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Alesis Vortex Wireless Keyboard Controller Reviews

3.5 stars based on 23 customer reviews
Questions about the Alesis Vortex Wireless Keyboard Controller?

Questions about the Alesis Vortex Wireless Keyboard Controller?

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  • Mike Homan
    from Florida January 22, 2017Music Background:
    amature

    Great at what it is

    Lightweight controller keytar with a great price. I would say you will love this if you understand midi interfacing with a compuer midi software or ios midi apps. Mine worked after putting batteries in and plugging the wirelees usb dongle into my iphone6+, ipad pro and Macbook 2015. I already knew how to set up midi interfaces.

  • Malonestar
    from Denver October 7, 2016Music Background:
    tatankadub.com

    Exactly what I needed!

    This thing is awesome!! I use it to control a stationary keyboard wirelessly. I have a nifty usb to midi conversion box I plug the dongle into then feed into the midi in port of my synth.

    I would buy this again if something happened to the one I own. I really wish they would make a "left handed" version...

  • Bob Hanson
    from Slinger, WI January 29, 2016

    Lightweight and great performance

    I thought what a great way to untether from a keyboard and stand for live performance, little did I know the great experience that was waiting for me. I really appreciate how well the wireless performs as well as the flexibility this has given me. I really recommend this great unit :)

  • Ken
    from Brooklyn, NY April 9, 2015Music Background:
    Composer, Performer

    Fantastic for live use

    I disagree with the reviewer who said the Vortex was unsuitable for professional live use as I just used it for 3 gigs at SXSW and it performed flawlessly. It certainly takes some getting used to, but by the second gig I had no discomfort or awkward interactions with the instrument. The range of the wireless transmitter is impressive - probably around 100 feet. No issues with interactions from other wireless rigs, either.

    Most impressive is the level of configuration with regards to the pads, which can be set to transmit specific notes or CCs on specific channels, pad-by-pad. I set my Vortex up to control patches on Ableton Live using the Selected Track Control script and it worked without a hitch.

    The only annoying bit is that the accelerometer is enabled by default and needs to be manually disabled. It is a great idea but not so useful in practice. I haven't encountered a broken key yet.

    Other benefits are:

    - It is super-affordable
    - You can take it as carry-on
    - There are no other wireless keytars on the market
    - Audience members like the blue lights that blink when you play

    Overall it is a great solution for performance scenarios which require a minimal, easily-transported setup.

  • Keith
    from Grapevine, TX USA November 14, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist - Guitar/Bass/Keys/Vocals

    Alesis Vortex Wireless - Solid Controller

    Well built and easy to use. Got it up and running with no problems whatsoever. I've not used any of the in depth features yet but all the basic stuff works flawlessly. I keep it in my living room and use it like a guitar... I can watch TV and noodle with this while I'm sitting in the recliner just the way I would with one of my wireless guitar rigs. Really fun. Not sure what the light on the tip of the thing is for... a bit distracting but not anything I'd take points off for. At $200 you can't go too far wrong. Oh... have dropped it a couple of times now (on carpeted floor) and it's pretty sturdy.. despite the cheap price it's actually pretty well made. Keyboard feel is quite good too.

  • Sieg-F
    from China July 23, 2014Music Background:
    Singer-Songwriter

    Cool!

    No latency on both PC and MAC,plug and play,very light to carry,great synth keyboard action for playing fast licks and pads feel soft in a good way.Light beam on the head is cool too when you play it.Just a little worried about possible impact or shock,as the plastic shell feels not so strong enough.I bought a safe guitar strap and a thick foam bag to prevent possible damages,but still feel a little insecure,it reminds you that just don't be too crazy on the stage or it will be broken.Other than that,it's a perfect product.

    Had a problem with Sonivox DVI Vortex registering,inMusic replied fast and quickly solve the problem,good company!

    And please allow me to introduce Adam Briggs from SW,who is a kind,warm-hearted,responsible representative.

  • ChronoWolf
    from USA March 19, 2017

    Surpassed expectations, despite some small flaws

    Let's keep this simple...

