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Alesis Vortex USB Keytar Controller with Accelerometer Reviews

4.5 stars based on 15 customer reviews
  • from May 31, 2015



  • from Springfield, OH April 14, 2014Music Background:

    I Can Only Speak For The Service - Not A "Player".

    Blown away by the service. I'm not a keyboard player -- I'm a drummer. I have a Roland Juno-G that I play around with, and now I have a controller to play around with. Had the pleasure of a brief acquaintance with the late George Duke (for a week on a cruise ship in 2010 and at a show in my town in 2011), and he was closely associated with this instrument. If I can coax 0.0000001 percent of his groove from this thing, I've achieved something great. Madd props to Bob Mondok for service and the availability of support.

  • from Asheville, NC March 29, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Semi-Pro Musician

    Works with iPad

    First off, I have always wanted a Keytar....kind of as a joke honestly. But, after seeing the "way too low to pass" price of this keytar, I ordered and received it very quickly. After un-boxing and getting a feel for it, I am AMAZED! at how much I love this thing. The action is tight and feels very responsive. The weight is low, but not so low that it feels like a cheap piece of plastic. It's really just perfect (even comes with a guitar strap).

    If I had one issue, it would be the drum pads. You really have to thump those things to get a sound, but that can be adjusted with software any ways. I don't really plan on using them as drum pads. Because there is "Light Feedback," you can easily assign them to be toggle buttons (great for selecting which of many synths I have to control).

    Finally, the biggest, greatest thing about this Keytar is the fact that it plugs in to my 3rd gen iPad via the Camera Kit and, without external power or batteries, and works perfectly with all my iPad synths and DAWs. I have 5 other Midi keyboards that require either external power or the USB-Hub trick to work with my iPad. Alesis, you need to tout this as an IOS keyboard! At this price, I'll probably order another to be used just as a keyboard, too bad they don't make a left-handed version so I could wear both at the same time :)

    Anyway, this is really a Must buy for anyone either wanting a trip back in time or just needs a solid keyboard with great options and IOS compatibility. For me, all of these apply and I couldn't be happier. People might laugh when I bust this out, but only until I take a ripping lead that will blow there minds.....then they will understand!

    Thanks to Bob Mondock, my rep for helping me out!

  • from Covington, LA March 24, 2014Music Background:
    Amatuer Professional Musician

    Straight out of the box

    I am a piano player and trying to learn the world of electric keyboards. I couldn't beat the price on this pretty little Vortex, and SO pleased, that with the Sweetwater rep's recommended MIDI cable, I took it out, plugged it into my Nord, and was rockin immediately!! I know it can do tons of stuff, but I'm happy I didn't get bogged down on settings and computer gobbildy gook! The touch sensitivity is better than my Korg or Nord, making it easy to play "louder" by striking the keys harder! The flashing little blue lights on the end are a piece of showmanship!

  • from Las Vegas February 5, 2014Music Background:
    PhD in musics

    Fun controller

    Action on the keys are great, its very lightweight, and really quite nice to look at. I wish there was another ribbon controller or something on the neck for more sound expression, the knobs are just not sufficient for live modulation with this thing hanging around your shoulder. The accelerometer is very sensitive to slightest tilt (Take that as a good or bad thing), and takes a second to respond accordingly. That said, its not all jumbo and awkward looking like the Ax-synth, nor does it have a bloated price tag like the Lucina on account of not having a generic sound bank in it. Comes with the lite version of a software synth, but I don't bother. I use it exclusively to control hardware modules. My girlfriend said I don't look as dorky as she thought I would when I have it strapped on. And in the end, is that not what matters? That our girlfriends won't think we look dorky? Would buy again if it was destroyed by a booing bar crowd. Just wish it was black in color-what's that? They released a wireless black version? Ah fudge.

  • from BEAUMONT CA USA December 31, 2013Music Background:
    Electronic music technology, Musician as a hobby.


    One of the coolest midi controllers around for live performances and great for midi sequencing.
    With all it's features and depending on how you use it, it can be a very expressive piece of gear. The Vortex is very configurable and depending on how you program it and the particular synthesizer modules of either the hardware and/or software variety you use, you can get great results. Being able to split the keyboard and play two different synthesizer's on their own separate midi channels is a great feature.
    Love the fact that it has a 5 pin din midi output jack for hardware in addition to the USB jack. I usually reject the controllers that only have a USB port because they can't drive a hardware synthesizer directly and I like to use it with both hardware and software.

  • from Naples, fl December 28, 2013Music Background:
    Pro musician

    Great keyboard

    I love my new alesis vortex. For it's price you can't beat it's functionality and flexibility. The fact that Sweetwater was selling it was a total confidence booster. Sweetwater rocks!

  • from San Jose, CA December 18, 2013Music Background:
    Vegas style duo pro.

    Great controller

    I have read some other reviews and would like to begin by pointing out that the ribbon, when set as a pitch controller, can be set to "stay the same" or "revert to normal" after one's finger is removed. Also, the cables are on the end of the keytar- just like a guitar. I don't set my guitar down on the ground and why should I expect to with a keytar? Just set it in a guitar stand or lay it on a keyboard stand. This keytar is very light and I like that. The "TILT" function lets you get CC#01 for tremolo and you can adjust the start and end points of that tilt. I would like 2 ribbon controllers. I haven't played a Roland yet and I might greatly want built in sounds at times, but then again, I might rather play great sounding soft synths all the time anyway. I am very pleased with this machine and can see myself buying this and more of this type of device. They are great fun. I love to stand up and play instead of staying seated in my home studio.

