Synth Site: alesis: Andromeda (A6): User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.5 out of 5
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Vance Cronin a professional user from Grenchen, Switzerland writes:
The finest analogue polysynth of all time by a considerable margin. It has the power of the biggest Moog modular, but with 16 note poly. The interface is wonderful, as is the look. It's not for the faint hearted, though. This is one complex baby! Great graphic representation of envelope shapes etc on the display. It is also surprisingly portable. Ultra-modern and reliable. Quite well made. It looks great lit up in the dark. Wonderful filtering. Just endless, amazing possibilities. The number 1 classic of the future. I also had trouble buying one and bought second hand. You cannot buy one for 1800euros. Believe me, I tried!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-May-19-2006 at 03:22
Wasubot a hobbyist user writes:
I have owned the Andromeda for about 6 months and i can only echo pretty much all Les says in his review. It is arguably the best polyphonic analog synth ever, certainly the best one i have used and i have owned many synths.

Sure it is not perfect but there is nothing that comes close. It manages its own sound and manages to cover many teritories of other classic synths if you make creative use of filter setups. Moog/obie and even rolandish tones aka jp8.

Soft/hard sync, obie filters, moog modular filters, ring mod, 32 analog oscilators, amazing ribbon controller. There is nothing else that comes close and there are just some highlights.

Be prepared to spend some time getting to know this as this much power doesnt come with complexity to program. Its not hard to program but there is just so much to understand first which will take a lot of time and the designers for the software were not from this planet.

Not for a beginner!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-May-08-2006 at 05:52
shadowbunny a professional user from USA writes:
I honestly had no issues with this synth being "buggy" other than the typical things an analog synth would do, especially this one considering how in-depth and complicated it is. People griped about there being a bug or "bad chips" that caused them to go out of tune, well HELLOOOO it's an analog synth, THEY GO OUT OF TUNE, and that's what the AUTO TUNE function is for, which always worked for me. Mine was very sensitive to temperature and being moved, so whenever the weather would change or when I played a live show, I always had to tune it. Also, a lot of problems with the A6 are addressed in the troubleshooting section in the back on the manual and are solved with just a few simple button pressings. I think most the people complaining here either bought a damaged one from a scammer, or they are too lazy and/or stupid to just R.T.F.M. - This is an AWESOME work of art. I used mine for over a year and a half before I finally sold it for reasons unrelated to it's quality. The only complaint I have is that the drum sounds are kind of crappy -they sound like something off of a Casio, and you'd probably expect something a lot better from such an expensive synth.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Apr-12-2006 at 12:49
Vegas a professional user from US writes:
I tried to get one of these off the web. As some guy said on an earier page..you answer one of these cheap ads only to get spammed about them getting a new stock in. You wait a while, email them again only to get the same email as before and MORE spam. I really don't want a Triton or a Fantom! I bought a used example. It's a real deal going and does really exist. That's really important when buying a synth**** Now..the Andromeda is the best analogue synth ever...that is beyond dispute regardless of what the non-owning naysayers try to tell you. The bugs will not worry 99% of users. The filters sound what they are which is analogue. I've compared it to my Z1 and JV2080...They sound different. Not analogue. It looks and sounds great. It always powers up. It makes your other stuff look crap. I don't believe that Alesis are making them any more. There are many web-based myths about problems. They are just myths. Ignore them. There are probably more postings on this page than real owners. That green-eyed-monster!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Apr-11-2006 at 09:29
Les Lawrenson a part-time user from Poole, Dorset (UK) writes:
I bought my A6 second hand for £870 a month ago (in the UK you can buy them at Digital Village for £1,499, at my time of writing this), and since my model is mint, I consider that a great bargain.

I did a lot of research before buying, including reading most of the reviews on this site. Although I am a "part time" user, I have been playing and recording with Synths for over 20 years now, and have (what I believe to be) a good knowledge of programming and midi implementation. I currently own the following gear: Virus C, Supernova, JP8000, Korg Z1, Yamaha FS1R, SC 6 Track, Oberheim Matrix 1000, Triton Studio, and nearly every soft synth that has been produced over the last 6 years. The Virus C, for example, I have owned for about 3 years, and I have spent a long time programming it. The JP8000 I have had for about 6 years, and spent even longer programing it. The point I am trying to make is, that I KNOW VA SYNTHS! So, how does the A6 compare?

I'll own up, that I've had it for only 4 and bit weeks, although I have been programming it solidly from the very moment I got it into my studio. I purchased a 2MB pcmcia card almost immediately, on which I can now store 6 extra banks of patches(there are 128 patches spaces in each bank), and when you format the card it initialises all the patches for you, ready to be programmed. In short, I have already done a lot of programming on the A6.