    Pros:
    - Very easy to set up: Plugging in the USB dongle into my Windows 7 machine instantly picked up the drivers without any special 3rd party installation required.
    - Virtually no latency: despite being a wireless controller. I use with Cubase 5, and it performs with the same low latency as all other wired MIDI controllers running on the ASIO interface.
    - Also performs well on non-ASIO systems via the ASIO-4-All driver.
    - Durable: I have taken this on stage many times. It has been dropped on both the stage and a concrete floor backstage (accidentally of course) a handful of times. Despite some scuffs and scratches, it still performs well.
    - Battery life is AMAZING: Lasted over 5 months on a single set of AA batteries, using it a few times a week. This is phenomenal.
    - The ribbon controller and pitch bend tools are intuitive and well placed.

    Cons:
    - The drum pads are virtually useless. They require too much pressure to even register a sound, which also means their touch sensitivity is non-existent.
    - Be careful with the shoulder strap! Always make sure after pulling it over your head that it is fastened securely to the Keytar as well. The shape of the keytar and position of the strap anchors tends to "encourage" the straps to come loose. This is how I have dropped it on stage a few times.
    - Touch sensitivity of the piano keys could be a bit better. It is decent, but this is not the controller you want if you are looking for some really accurate pressure sensitivity on the keys.
    - The software is pretty bad, and so I almost never use it. For folks who want to fully customize the drum pads and knobs, this may be an issue. Not so much for me.

    Overall, I give it a solid 4.5 stars because it surpassed expectations in virtually every aspect for my own personal tastes. I subtract 0.5 stars for the cons listed above, which may be cause for concern to other users, but were of little consequence to me.

  • Jim Erwin
    from Overland Park, KS November 13, 2015Music Background:
    Former full-time performing musician now playing part-time with The Suburbans.

    Cannot beat for the price!

    I am not going to compare my review to any of the other reviews here on Sweetwater. Consider this my unbiased personal review. If you look at the price and capabilities of this unit, it simply cannot be beat. The first unit I ordered was in fact defective, but given the price point of this unit I really can't complain. AT 200 bucks for any 3-octave midi controller, much less one that is wirelesss and a keytar... bring it on! Duds happen sometimes.

    So lets talk real-world application to performance. I intended to use this to augment my existing keyboards for live performance rather than replace them. Once I received the replacement unit, I was able to integrate it directly into 5 songs in my live set in about 2 hours of programming effort. It took me a couple of times practicing through those 5 songs to gain enough of a comfort level to use it later in the same week for a gig. I bought this primarily for mobility and a WOW factor in my performance. My fellow bandmates and the audience certainly reacted with a WOW so mission accomplished!

    The keyboard does take a little getting used to, but that's to be expected with virtually any keyboard (unless it is the same exact model you already own). For my preferences, I turned off the accelerometer and set the ribbon controller for CC1 (mod wheel). I bought the Fender Universal guitar stand which allows for adjustment that works really well for the Vortex on stage. I will probably buy a second stand just like it for my Telecaster since I like it better than the stand I already use for my Tele.

    My only real complaint with the keyboard is the lack of a dedicated driver from Alesis. If you are a Windows user (and I am non-apologetic PC), it uses the Microsoft class-compliant midi driver. Conflicts CAN occur with other devices on the same PC that also use the class-compliant midi driver. I'm sure the lack of a dedicated driver is due to the price point that Alesis was trying to hit with this unit.

  • Chris Willliams
    from Michigan November 2, 2015Music Background:
    25+ years playing keyboards, composing and arranging.

    Lightweight, functional and cool; jury's still out on the Sonivox DVI.

    My Vortex Wireless was purchased from Sweetwater by a friend as a gift. It feels fairly well-made, but it's not a tank. While it won't fall apart if you look at it wrong, I would advise treating it gingerly; it's a keytar, not a tennis racket.

    The key action is similar to that of a semi-weighted synth like the Korg M3-61, but with a touch more springy resistance. It's a little on the loud side, too; you wouldn't want to use this in a recording situation where there are live mics in the room because the bleed would probably drive the engineer crazy.

    What blew me away the most (so far) is that when I plugged in the wireless receiver (it's a USB dongle about the size of a pack of stick gum), My Sonar X3 recognized it IMMEDIATELY.

    Translated: It. Just. Works. I didn't have to load any drivers or anything. I was pushing my Triton Rack via MIDI within seconds.

