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Alesis Vortex Wireless 2: A winner


EscapeRocks
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My go to retailer finally got some more stock of the new Vortex Wireless 2. I was able to snag 1 of 2 remaining and got it last Saturday.

 

Many of you know of my original Vortex (first series, no wireless) that I custom painted in the Hammered Copper.

Then Alesis came out with the same thing with built in wireless. I passed at the time, and then they stopped making it.

 

Then they announced this. What an improvement.

No more knobs. It now as 8 faders.

The pads are now RGB color assignable by function. Example: I programmed one to start Playback in Mainstage. It's normally Orange, but when playback is running it turns Green.

 

The fully assignable tilt function now has its "on/off" button up top. No need to enter the cryptic button and keypresses to do it. I assigned my tilt function to pitch up.

With the new button, I can turn it on or off song by song or in the middle of a song.

 

The mod wheel is beefier and has a very cool lighted glow to it.

 

In their promos, Alesis said they beefed up the plastic based shell to make it sturdier.

They are correct. The shell is thicker than my original, and it feels just right.

 

Keys are still full sized with velocity and aftertouch.

 

When I unboxed it, before doing anything else, I put the batteries in it, plugged the wireless receiver into my Macbook, and fired up my Midi monitor.

 

All keys are transmitting, and all buttons, pads, and sliders are transmitting.

 

I then fired up Arturia Jup 8, and walked around the house for awhile jamming :)

 

Here are some pictures. Side note. This is the last time you will see it this color ;)

 

My new toy (sitting on my Nektar Impact LX88+)

ywRJcr.jpg

 

8 backlit sliders. Much better than the knobs on original.

dk7U1h.jpg

 

The much needed tilt on/off button

Oa6IcT.jpg

 

Already started programming the pads. Two Blue are patch up and down for Mainstage. Orange is the Playback start/stop. Red is the Panic button.

QIpWUN.jpg

 

I also tested it with USB cable and MIDI DIN cable. Alesis even beefed that up, compared to the original. No wiggling or feeling of tenuous connection.

 

Finally, the new version of the editing software is excellent. It's very straight forward, and really lets you do some deep programming of all the buttons, pads, and sliders.

 

Biggest thing for me is it's getting along nicely with Mainstage.

I'll be having fun with this one on stage.

 

Disassembly and painting begins this weekend. :crazy::freak:

 

 

 

 

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Arturia Keylab 61MK2 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for sharing, Dave.

Great read. Useful info.

 

 

I agree. This was an excellent review and implementation game plan! I used to own a Casio AZ-1 a long time ago. Thanks for putting this type of controller back on my radar as I really did not like the ergonomics of the original Vortex. And really great use of the pads!!

 

----------------------------------------------------------

 

Gig: Yamaha MODX7, NumaCompact 2x Studio: Kawai ES-920; Hammond SK Pro 73; Yamaha Motif ES7 w/DX,VL,VH; Roland Fantom S; Kawai MP-6

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I have an original Vortex and would to convert it to wireless Midi. Seems like there are cheap options for interfacing with computer but not for interfacing with module or other keyboard. The midibeam is $250 and Midijet is $450. Would make more sense to just buy the new Vortex. Any cheaper solutions I'm overlooking? Thanks.
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I have an original Vortex and would to convert it to wireless Midi. Seems like there are cheap options for interfacing with computer but not for interfacing with module or other keyboard. The midibeam is $250 and Midijet is $450. Would make more sense to just buy the new Vortex. Any cheaper solutions I'm overlooking? Thanks.

 

Yes there are cheaper, but what I have found a totally unreliable. MidijetPRo is now considered the tops in the league. The old CME system is also very good, but hard to find.

 

Until Alesis announced this after discontinuing the other, I was also looking at solutions to go wireless.

I first tired that PUC thing that I use with my iPad.... that was horrible.

 

I was getting ready to pull the trigger on either Panda Midibeam or the Midijet Pro, when Alesis announced this.

 

Most retailer's MAP is $299. Less than the Midijet, and close to the Midibeam.

 

A no-brainer to me.

 

One thing, the wireless receiver dongle is exclusively paired with the Vortex, based on the dongle serial #

 

The edit software lets you update if you should get a new dongle.

