Alesis' Q49 is a bus-powered slim-line beast with four octaves of full-size keys, pitch and mod wheels, one assignable slider and three rubber buttons completing its modest hardware control set.
Appearances can be deceptive however, as the legending along the top of all but two of the keys displays the relevant MIDI function which can be triggered directly from the keys.
The slight frustration here is that you're either in play mode or control mode, in that the MIDI/Select button on the left switches these control assignments on but at the expense of the keyboard working.
If you want to adjust volume for an instrument you're playing, it's a touch annoying temporarily muting the keyboard to assign the right control and move the slider, before moving back into keyboard mode.
However, the range of parameters is impressive and the quality of the keyboard is fine for the price. While the touch is fairly light, it's consistent and far better than others we've tried that are under £100.
Two final, welcome additions: the provision of a MIDI Out port alongside the USB connector, which is good news for those of us with older gear. Secondly Ableton Live Lite is bundled to get newbies up and running.
Under £100. Four octaves. Portable.
No cross-over between play mode and control mode.
Not too intuitive in its controller functions, but accurately priced for what you get…
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Alesis' budget MIDI controller keyboard