A keytar is sort of like a fedora: You can either rock one or you can't. Singer-songwriter Emiko is an Alesis and Hammond artist, and she certainly can. So I asked her to contribute a video demo of the new Vortex Wireless 2, which builds upon the success of the original Vortex Wireless. Via a USB stick, it interfaces with your DAW or live plug-in host software of choice (e.g. MainStage or Gig Performer) and is truly plug-and play. Wired connection is also possible via a standard MIDI out port as well as USB. The unit can run on batteries, USB power, or an AC supply as well -- but of course the whole point is to cut the cords.
Since this a $299 instrument likely to be a relatively anxiety-free point of entry for beginners, we geared the video towards explaining every function very clearly and not assuming too much knowledge on the part of the viewer. But you'll find useful information here even if you're a MIDI veteran.
To be clear, the Vortex Wireless 2 is a MIDI controller only with no internal sounds. But to get you started, Alesis has bundled in Hybrid 3, Loom 2, Vacuum Pro, and Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech (soft synths once exclusive to Pro Tools); Way Out Ware's excellent ARP 2600 simulation TimewARP 2600, and Ableton Live Lite so you have a place to host it all right out of the box.
The big-deal tilt feature is still on hand; it employs an accelerometer (like in your smartphone) to let you send MIDI CC messages for sonic moves such as vibrato or filter sweeps by angling the keyboard up or down. A ribbon controller plus a pitch wheel on the neck make further performance gestures a breeze, as you'll see when Emiko uses the ribbon to morph drawbar settings in an organ patch. The backlit drum pads sense both velocity and aftertouch, and included editor software provides for easy, visual programming of what they do, as it does for every control on the machine.
There's more, and we'll let Emiko take it from here.