 

I ordered a new dongle from Alesis just as a back up in case a lose or FUBAR the original.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Arturia Keylab 61MK2 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 year later...

Zombie(ish) Thread alert: I just got one at Gearfest and wanted to add to the discussion.

 

So I finally got around to some performance testing over the weekend. I hooked up the dongle to the front of my desktop which sits under my desk at one end of the man cave. The cave is about 14 x 22ft. As long as I stayed in the room with line of sight between the vortex and the dongle, I had no issues.

 

1st test I went upstairs, still keeping straight-line distance within about 15ft but as soon as I rounded the corner at the top of the stairs the midi stream was effected and some cutout occurred.

 

2nd test I stayed on the cave level and went the other way down a hall toward the laundry room, Out of LOS with the dongle and about 15ft away. In the hallway was fine but crossing the doorway into the laundry room caused drop-outs.

 

Final test I hooked up my wireless in-ear monitor system and ran the audio output to those. Some reviews suggested the Vortex may have issues in such an environment but there did not seem to be any difference in reception with or without the in-ears running.

 

Incidentally, I was using Arturia Jup-8 for these tests. Seems to be a lot of that going around. ;)

 

~ vonnor

Gear:

Hardware: Kurzweil Forte7, Korg Kronos 2

Software: Cantabile 3, Halion Sonic 3 and assorted VST plug-ins.

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How do you guys like the keybed and implementation of aftertouch?

Kawai ES110 & ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000

Yamaha Melodica and Alto Recorder

QSC K8.2 // JBL Eon One Compact // Klipsch KMC 3 // Win10 laptop i7 8GB // iPad Pro 9.7" 32GB

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How do you guys like the keybed and implementation of aftertouch?

 

I like it because they are not mini keys.

 

I get along with the action just fine. I find the aftertouch to be smooth and linear.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Arturia Keylab 61MK2 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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I used to own a Casio AZ-1 a long time ago.

Same for me. I loved the AZ-1, probably the best portable keyboard of its time. Great keybed and aftertouch, wheels, etc. Unfortunately, it went with a bunch of other instruments in a moment of financiary emergency.

 

So you got me interested with this new Alesis, it sounds like a definite improvement over the older models. Now what kind of left-hand control does it offer?

 

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The price was just raised from $299-$349 today at all the major retailers. Glad that I ordered one yesterday! Amazon still has the black at $299 and GC has the red at $299.

 

On a side note, I was just saying to myself that it was strange that I haven't had any GAS for the past few months, then I read the Privia S3000 thread and this one, and here I am putting my Juno-DS61 up for sale.

Nord Stage 3 HA88, Nord Stage 3 Compact, Casio CT-S1, Radial Key Largo, Westone AM Pro 30, Rolls PM55P, K&M 18880 + 18881, Bose S1 Pro, JBL 305p MKII, Zoom Q2n-4K

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  • 2 weeks later...

Quick update: I purchased the following MIDI converter to connect the wireless USB dongle to my main keyboard and it seems to work fine:

midiplus USB MIDI Host $65.

 

Hopefully this can save me the expense of the previously mentioned pro-level equipment that costs a lot more.

 

Had a little fun at sound check this past weekend and will try it out for real this coming weekend. I was able to get a good 30 feet from the stage with no dropouts or stuck notes, but I would guess that with a crowd, the range could be significantly less. Setup was intuitive and I was able to map everything relatively quickly.

Nord Stage 3 HA88, Nord Stage 3 Compact, Casio CT-S1, Radial Key Largo, Westone AM Pro 30, Rolls PM55P, K&M 18880 + 18881, Bose S1 Pro, JBL 305p MKII, Zoom Q2n-4K

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  • 1 month later...

I read the reviews on SW, 2 of the 11 said there were problems with wireless MIDI being problematic. One said that it worked fine in his studio, but in live performance it was completely unreliable every time. Another said that he consulted with Alesis for several months to fix the unreliability of the wireless MIDI, never got it resolved.

 

I'm curious about the value of the sliders while playing (obviously for programming they'd be useful). You wouldn't be able to reach them with your left hand (?), so you'd be waiting to stop playing a moment to adjust a parameter. I love it that they have dedicated knobs for the left hand that adjust the lower/higher tones. Is the split knob for changing the note of the split?

