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
May 3, 2012 @ 12:57 am
Bought it when i was going through my "i'm gonna own every synth in my price range" phase. It wasn't bad, and as a matter of fact i have a Miniak now which will probably stay with me till it either breaks or i die, but it had issues. My screen started to go bad, and then i read about the output issue and got nervous and let it go. Don't regret it, but if i ever saw one again for cheap i would probably become an Ion owner again.
March 28, 2012 @ 5:21 am
The synth engine has limitless possibilities and was designed to be tweaked, and as any synth, presets meant as a guide/starting point. Those that complain about lack thereof *useable effects*--effects should always literally be an afterthought and can become a crutch for weak programming abilities. Programmed 'dry', Ion holds it's place with my Virus KB, Supernova 1, and Korg Radias--all different synths that 'play nice' w/ea other. I DO agree that the keys simply [beep] . Controlled like a rack unit via midi solves that and modulation routing as extensive as Vrus KB-a rack Ion is future mod :-)
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...
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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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