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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Are you looking to buy or sell a Alesis Ion? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

123 Visitor comments
Sian Howard
November 12, 2011 @ 4:58 am
I have had my Ion for 5 years, and am generally very happy with it. Minus points - the awful cheap keyboard, osc. aliasing in the top register (most VA synths from the 90s and early 2000s suffer from this); the effects are a bit limited; and I don't much like the envelopes. But the big plus point: THE SOUND - the dual filter section with all the different vintage synth emulations, this thing can make sounds like no other synth I own/have owned (I currently own 11 of them). Great for pads and leads. But strange haunting, filter-swept pads are where this thing really excels. Very JD-800 like.
October 27, 2011 @ 9:16 pm
Love my Ion. Have had it since it was introduced. Craig Anderton was using one during a demo at Sweetwater Sound and I bought it on the spot. Have gigged with it every weekend since. Run it as well as the other 3 boards I use on stage through a mixer with built in effects. No problems until recently. 1 key sticks (continues to sound) some times. Would not give it up for nothing.
October 15, 2011 @ 5:57 pm
This synth is a chameleon. With all of the different filter emulations, it can imitate a many different vintage synths. But that's part of it's downfall - it has a lot of tricks up it's sleeve, but ultimately lacks it's own unique character. It just feels like something's missing - I think that cheap D/A converters are the culprit, it just doesn't have presence in a mix. Good for some Roland-ish pad sounds and OK for Moog-ish leads but not much else. The arpeggiator is useless and the build quality very disappointing. I expected more coming from the makers of the mighty Andromeda.
André Mello
September 19, 2011 @ 1:02 am
August 15, 2011 @ 6:36 pm
Had it for two years & had to sell it, the volume jacks were fading out, and the knobs started to edit themselves. But its one of the most complete synth engines for little $. Stack 4 patches on top of eachother, each patch has 3 oscs and separate unison function. Programmers of power electronics, EBM, industrial tones will love this synth, you can make some truly aggro ear-ripping sounds. Make sure that you get to test it out in person 1st because of the aforementioned issues. If only it would have lasted I would have kept it. Southern hiphop producer Lil' Jon had one of these in his studio.
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Rated 3.86 (808 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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