 

I've never used wireless MIDI, but have heard it's got very little latency. So the dongle they give you for PC/Mac, how would you use that for iPads?

Kawai ES110 & ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000

Yamaha Melodica and Alto Recorder

QSC K8.2 // JBL Eon One Compact // Klipsch KMC 3 // Win10 laptop i7 8GB // iPad Pro 9.7" 32GB

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I have not used my Wireless 2 that much although when I did I dot have any issues

 

However, I recently got the new Roland Axe synth

I actually like it"s edgy design. I am using my Line 6 Guitar wireless system with it

 

No reception or distance issues on the big stages

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Arturia Keylab 61MK2 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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I get occasional stuck notes with the dongle/camera connect/iPad, most often with a glissando on the Vortex W2. Happened at the VFW show last night at the end of a sax solo while I was on the dance floor. I've not found a way to stop the stuck notes remotely yet other than just turning down the volume until I can get back to the iPad and switch a patch and back. A huge oversight for the Vortex not to have a midi panic/all-notes-off button. Perhaps one can set one of the pads to do that in the editor?

 

The dongle is just so dern convenient for rehearsal and just goofing around but for most shows, I find the hard to find MIDI Panda to be rock solid even at huge distances. I've personally tested it at about 200 feet; far enough that I had to compensate for time it takes for sound to travel that far. MIDI Panda also has remarkably less latency than many wired midi interfaces I've tried. Amazing tech.

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I have not used my Wireless 2 that much although when I did I dot have any issues

 

However, I recently got the new Roland Axe synth

I actually like it"s edgy design. I am using my Line 6 Guitar wireless system with it

 

No reception or distance issues on the big stages

Cool! 3xs the price as the V2, but offers alot more. I look forward to your V2 vs Axe comparison review! If you do review them, I'd be curious to know how each of them fares for desktop playing, if the expression controls are easy to control.

 

Yeah, if the built-in wireless MIDI was known to be reliable, that'd be a heck of a bargain for a lightweight keytar. But the Axe with the Line Six guitar wireless, at least $1,200, that'd be pretty sweet, I'd rather have sounds generated from the keytar.

 

 

 

Kawai ES110 & ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000

Yamaha Melodica and Alto Recorder

QSC K8.2 // JBL Eon One Compact // Klipsch KMC 3 // Win10 laptop i7 8GB // iPad Pro 9.7" 32GB

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I get occasional stuck notes with the dongle/camera connect/iPad, most often with a glissando on the Vortex W2. Happened at the VFW show last night at the end of a sax solo while I was on the dance floor. I've not found a way to stop the stuck notes remotely yet other than just turning down the volume until I can get back to the iPad and switch a patch and back. A huge oversight for the Vortex not to have a midi panic/all-notes-off button. Perhaps one can set one of the pads to do that in the editor?

 

The dongle is just so dern convenient for rehearsal and just goofing around but for most shows, I find the hard to find MIDI Panda to be rock solid even at huge distances. I've personally tested it at about 200 feet; far enough that I had to compensate for time it takes for sound to travel that far. MIDI Panda also has remarkably less latency than many wired midi interfaces I've tried. Amazing tech.

Yeah, they obviously didn't think it'd be an issue!

 

So how do you get the wireless MIDI into your iPad? How long do your batteries last and what kind do you use? At $349, that'd be a tempting little board to have!

 

Kawai ES110 & ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000

Yamaha Melodica and Alto Recorder

QSC K8.2 // JBL Eon One Compact // Klipsch KMC 3 // Win10 laptop i7 8GB // iPad Pro 9.7" 32GB

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I recently got the new Roland Axe synth [...] I am using my Line 6 Guitar wireless system with it
I assume you're referring to an AX-Edge, aka Klingon Battle Axe. :)

 

The Line 6 specs look great! How's the sound?

 

I went with a Nady UHF wireless bass guitar system, figuring it would be a better low-end (and flatter overall) response than wireless guitar systems without worrying about clogged 2.4GHz RF band.

So far it has sounded great, although I did have some squelch problems at one venue.

