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
gerry
July 2, 2013 @ 10:37 pm
I have a Korg Kronos X 88 & last month I picked up an Alesis Fusion for $650. It's a nice sounding synth, but don't believe some of the comments here. It's not even close to being in the same league as the Kronos. You can't beat the price though & it does sound great, but if you pick up a Fusion, expecting it to out perform a Kronos, you'll be very disappointed.
gridsleep
January 8, 2013 @ 11:40 am
I'd like to get a Fusion and modify it to correct the two most major missing features: tying the synth section directly to the hard disk recorder, and optional amplifiers on the eight recorder input sockets. There should be room in the case for the circuitry needed.
Zplane
January 5, 2013 @ 1:08 pm
The Fusion is the best Synth workstation ever made bar none. I lusted for the Korg Kronos ever since it was annouced. bought one last month at GC after they had a huge price drop ($1K) had it a week and returned it. What a huge dissapointment it was. The Fusion eats it for breakfast.

The Fusion has dual Coldfire CPU's and 7 dedicated DSP's and is blazing fast, boots up in 20 secs . In contrast the Kronos uses a Intel Atom CPU and takes 2 minutes 15 seconds to boot. I am sooooooo glad i did not trade in my Fusion towards the Kronos like i almost did that would have been a huge mistake.
Sebastian
October 13, 2012 @ 7:43 am
A synthesizer doesn't have to be perfect.
But if you ask me, the Alesis Fusion could easily challenge a Korg Kronos!
=)
bobby h.
September 11, 2012 @ 5:40 pm
(Cont.) However, it does have a good sequencer if you're into MIDI and a good audio track recorder for adding external sounds to your mix. It also has some pretty decent 'Mixes' (the first few anyway- after that they get a little dull), some great arpeggio patterns, easy to use controls, and a nice, sleek, contemporary design. You can also download the Hollow Sun soundset for better sounds.
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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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