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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40 Visitor comments
cw21c
August 3, 2012 @ 7:01 am
I just bought a 6HD on Ebay. What a beauty! What I like most about the fusion is that you have a brilliant sampler and hard disk built in, so if you already have a PC library of your own sounds (in WAV, sf2 etc) you can just port them over to the Fusion and use them there. Forget the Korg Microsampler, this is the business! The keyboard itself is pretty lame - very clicky/clunky. I wonder if it can be replaced? I might even consider buying an 8HD as well for the weighted keyboard alone. Prices have been creeping up on Ebay the past year - not surprising as this really is a superb instrument.
jessie
May 18, 2012 @ 12:45 am
The alesis fusion is a great keyboard being a multinstrumentalist i found it to be ideal
song writing instrument. every user are right about the next upgrade, are the fusion 11.
I have tried all kind of work station believe me alesis nail it with the sequencer. I was amaze how i could sing and record all at the same time. spidf out and alesis fusion mixer
asign solo let me record to my vs 2480 and other roland recorder in sync with mmc.
load new sounds for free is marvelous from hollow sun.try that with the other workstation. looking for alesis fusion 2. thanks alesis
mstsfreak
March 16, 2012 @ 4:09 am
The 8 track audio-recorder sounds very well. There is much clarity in the overall sound. I like it. The way i use the sequencer: I record my songs in Cubase as audiotracks. Then, after mixing it to two mastertracks (without the sounds i play live), i import the song into the Fusion as 2 tracks.
mstsfreak
March 16, 2012 @ 4:09 am
Bought the Fusion in 2006 and i love it! This is a very underrated synth-workstation. There is so much you can do with it soundwise, it is really staggering! I See this board more as a very good synthesizer than a workstation, because the sequencer never got implemented very well. There are still a few functions in the sequencer that not work very well, for example the list-editing of your tracks. When selecting a note you don't hear it playing. This makes editing very hard. Also the timing when recording a midi track is not that good.
JoaT
February 2, 2012 @ 2:31 am
I honestly think Fusion (expecially 8HD) will be a very sought after classic in the future.

Sure, it's got it's share of minor bugs, cryptic UI and technical issues, namely the power source and display. Despite all that it's a great sounding and very capable instrument with visual appearance that sets it apart from almost everything else.

I chased mine for over two years and now that I have it I will not be getting rid of it. It sounds fantastic and has so much under the hood that after nearly a year I feel I haven't even scratched the surface yet.

Worth checking if it works for you.
 
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VSE Rating

Excellent

User Rating

Rated 3.64 (245 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • 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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