Alesis V49 MkII: What is it?
The battle for your controller keyboard allegiance is fierce, with several companies offering all-singing, all-dancing designs at increasingly affordable prices. Some, like Native Instruments, have tailored their keyboards to their software, making them an integrated choice for those heavily invested in specific hardware/software workflows.
But if your primary devotion is to your DAW and you’re seeking a more general-purpose controller keyboard, Novation, M-Audio and Alesis are among those offering ever-greater features at increasingly low prices. The latest controller to tempt is from Alesis, with V2 of the V49 controller available for less than £100.
The redesign of the second-generation V49 is substantial. The original offered a 49-key instrument but placed its additional controllers – a set of eight pads, function buttons, pitchbend and modulation wheels and four rotary encoders – to the left-hand side, making for a wide, thin instrument which rather assumed you wanted to play notes with your right hand and provide additional control with your left.
The MkII design moves this extended functionality above the keyboard to a more central location. Whilst it is still biased towards the left side of the upper panel, it allows for a greater breadth of interaction between the keyboard and a wider control set. However, Alesis has resisted the temptation to extend the rotary dial and pad offer on the MkII, leaving these at four and eight and there are still no sliders present. Round the back, you’ll find the USB port which provides the V49 with power, along with an on/off rocker switch and a Sustain pedal port.
Alesis V49 MkII: Performance and verdict
The most radical update comes in the form of the front-panel buttons. Whereas the V49’s predecessor had four freely assignable ones, the MkII offers a range of direct functions, many of which act as shift keys for further functionality from the keyboard itself. For instance, there is an inbuilt Arpeggiator, whose Type, Swing, Time and Octave can be manipulated from the keyboard. You can also Tap Tempo and engage Note Repeat functionality from the Pads, whilst you’re triggering notes or drum hits.
There’s a greater emphasis on performance from the V49 MkII, as there are functions here to trigger your imagination in more musical ways than before. The downloadable Editor provides a graphic interface to manage current controller assignments and settings, whilst the bundled software includes an MPC Beats bundle, with seven Beats Expansion Packs. 60 free piano lessons from Melodics are also included.
It’s a competitive market and whilst the V49 MkII is a price-buster, for not much more money, you’ll find alternatives with sliders, more pads and dials, from both Alesis and its competitors. However, the MkII is a substantial improvement from its predecessor and is a solid entry-level keyboard controller.
MusicRadar verdict: This is a solid controller that substantially improves on its predecessor, but the V49 faces stiff competition at this price point.
Alesis V49 MkII: The web says
"A highly portable and robust design makes it a no-brainer for anyone looking for a solid 49 key MIDI controller at this price point."
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Alesis V49 MkII: Hands-on demos
Alesis V49 MkII: Specifications
- 49 full-size, velocity-sensitive, synth-action keys.
- 8 velocity-sensitive, LED-backlit pads.
- Arpeggiator with 6 modes, tap tempo, time division, gate and swing controls, Note Repeat, 4 MIDI-assignable knobs, Pitch-bend and modulation wheels, 1/4” sustain pedal, USB-powered.
- CONTACT: Alesis (opens in new tab)