Review: Alesis Vortex Keytar

At one stage during the 80s it looked like Keytars were going to become the instrument of choice... Mo Volans picks up the new Alesis Vortex keytar to find out if this controller may spark a revival.  

Recently I have been getting the distinct impression that the 80s are back? Day-Glo, skinny jeans, high top trainers, mullets... and now... keytars! Have Alesis brought the Keytar right up to date here or just added a few extra buttons to an extinct classic? Let’s take a closer look at the Alesis Vortex Keytar...

First Impressions

When the ‘Vortex’ turned up in my studio my initial reaction was... Why is there a keytar in my house? But of course I’m open minded so got on with my thorough evaluation of the instrument. Before I did, I donned a shell suit, a headband and some high top trainers.

In all seriousness, apart from the slightly suspect name, I was pretty impressed by the Vortex. It was very well packaged, came with an impressive array of accessories, including a super long USB cable, a strap and various CDs and manuals.

It’s a keytar! And it’s white!

It’s a keytar! And it’s white!

For a minute, ignore the fact that the Vortex looks like it should be in the back of Michael J. Fox’s Delorean and let’s have a look at the overall build quality of this instrument.

Build Quality And Features

The Vortex is 99% plastic, but it is well put together. Alesis have made a fair few keyboards in their time and that expertise is put to use here. It feels solid and the keyboard has a pretty convincing action (synth-weighted obviously) and all the knobs, pads and buttons feel pretty sturdy. 

Although it may not be to everyones taste the Vortex is pretty sturdy.

Although it may not be to everyones taste the Vortex is pretty sturdy.

When it comes to the knobs and buttons, there really are plenty of them. Along the ‘neck’ you have sliders, a mod wheel, several buttons and even a ribbon controller. The main body sports drum pads, full size knobs, more buttons and an LCD display. One thing’s for sure, you won’t be wanting for anymore hands-on control here.

The controls on the ‘neck’.

The controls on the ‘neck’.

All this needs power though which can come from three different sources: batteries, USB or the included PSU. This gives you a fair amount of options and means you can use it with a wireless MIDI system, a standard MIDI cable or even just a USB cable. The PSU is ideal if you plan to use this in the studio.

The Vortex has a good selection of power options.

The Vortex has a good selection of power options.

Final Thoughts

It’s obvious that the Vortex isn’t going to appeal to everyone, it’s a pretty niche product and more or less the only new Keytar release I’ve seen in recent years. All this said, if you are in the market for a new performance instrument and fancy something a little different, this could be right up your street. 

Some drum pads are also thrown in for good measure.

Some drum pads are also thrown in for good measure.

With plenty of control capabilities, decent build quality and striking retro looks, this is sure to appeal to some of the more adventurous keyboard players out there. The only real drawback here is that as soon as you strap it on you have to start playing Axel F.

Discover more: http://alesis.com/vortex

Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 15 years. He has released material with the world's leading record labels and also produces music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and EQ magazine. There isn't a piece of music software tha... Read More

Discussion

Magic Fingers
Wow. I heard about this keytar, and have been looking forward to trying it out. One of the groups I play with is an 80's cover band, and Axel F. is definitely gonna be getting added to the playlist! Between this keytarand the new ROLI grand, I'll be set for the next 10+ years!
Rounik
You've gotta send pics of the Alesis Vortex Keytar being used on stage Magic Fingers :-)

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