First off, you are reminded that this is very much an analogue synth, since you need to tune the oscillators and the filters, which takes about 5 minutes every time you switch on. From then on, the synth tunes itself, so you don't usually have to tune it (although I have had to manually retune the odd voice on a couple of occasions). By and large, it stays in tune by itself, which is fantastic in itself! I used to use a Mini Moog which never stayed in tune, especially on hot sunny days!

The A6 has 16 voices, with 2 oscillators and two filters per voice! Some people, I know, get confused over this, which explains, in very large part, their inability to understand the sheer power and beauty of the A6. Let me explain. With 16 voices, you can treat the machine as having a polyphony of 16 notes per patch (ie you use 2 osciallators and 2 filters for the playing of up to 16 notes) OR you can have up to 16 different patches (each playing monophonically, of course) layered in (what the A6 terms) a mix, and each voice having 2 oscillators and 2 filters! I haven't yet, gone to this extreme, but I have created some wicked evolving pads, by splitting the voices into groups of four patches and layering them all, with each patch having a polyphony of 4. And the great thing is, you can program each patch (or program) with its own arp and sequencer settings, each evolving over different times, for some fantastically complex sounds.

The sequencer is analogue, too, and can routed to trigger all sorts of things in the A6. I like to use the sequencer's velocity parameter to trigger the filter feedback, which creates some brilliant spikey acid pads.

I have only just managed to get my head around the routing possibilities of the A6, since they are truly awesome. In fact, I'm already going back over the early sounds that I created to route in some of the little tricks that I've learned along the way.

What about the sound. Don't ignore the presets, as most people seem to advise (and I think they are just repeating what they've read elsewhere), but use them to find out what you can do with the routing possibilities. Eg. Call up a preset, then run your finger along the ribbon controller and find out what it does, and if you like it, go into the mod matrix to find out what the programmer did to get that sound, then apply it to your own stuff. It's far better than trawling through the manual. The basic sounds (and that is what the A6 produces from its oscillators, square, saw, triangle and sine waves) are what they are, and are the same as you will find on every other analogue synth. When you'e heard one saw wave, you've heard them all. The machine has digital control of the oscillators, eg the pulse width modulation on the square wave, but what you hear is true unadulterated analogue. As with any synth, its the filters that lend the character, and define what people perceive as its warmth.

The A6 has two filters per voice, a 12db and a 24db, which can be used singly, in parallel or in series. By default, both filters are routed to the same envelop generator (EG), but you can route either or both filters elsewhere.

I had read somewhere that the filters sound harsh and more digital than analogue, and that it takes some hard work to coax any warmth out them. When I first got the A6, this was true. The machine does not make it obvious where the settings are to get that phat warmth. But after about 10 days experimentation, I got what I was after, and I can make the synth sound as phat and as warm as any analogue you might care to pit against it. The secrets (and I'm sure there are others waiting for me to discover) lie all over the place, such as the sound generation engine, which you can tweak to suit the sound you are after. You have to consider very carefully the type of line or curve that you want to use on each stage of your EG, etc. I have learned that you need to be very subtle when making settings to any parameter, since the A6 is hyper sensitive to even the slightest change, and I strongly believe that those who have critised this machine (a) do not know how to program a synth, or (b) have been programming on old analogues on which you need to twist knobs of push sliders to the extreme limits to get any noticable change in the sound dynamics. Do that with the A6, and you end up with a chaotic mess, but treat it with respect and gentleness, and you get everything that you want (a bit like treating a lady - her name is Andromeda, after all!).

I could go on and on about this (please contact me, if you want any further information, or to chat about this machine - my email is leslawrenson@btinternet.com - and I would be glad to hear from you). The detractors of this synth are mindless idiots, who have probably never owned one or, if they have played on it, have no idea how to program. This is not a toy, and it's not like the JP8000 which (due to its, by comparison, extremely limited programability) can be programmed by a beginner very easily and with a far heavier touch. The A6 is a true pro synth, and it requires a very deep understanding of sound sythesis, as well as creative musical flair, to get the best from it. But the sounds it produces when you do get it right are truly beautiful, full of resonance, bite and analogue phatness! I've produced two tracks already, using mainly sounds from the A6, and the comparison between those sounds in the mix to my VA sounds is incredible, with the A6 sitting far more comfortably in the mix and oozing sheer quality and charm.

As regards bugs (one chaps on this site wrote tons of stuff about this subject), all I can say is that, so far, I have not encountered a problem and certainly nothing that has intruded upon my programming. My A6 has software version 1.40.12.

If I had to get rid of every synth but one, I'd keep the A6. I still have so much to learn about this synth, and I love every minute I get to spend with it. There are those on this site that have clearly got to grips with the A6, since what they say makes perfect sense to me. Those that have simply come on to the site to slag the A6 off have a different agenda, and are no friends of music.

I hope those of you that take the time to read this find it useful.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Apr-10-2006 at 04:35
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