Alesis Fusion

Alesis Fusion Image

The Alesis Fusion is a synthesizer workstation packed with features for the modern keyboardist. Released in 2005, Alesis managed to cram four powerful synthesis engines and an 8-track, 24-bit hard disk recorder into the Fusion's sleek, silver frame. The types of synthesis on offer include Sample Playback, FM, Virtual Analog (VA) and Physical Modeling – all powered by three floating-point Texas Instruments digital signal processors. It comes in 61-key synth action (6HD) and 88-key weighted (8HD) versions.

The Sample Playback engine lets you create four oscillator patches from either ROM multisamples or your own custom samples. Your samples can be recorded in through the dedicated stereo port, or loaded in via compact flash/USB; you can then edit and store them on the Fusion's large hard drive (40 or 80 GB). Import of WAV and SoundFont is supported, opening up a massive world of sounds. With 64MB of RAM, expandable to 192MB (and tricks available to double the usable amount of RAM) you won't fit a massive orchestral library in this synth, but for most sound design and live applications it will be plenty. Your samples can then be shaped using the Fusion's plethora of filter types, envelopes, and its massive mod matrix – nearly anything can be routed anywhere!

The six-operator FM engine can give you those DX-type sounds, full of character. However, it isn't compatible with DX SysEx, but you can still have a lot of fun creating your own sounds. The VA engine is very powerful, with many similarities to the Ion/Micron line! There are three oscillators with multiple wave shapes, FM, Sync, PWM and 20 different filter types including lowpass, bandpass, highpass and a 4-band EQ for every patch. The Physical Modeling section includes both a Wind and a Reed model, and while not amazingly realistic, they can be abused to create some very strange pads!

Putting all these synthesis types together, you start to see the power of the Fusion. Using Combis you can mix and match all of them, run them through effects, create massive evolving soundscapes using SoundFonts mixed with physically modeled wind and big VA strings, and more. Trigger loops and arpeggiators with one hand while doing a six oscillators thick lead synth freak-out with the other, the possibilities are staggering!

The effects section is OK. The distortion is a little weak and needs tweaking to get really gnarly results, but the bread and butter effects are all decent enough. The Hard Disk Recorder and Sequencer are basic but quite useable as a musical sketch pad. For example, if you and a guitarist wanted to jam something out, you could record your keyboards as a MIDI part to the sequencer, and then record a guitarist’s amplifier through one of the 8-track HD recorder's inputs on the back of the machine. Speaking of inputs, connectivity is generally good with eight quarter-inch inputs for the multi-track, stereo sampling in, two main outputs, two auxiliary outputs, MIDI, USB 2.0, all the things you'd expect on the back of a modern keyboard.

With all these features at a price point under $1,000, you'd think that this synth would be massively popular. However, early in its life there were some annoying bugs in the firmware, and some features were initially under-developed, such as the pattern-based sequencing. Although Alesis did a great job of releasing regular updates over its first three years, the Fusion's reputation became tarnished enough to blow it into obscurity.

The Fusion isn't perfect, it has issues like any piece of hardware, but for the price they can be had today, they make a wonderful performance keyboard, sound-design tool, and all around synth.

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37 Visitor comments
February 26, 2014 @ 6:52 am
Does anybody know, are the fusion have time stretch/compres and pitch shift or automtic loop for the sampling??? I want to sample some sounds....
thanks in advance.....
DC 10
January 17, 2014 @ 1:46 pm
Hi Folks - I have owned 2 Alesis Fusions and I have sold 2 Alesis Fusions - lolol. As far as sound goes they are very good in some areas & Weak in others, & its true that sound creation can be exciting, recording features are cool, I only tweak my sounds. Currently, I own the Motif Rack, Mo-ES Rack and Mo-XS6, Roland Fant. XR & XA, an XV rack & 2 Korg TR racks -To me,the fusion is the same class as a Korg Triton/LE (I used to own & loved it). But, honestly Fusion not close to a Motif, Fant., XV or TR rack (especially in combi mode). If you love your fusion and USE it, then I am happy for you.
January 8, 2014 @ 3:46 am
wizzard - if you take one simple program (and not a combi) and play it in multitimbral mode (without effects), you can hear the difference)
It must be a matter of personal preference, because I just don't here it. I don't think my Fusion sounds "stronger" than my Kronos, at any time, w/or w/o effects. But whatever. I love both synths! :-)
PS: I'd LOVE to have some those 100's multisamples of your vintage synth collection! Any chance you'd share some? 100's is a lot, so even a few would be nice. I'd even trade you. I have "Alice FM - The Chip Collection". Email me please.
December 24, 2013 @ 8:56 am
I am sorry synthmaster that we disagree, but to my ears the Fusion simply sounds stronger. I like the the Kronos too (own one; and its very good (better effects etc) but if you take one simple program (and not a combi) and play it in multitimbral mode (without effects), you can hear the difference).

I made some 100's multisamples of my vintage synth collection that I use in the Fusion and they push the Kronos soundwise into the shadow. And thats reality i'm afraid.
December 21, 2013 @ 1:54 am
Wizzard - "Stronger sound then the Kronos/Motif (in multimode)"
Nearly any synth is going to sound stronger in multi/combi mode, than any other synth in single/program mode. But if you're saying the Fusion's combis sound "stronger" than the Kronos' combis, a Kronos/Fusion/Motif owner, I can assure you that's simply untrue.
The Fusion is an amazing synth, but it's no Kronos. But I do think the Fusion sounds better than a Motif Classic/ES. Their ROM sounds are about equal, but the Fusoin's analog/physical modeling is better than the PLG150-XX boards IMO. (& FAR easier to edit w/o a PC)
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Rated 3.66 (237 Votes)

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  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Dynamic Voice Allocation (average around 190 voices per engine)
  • Multitimbral - 16 parts in Mix mode, 32 Parts in Song mode
  • Sampler - 44.1Khz Stereo Sampler with 64MBx2 expandable to 192MBx2 (12 to 37 mono minutes sampling time)
  • Oscillators - Per Patch: 3 VA Oscs / 6 FM Ops / 4 Sample Oscs / 1 Physical Modeling Osc
  • Waveforms - Sine, Saw, Pulse, Noise & ROM Samples
  • LFO - Multiple LFOs, with multiple wave shapes and S&H
  • Filter - 20 Types
  • Envelope - Multiple ADSR envelopes, routable to many destinations
  • Effects - 4 Insert Effects and 2 Send Effects per patch, 80 types
  • Sequencer - 32 MIDI Tracks, 8-Track 24-bit Hard Disk Recorder
  • Patterns - Unlimited
  • Songs - Unlimited
  • Arpeggiator - Standard, Phrase and Drum Machine Modes
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (6HD) / 88 weighted-keys (8HD). Both models are velocity, aftertouch, release velocity sensitive.
  • Memory - 40/80GB Hard Drive, USB 2.0, Compact Flash Card
  • Control - MIDI In/Out/Thru
  • Date Produced - 2005
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Alesis

    Review by Alex Juno

    Reviewed July 2011

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