    The pitch wheel is conveniently located, but on my unit, the movement felt like it had some resistance. It didn't bother me, but it felt a little sluggish. The data slider also felt stiff. I love the aftertouch, however, and the accelerometer is the embodiment of coolness. I also enjoy the LEDs on the tip of the handle, though I worry about their effect on battery life.

    The only reason I haven't given it a solid 5 stars is that I have not yet been able to download the Sonivox DVI software. The process involves visiting an page on Alesis's website that is carefully hidden to find the download link (the software does NOT ship with the unit, contrary to anything you may have read or heard). You have to go to the Vortex page on the Alesis site, and then down into the FAQ page to find the link -- raspberries to Alesis for making the process as clear as mud.

    Anyway, once I found the link, it took me to the Sonivox site, where I put a modified version of my serial number, only to have Sonivox tell me it was invalid.

    Grrrr.

    Kudos to the fine folks at Sweetwater, though; they're helping me get it all sorted. I just hope the software is worth it once I finally get it. Despite the hassle, I only docked a half a star for it, because I have two hardware synths and close to a dozen virtual synths I can push with the Vortex, so I'm not out anything if the software proves to be a bust.

  • Greg Bennett
    from Mi, USA May 11, 2014Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    Epic

    The Alesis vortex wireless is finally here and man was it long awaited.(iv been dieing to get my hands on it since N.A.M) The new black glossy coating is sweet. It surpasses its predecessor in mobility and awesomeness. This new midi controller is the bees nees. the fader had a bit flimsiness to it but its a solid product. Zero to no latency and the costumer service was excellent. (Someone even put a little candy in the shipping box as a birthday present) Awesome midi device awesome service. Will be buying from alesis and sweetwater for years to come.

  • Steven Lewis
    from Laurel Md May 9, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer Pro Musician

    Pretty nice

    This was incredibly easy to set up and sync. I loaded up reason, Chose it as a controller and walked across the room sat on the couch and zone out for about 30 min. I'm not sure of the Battery life yet but i was surprised that there was some useful pre mapped setting that worked well with a few instruments in Reason. I will give it a 4.5 since nothing is perfect but after i try it on the road in a live show. I will talk about battery life and how far the sync will work

  • Robin
    from Hilton Head Island, SC June 8, 2015Music Background:
    Professional player for 33 years

    Alesis Vortex

    Been playing my new Vortex ketar for a couple of weeks for our live gigs. We are a duo that plays smaller venues 4-5 nights per week, and so far I'm loving this thing! Because we play on the eastern coast pretty much outside, I do not use a laptop or tablet at all (the screens fry in the heat and its just more stuff to have to lug), SO had to figure the thing out without the included software. I midi directly into the Korg Arranger that my partner uses live to generate my sounds. The manual that comes with the machine is not helpful, and Alesis tried to be, but didn't really understand our end user situation, so between online blogs and some info that the Alesis tech sent me, I figured out how to assign the eight or so voices I like to use from the Korg to the drum pads at the bottom of the Vortex for instant switching between sounds. Not being a computer-savvy programming type (I'm just a player), I'm at a loss at this juncture as to how to be able to access more than the 127 voices that the Alesis has program numbers for (the Korg has many more sounds than that), but I'm sure if it's possible, I will figure it out. All in all, VERY happy with it and having great fun with the freedom of not being stuck behind a keyboard. Pitch wheel and slider functions are quite cool. Feel like a rock queen.

  • Eric
    from Canada July 20, 2014Music Background:
    Singer/Song-writer

    This is the one if you wanna go wireless

    Didn't expect the best built quality at the price range, but I was impressed when I first lay my hand on it, altho the sticker on the connection panel was coming off, and yea you got me right, it was a sticker that covers the panel area.

    Functions just as advertised, no issue with the wireless MIDI so far but the receiver was tricky to connect the first time (especially if you're having more than one USB powered device on your laptop - MBP for instance)

    Software was a bit of a depression, but the keyboard works just fine without it.

