Alesis Q49 by Greythunder
The Alesis Q49 is an extremely affordable option for people looking to get into MIDI. It is one of the cheapest keyboard controllers on the market of its amount of keys and it is about as basic as a MIDI keyboard can possibly get. It has 49 synth-action keys, octave up/down buttons, an options button that turns all the keys into different things, a mod and pitch wheel and a data entry slider. All of this is packed tightly together at the left side of the board. At the back it has a USB port to connect it to a laptop, a sustain pedal input, a MIDI out and a power adapter input (the adapter is not included; this thing is fully USB powered.) It’s a very efficient design that doesn’t get in the way of anything. The feel of the keyboard as a whole is rather solid amidst being plastic; I don’t trust it would last a drop, though. Not even a short one.
It’s bang for your buck, but it’s what you pay for. Pricing at under $100, it is one of the most affordable keyboards around. It also comes with a DAW (Ableton Live Lite Alesis Edition), but it was so bad that I was not able to use it for any recording purposes. Don’t rely on that software. The regular Ableton Live software is fine, but their edition of it was horrendous. It was tough to work with, didn’t have very many instruments and couldn’t record correctly. (It didn’t export the audio the same speed I recorded it.) I’m sure there’s a fix for that, but it felt very poorly designed and unstable and I would never trust it for even a somewhat serious project. You should already have a DAW of some kind if you buy this keyboard. At the most, only use the software if you’re going to use ReWire to use some of the virtual instruments in another DAW; that much works just fine.
All in all, I would say it’s worth it if you can get it for $70-$80 or less, but any more is stretching it. It does have a sustain issue that I have not found a fix for (amidst its larger model, the QX49, having a fix for this), so you should probably not use this thing live. I haven’t found that it gets in the way of recording, but it could get in the way of live performances. Be cautious of that. If you intend to perform with a MIDI keyboard, save up a bit more and get something different (and maybe a bit more solid… don’t know how this would fair in a van going back and forth a bunch of times.) This is basically the bottom-of-the-line 49-key MIDI controller, so expect it to act like it. The bottom line is that it does work, though, and if you’re on a very tight budget I can verify that you can work with it.
It deserves 3 out of 5.