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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121 Visitor comments
March 14, 2012 @ 11:33 am
The Alesis Ion is a great sounding VA synth. However the main outputs are usually very low. But if you use the auxillary out instead you get full volume output but cant adjust volume with volume knob only with the output knob. Other than that the filters can do wonders and the bass lines can be pretty gritty with the right effects and pads can be thick if you layer up the parts. I found that you can make great drums eg, kick, snares and hi's with this puppy. Overall its a great bargain synth.
February 21, 2012 @ 8:17 pm
Just got the Ion recently. I have loads of Analog synths and I must admit I am not disappointed by the Ion. The programmation pages are very good fun and it is a pleasure to tweak this synth. As far as the sonic possibilities, with a bit of tweaking, anyone can find great sounds on it. As a side by side with a minimoog on the Mini square 5th patch, it can be hard to identify which one is which...
December 11, 2011 @ 12:05 pm
The Ion is one of the greatest VA's ever built in terms of sound. If you want a great Moog, or great Jupiter sounds then this is it. Very very easy to program and use in a live situation. simply rocks. Cons...low output problem...that can be fixed for long term use. The keyboard is okay, but not quite fast enough for my style of play. No onboard effects. I still give it a 10/10! Check out this Moog patch I made...

I have a ton of Ion videos on my channel...
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.
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Rated 3.84 (764 Votes)

  • 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 - 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

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