Alesis has been around for a very long time and has changed the world of MIDI controllers alongside Akai and M-Audio. Based in Rhode Island, Alesis has been working hard to provide quality, simplistic, yet budget MIDI controllers for music producers around the globe.
In this review, let’s take a closer look at beautiful Alesis V49 MIDI controller, with all of its key features and perks. We’ll also compare the MIDI keyboard with its well-known rivals M-Audio Oxygen 49 and Alesis VI49, so you can make a better decision.
Before we start, let’s look at the entire line of Alesis MIDI keyboards and how Alesis V49 stacks up against them – you’ll be impressed how well it holds itself!
Overview of Alesis V49
The keyboard is incredibly minimalist, with a very clean design and beautiful aesthetics. It’s also one of the most affordable MIDI controllers out there, which makes it a lot more appealing.
However, don’t get it twisted. While it’s considered a budget MIDI keyboard, don’t think that it doesn’t have any quality behind it. With all the years on the market and the reputation, Alesis V49 has built over time – there is nothing to worry about when it comes to quality.
As you could’ve figured out from the name, the controller is a 49 full-sized key setup. In fact, the keys take around 80% of the real estate on the device, with the rest left for drum pads, knobs, and buttons.
When it comes to looks, Alesis V49 looks rather minimalistic, with clean and slick aesthetics. Instead of trying to impress a beginner with a ton of buttons, switches, faders, and all, this MIDI controller took a more functional and practical cue, unlike some other budget MIDI keyboards on the market (Arturia developers love turning their products into the most complicated looking devices).
Of course, this look isn’t for everyone. If you are a producer who goes into other studios, performs live, etc. then you probably want a more flashy piece, but that’s not the audience Alesis goes for. The brand is focused on smaller producers and their home recording studios.
Despite everything said above, Alesis V49 still has a pleasing appearance, especially when plugged in – all the knobs, buttons, and wheels illuminate a dark blue light. Drum pads do the same thing, but only upon contact. You can use them for multiple things here – drum sequencing loops triggering, and or even just playing the programmed chords.
You’ll also see the 4 buttons and 4 knobs, that can be assigned to any function inside your digital audio workstation. That’s pretty much the biggest difference between the two MIDI keyboards if your compare V49 VS VI25’s bigger setup with more features.
The V series controllers are a little lighter as well, which makes them a lot easier to transport (and a lot more compact as well). It’s perfect for those with limited space and producers who are just starting out and don’t need 50+ controls just yet.
Remember we talked about how minimalistic the keyboard is? Well, that’s true for the inputs and connections on the back as well. You’ll see a USB MIDI and MIDI through, and a jack to connect a sustain pedal – and that’s everything. And let’s be honest – it’s not like you need much more either – unless you plan on using this controller with a pair of speakers or, let’s say, a hardware synth.
Alesis V49 is designed to seamlessly integrate with DAWs and was made for this singular purpose only. It’s been designed incredibly compact, so even if you are working on a MacBook Pro, you’ll have a much easier time transporting Alesis V49 as opposed to other 49-key controllers – it even fits in a standard suitcase!
- Amazing keybed that’s fun to play
- Quality product for a plastic keyboard
- Free bundles synth VST plugin
- Great bang for the buck
- Not as flexible and adaptable as its rivals in the same price range
Setup of Alesis V49
The MIDI keyboard is designed to be almost a plug-and-play device for music production, and it does its job reasonably well here. No matter with digital audio workstation you go with, Alesis V49 is compatible with most of them. Tested on most popular DAWs such as FL Studio, Ableton, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, etc., it’s automatically recognized and ready-to-go within a few seconds after the software application is started.
After that, assigning knobs, buttons, and pads to VST plugins is a breeze as well – with hardly any issues encountered at all (the only problems were with outdated plugins from 10 years ago). If that’s your first MIDI keyboard, you’ll appreciate how easy and straightforward everything is to set up. That’s why Alesis V49 is perfect for those who are just getting into music.
Considering how much you are paying for 49 keys and all the control features, it’s definitely a bargain. In fact, it’s one of the best controllers for beginners.
Sound of Alesis V49
Bundled sounds are getting more crucial when picking a MIDI keyboard, usually due to the fact that most manufacturers now include them for free as a part of the bundle. And it’s not just MIDI keyboards, but audio interfaces as well.
If you go with Alesis V49, you’ll end up getting Xpand!2 by Air Music Technology – a sweet VST plugin with a lot of cool features. Xpand!2 is a very popular synth plugin that is known for its high-quality and crystal clear synthesizer sounds. You end up getting as many as 2500 various presets of all kinds – strings, leads, drums, keys, basses, and more. Everything is also sorted by genre and sound type!
If you are looking for as much value as possible, getting Alesis V49 MIDI keyboard will also ensure you won’t have to spend a lot of money on plugins, so all your focus can go to actually make the music. You’ll still need a PC or laptop and a software app, but that’s about it.
