January 24, 2012

Alesis Vortex and DM Dock at NAMM 2012

Alesis were on the floor peddling their wares with all the other folks at NAMM. While they didn’t jump in on the spectacle hogging DJ controller bonanza (2012 Namm was all about iPads and DJ Controllers if you haven’t figured that one out yet), they were front and center on the iPad, and are a solid reminder that DJ controllers aren’t the only controllers out there.

The Alesis Vortex Keytar

Alesis Vortex at NAMM 2012 UniqueSquared

While one has to lean on technicalities to call it the “first USB keytar controller,” the Alesis Vortex Keytar certainly has one feature that is new to the device. With their accelerometer control built to wire to any midi controllable parameter, it is to be assumed that the keyboardist who has always wanted to charge other players on the stage while triggering pitch bends with their aggression will finally have their day. While I don’t think the keytar’s recent resurfacing (between Roland’s recent offering and now this from Alesis) is necessarily going to start a revolution, I do think it is a time in which players are searching for ways to inject a little live fun into their plugins they bring to the stage, so this one might be a surprise hit for a company that always manages to pop in and add their own take on staple pieces of hardware.

The Alesis DM Dock for iPad

Anyone who’s been watching Alesis through the years is no stranger to their history of creating devices like the DM series of drum sound racks. These have famously been present in replacement tasks for years and have easily established Alesis a track record as much as their HR and SR drum machines ever did. More recently, with their IO Dock, Alesis scored a hit in being quick to the market and providing a system for everyone who just couldn’t wait another minute to transfer their recording operations to iPad or who saw the potential of the device for writing demos on the road.

With these products in their wake, it was possibly a no brainer to combine the two. In the Alesis DM Dock for iPad, Alesis have created a cool new take on the drum module. This coreMIDI compatible device allows triggers and controllers to easily wire into an iPad based drum module for quick visual feedback oriented editing within their own app, or to be adapted for use with others. On display was an unfinished app very reminiscent of BFD or EZ Drummer type interfaces. This device appears to be the beginning of a line of similar solutions for musicians from Alesis that are intended to take advantage of cloud functionality while replacing familiar components with the increasingly ubiquitous iPad.

The only issue I take with the device as presented to us is the suggestion that it is an advantage to be able to quiet a fussy singer onstage by downloading the cowbell sound he/she likes (see our video) instantly from the cloud. I can appreciate technology trying to remedy this situation, but if I have a singer waiting to fuss at me about the quality of the cowbell sound at the show rather than during rehearsal, that singer had better have me on payroll or I am throwing some bottles at him/ her.

Alesis DM Dock at NAMM 2012 UniqueSquared