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
September 8, 2009 @ 5:01 am
I have to agree with Benny. I've owned mine a couple of years, treated it with kid gloves and it's still developed a strange fault. Mine will stop making any kind of sound for no reason when you're playing it, requiring you to switch it on and off. The keyboard action is terrible. It's alright for some sounds but overall it's very tinny and plasticy - through a 10kW PA, never mind a 15w guitar amp!

I do quite like it and it can be interesting at times but overall if you had the choice between buying this and something like an old Roland JX-8P or Juno 6, you'd be a lunatic to go for the Ion. I even prefer my Xiosynth to it. That being said, it blows the MicroKorg out of the water.
September 7, 2009 @ 5:27 pm
On paper the Ion has a lot going for it. Plus, it looks absolutely superb if you ask me. Still, I ended up getting rid of it. In reality the Ion comes across as a mixed bag. Yes, the sound does have a certain “roundness” to it, which in some ways make it seem less digital than it is. However, I also found it a bit hollow and “brittle” (except for bass sounds, which I think it does very well). Things aren't exactly helped by the awful keybed, which is flimsy almost beyond belief. The weighted pots - on the other hand - are very tactile, yet you get the feeling the internals are built down to a price. For instance, plugging in and removing cords from the output sockets you get a horrible feeling it will break inside. And sure enough, my Ion eventually developed a permanent distortion in one of the output channels, despite careful usage. My Ion has now given way to a Yamaha AN1x, which has none of the Ion's sex appeal but on the other hand sounds and plays absolutely fantastic!
September 6, 2009 @ 8:44 am
You do know most stores which sells instruments also sell second hand/used stuff as well? You stumble upon these quite frequently, and you do get to borrow a pair of monitor headphones while testing the synths, I've read about this synth, I know its specifications, the question is however, does the specs mean anything? Perhaps I was a bit harsh judging this board since I haven't spent all that much time with it in general. I think it has a very characteristic sound, I've been having a hard time getting sounds out of it that tickles my fancy, it's a great VA specification-wise but like I've said many times now, it's sound does not appeal to my taste or my style of music, why is it such a taboo thing for me to have that opinion? You dig your Ions and that is very good for you, but for me, I can think of a quite a few synths I'd rather spend time and money on.
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!
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • 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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