Alesis Ion

Alesis Ion Image

The Ion Analog Modeling Synthesizer is one fat-sounding digital synth! Using Alesis' proprietary DSP Analog Modeling technology with a 500 MIPS processor (500 million instructions per second), every knob and button is tweakable in real-time giving you the feel and sound of a true analog oldie.

The Ion has 8-voice polyphony with 3 oscillators per voice, and is 4-part multi-timbral. It offers continuously variable wave shapes (sine waves can morph into square waves), plus osc-sync and FM synthesis. 16 filter types are included, along with two LFOs, Sample & Hold, and an Arpeggiator-all of which sync to MIDI clock. A powerful and intuitive modulation matrix is built in, as well as a 40-band vocoder that does not use up any polyphony. External stereo audio can be processed through the filters, effects, or the vocoder.

Though not a true analog like the Andromeda A6, the Ion is capable of creating a wide variety of sounds from warm thick analog pads all the way to gritty monophonic leads and basses, as well as some funky and realistic sound effects. The Ion also simulates the best of the classic analogs such as Oberheims, Roland Jupiters, Arps, Moogs, etc, largely due to its great filters - there is hardly any aliasing even on the highest tones. The Ion also comes equipped with not one but two modulation wheels, both assignable to mods in the mod matrix (LFOs only assignable to mod wheel 1). The Ion has an amazing range of tonal possibilities.

Alesis Ion Image

The chic design, layout, and large backlit screen make editing on the Ion a dream! The Modulation Matrix is easy to understand and can route any modulation parameter to almost every component of the Ion!! All parameter knobs (excluding master volume & menu knob) are 360 degree pots allowing you to twist all the day long! A 160x160 graphic display provides instant visual feedback as a parameter is edited. Along with having 512 patch settings (all user-rewritable), the Ion has 64 multi-timbral setups. All parameters including arpeggiator settings are stored with each preset.

The ION keyboard contains 49 velocity-sensitive keys, 4 analog outputs and 2 stereo analog inputs (all balanced and using 24-bit conversion), 4 individual insert effects, a stereo master multi-FX processor, and an internal universal power supply. Expression and sustain pedal ports as well as headphone jacks are also there. For those who want a versatile synth and can't afford the A6, this is the synth for you - arguably one of the best 'virtual-analog' synths for awesome, analogue-like sounds.

The Ion inspired a "Mini-Me" version of itself in the Micron. It's the exact same synth as the Ion, except housed in a small 3-octave keyboard with only a few real-time controls. It has a few new features such as pattern and phrase sequencers and more filter types & effects - designed for the "on the go" musician in an overall more affordable package.

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123 Visitor comments
April 17, 2011 @ 11:18 pm
I owned an Ion but foolishly Sold It. Every time I carried it to a studio the engineer went on and on at how well it printed and how rich and juicy it sounded. I sold it to get my moog little phatty and although I love the phatty I can't help feel that I should have kept the ion. Im looking for a new one in a box. It Blows the Prophet out of the water. I've tried to love the Prophet but I don't like the sound. This little Ion is by far one of the most flexible synths ever- analog or virtual(I've been using synths since '81). And it sure looked pretty in the dark. A JOY.
March 26, 2011 @ 10:14 pm
I bought an ion in 2004. Not long after the purchase, I had to send the synthesizer back to the company, because the pitch bend wheel went off track and I was also having problems with the operating system. I still own it, but have not played it since 2005. It survived a tour accident in 2005.
March 21, 2011 @ 4:42 pm
with it's 2*17 filter types its one of the best, warmest and fattest VA synths around
design and concept are peerless, only drawback is the keyboard which is just average, not bad but not HQ either and lacking aftertouch. My message is you can grab a Prophet 8 for 2000$ with just one filter type or a used Ion with 17 for about 6-800$
the Prophet is only 2 part multitimbral. Its a matter of taste, Oberheim is out of competeition imho
Erik Friend
February 25, 2011 @ 10:20 pm
Pros: Lots of controls, tons of filter models (lpf/formant/comb/hp), stacked filters, multi-timbral, non-linear envelope curve options, capable of gritty digital tones as well as conservative analog sounds.

Cons: Buttons stick (requires occasional contact cleaning), some important features are buried in menus), only sounds analog with very conservative settings - pushing lfos, ring mod, fm, it looses definition and gets digital.

All in all, good VA AND digital glitchiness. Try exploring newer non-analog sounds. You'll find lots of potential there.
February 23, 2011 @ 2:44 am

I am the proud owner of an alesis ion that is in excellent condition.

I am willing to sell the synth for a fair price.

Send me an offer
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.86 (814 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 - 8 voices (4-part multitimbral)
  • Oscillators - Alesis proprietary DSP Analog Modeling: 3 oscillators per voice (Sine, Square-Pulse, Saw-Triangle).
  • Filter - 2 multi-mode filters with 16 filter types.
  • Envelopes - 3 EGs: Pitch/Mod, Filter, and the Amp have their own ADSR envelopes.
  • LFO - 2 multi-wave LFOs and 1 S&H. Ring Modulator. FM. hard&soft OSC sync.
  • Effects - 4 Individual Mono/Stereo Insert Effects and Stereo Master Multi-FX Processor (80ms slapback delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, distortion, fuzz, compression, limiter) and built-in 40-band Vocoder.
  • Keyboard - 49 keys (velocity, release velocity sensitive).
  • Memory - 512 Patches, 64 Multi-timbral Setups.
  • Arpeg/Seq - Arpeggiator: MIDI-sync-able multiple-pattern plus *random* feature.
  • Real-Time Controllers - 30 360-degree Parameter Knobs, 2 Assignable Modulation Wheels, Assignable Pitch Wheel.
  • Control - MIDI (4-part multitimbral) IN/OUT/THRU
  • Date Produced - 2003
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Alesis and

    Info provided by Christian and Lars Lien.

    Reviewed December 2007.

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