Earlier this year I posted a review of the Alesis V25 MIDI keyboard controller, so when I got the chance to give the new smaller version a try, I wanted to put together a quick review of the Alesis V Mini keyboard to see how it compares to the larger V25.
Both keyboards have 25 keys; the V25 has full-sized keys whereas the V Mini has mini keys, so the feel of the keys and the overall size difference is significant.
The V25 adds some additional features like extra pads and assignable buttons, but for the most part the functionality of the two controllers is largely the same.
The V Mini has a better default setup than the V25, which requires some tweaking of the velocity curve settings. The drum pads and keys have a good feel on the V Mini, and the velocity and sensitivity settings work well.
You can adjust all the settings with the V Mini editor software available on the Alesis website, but so far I haven’t changed anything because the default settings are good enough.
Alesis V Mini Keyboard Review
- Very small and lightweight. It’s surprising how tiny the Alesis V Mini is when you see it in person. It’s way smaller than the Alesis V25, and it still packs the same number of keys and knobs. The V Mini is also quite a bit smaller than my Logitech keyboard (as in a typing keyboard). The size makes it highly portable; it would easily fit in most purses and laptop bags or sleeves.
- Nice drum pads. The drum pads are an improvement over the Alesis V25. I’ve experienced no issues with double triggering and the default velocity setting is better because you don’t have to hit them as hard.
- Comes with Xpand!2. Not as much software is included with the V Mini but it does come with the Xpand!2 plugin from Air Music, which sells for $99 on its own. It includes a few thousand sounds, tons of presets, and is a lot of fun to play with using the V Mini keyboard controller.
- Good default settings. One thing I appreciate about the Alesis V Mini is the fact that the velocity settings and key sensitivity are setup well out-of-the-box. The Alesis V25 had wonky settings that had to be adjusted quite a bit.
- High price. When comparing the V Mini to other similar-sized MIDI controllers like the Akai MPK25 Mini, the $79 price makes some level of sense. But it makes no sense whatsoever when compared to the $89 Alesis V25 keyboard, which adds higher quality full-sized keys, 4 assignable buttons, twice as many drum pads, a sustain pedal input, and Ableton Live Lite (an extremely useful entry-level DAW). Pretty much the only reason to get the V Mini over the V25 is for the small size and super portability factor.
- Less controls. The V Mini has fewer controls than other similar MIDI keyboards, like the Novation Launchkey Mini with 16 pads and 8 knobs.
- No DAW included. One thing that makes no sense about the V Mini is the fact that it doesn’t come with Ableton Live Lite like all the other Alesis V series keyboards. Plus the V Mini comes with Xpand!2, which requires a DAW in order to use. Furthermore, the V Mini is marketed towards beginners, and the truth is it’s completely useless without a DAW or some other MIDI-capable hosting software, so that makes the Alesis V25 a better option for beginners, unless they wanted to use some other free DAW.
As first I was a bit skeptical about the V Mini’s keyboard because the mini keys feel a lot different than the regular full-sized semi-weighted keys that I’m used to, but once you get adjusted to them they work quite well. The knobs have a good amount of resistance to them, the pads have a nice responsive feel, and the buttons are fun to play around with, especially the sustain button.
The small size and extreme portability of the Alesis V Mini can’t be understated; it’s one of the smallest 25-key MIDI keyboards with pads available.
The price is the only real hangup with me. If it were like $59 it would be a no-brainer. But when it’s only $10 less than the Alesis V25 it doesn’t make much sense to get it for any reason other than the super small size.
Alesis V Mini Keyboard Specs
- 25 velocity sensitive, synth-action mini keys.
- 4 velocity-sensitive backlit drum pads.
- 4 backlit assignable knobs.
- Adjustable velocity curve settings for keys and pads (using free V Mini editor software).
- Octave Up and Down buttons.
- Pitch bend, sustain, and modulation buttons.
- USB powered (cable included).
- Mac and PC supported.
- Dimensions: 12.5″ x 5.5″ x 2″.
- Included software: Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech.
- Price: $79 at Amazon