also check out my suggested computer music freeware songwriter suite for a great freeware computer music platform. So unless you're heart is really set on Ableton, then there are other software options. 

Is The Alesis VI49 Any Good?

The VI Series offers a lot of what most people might and would need in a controller keyboard. The slim design may well appeal and the prices are keen. You can find out more at Alesis' website and the user manual is available to download and check out. 

Alesis VI49 and VI61 Links. 

Next up, we'll take a look at Alesis' InMusic stablemate Akai Pro MPK249 and MPK261. Why not follow me at my Facebook Page and you'll get news of all the latest posts and updates as they happen. Place your finger firmly on the pulse of music technology!  


The information contained within this blog post is offered on an informal basis and is correct to the best of my knowledge. I accept no responsibility for outcomes arising from the mis/interpretation or use of this information and/or associated download files. Always download files via security/scanning software.

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