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
Steve57
July 31, 2013 @ 11:54 pm
I have 2 Ions. Bought one in 2003 from the 1st production run; had bad encoders. After repair under warranty, no issues except for 2 buttons that sometimes double trigger. It has seen daily use for nearly 10 years. 2nd Ion, bought in 2008 (new). It also has 2 buttons that sometimes double trigger. Both Ions are completely stable, never stuck a note or froze up,never had a key contact fail, never lost output because of fried output FETs. The Ion has 20 filters, exactly the same ones as the Micron. (added with an OS update). Without reverb or delay, Ion and Micron sound exactly the same; great!
cali78
July 31, 2013 @ 10:04 pm
Unfortunatly, i will have to agree with the negative reviews for this synth, as an owner of both the micron and the ion, i can say that the micron is the better choice, ive had the ion crap out on me several times, including a live set, the micron although having the same engine is just a more solid machine w better os and the added dsp really does make a world of difference. The lack of knobs are a downside...
Ph.Fm
July 31, 2013 @ 3:02 pm
@ dsifreak .the ion and micron are both great machines,yet for all the microns extra added bells and whistles,the end resulting sound is the same."the micron is everything the ion isn't and can never be" ? yeah right,exact same sound engine genius.more like the micron is the groovebox the ion wasn't designed to be. maybe for skrillex clones the micron is *better*. otherwise, if you don't feel like paying an extra 150 for an external box of knobs that may or may not work (negative nrpn issues) stick with the ion.as to your lame 'stay away' comment.are you a scooby doo ghost? grow up & piss off.
DSIfreak
July 30, 2013 @ 4:33 pm
@ph.fm
You left quite a bit out of the Micron there, you forgot that the micron has its own separate drum synthesizer, it has 20 filters to the ions 16, it has a phrase sequencer, a rhythm sequencer, a step sequencer, and yes it has the same fx chip as teh micron AS WELL as a secondary dsp for delay and verbs, double the patch memory, double the power and its actually stable and works, the Micron is everything th ion isnt and can never be. as far as lack of knobs, just pick up a Behringer BCR 2000 , save your self headaches and money and get a way better synth, the micron! Stay away!
Ph.Fm
July 24, 2013 @ 10:15 pm
The Ion is an outstanding synth capable of producing gorgeous pads,incredible bass lines,beautiful strings and any other sound if you can program.It easily holds its own against my 80s Roland analogs.the Micron offers the exact same sound engine w/ a few improvements,mainly the effects section,but sacrificing 32 knobs and 3 wheels for 3 knobs and 1 wheel in favor of a slightly improved effects section is out of the question.the routing modulation matrix is where the real potential exists.avoid presets at all costs.they are a terrible misrepresentation of this great synth.3 year owner
 
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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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