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
September 1, 2009 @ 9:32 am
Benny: It has been out of production for a couple of years now. You won't "stumble upon it in stores" these days.
Furthermore, at least read about the synth before making judgements about a product you do not own. There are impressively many ways to make this synth sound "analogue" if that's what you want and it most definitely does NOT sound dull. Of course it might sound "Dull" or "digital" if you're using playing it through some canny computer-speakers or a 15 watt guitar-amp, like most people who end up not liking the sound of it would do..
I have this synth and it honestly blows me away. Only thing I dislike about it is the arpeggiator, but who really gives a ** about that? it sounds extremely fat and is the most tweakable synth on the market, in it's pricerange.
August 19, 2009 @ 11:17 pm
I've been working with synths, both hardware and software, analogue and digital, for a couple of years, and I'd like to think that I know a thing or two about it.. The problem I have with this is not that I don't think it sounds proper analog, too digital or whatever. In fact, I don't really give a damn about what kind of synthesis a certain synth utilises, analogue, digital, virtual analog, wavetable, who cares, in the end, its the sound of it that matters, and the sound of this thing just won't do the trick for me, call me unknowledgable if you like, but remember that people have different taste and needs, to me, this sounds dull, to you, it's great!
August 18, 2009 @ 9:14 pm
Anyone even remotely disparaging this wonderful VA synth, surely knows nothing about real analog synths nor VA's...
The ION, quite frankly--is the most convincing analog emulating synth ever made!'s more convincing than the Nords, Viruses, and Waldorfs.
It's price point makes it even more should cost 2 1/2 times what it does..easily.
I cannot believe some of the negative reviews i've read regarding this synth, saying it sounds "lifeless", "digital", or "dull"--NONE of these assessments are true, and just lets me know how unknowledgable some people are regarding analog/VA synths.
I own a prophet-5, and I can tell you that the ION sounds nearly as analog..on any given day.
Factor in all those filter models, dual mod wheels, and 3 oscillators, and you have got a sure-fire winner of a synth.
August 15, 2009 @ 9:53 pm
I want to like this synth, I really do. It has a very sleek futuristic look and a nice editing interface, but it just doesn't sound good to me, everytime I stumble upon one in a music store I always give it another go, hoping I will find something likeable in its sound, but I just can't, I may not be the best of synthesists but on any other synth I've played, I've always managed to find something to enjoy in the sound, I hate to say it, but this is probably the dullest sounding synth I've ever come across, lightyears away from Alesis incredible Andromeda.
A. Hubert
July 26, 2009 @ 12:39 am
Frankencont doesn't know what he's talking about. This synth is the CLOSEST you'll ever get to real analog sound, period! I should know, I've owned a Prophet 5, a Korg Mono/Poly, a Moog Voyager Old School, and have compared it side-by-side with those. It is a superb analog emulating synthesizer. Lots of different filter types, lots of modulation possibilities, graphical display, smooth knobs with lots of resolution. It packs a lot of punch for not a lot of money. Nord Lead and Virus are overpriced, cold, lifeless digital machines. The Korg MS2000 is not bad (I've owned one at one point), but suffered from aliasing artifact.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.87 (813 Votes)

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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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