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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The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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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
s t e f a n
November 25, 2008 @ 1:27 am
This synth excels at realtime control & having an an advanced modulation matrix. The envelopes are one of the most unmentioned cool features on this thing. That allow for various routing via the mod matrix. And provide some cool options for reversing and looping backward/forwards etc....

This synth really is a modern chameleon of some classic synths.

If you put a musical tool in front of true artist it will shine, if you put it in front of a monkey who wants the first feature to be analog, well you get my drift
November 12, 2008 @ 1:38 am
I bout this hoping to use it as my main synth, but was sorely dissapointed by the flimsy keys and necessity to look at the LED screen for every know tweek. Over all it sounds a little plasticy and hallow. I like the tube distortion effect, but i HAD to use it for all my patches because I didn't like the way any of them sounded with out it. The fact that there is no empty user bank annoyed me, I'd rather not overwrite factory presets just to save my own. A few buttons became hard to press after a couple years, and some of the keys pop up higher than the others. Over all I don't like this synth, but it DOES have its place as a synth to accompany other synths.
November 11, 2008 @ 11:53 pm
I had one of these and was able to stack some pretty fat bass sounds on top of one another via the parts buttons (great feature). My Ion continued to drop my user programs in bank 4 (yellow), so i sold it and grabbed the moog voyager. Tech support mentioned a battery replacement but i think it was more and too soon, I have an OB 8 thats older and still has still has battery life. I recommend this synth if you want to learn basic programming.
November 8, 2008 @ 10:17 pm
Very good VA. The various filters allow you to model various legendary synths like the MiniMoog, ARP 2600, Oberheim OB-X, and the Roland Jupiter-8. But for whatever reason I could never escape the VA sound, it's just too clean shaven. Don't get me wrong, it's a very nice sounding synth. But once I got my JX-8P the Ion went out the door. It just doesn't compare to the real thing, even against the "thinner" DCO's. I'd hate to see what an actual VCO mega synth does to this thing. But if you're looking for the VA sound then this thing is for you. With the modulation matrix and 2 parallel filters it's capable of sounds not possible on most vintage analogues. And IMHO it has much better build and sound quality than similarly priced Roland SH-201 and KORG MicroKorg. So as far as VA goes this synth is #1, except for maybe a Virus TI.
tony H
November 7, 2008 @ 2:41 pm
like alot of Alesis synths, tends to get overlooked in favour of the Rolands Korgs and Yamahas, but believe you me this is one of the finest analogue modelling synths on the market. The modulation and pitchbend wheels are a revellation for real time affects. In my opinion is up there with the very best.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.86 (814 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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