Alesis Vortex 2 Keytar

Will you tell us the make and model of the dongle and post a pretty picture of it please?

Here ya go. @riban I know that’s not a lot of info. There’s not much on the back either except a serial number and a warning not to immerse in water. Alesis indicates that the communication between the Vortex and the usb receiver is proprietary, so maybe not something that can be used with other midi controllers.

1 Like

I would like to have a way of switching between sounds on the keytar. This seems to involve programming pads on the keytar to send Cn midi messages. No problem, I can do that. However, how do I program the Zynthian to respond to a given program number? That is, if I send C1 82 how do I get the Zynthian to switch to, for example, Fluid GM/Synth Voice? I’ve looked through Sebastien’s tutorials, read other Zynthian documentation on the wiki, but it doesn’t gel.

Okay, made some progress. I’m now able to switch between sounds with the Vortex pads using zs3’s. Should have a demo video soon!

1 Like

To change the sounds by pushing the pads will be a problem. Momentary the zynthian doesn‘t understand PC-comands well.
But you can load a snapshot that used Ch 1 + 2 and so can play 2 sounds with the Keytar. It‘s a first step.

Or you load a snapshot with several sounds. You can step thrue this sounds by pushing the layer-knob and you can adress the layer-knob to a pad

Thanks @Micki. I got the PC commands working fine by using the subsnapshot (zs3) feature. I configured the pads on the Vortex to send different PC change commands (except the 1st pad which I set to panic.) From the control screen on the Zynthian (the screen with the settings for a particular sound) I press the learn/shot button twice, then I get a screen that says “Waiting for program change”. Then press one of the pads, and that pad will now change to the sound. Seems to work very reliably and quickly.

I was using the FluidSynth engine. The volume on the Vortex was controlling the modulation instead of volume, so I set FluidSynth to use the Vortex’s default volume message, Bn 01 I think. Also set modulation to be controlled by one of the Vortex’s default slider programs. The expression setting for FluidSynth seems to be tied to volume, so I set that to max.

As far as I can see, zs3 is only for switching to another sound within the synth engine in the snapshot you are using. I still have a lot to explore with different engines and I may make snapshots and zs3’s for some others and corresponding presets for the Vortex.

Reading more about MIDI, looks like I should change the Vortex to switch volume on 7 instead in line with General MIDI specification.

It’s quite strange that the default configuration of Vortex is not to have volume in CC7. Almost every keyboard i’ve tried in my life use CC7 for volume. It’s the logical behavior because almost every MIDI-controlled synthesizer in the world will listen CC7 for volume :wink:

1 Like

Yeah, could just be a bug in the software that creates new Vortex presets.

1 Like

I have the older Vortex an it uses CC#7.
I think there is a bad synchronisation. Have you set the right MIDIPorts and have you loadet the current set?

1 Like

@Micki No, the only problem was that volume was set to send CC 1 when I created the new preset. I set it to 7, wrote it to the Vortex, and all is fine now.



As promised to @wyleu here’s my demo. Sorry, no actual guitar sound. Maybe on a follow-up. But it shows what I have so far.


Awesome video. Congrats!

Man do I need a keytar :slight_smile:

1 Like

Yes indeed, why don’t wives dig MIDI…?:thinking:
Thanx, that’s a rather excellent demo all round, I must get hold of some Steley dan recommendations . . . ( and a spell checker … :crazy_face:)
I particularly like the ALL controls on the Controller approach, would you use a footswitch to patch switch so you don’t need to take hands off the keyboard?

How often do you play together, and what’s highlights are on your set list?

1 Like

Haha, yes, Anne tends to like low-tech, congas, tambourine, mark tree, melodica. She was not going to have patience for setting up MIDI - although the keytar was actually her idea, not mine!

As far as SD listening, their earlier albums were more rock oriented and later more chill and jazz. Can’t Buy a Thrill was their first. For a great later album listen to Aja.

Re footswitch - A footswitch would not be useful in our case. Switching between sounds doesn’t need to happen sub-second, and the footswitch would be another piece of gear to have to deal with, more cables, more setup, more stuff for us to trip over. Better for the Zynthian to be meters away in a safe place connected to the PA.

We have been performing about once per month in the Portland, Oregon area. As far as highlights, we play close to half (29/62) of the songs on the SD classic albums, Can’t Buy a Thrill through Gaucho, with more in the works and one from Donald Fagen’s solo album Nightfly. Here’s a live promo video,, with Green Earrings, Rose Darling, Bodhisaatva, Deacon Blues.