 

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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I got this big poster from Keysight (first Agilent, first HP) with all the world's possible (non-military) wireless connection methods, phones, wifi, wireless IoT, and many others, and it always made me wonder how people have come up with the various bands and modulation methods to transfer (digital) signals over the whole radio spectrum.

 

Historically, since early AM, long wave, short wave, low frequency TV broadcast, there were electronics and physics related reasons as well as historical, political and standardization logical developments to chose a certain type of transmitter and receiver for connection using certain frequency ranges. Mainly the technology and probably pricing would determine how it was with the availability of quality transmission equipment for a certain communication standard.

 

With the availability of higher frequencies in the spectrum and standards to use them, it's become a lot easier to make reliable, high speed data connections, regardless of who provided the technological push or chose the particular technology. For wireless keyboards, I'm not sure what the right technology and choice of band would have to be, something low latency, maybe bidirectional and timestamped data.

 

I recall from my own experiments long ago that it's not very easy to make a reliable wireless control for something important like the volume of a PA system, or playing a fast solo on a keytar with possible stuck notes or horrible sounds as a result of unpleasant parameter changes.

 

T.

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I got this big poster from Keysight (first Agilent, first HP) with all the world's possible (non-military) wireless connection methods, phones, wifi, wireless IoT, and many others, and it always made me wonder how people have come up with the various bands and modulation methods to transfer (digital) signals over the whole radio spectrum.
The history is varied. The 2.4GHz band used by 1st generation Wi-Fi was the no-license-required RF garbage band set aside by the FCC (USA) and used by things like microwave ovens. Another early one was 902-928 MHz, which penetrates better but has limited bandwidth.

 

With the availability of higher frequencies in the spectrum and standards to use them, it's become a lot easier to make reliable, high speed data connections, regardless of who provided the technological push or chose the particular technology.
The catch is that higher frequencies are more easily blocked by moisture and metal, especially at the low power to which unlicensed RF is generally limited. In my case, that's why I intentionally went to 400-600 MHz bands -- better penetration, and much less likelihood of someone's cell phone interfering with my performance.

 

For wireless keyboards, I'm not sure what the right technology and choice of band would have to be, something low latency, maybe bidirectional and timestamped data.
That's why some of us obviate that by using a keyboard that has its own audio generator, and only do audio (not digital) wirelessly. A 50 ms glitch will hardly be noticed in audio, but it could wreck a data stream. Adding bidirectionality and time stamps, unfortunately, increases latency. That's why UDP is still used a lot for realtime Internet communications.

 

I recall from my own experiments long ago that it's not very easy to make a reliable wireless control for something important like the volume of a PA system, or playing a fast solo on a keytar with possible stuck notes or horrible sounds as a result of unpleasant parameter changes.
They seem to have gotten it down for PA systems, but ironically stuck notes are still a harder problem.

 

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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I read the reviews on SW, 2 of the 11 said there were problems with wireless MIDI being problematic. One said that it worked fine in his studio, but in live performance it was completely unreliable every time. Another said that he consulted with Alesis for several months to fix the unreliability of the wireless MIDI, never got it resolved.

 

I'm curious about the value of the sliders while playing (obviously for programming they'd be useful). You wouldn't be able to reach them with your left hand (?), so you'd be waiting to stop playing a moment to adjust a parameter. I love it that they have dedicated knobs for the left hand that adjust the lower/higher tones. Is the split knob for changing the note of the split?

The dongle worked great walking around the floor area (30' range) before the rest of the band turned on the wireless for mics, IEMs and guitar/bass, then I got stuck notes standing only five feet in front of it. Worked great around the house, though.

 

I never used the split knobs, but the manual says, "Press Lower or Upper will apply the lower zone settings or upper zone settings to all 37 keys. Press Split to apply both lower and upper zone settings to the keyboard and use the split point. You can edit the range of each zone in the editor software."

 

Regarding the sliders, I used a strap long enough to hang the VW2 below waist level so it was easy for me to reach the sliders or pads with my left hand.

 

How long do your batteries last and what kind do you use?

I use the Eneloop rechargeables and got at least a good 4 hours, but I never ran them down until they were dead.

