Producing music can be incredibly exciting! Just imagine being able to create an amazing melody that captures the listener’s imagination. On the flipside, the process of producing music can be incredibly complex and time consuming. Having access to the right tools can truly make a world of difference. While music production is simply a hobby of mine, I have experimented with an abundance of tools. Recently, I got my hands on the Alesis V49 MIDI Keyboard. I was mostly satisfied with the time I spent with this USB MIDI keyboard. It was unique in several categories and right on target in others.
Is it a great choice for musicians, who wish to produce music in their home studio? You’ll find out by reading the comprehensive review below!
USB Connectivity and DAW Support
After tinkering with several Bluetooth compatible keyboards, it was somewhat awkward going back to a USB connected keyboard. Nevertheless, I found the Alesis V49’s USB cord to be very pleasant. In fact, it never felt like a hindrance. The USB cable serves dual purposes. First and foremost, the cable is used to power the keyboard. Simultaneously, the USB connection makes it possible to utilize the instrument in conjunction with your favorite digital audio workstation or DAW. The good news is that the Alesis V49 Keyboard works with various programs, including FL Studio, GarageBand, and Ableton Live.
In fact, this instrument comes bundled with Xpand!2 and Ableton Live Lite 9. As someone, who is fairly familiar with music production, you should have already heard of Ableton. Ableton Live is a fully comprehensive music production software that supports recording, remixing, and editing your music directly from your computer. That fact that the instrument comes with these two programs definitely helps to increase its overall value to some degree!
V49 Editor Software
When attempting to produce music, I often find myself spending hours and hours trying to tweak one little tune. When that specific tune is scattered throughout the melody, it can take even longer to reach perfection. Using the V49 Editor software definitely helps. With this software, it is possible to change the MIDI messages, which are transferred from the keyboard to the computer. The software allows for manipulation of the switches, knobs, drum pads and everything in between.
Altering these settings in advance can definitely help save time in the long run. The V49 Editor provides a user-friendly setup, which makes it easy to adjust the options as desired. It doesn’t stop there either. The musician can subsequently use the software to adjust the velocity curves of the keys and pads. With a little patience, you’ll easily be able to configure the keyboard to perfectly accommodate your unique playing style.
Sustain Pedal Input
If you really want to enhance your sound, you will want to incorporate a sustain pedal into your setup. The sustain pedal input makes the keyboard compatible with a wide array of brands. The pedal will allow you to control the notes and by holding the pedal down the note will continue to play for a much longer time. You can also manipulate the pressure placed on the pedal to release the sound gently or abruptly. With the option of adding a sustain pedal to your setup, you will be able to produce more unique sounds than ever before.
Size and Weight
At some point or another, you may feel the need to travel with your keyboard and computer. There are much smaller digital keyboards on the market, but many lack the same features provided by the Alesis V49. Despite the added functionality, this keyboard is still surprisingly lightweight and compact. It measures in at 9.6 by 37.6 by 4.5 inches. In total, the keyboard weighs right around 9.5 pounds. This makes the V49 keyboard easily portable.
If you ever want to team up with a friend and record music with additional instruments, you’ll need to travel. Throw your laptop in your backpack and toss this keyboard under your arm. Before you know it, you’ll arrive at your friend’s house with your music production equipment in tow. As the old saying goes, two heads are often better than one. With the Alesis V49, you’ll be able to travel whenever and however you want. This will give you the ability to receive crucial guidance for achieving the masterful sound that you’re after.
Assignable Knobs and Buttons
When it comes to perfecting your melodies and beats, you’ll agree that timing is everything. You’ll need to open and close the filters at the right moments. Being able to initiate the right effects with the push of a button will make it much easier to put the finishing touches on your music. The V49 is equipped with 4 assignable knobs and 4 buttons. During my initial experiment with the keyboard, I found that these knobs and buttons were very beneficial.
They can be utilized for altering parameters, changing the volume, initiating effects, and opening and closing filters. While the keyboard is affordable, it can do nearly anything you could imagine and then some.
Operating System Compatibility
The Alesis V49 is compatible with most Windows and Mac Operating systems, including Windows 7, Windows 8 and Mac 10.7, 10.8 or 10.9. To run the software, you will need the Mac operating system 10.8 or 10.9. When operating on Windows, a multicore processor with 2GB of RAM is required. No matter what operating system you prefer, you can almost guarantee that it’ll be compatible with the Alesis V49 controller.
The 49 keys are velocity-sensitive, which means the controller will respond to the amount of pressure placed on the keys. You can press the key hard or fast and the controller will be able to respond accordingly without delay. With each touch of the key, the volume and tone of the volume will change. It is important to note that only professional quality MIDI controllers utilize velocity sensitivity. Many lower quality brands typically utilize manually adjusted note volume, which fails in comparison to the velocity sensitivity capabilities. You’ll truly get your money’s worth with the Alesis V49 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller.