  • from Sherwood, AR November 20, 2013

    Nice cheap controller

    The Vortex itself is pretty cool. It sets up and maps quickly to the iPad apps I've tried, and with my PC software. It works fine as a controller for my synth modules and hardware as well. The pitch wheel took some getting used to since it seems backwards to my senses, but that's not a problem. The strap seems to be held on snug enough to have some fun, and the included USB cable is extra long! The MIDI out port was a deal maker for me.

    The problems I've had relate to Alesis themselves. When I registered the Vortex I was supposed to be able to download a software application for it. I tried off and on for two days before contacting Alesis. They of course told me to do everything I already tried. They then discovered they did actually have a problem on their end. After several days of back and forth I finally had the promised software, and it actually is pretty cool to play around with.

    The only other problem is with Alesis fit and finish. When looking at the keys straight on there is a noticeable curve to them, instead of a nice straight line. It is a symmetrical curve so it doesn't affect technique. It just looks cheap. Alesis had to sacrifice quality for such a low price though. The half price sale made the faults liveable though.

    Absolutely nothing but praise for Sweetwater though. Shipping was lightning fast. Packing was perfect, and Mike Baldonado continues to be my best rep yet.

  • from St.Louis Mo. January 31, 2013Music Background:
    Pro Keyboardist

    Alesis Vortex

    A great device for the ego ramp on your local stage! The unit works great, the only thing I didn't like about it is the battery option doesn't power the unit properly and the control knobs are in a bad place for tweaking on the fly during a solo. I'm really happy with it, the only people that don't like it are the guitar player's when ya blow em blazing smoke

  • from Buffalo, NY USA January 29, 2013Music Background:
    Working musician

    Fun to play, has some warts

    This is a pretty nice controller. Lightweight, easy to set up - pretty much what you'd expect. The controls are right where you want them on a keytar - I don't have to do a whole bunch of practicing with it to do what I want. The octave + - on the neck is awesome, and pressing both resets it to 0, just like you'd expect. Fun to play. What are the cons? I The touch sensitivity is a REAL problem for me and the velocity curves (I've tried them all) don't help much. I'd expect a compressed velocity curve on this type of controller (like only goes from 90 to 127 or something) but there isn't one, and the flat velocity option is at a fixed volume, not assignable. Also some minor nits - could really used more keys, the accelerometer doesn't react smoothly. In all, I'm happy I picked this up, it's a fun addition to my rig!

  • from Brazil January 27, 2013Music Background:

    I miss some more keys

    I think it's a great keyboard, but I really miss the extra 8 keys I had in my Ax-7.

  • from NYC December 16, 2012Music Background:
    Performing electro-ambient musician

    Mixed Feelings

    My feelings about this a overall positive but mixed. I've had a Casio AZ-1 since the mid 80's. I absolutely love the AZ-1. The Vortex is more closely modeled on that and a better substitute than the Roland models. The keyboard action is a bit mushy but the aftertouch is effective. Having assignable controllers is great, and there is a decent amount of flexibility in what you can assign to them. The thing is unbelievably light, it almost feels too light compared to my AZ-1. I'm not crazy about the placement of the pitch wheel and wish that were an assignable control. You can use the ribbon for pitch but if you go to the very edge in either direction the pitch goes back to center, not so great.
    The pitch wheel is usable, I just wish it were more traditional.
    My biggest problem with it is the shape and placement of the ports. Take a look at the picture and tell me how to set this down. The bottom should be flat!!! And with the ports on the bottom instead of the side you can't set it down that way anyway!
    So, like I said, mixed feelings. There are some great features but some silly design choices. I haven't gigged it yet but am happy to have a backup for my AZ-1, relying on a 25 year old keyboard isn't ideal. Given the current crop of these keyboards I would recommend it over the Rolands.

  • from Northern CA November 13, 2012Music Background:
    Write, record, arrange perform.


    This is a very flexible controller. It has lots of ways to select patches, send CC messages, and the controls are well placed and ergonomic. I have had 4 Keytars (KX-5, AX-7, AX-Synth, and Vortex) and this one really has a lot going for it. It has aftertouch and you can program each patch to send any number of commands to a midi module or VI. The accelerometer is also unique and very cool to use.

    The reason I am giving 3.5 stars is because the user guide and docs leave much to be desired. It is not clear how some of the programming is done, and the quick start guide actually makes it more difficult some times I worked with someone on one of the forums who gave me a real time tutorial, and after that, it made sense. There should also be some software to copy or save patches and setups in my opinion.

  • from Westerville (Columbus), OH November 3, 2012Music Background:
    part-time professional musician for over 15 years

    Almost Perfect

    Overall this is a great MIDI controller for the price. The keys are very responsive and the after touch is really great to have. Most common MIDI parameters are are able to be stored in 23 presets. Lots of real time control options with knobs, ribbon and buttons. My only real complaint is that is has no dedicated Midi Song Select or Position Pointer. This is weird to me since it does have MIDI Start Stop. If it just had those two functions this would be the perfect keytar to date in my opinion. Maybe Alesis will add these functions in a software update if enough people get one.

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