Alesis music gear turned some heads when they announced their new release of VI MIDI keyboard controllers. This particular model is the bigger brother of the Alesis V61 MIDI keyboard which is very solid but has less drum pads and a few other key components (hence the price). This time around they’ve added 16 pads as well as some other cool capabilities to make a run at the more advanced MIDI keyboard market. As we saw in the Alesis VI25 and VI49 controller review, the prices of these pieces of machinery out-duel some of the more popular models on the market. Let’s check out the main features on this one.
Main features of the Alesis VI61
- Semi-weighted keys with aftertouch
- Modulation and pitch bend wheels
- 16 pads (LED multi-color)
- 16 knobs, 48 buttons
- Input for sustain pedal
- USB MIDI and MIDI Out
- Present up/down and transport buttons
- Internal clock (sync, tempo, rolls)
- Optional power supply included
- Comes with Ableton Live Lite 9
Make of the keys and pads
We think the keys and pads on the VI series are suitable for the home studio or even semi-professional rig. They aren’t as necessarily built as nice as the Akai or Novation, but they get the job, especially at the price of only $250 retail. The semi-weighted with aftertouch is something you can never complain about, this is best for pretty much all VST’s out there. Full sized, 61 keys is also something you can never try to jab at — it’s some of the best available besides the rare 88 key MIDI keyboards. A good to go if you aren’t too strict on key and pad make, these are feasible for production or even live types of gigs.
Functionality of the keyboard
In terms of possible controls, the VI61 gives you the ability for a pretty in-depth control of your DAW and VST’s. Recording with your DAW is especially seamless with the transport controls, not to mention the numerous assignable knobs and buttons for custom creation. If you’re using the Ableton Live Lite 9 that comes with it you will especially have success with mapping and overall production (it’ll take a little bit to learn how to use if you don’t know yet).
The pitch bend is always pretty useful (I actually use mine pretty often) for that little touch you may want to put on your tunes. This has all of the standard features a MIDI keyboard nowadays should have, and for this price I really can’t turn my head away from it.
The Alesis VI61 vs. competitors
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative and do not necessarily need drum pads, check out the previous version of this controller, the Alesis Q61 MIDI keyboard. Prices of this will also begin to drop once the VI61 becomes bigger and the Q61 outdated. Also be sure to check our reviews on the lower key models if you want to save a few bucks and can sacrifice some keys.
This 61 key keyboard is literally half the price of the legendary Akai MPK261, and with only a few sacrifices at that. For one, the pads and keys aren’t as nice, although it’s nothing to be completely steered away from. If you’re very strict about pad and key quality, we’d go for a better model but if yo’ure looking for an all-around MIDI keyboard with a decent make of pads and keys, the VI61 is still the way to go.
Another critical competent is the VI61’s lack of software bundle. However, a lot of us (including myself) already have our DAW, VST’s and other supplemental programs configured already and won’t even be using the most basic softwares that come with these keyboards. If you do need some more software or are still starting out and looking for a solid program, the Akai MPK261 may be something you want to look at (albeit around $500). All in all, the Alesis VI61 MIDI keyboard controller is super worth it in terms of overall quality and price.