For aspiring beatmakers and music producers, a MIDI keyboard controller should be one of the most important pieces of gear in their home recording studio.
Don't have one? Well, this must be easy to solve, right? Wrong.
Getting any MIDI controller without doing any prior research is the worst thing you can do. Going by the looks or number of keys ONLY is a no-no.
You have to have an idea of what features you need in your MIDI controller.
Looking for a 25-key MIDI controller can get confusing very fast because there are so many to choose from.
As a matter of fact, they also come in different styles, sizes, and with different price tags (and the price range is from $50-$200+).
The first thing that comes into mind when talking about 25-key controllers is probably Akai MPK Mini or Novation Mini, as they are incredibly popular. In the meanwhile, Alesis V25 often gets overlooked due to little press and more conservative design.
I don't think that's the right thing to do, as I find Alesis V25 one of the best MIDI controllers that comes at a very attractive price point.
In fact, it's one of the cheapest MIDI keyboards I've seen on the market. My personal bias aside, let's take a closer look at the 25-key controller and determine whether Alesis V25 would be the right keyboard for you.
Alright, let's jump right into it!
Alesis V25 Overview
First of all, let's go over the main pros and cons of the device, so you have a better general idea from now on.
- Light and compact, won't take too much space on your desk
- Full-size, velocity-sensitive keys
- 8 backlit velocity-sensitive drum pads for loops and rolls
- 4 rotary knobs to control the effects and mixer settings
- One of the cheapest 25-key MIDI keyboards
- Lacks transport controls
- Velocity settings can't be modified
- Pads' velocity sensors aren't sensitive
Now we'll go over all the features of the MIDI keyboard separately and more in-depth.
The first thing you'll notice about V25 is how light it is. Weighing just over 5 lbs, it's easy to carry around. While it's not the most compact controller out there (just look at Akai MPK Mini or LPK25), it's pretty portable – you can easily travel with it or play at gigs.
The keyboard is plug-and-play, which means you don't have to do anything after plugging it to your PC via a USB port.
Your DAW detects the controller immediately, but you'll still have to find it among your MIDI devices in the settings option.
Once plugged-in, you are good to go – go ahead and create melodies, drum rolls, tweak the effects, and do whatever you want – the sky's the limit.
Alright, you probably want to know more about the keyboard's features and all – let's keep going.
While the keys on Alesis V25 are by no means the best, they are full-sized and velocity-sensitive, which is more than most producers need.
If you don't have a piano background of some sort, does it really matter if the keys are weighted or semi-weighted? Unless you are a pianist, it's really hard to tell. It's also worth noting that springy keys are much easier on your fingers.
There were a few aspiring and seasoned producers complaining about the lack of sensitivity of the keys, but I had no problems whatsoever.
If you face such an issue, you can always install V-Series Editor and choose out of 8 velocity curves provided. It will take some time to try them all out, but you'll ultimately find out which setting fits your style of playing the keyboard.
Some keyboards (like world-famous M-Audio Oxygen 25) let you do this by pressing a button on the device, and this definitely saves time.
However, I don't think you'll be changing it often. The goal is to find the velocity curve suitable for you – going back and forth all the time will just slow you down. It's not a big deal for most experienced producers and beginners, at least in my opinion.
What's next on the list? That's right – drum pads. What can I say – they are one of the best I've felt. I do miss the ability to assign them colors.
They don't precisely feel like MPC, but still one of the finest pads I've seen on a budget MIDI keyboard. V25 comes with 8 velocity-sensitive and backlit pads and 4 enumerated pattern buttons (kind of like banks).
Similar to the keys, you can change the drum pads velocity curves with the V-Series Editor as well if needed.
As a result, you jump from just 8 to 32 pads that you can assign to different samples and sounds.
I hardly ever use more than 8 pads at a time, but having the ability to use more if I had to is a nice feature. Moreover, being able to assign them among 4 different menus can come in handy.
If you've heard or read about the Alesis V-series pad issues a few years back and are worried, there is no need. In the next firmware update after the news were posted, Alesis got rid of the problem entirely.
Alesis V25 also comes with 4 knobs to either control your mixer settings or assign them to certain parameters in your plugins and effects.
They aren't encoders that can rotate 360 degrees, but the 270 degrees range is also pretty good. At Alesis V25 price point, that's the best you'll get. Also, I believe it isn't a big deal at all.
Working with less gear usually means accomplishing more (at least that's how it always worked for me).
You can assign the knobs to any function using the MIDI Learn function – it's easy and straightforward (just look up the function for your DAW), so don't worry about it.
Lastly, I'll mention that they are nicely backlit, which adds more aesthetic when you are playing in the dark.
Some of the keyboards similar to Alesis V25 come with 8 knobs, as 4 can be a little limiting.
They may take a little bit more space, but I won't trade their firm, rubbery feel for anything.
The MIDI keyboard is 25 keys, so it has octave up / octave down buttons, so you can cover a higher range of notes if needed.
Lastly, as mentioned in the pads section of the Alesis V25 review, you can switch between the 4 banks with 4 buttons located just below that knobs.