There are many free and premium VST synth plugins out there, some of them like Omnisphere and Serum more powerful than Xpand!2. However, there is no reason for you to underestimate the plugin that comes in a bundle with your MIDI controller – Xpand!2 is a gem if you know how to use it. For the price you pay for it ($0 to be exact), you are getting a big bang for the buck.
Competition of Alesis V49
While Alesis a world-famous manufacturer of MIDI keyboards for many years now, the market is far away from a monopoly. There are tons of brands competing in the keyboards market who manufacture similar products at different price points, and some of them can even outsell the giant.
While Alesis V49 is excellent and one of my personal favourites, it’s not for everyone. Let’s look at the alternatives of equal quality and value that may have more features that you are looking for!
Alesis VI49 VS Alesis V49
Who would’ve thought that our MIDI controller has an older brother! Despite being made by the same company, VI49 is fair competition to V49.
While it’s virtually similar to V49, it’s a lot more flexible and expanded, due to the higher number of controls (and I mean much higher). That means the keyboard itself is much bigger than V49, with 36 assignable buttons, 12 knobs, and 16 velocity-sensitive pads. If you compare the two, VI49 has 2 times as many pads, 3 times as many knobs, and 9 times as many buttons – that’s a big jump!
So which one suits you better?
That depends on what you need from your MIDI controller – there is no better answer. If you plan on creating simple beats with a few lines in a melody, V49 will do. It’s perfect for using the device as a virtual piano, playing chords, and maybe even learning how to play the piano. There is little control over effect here.
However, if you want to take sound engineering and design to the next level and add layers upon layers of effects and processing that you need to control simultaneously, having as many controls as possible is definitely a good thing.
And, of course, you have to think. Clearly, VI49 will come at a higher price (you have to pay for the features after all), so you have to decide if you are ready to pay the premium for features. If you use them, great, VI49 is a great choice!
Alesis Q49 VS Alesis V49
If you are looking for something even more simple than a V49, you’ve found it – Q49. It’s an older version of the series that has a similar look but lack knobs and trigger pads – a perfect candidate for the most minimal setup out there.
If you are looking to play simple chords, or learn to play the piano, Q49 is definitely a good keyboard for that. Note that if you plan on creating your own drum loops and patterns and layer effects, you should probably get something with more controls.
However, if you are a beginner who is just getting into music production and looking for a cheap MIDI controller, Q49 will be a great starter keyboard to lead you on the journey.
M-Audio Keystation VS Alesis V49
M-Audio has been one of the main Alesis’ competitors for a while now – and not without reason. That’s because they target the same market of budget MIDI controllers and introduce high-quality yet affordable products fairly often. Luckily, there has been mostly friendly competition, with both manufacturers simply improving the quality of their products and lowering the price.
Keystation 49 is similar to Q49 – both come without any assignable buttons, knobs, or pads, which puts them at a disadvantage against our Alesis V49. Keystation by M-Audio is also a notch cheaper, which may be appealing to beginners who have little budget to spend only.
If you are looking for functionality rather than a bargain, going for Alesis V49 is a better option. The discrepancy is just too little to give up all the features and flexibility. Some people have noticed the key action to be softer on the M-Audio keyboard, so if you are looking to learn the piano in the future, that’s not the best MIDI controller for you.
Once again, some people will love Keystation, and others will always prefer V49.
M-Audio Oxygen 49 VS Alesis V49
Check out M-Audio Oxygen 49 MK4 Review.
Oxygen 49 is definitely a step-up from the above-mentioned Keystation, with a lot of neat features such as knobs, pads, sliders, transport control, and more!
It’s a little bigger than the Alesis controller and looks a fraction more flashy. For some, that’s a gem. Even the sliders alone may turn any DJ against Alesis for this matter (because they are great for live performances and offer easy control of synth parameters – just the right keyboard for a DJ setup). Besides that, it has at least double the number of controls, which some producers will love as well.
The difference in price isn’t significant, and if you like the extra features of M-Audio Oxygen 49, you should go for it!
As you may have noticed in this Alesis V49 review, the MIDI keyboard brings a lot of value for the price you pay. It’s both compact and flexible, with cool looking design and a lot of features. If you are looking for a 49 key controller with a 4-octave range that’s portable – you’ve found it!
While there are MIDI controllers with additional functionality out there, and those without anything buy keys and octave buttons, I see Alesis V49 as the golden middle that strikes a balance in-between the two ends. It’s suitable for both beginners who are just getting into the production game and professionals who want to improve their workflow by adding a MIDI keyboard to it.
The Bottom Line
Alesis V49 is a minimal yet functional MIDI keyboard with a great software freebie bundled in. If you need a 49-key controller to take somewhere with you, this bad boy is perfect. Moreover, it’s incredibly affordable, which makes the MIDI controller even more appealing.
Last update on 2020-03-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API