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
May 10, 2009 @ 10:52 am
A couple clarifications: The description says "LFOs only assignable to modwheel 1". Not true. Say you want modwheel 2 to control vibrato depth. In LFO edit, make sure m1>LFO is 0%. Then in mod matrix, 1st mod routing: LFO tri>voice pitch, level 1%. 2nd mod routing: m2>LFO amplitude, level +100%, offset -100%. Also, while it is true there is very little aliasing in upper freqs, that is mainly due to the oscillators being limited to 4186hz! (C8 on a Piano). Only way to get an extra octave on the top end is to reload the original OS and put up with some alaising. Overall a great sounding, versatile VA though.
April 3, 2009 @ 4:58 am
The Alesis ION is a fine piece of hardware, as what it has to offer. The build quality on the other hand is another-story. External design is great, but the Internals are a bit weak.
:common flaws:
It has the tendency to become Problematic, or bugged. Also uses a weak JFET, modeled J111. causing the Main-outputs to go dead or silent.

I'll rate this synth 9/10
March 31, 2009 @ 7:19 am
Bleh...Anyone bagging on this synth doesn't know what the hell they're talking about. Go check the Sound On Sound review. Or the Keyboard Mag review...Best analog recreation yet. If you don't know anything about sound design then don't buy it; those who do are in for a treat. It has MONSTER low-end. Super creamy sounds...It's not a fecking workstation or weak VA that relies on tons of FX to mask the weak oscillators; it's meant to be like the analogs of old. That means FAT oscs and TONS of knobs! Also, the options for sound designers are almost limitless. It's little kids raised on trite workstations with 132 voices that don't like this synth...Any bad things about it? Yes. The keys are rather junky and the FX are threadbare. The presets are pretty weak too....But other than that, it's GOLDEN.
Jim Wicked
February 26, 2009 @ 11:10 am
If you're thinking about getting one of the other well known VA's like a Virus or a Nord Lead, you owe it to yourself to stop and at least take a look at this machine. I've tried numerous VA's, and this is the only one I trust to handle bass. Mentallo & The Fixer uses this live now for that very reason. The oscillator's do such a good job of modeling analog, that it can sound spot on, especially for low end. My friends and I call the Ion the 'Virus-Killer' because even though it only has 8-note polyphony, it can cover far more territory than the Virus can. Pads, bass, leads, it accels at it all. The only big turnoff and why so many can't get into it is that the modulation matrix really requires you to be patient and have a sound design in mind when you start out. You can't just stumble onto a good sound like you can with a Nord Lead. However, a Nord Lead doesn't have options like hard/soft sync and multiple-oscillator FM modulation!
December 24, 2008 @ 2:43 pm
Great VA synth! Just one clarification though: in the description it says it can morph a sine wave into a square, not true. It can morph from a triangle wave into a sawtooth wave, a sine into a "sine to the fifth harmonics", and a variable pulse width square wave.
Just so you know...
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Rated 3.84 (763 Votes)

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  • 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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