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
July 24, 2011 @ 6:23 pm
The Ion is a synth you want to love. All metal, cool design, 3 oscillators and tonnes of filters, ect. On paper it all looks to damn good to be true, especially at the prices they go for, but there's something missing. It doesnt look all that special in the flesh, the sound doesn't instantly amaze and for me the biggest gripe is it just feels somewhat unpleasant to use, the dry rubbery knobs you seem to have to twist for an age to have an effect being the biggest gripe, making it hard to quickly tweek a sound. Quality feels lacking too. Sold mine, only very occasionally get pangs of regret.
July 21, 2011 @ 7:07 am
ive had it for 6 or 7 years, no problems. solid metal. would be one of the best VAs of all time if it sounded better. "fat-sounding"? not really. maybe on full unison. its just that the oscillators, filters and effects are a little cold sounding, gotta use outboard preamp and/or comp to beef it up.. it has a lot of features, some that are rarely found on other synths. 3 different formant filter types, for example. and the mod matrix does a lot. but then it lacks verb and delay, except for the slap delay. so the sound isnt gonna blow you away but for the price range you cant do much better.
Computer Controlled
June 5, 2011 @ 4:00 pm
The info about the Sine Waves morphing into Square Waves is wrong. You can shape the Sine Wave into a distorted version of itself, but that's it. The Sine, Tri/Saw and Square Waves are all on their own pages with dedicated buttons for each. The Saw will morph into a triangle wave, then back into sawtooth running the opposite direction it was before. So Upwards Sawtooth -> Triangle -> Downwards Sawtooth. The Square Wave just simply alters the Pulse Width.
May 17, 2011 @ 6:32 pm
I bought my Ion new when they first hit the market and recently sold it a few weeks ago. Solid virtural analog engine. Lots of modulation possibilities as well as the filter of all the great old analog synths of years past. Sitting alone, it can do convincing Oberheim, Jupiter, and Moog's sounds....until you play similiar patches back to back with the real deal and then the difference becomes obviously clear The strenght is the ability to create 'similiar 'tone to the classics and the capability to create new filter and oscillator combinations never before heard. Mine never failed.
May 14, 2011 @ 1:39 am
This is my first and only synthesizer, which doesn't really make me an expert in judging synths, but I can honestly say that I will spend some days sitting around making tones I never would have imagined being able to make, or even sometimes hearing. I LOVE my ION. Versatile comes to mind...
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Rated 3.86 (808 Votes)

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  • 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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