Review Date: January 2016 – Review unit purchased from Guitar Center
Alesis offers a number of different kinds of MIDI keyboards. At the budget end of the scale is the V series that was first introduced in 2014. Their mid-level controllers are the VI series, and the VX49 is the high end model.
This review is for the Alesis V25 specifically, but most of the review applies to the V49 and V61 as well since the only difference is they have more keys.
The V25 is one of the least expensive keyboard MIDI controllers on the market. It usually sells for around $89 at Amazon and the 49-key version is often $129.
Update: Here’s the link to my review of the Alesis V Mini keyboard, the smaller version of the V25.
Alesis V25 Review
- Functional design and layout. The position of the pads is nice; you don’t have to reach over keys and buttons to use the pads like on most controllers.
- Nice keys. The keyboard keys have a nice semi-weighted feel and they respond and work well; most keyboard controllers in the price range have mini-keys that are tiny.
- Cheap. The V-series is one of the least expensive sets of MIDI keyboard controllers with full size keys, assignable pads, knobs, and buttons.
- Software included. It comes with some good starter software, Ableton Live Lite 9 and Xpand!2 (the latter sells for $99 alone). It integrates very well with Ableton. It supports auto-mapping so things work automatically, and you can easily assign any of the pads, buttons, or knobs with just a couple of clicks.
- Disappointing pads. The pads require considerable force to trigger medium to high velocity, regardless of the velocity curve setting. The pads are also prone to double triggering, but it seems to come and go.
- Few controls. The V-series offers a limited amount of controls. Four knobs and four buttons don’t go very far with no banks.
- Velocity settings. You have to download and use Alesis’s editor software to adjust the velocity settings and other parameters, but the velocity settings could use some improvement. Most require too much force to be functional and they are prone to sudden spikes or dips in velocity while playing, requiring lots of wasted time with editing later on after recording.
- Key squeaking. Occasionally a key lightly squeaks; jiggling it seems to make it go away.
The Alesis V25 has potential from a hardware perspective but the software could use some refining. The velocity settings need improvement and the occasional double trigger on the pads needs to be fixed. Alesis does offer a firmware update on their website to improve keybed sensitivity; hopefully they’ll update to improve the pads as well.
The V25 isn’t a bad starter MIDI keyboard controller for the price, but if you’re like me you’ll probably be looking to upgrade it rather quickly. I ended up getting a refurbished Akai MPK on eBay and it’s in a different league. If you want something cheap and simple to start with, the V-series keyboards fit that bill, but if it’s something that you plan on using often you’d be better off spending more on something a little nicer with additional features.
Alesis V25 Specs
- 25 full-sized, semi-weighted, velocity sensitive keys.
- 8 velocity and pressure-sensitive backlit pads.
- 4 assignable knobs.
- 4 assignable buttons.
- Adjustable velocity curve settings for keys and pads.
- Octave Up and Down buttons.
- Pitch and modulation wheels.
- Backlit pads and buttons.
- USB powered (cable included).
- Mac and PC supported.
- Dimensions: 21″ x 7″ x 3″.
- Included software: Ableton Live Lite 9 and Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech.
- Price: $89 at Amazon