  • Dan Howard
    from California May 17, 2017

    Pretty cool

    I have always wanted a keytar so I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on buying the Vortex by Alesis. It is very cool and I have found some very interesting uses for it. However, the volume consistency from key to key is very bad. Some keys play loudly for no reason and fast arpeggios don't process on a lot of the sounds I use. I run Logic Pro X and haven't tried it with Ignite or any other software because I prefer Logic. I honestly wish I had just bought a 49 key midi keyboard for a cheaper price. I considered returning the item but the cost of shipping wasn't worth it for me. Very fun looking and cool to play but a lot of sounds such as regular old piano or clav are unusable and that's a real bummer.

  • Phil N.
    from March 7, 2016

    Might want to pass on this

    It all comes down to what you want to use this for. It's probably best suited for triggering sounds off your computer. Don't expect this to be a capable MIDI Controller when paired up with a keyboard workstation. I found no way to transmit SysEx, which is very frustrating because rumor has it that the Alesis Vortex (not the Wireless edition) can do SysEx. The keybed is noisy as all get-out, and the keys feel weird to me. It takes more effort to push down the keys than I'd like on a keytar. Once you push the keys down half-way, it feels like there's less resistance for the second half of the key-travel. This unbalanced feeling of playing is quite annoying. The sides of the keys are not smooth at all, and even catch/scratch my thumb as I'm playing. The whole thing feels cheap.

    Even so, I can live with it. And I really like it. I've always wanted to know what it feels like to strap a set of keys on, and the fact that it's completely wireless makes it almost too good not to buy. I haven't had any trouble with the wireless USB stick so far, but the editing software isn't very flexible.

  • Michael Cox
    from Oklahoma April 10, 2017

    Great... but not really

    Not really wireless MIDI. It's wireless MIDI to a COMPUTER. Completely useless for live work unless you're using a computer. Other than that, fells cheap but works fine.

  • Al Pepping
    from Western Michigan March 10, 2015Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    Vortex overview

    Great ideas on the wireless no dangling cords to trip over. But the keyboard is not for anyone playing professionally. .... I'm looking for a fatar quality keyboard to replace the kiddie keyboard. Other than the cheesy keys, about the best bang for your buck out there in a controller...
    Again kudos on Sweetwater service....Ordered it on Friday, on my doorstep the next morning......

  • Elliot
    from IN USA July 4, 2014Music Background:
    Church keyboardist, musician hobbyist

    A Cool keytar controller! The software is a bit of a let down.

    Ok, so cutting right to the chase.

    First, my opinion on the actual keytar:
    It's got a simple interface and all the controls on the neck are easy to reach with the left hand. The knobs above the keyboard are solid. The pads require a LOT of impact to trigger an audible note if using them for drum sounds in ableton. I don't yet know if there's a way to set the velocity for the pads at a consistent value but if there is, that would solve the problem. The keybed has a great feel-the keys are as solid as the knobs. And the aftertouch works excellently! I decided to go with the vortex because I've been wanting to experiment more with the sounds on my Novation Mininova, which allows aftertouch interpretation but does not have that in its own keybed. The underside edges of the keys are a little sharp, just a heads-up for anyone intending to do organ palm slides. The accelerometer is a little touchy (don't use with pitch bend), haven't used it much but I can see it having its place if I begin to use the vortex outside of just hobby practices.

    As for the software offered with the keytar and integration:

    I already had ableton lite before, and I'm already pleased. Absolutely GREAT integration and the automapping / manual mapping (via midi map) made it SO easy to use ableton and the vortex together.

    I don't feel the need to say much about the vortexx patch editor - it does what it's supposed to quickly, easily, and efficiently without any problem. Just make sure to save the patch before you try to play to make sure all your settings actually transferred over to the board.

    The SONiVOX dvi is the biggest reason I didn't give it higher than a 3 star rating though. I don't mean this to reflect my opinion of the vortex as well but the dvi was a big part of why I decided to get the vortex; the dvi would have made it feel like the vortex was its own synth. But now I probably won't even use the dvi at all. The process to access the free download and actually authorize it into a full version was not easy at all (and was 2 separate steps). The website did not work right at all according to the instructions written on the site that say how to purchase (you use a discount code to make it free) and authorize the software. So I had to go back and forth with customer support to get a special code to purchase, and then I needed to manually authorize it with another back-and-forth communique. I found this is not an uncommon problem for their products. Aside from that, the dvi sounds great, but the dvi doesn't have much of anything in the way of midi mapping information - so I can't easily determine how to, say, make the ribbon control the vibrato rather than tremolo. And changing synth's settings doesn't render on the screen unless you open and close the drop-down for the sound selection. I also would have expected program change buttons on the vortex to be able to access the sound select drop-down. That is a huge disappointment. So ultimately, the interactivity of the dvi on its own and when using the vortex is not the most helpful or intuitive.

