NAMM 2012: Alesis Vortex keytar MIDI controller

NAMM 2012: Given the keytar's resurgence in popularity, we've often wondered why no manufacturer has produced a similarly-designed MIDI controller. Hats off, then, to Alesis, which is taking the strap-on keyboard into new realms with the launch of the Vortex.

As well as the 37 keys, Vortex also gives you a MIDI-assignable accelerometer that can be triggered by tilting the neck, eight drum pads, a finger-controlled MIDI-assignable touchstrip and volume, sustain and pitch controls.

Vortex can be bus-powered over USB, but there's also a handy battery option so that you can use it with iOS devices.

We don't have a price yet, but you can find out more on the Alesis website and in the press release below.

Alesis Vortex press release

Alesis, the world's leading manufacturer of instruments and tools for today's musician, introduces the Vortex, the first USB/MIDI keytar controller. Alesis will debut the Vortex at booth #6400 at the 2012 NAMM Show from January 19—22 in Anaheim, California.

The Vortex eliminates the barrier between keyboardists and the audience. With an extensive layout of touch-sensitive keys and velocity-sensitive pads on its pearlescent white body, and radical octave and pitch controls on its neck, the Vortex will have keyboard players ruling the stage.

The Vortex includes features never before found on any keytar: both traditional MIDI and USB MIDI are onboard, empowering keyboardists to use the Vortex with all of their software instruments and synths on Mac, PC, and iPad*. They'll have a virtually unlimited palette of sounds, ready to command with one of the most exciting and eye-catching controllers ever created. And for instant performance, the Vortex comes automapped for today's most popular software synths and DAWs. Users can customize and create their own mappings for virtually any software they like.

The Vortex comes ready to rock with an embedded, MIDI-assignable accelerometer—now, keyboardists can freely roam the stage and control virtually any parameter with their motion. They'll be able to create incredible volume swells, amazing pitch bends, vibratos, filter cutoffs and more by tilting the Vortex's neck during live performances.

The Vortex's neck controls are laid out ergonomically: your thumb controls a volume slider and pitch-bend wheel while your fingers command nine front-facing controls that include a MIDI-assignable touchstrip, and buttons for octave selection and sustain. Large transport and patch-select controls are centrally located on the Vortex's body for instant access, and keyboard players will be happy to know that the Vortex's 37 velocity-sensitive keys feature aftertouch to enable instant creative flourishes.

The Vortex is bus powered when connected to a Mac or PC, and can also be powered by batteries when used with MIDI modules and iOS devices including the iPad. Standard guitar strap pegs are located on its neck and body, and an adjustable strap is included.

"The Vortex liberates keyboard players from stationary setups and visual performance limitations," said Dan Radin, Alesis Product Manager. "The audience won't know what hit them."

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.