Well, I think there isn't much else left to cover about the controller.
Now, let's see how this bad boy stands against other 25-key MIDI controllers with similar features.
Competitors of Alesis V25
Now that we've covered the basic features of our MIDI keyboard, you may be asking yourself a question – why would I choose Alesis V25 over another 25-key MIDI controller at a similar price point?
Well, you don't have to. Do you want a more low-key controller, more pads and knobs, or simply don't like the aesthetics of V25?
There are other MIDI keyboards out there that come with their unique features that may be a better fit for you.
Alright, let's see how Alesis V25 stands against other MIDI keyboards within the price range and go over the pros and cons, so you can make a better-informed decision.
Alesis V25 VS Akai MPK Mini MK2
Check out Akai Professional MPK Mini MK2 Review.
The MIDI controller that's being compared to Alesis V25 the most is definitely Akai MPK Mini, mostly because of their price point proximity. However, there are a few quite noticeable differences between the two.
First, the MPK Mini is a lot more compact and portable. This is achieved by swapping full-sized keys for mini keys.
As a result, you save a ton of space and can make the MIDI keyboard a lot smaller. While this is all great, it's also a drawback.
Because it's a lot harder to hit the right notes or even get the feel of an authentic acoustic piano. If your hands are on the bigger side, you'll find your fingers cramping all the time.
Springy and velocity-sensitive keys are nice, but the ones on the Akai controller are too small for my taste. This, however, makes it a lot friendlier for smaller studios (at just 12 in length).
Second, the decrease is the size of the keys means that now there is more space available for the control options.
As a result, you get more knobs and buttons on it. Both controllers come with the same number of pads, but I have to admit that the MPK Mini ones feel a notch better.
Lastly, Akai MPK Mini comes with transport controls, which speed up your workflow and speed up efficiency.
They aren't seamlessly integrated with DAWs, but definitely better than nothing. I also want to point out that you don't get the pitch / mod wheel, but a joystick instead, which I am not a fan of.
Overall, it's one of the best to-go MIDI keyboards that comes at a very reasonable price.
Alesis V25 VS M-Audio Oxygen 25
When it comes to specs, you'll notice that V25 and Oxygen 25 are much more similar to each other than Akai MPK Mini. You'll notice that M-Audio Oxygen 25 is taller but not as wide.
That's because of the pads position (they are placed above the keys, in the right-hand corner, as opposed to the left side of the keys).
I actually find this design more efficient if you play the keyboard with your left hand and tap out the rhythms on your pads with the right one.
Both keyboards come with knobs, but Oxygen 25 has twice as many – 8 as opposed to 4.
It's also equipped with some sweet transport controls, which definitely add to the versatility and flexibility of the device. Not having to reach for your mouse every time you need to play, stop, or record makes things a lot easier.
One of the buttons on the MIDI keyboard also lets you change the velocity curves without the need to use any additional software application.
M-Audio Oxygen 25 is a little more expensive than both Alesis V25 and Akai MPK Mini but comes with more features.
What you have to decide here is whether you need all these features. If you'll only play with them a couple of times and forget they exist, you are better off having fewer controls.
I almost forgot – the device comes with pitch / mod wheels, which I love.
Overall, it's a great controller for the price that comes with tons of cool features and controls that can potentially speed up your workflow exponentially.
Alesis V25 VS Novation Launchkey 25 Mk2
Looking for something a little more serious-looking than the 2 keyboards above as an alternative to Alesis V25? Well, here is Novation Launchkey 25 for you.
I love the moderate and conservative design without an excessive amount of colors and lights (except for the drum pads, of course).
The controller comes with 16 drum pads (all backlit) and 8 assignable rotary knobs – twice the controls Alesis V25 has.
If you need more controls for live performances of some sort, but you don't need more than 25 keys, Launchkey 25 Mk2 would be a great choice.
The keys are identical to those V25 comes with – full-sized and synth-style. I can't find anything special about them, to be honest.
Being full-sized, they sure add to the size of the MIDI keyboard – remember that.
Coming with a decent number of DAW controls (which include track buttons and transport controls), composing gets a lot faster and easier.
The wheels make bending the notes hassle-free as well. You also have to note that Launchkey 25 MK2 integrates with every DAW pretty nicely, but the integration goes to the next level if you are using Ableton Live.
Overall, Novation Launchkey 25 MK2 is a powerhouse of a 25-key MIDI controller. While it's considerably more expensive than other competitors of Alesis V25, it also offers you a lot more.
If you have a decent amount of space on your desk and need all the features Launchkey 25 Mk2 comes with – go for it.
By the way, if you happen to be using Ableton as your primary DAW, this bad boy is a no-brainer.
To sum up, Alesis V25 is a fantastic choice for a MIDI keyboard.
Besides buying the controller from a trustworthy and reliable brand that's been around for decades, you get a good value for your money.
While it would've been much nicer to just have an 88-key digital piano with weighted keys, it's rather unreasonable to spend $1000+ to make beats and produce music.
If you want a low-key keyboard that doesn't come with an overwhelming number of controls, you won't go wrong with Alesis V25!
Last update on 2021-02-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API