Alesis is a name that’s been floating around for a few decades but one that just recently came to my attention. A lot of this new buzz comes from the release of their VI Series of MIDI controllers but today we’re going to look at one of their more basic, entry level models (under $100) that more than a few people have told me about. It’s easy to see where the appeal lies, though. Right off the bat, it looks like you’re trading full-sized piano keys for fewer knobs and features when compared to Amazon’s best seller, but there’s gotta be more to a controller than that and a lower price tag.
With all the features and software it has, the proudly label the entire package as “The Building Blocks for any Music Producer” but to compete in this bracket, those need to be some pretty impressive blocks. You not only need to cater to the beginners out there but also to the veteran producers looking to pick up something that’s compact, affordable and able to get the job done while on-the-go. So can it stack up? Let’s take a look in this Alesis V25 Review.
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Operating Systems: Windows and Mac
Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars (Based on 157 ratings)
What Can It Do?
What impresses me immediately is the layout of this controller. I mean, it’s so damn clean. That may just be my slightly OCD brain talking but everything is so neat, it’s almost just fun to look at. Now, if you’re stepping down from a regular sized keyboard, then you won’t feel out of place. There are 25 full-sized keys for your fingers to waltz across and should make it just as easy to play and compose skilful melodies (it should give beginners an easier time too). Starting on the left-hand side and right at the top, you have 4 assignable knobs to control parameters within your effects and instruments, as well as 4 assignable buttons.
These have no set command and are basically waiting to be told what to do by you or your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). There are the standard Octave Up and Down buttons to help you access the full melodic range of the keys and right next to them sits the pitch and modulation wheels that are a sorely missed feature on controllers like the Novation LaunchKey Mini. Drum pads are another essential component and the V25 delivers with 8 MPC-style pads that are both pressure- and velocity-sensitive. Perfect for bringing out the finger-drummer in you.
What Can’t It Do?
Having 25 full-sized keys combined with an OCD layout does have its drawbacks. It may be a great treat to look at but in the end, I can’t help but feel like that extra space could’ve been utilised better somehow. Maybe double the number of knobs or add a fader or…something. I mean, it’s much larger than you’d expect which reduces portability dramatically. It seriously wouldn’t be a problem, though, if it was a fair trade but controllers in this market pride themselves on being on-the-go tools. Another recurring complaint is the velocity and general sensitivity of the drum pads and keys.
Like most controllers, it does come with its own software that will allow you to independently edit your controls and fine tune your preferences but really? There are some tutorials online but seriously, as a beginner, do you want to buy a car and then spend the next few hours trying to make it driveable? No, you don’t! You just want to get in the driver’s seat and zoom away. The same goes for your MIDI controller. Almost every product needs to go through a registration but that should really be your only hiccup before fully enjoying your new controller.
The only real gem in this controller’s bag of tricks is the Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech. Once only exclusive to Pro Tools, it is now available as a stand-alone plugin that would normally retail for $99.99 if you bought it separately (yup, it’s worth more than the controller itself), so as a free addition it’s more than welcome. If you don’t already have a DAW then you’ll be covered with Ableton Live Lite, which comes also as a free download.
We did a review on the full version a while back so be sure to give it a look if you’re interested but yeah…that’s pretty much it.
This controller isn’t designed to perfectly integrate seamlessly with Ableton’s unique software, like the Novation, so having or not having it seems rather unimportant. You’ll still be assigning the knobs and buttons like any other DAW so overall, the extra features are a bit lacklustre.
Now I don’t mean to put this controller on blast but I just think that as a beginner, the aim is to spend as little as possible and still get great value for money and that’s where the Alesis V25 just falls flat. The closest competition is only a few dollars away (like literally, 10 bucks more and you’re in the end zone) so why settle for a controller that ultimately leaves much to be desired. Even the Amazon rating above I think is a little bit optimistic. Rather check out the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII, which will deliver far more bang for your buck!
Got any more questions about the Alesis V25? Or would you like to share your experiences? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Ryan C. Voller, Recording Artist – Producer – Lead Contributor for HowToMakeHip-Hop.com
- 25 full-sized, square front keys
- 8 velocity- and pressure-sensitive backlit pads for beat production and clip launching
- 4 assignable knobs and 4 assignable buttons interface with your music software
- Octave Up and Down buttons let you access the full keyboard range
- Pitch and modulation wheels deliver expressive, creative control
- Seamless, visual feedback via illuminated buttons and knobs
- USB power and USB-MIDI connectivity for Mac and PC
- Production software included: Ableton Live Lite 9 and Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech (downloads)
- How To Level Up: Producer Edition feat. JCaspersen
- So You Wanna Make Your Own Rap Beats?
- How To Make Your Own Beat Studio