The Alesis VI61 is one the most well-equipped controller keyboards the brand has ever produced. With bank after bank controllers and lights, it has a complete arsenal of tools for the modern studio. Remarkably, it retains Alesis’ reputation for exceptional value, too. And, despite this, it still has a few twists that aren’t obvious from the outset…
The VI61 is built around a (you guessed it) full-size, 61-note keyboard. Unlike most controllers at this price, this has a semi-weighted action. This provides greater resistance, making it feel slightly more like a real acoustic piano keyboard to play. Remarkably, as well as being velocity sensitive (responsive to the dynamics in a performance), this also provides aftertouch. Aftertouch is a type of controller that is activated by pressing the keys down just a little further, when already depressed. This can be assigned to MIDI parameters, providing another level of performance control.
At the far left of the VI61 is an imposing bank of sixteen trigger pads that are ideal for programming drum parts, or triggering samples. These are both velocity and pressure sensitive (meaning that they respond to changes in pressure when held down), and are backlit with RGB lights. These lights can be used to provide great visual feedback from the software being used.
Across the top of the keyboard, there is a huge bank of assignable knobs and buttons. It total, there are sixteen knobs, each with ‘halo’ LED indicators, and 48 assignable buttons (three beneath each knob). These are freely assignable to software functions, providing very intuitive, physical control over software plug-ins and DAWs, rather than using a mouse. So, if you want to sweep the EQ on a particular track, you can assign some knobs to do it.
Setting up assignable controllers is usually pretty painless within DAW software, but for those change controller set-ups regularly, according to how they are working, there’s a very handy MIDI Editor programme included with the VI61. Here, bespoke MIDI maps can be created and saved easily.
At the centre of the keyboard, there’s a bright LED display, which shows keyboard parameter data, transport controls and navigation buttons. On the back panel, a MIDI out ensures that connecting other MIDI sound modules should pose few problems, too.
The Alesis VI61 is keyboard that offers an astonishing amount of control for a very reasonable price. Slim, powerful, and with plenty of coloured lights – what more could you ask for?
Manufacturer Alesis Model VI61 USB Controller Keyboard Keyboard 61 velocity-sensitive keys Inputs Sustain Pedal USB USB MIDI Port Controls Pitch Blend and Modulation Wheels 16 velocity and pressure sensitive trigger pads with RGB backlighting 8 assignable rotary controls 24 assignable buttons Power USB bus powered Included Accessories Ableton Live Lite Alesis Edition MIDI Editor Software QuickStart Guide USB cable
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