 

I get occasional stuck notes with the dongle/camera connect/iPad, most often with a glissando on the Vortex W2. Happened at the VFW show last night at the end of a sax solo while I was on the dance floor. I've not found a way to stop the stuck notes remotely yet other than just turning down the volume until I can get back to the iPad and switch a patch and back. A huge oversight for the Vortex not to have a midi panic/all-notes-off button. Perhaps one can set one of the pads to do that in the editor?

Yes, through the editor you can set any of the pads as a Panic button.

 

-----

 

Overall, it's a super cool piece of equipment and I would have kept it if I could have found an economical way to use it wirelessly. Unfortunately, to use it the way I wanted, I would have needed one of the pro-level wireless MIDI kits and a wireless setup for my IEMs, which was way too expensive for the 3-5 songs I would use it for each gig. If I had wireless IEMs instead of wired, I would have sprung for the wireless MIDI kit.

 

For those of you who have one, this adjustable guitar stand works well with the angled base of the VW2:

Fender Universal A-Frame Electric Stand

Nord Stage 3 HA88, Nord Stage 3 Compact, Casio CT-S1, Radial Key Largo, Westone AM Pro 30, Rolls PM55P, K&M 18880 + 18881, Bose S1 Pro, JBL 305p MKII, Zoom Q2n-4K

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I had one for about a week and had to return it due to a sudden financial need. In that very short time, I was reasonably impressed.

 

I am a big believer in keytars, as I've said elsewhere, because they pack a lot of control into a very small package that you can walk around with between keyboard stands and always have handy. I've owned the original Roland AXIS (by far my fave), the Casio AZ-1, the Yamaha KX5, and (just for giggles) the Yamaha SHS-10, which I still have and love. The Vortex Wireless 2, which for a while was pretty much the only game in town, had a great feature set and was reasonably light and comfortable to play; my wireless MIDI tests were flawless but I tended to use it only at very short ranges, so that's not a great data point.

 

My main gripes were ergonomic: I do pitch bending and mod wheel use with my thumb, and having the ribbon controller under my fingers while thumbing the pitch wheel never felt quite right to me. Also, what idiot decided that all the ports should be on the surface most likely to hit the ground first?

 

I really liked it for $299, and I missed it when I returned it, but I don't play out enough these days to justify having one now. I'll probably buy an SHS-500 used for cheap and rip it apart to install a couple of ROLI LUMI keyboards in it, or something... :crazy:

Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) :D

Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

 

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job

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  • 3 weeks later...
My Vortex 2 is almost unusable because of hanging notes. In fact, I sadly haven't used it at gig for a couple months. The hanging note thing happens about every minute or so on stage, and I'm constantly pushing the pads buttons, which I've programmed ALL of them for panic so I can just smash my palm on the row of them to get a fast stop without looking down. Alesis is absolutely of no help in getting this fixed. Stopped answering my inputs to them. Yes, I updated the software to 1.1.5. which they initially claimed would fix the issue. It didn't. I'm told this problem was not present on the Vortex 1. Go figure. I think it's criminal that they apparently have just given up on making it work correctly......and we're all stuck with it. pffft.
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My Vortex 2 is almost unusable because of hanging notes. In fact, I sadly haven't used it at gig for a couple months. The hanging note thing happens about every minute or so on stage, and I'm constantly pushing the pads buttons, which I've programmed ALL of them for panic so I can just smash my palm on the row of them to get a fast stop without looking down. Alesis is absolutely of no help in getting this fixed. Stopped answering my inputs to them. Yes, I updated the software to 1.1.5. which they initially claimed would fix the issue. It didn't. I'm told this problem was not present on the Vortex 1. Go figure. I think it's criminal that they apparently have just given up on making it work correctly......and we're all stuck with it. pffft.

Are you using the included wireless MIDI dongle? For me, it was rock solid around the house but not reliable for use on stage. Once the wireless guitar, bass, microphones and IEMs got turned on it was unusable. There are suggestions for pro-level wireless MIDI systems earlier in this thread that might be helpful to explore. In hindsight, it was probably unrealistic of me to expect that for $300 I would get such a great controller with the equivalent of a $250 wireless MIDI system.

 

Nord Stage 3 HA88, Nord Stage 3 Compact, Casio CT-S1, Radial Key Largo, Westone AM Pro 30, Rolls PM55P, K&M 18880 + 18881, Bose S1 Pro, JBL 305p MKII, Zoom Q2n-4K

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