    Overall, I'm happy with my purchase for the wireless keytar (oops, I didn't talk about the wireless feature, but it also works without an issue. Haven't tested range). Being able to be cordless and walk around with it is cool. The awesomeness of the experience was a bit tarnished by the issues with acquiring and using the dvi, though. Hence the lower rating.

  • cris barrett
    from boston,ma March 14, 2015

    no sound

    i'm hooked up usb and midi to my macbook pro. i must be missing something
    . overall, it will make a great decoration.

  • Customer
    from Florida, USA December 4, 2014Music Background:
    Ex-pro musician. Now play in band on weekends only.

    You get what you pay for

    The concept is terrific, and the controls provided are great. But I will disagree with most reviewers in that the quality is not good. The keyboard feels like one from those keyboards you buy at the toy store. The key throw is too long to make it professionally useful. The feel is terrible. I had to insert a thick band of those insulating rubber strips for doors and windows you buy at the hardware store underneath the keys to shorten the key travel. This improved the feel a bit.

    The quality is poor. In fact, the reason the keyboard feels do cheap is that the spring action on the keys comes from bending a plastic segment at the top of each key where it attaches to the frame. And sure enough, the first bad hit the keyboard got fractured the plastic and ruined one of the keys by cracking the plastic segment the makes up the spring.

    To me, a keyboard like this, meant to be played hanging from your shoulder, should have a much shorter action like an accordion and sturdier construction. That would make the awkward angle needed to play a lot easier to deal with. If this thing had a more professional keyboard it would definitely be a great stage tool. As is it falls more into a novelty toy category. If you need a shoulder-held rig like this, you can't beat the price, and the left hand real-time controls and additional knobs and pads are wonderful. But the keyboard is tough to deal with in live playing and your playing will suffer.

  • Doc Woodard
    from Nashville, Tn June 9, 2014Music Background:
    Musician 30+ yrs

    Alesis Vortex Wireless

    I'm rating it average for now... as I haven't had a chance to use it live yet to know how it will really perform. The weight is very light and the feel is good. I love the pitch bend wheel much better and more control than I have with a ribbon. I did have some trouble getting it to call up patches on different synths and sometimes it goes to the wrong patch, but I'm getting better at it. I think I was doing something wrong. If you are going wireless like me.. then you will probably need a backup receiver to plug in just in case something happens to the first one. I will check with my Sweetwater rep and see what one will cost. One thing.... the Vortex has tons of controls over you sound... more than any other wireless I know of. This thing might turn out to be a real gem... I just can't proclaim that yet. At any rate, at Sweetwater's price it's a great deal.

  • Bill Babb
    from Colorado Springs, CO February 22, 2015Music Background:
    Pro Musician - Keyboard player in multiple projects.

    Alesis Vortex Wireless Keyboard

    Was really looking forward to adding a wireless kybd controller to my instruments. Unfortunately, the Vortex has been far less than satisfactory. Downloading the software was not intuitive and I have yet to be able to run it thru my laptop even though it is within the specs. I can run the Vortex thru my IPad, which Alesis does not recommend, however the apps so far are a bit disappointing. If the "included" software (Vysex Vortex, Ableton Live Lite9, and Sonivox) would work thru my laptop I might be happier. Alesis support is only open during Eastern TimeZone hours and I work days so cannot call them without taking time off from work, and the one time I called I was on hold for a very lengthy timeframe. I posted info on the community forum, but Alesis techs have yet to respond. So right now if have an extremely limited piece of equipment that I would not use in public.

  • scott mcGinley
    from collegeville, PA August 2, 2016

    hard to get working properly

    the idea is great & it seems other people love it-my experience was that it was really hard to get it to do what i needed (which is just to be used for a couple songs per night/a few times a week in a pro band). the documentation swings from non existent to really hard to find to really hard to understand. perhaps my needs are too specific

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