With an era of smarter MIDI controller keyboards seemingly upon us, Alesis has taken the opportunity to launch the VX49, a 49-note controller that offers "advanced control of virtual instruments and DAWs".
Central to this is a 4.3-inch full colour high resolution screen, while the hardware controls include knobs, drum pads and buttons. The keyboard is semi-weighted and supports aftertouch.
The bridge between the hardware and your plugins is the Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) software; if this sounds familiar, it's probably because VIP is also used by Akai's Advance keyboards. Alesis and Akai, of course, are under the same ownership.
The theory is that VIP automatically maps your hardware controls to those in your plugin, with parameters being displayed on the screen. You can also create 'Multis' - these comprise up to eight patches from multiple plugins, which can be layered, mixed and panned as you like. It's possible to split the keyboard and transpose individual patches within a Multi, while Setlists enable you to set up groups of plugins that you can switch between from the hardware during live performances.
"The VX49 is a huge step forward for serious keyboard players and producers," believes Walter Skorupski, Product Manager for Alesis. "Players can access and manipulate virtual instruments right from their keyboard, without ever being distracted by a computer. The entire creative/performance process is so smooth, seamless and natural. VX49 and VIP doesn't slow the artist down - it works with them to maximise their experience and creative potential. We're unlocking VSTs to feel like real hardware instruments. This is the way it's supposed to be."
The Alesis VX49 is set to ship before the end of the year priced at £350. You can find out more on the Alesis website, and we're keen to find out how the controller compares with Akai's aforementioned Advance series and NI's Komplete Kontrol range.
Alesis VX49 features
- Integrated 4.3-inch high-resolution full-colour screen with dedicated interface buttons
- Screen provides 1:1, real-time feedback of plugin parameters
- Includes Virtual Instrument Player software--- load, play and control any VST plugin quickly
- Custom 49-key Alesis semi-weighted keybed with aftertouch
- 8 performance-ready 360-degree knobs
- 4 banks of 8 velocity- and pressure-sensitive drum pads with RGB illumination
- Roll mode, time division, transport, arpeggiator, and tap tempo buttons
- Functions as a standalone MIDI controller or controls your plugins and DAW simultaneously
- Includes software: Ableton Live Lite, Vacuum Pro, Loom, Hybrid 3, Xpand!2, Velvet, Transfuser, Eighty Eight Ensemble