8 Drum Trigger Pads
Over the past few years, MIDI controllers and other musical instruments have undergone a major transformation. With new software and hardware, independent music producers are capable of creating a wide range of sounds, such as drums. With the 8 trigger pads, you can create drum sounds and alter them accordingly and the best thing is, you will not need a drummer or drum set. With the Alesis V49 MIDI Keyboard, you will be able to produce music in the comfort of your home without actually having a live band present.
If you like to set the mood for your music production activities, you’d probably dim the lights and shut out as many external distractions as possible. With that said, it can be extremely difficult to control a keyboard in low light conditions unless you own the Alesis V49. The controller is embedded with an LED that lights up the drum trigger pads, so you can see them clearly, even when the environment is pitch dark.
A Full Melodic Range
It is true to suggest that many smaller keyboards are very restrictive. Some of these products will never satisfy a serious music producer. While the V49 MIDI Controller cannot accurately represent the studio experience, it comes reasonably close. Unlike the alternatives, the Alesis V49 is actually capable of producing music up and down the melodic range. The unit features 49 keys, as well as o ctave buttons. This combination makes it possible to extend the keyboard’s capabilities to accommodate the full melodic range.
Truly, this keyboard knows no limitations. It can play chords, melodies and even bass lines. No matter what you’re trying to achieve at any point in time, you can almost guarantee that the Alesis V49 will have something to suit your unique needs.
Despite delving into music production, I am not a fan of overly complicated hardware and software. If I cannot get the system up and running in seconds, I’ll end up giving up shortly thereafter. This is what I liked a lot about the V49. This specific MIDI controller keyboard offers an effortless setup procedure. Simply connect the USB cord to your Windows computer or MAC and you’ll be ready to go. The device delivers seamless integration, so the user can begin editing and mixing their music within a matter of seconds.
The keyboard’s size is also a great perk. Since it is very compact, it can easily fit into any existing studio.
Pitch and Modulation Wheels
I have found that adjusting the pitch of a specific sound can have a dramatic impact on the music. The right pitch can really grab the listener’s attention and force them to feel the emotion that you’re trying to convey. The Alesis V49 MIDI Controller is equipped with pitch and modulation wheels for complete creative control. By utilizing these wheels, you’ll be able to adjust the pitch of the tone to get your point across to the listener. Modulation can be a great way to add interest to your music.
If you feel that your melodies are a little too flat and stagnant in some places, you will be able to change that immediately by using the modulation wheel. The addition of the pitch and modulation wheels is definitely a great advantage.
Feel of the Keys
Whether you are a beginner or veteran musician, you will have a specific way that you want your keys to feel. For instance, you may want the keys to feel light and smooth when you press them. This type of key will not have any resistance and allow the musician to play very quickly and is similar to an organ. However, if you are looking for a keyboard with resistance, you will want to choose one that is equipped with semi-weighted or weighted keys, similar to a piano. While the choice is yours to make, if you are producing your own music at home, your best option will be weighted action.
The Alesis V49 keys press very smooth and are well weighted. With each press, you will relish the smoothness of the keys. Simultaneously, you’ll know that the keys are tough and built to last a lifetime.
Cost Effective Operation
Another benefit of the Alesis V49 is it does not require an external power supply. Instead, the controller utilizes a USB power adapter, which means when it is plugged into your desktop or laptop computer, it is being powered up. This design will allow you more flexibility than a keyboard that is powered on 110 volts of electricity. Without the need of a 110-volt electric outlet, you will be able to utilize the keyboard just about anywhere. In fact, you can set up your station outdoors as long you have access to a laptop computer.
While some prefer battery powered instruments, I do not. Replacing the batteries every few months can be a major annoyance and they can also greatly increase the cost over a period of time.
- Works with a wide assortment of programs, including FL Studio, Ableton Live and GarageBand
- Comes with the necessary USB cable
- Keys are incredibly smooth
- Offers a seamless plug and play setup
- Space saving design
- Lightweight, so it can be carried almost anywhere
- Key weight is right on the money
- Pads are illuminated
- Protected by a 1-year warranty on parts and labor
- Comes with Ableton Live Lite and Xpand!2
- Contains 49 full-sized keys
- Includes 4 assignable buttons and 4 assignable knobs
- Features pitch and modulation wheels
- Pads can be difficult to use
- Keys may be a little too firm in the beginning
Despite having a few minor flaws, the Alesis V49 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is still great. The keyboard is very well built. When you’ve placed your fingers on the keys, you will be able to tell immediately that this instrument is built to last. The keys and pads are velocity-sensitive, so you’ll be able to maintain complete control over the music that you create. Plus, there is really nothing that this keyboard cannot do. If you want a great keyboard controller that is designed for music producers, this keyboard should not be ignored.