Synth Site: Alesis: ION: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
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Phil Magnotta a professional user from USA writes:
Although I only had the ION for 3 days, I spent an average of 10 to 12 hours per day giving the ION an in-depth review. The factory presets do not due justice to the ION's sound quality potentential. This synth is unusual regarding factory presets because, unlike other manufacturers, the presets are conservative regarding VOLUME or LEVELS, meaning, they are not clipping within the synth or other devices down the chain. If you understand synth programming- digital or analog- you will be able to obtain very good results. From a sonic quality perspective, it is an excellent machine. Effects, however, are medium quality, and the lack of a good delay and the complete absence of reverb will require external devices for these applications. Programming will not be difficult even for beginners, but of course, immagination is the key for effective use of any synth. Sonic features that are noteworthy are: Good raw waveforms and filters. These are the minimum requirements for a good sounding synth. Even though the ION has only one Amp Envelope for the oscillators and one Filter Envelope, they are unusual in that they have Envelope times of about 30 seconds for each stage! There are two sets of filters which can be run in parallel or series with balance controls for each (all three) oscillators as well as balance for the noise generator and whatever may be plugged into the rear panel inputs. Balance refers to the balance between Filters 1 and 2. Although the ION has just one envelope for the above mentioned OSCs and Filters, the fact is that this machine is 4 part multi-timbrel, so you really can have 12 Oscillators connected to 6 Filters and 6 Envelope Generators, as one sound, if you switch all the midi channels in all four parts to the same channel. Now for the negative report: The ION has high resolution rotory endless encoders that give a nice smoothe feel-no zippering, but Alesis has had some issues with knob jitter which causes the program screen to jump to different functions in different screens. This has been resolved in the latest software. However, there are times that the rotory encoders fail to move the screen parameters or exhibit sluggish responce. I placed several calls to Alesis tech support and was connected immediately. Their support staff is polite and informative. Alesis claims that the issues with the encoders have been resolved. For an under $800 dollar retail VA synth, I recommend the ION as an affordable and sonically musical instrument. According to Alesis, the ION has been stable from builds starting from about January of 04.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Mar-11-2004 at 13:59
macshit a hobbyist user from Japan writes:
And it certainly hasn't been discontinued.

The Ion sounds incredible (by far the most "analogue" sounding of current hardware VA synths) and is a hugely flexible synth, with 3 oscs, 2 filters (with over 20 filter types -- all of which sound excellent, some of of the best VA filters there are), a big mod-matrix, etc. [So yeah, though you probably already guessed as much, the "for dance music only" line is crap.]

It also looks wonderful, has a great UI, is cheaply priced, and solidly built. How could you _not_ buy one?

[Well, there are downsides: polyphony is only 8 voices (though because it sounds so rich and thick, you don't need to layer or use unison as you might with a thinner synth), limited EFX section, and a bit heavy for its size.]

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Mar-08-2004 at 15:30
JOHN R. BURKETT a hobbyist user from USA writes:
I'M NOT REALLY KNOWLEDGEBLE ABOUT SYNTHS BUT REMEMBER AN OLD KORG OR MOOG THAT WAS IN THE STUDIO MANY YEARS AGO AND NOBODY REALLY KNEW HOW TO PROGRAM IT, BUT IT WAS ALOT OF FUN TO PLAY WITH AND NOW WITH THE ALESIS AND A BASIC UNDER STANDING OF FREQUENCY WAVES THIS UNIT (ION) IS ONCE AGAIN ALOT OF FUN. THIS IS THE SECOND UNIT I'VE HAD, ALESIS SENT OUT A NEW(?) ONE AFTER I DISCOVERED MANY HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE PROBLEMS WITH MY ORIGINAL. THE NEW ONE HAS THE SOFTWARE 1.05 UPDATE AND SEEMS TO WORK PROPERLY MOST OF THE TIME. I STILL HAVE AUDIO FLUXUATIONS THAT I CAN'T EXPLAIN AND SEEM TO "CORRECT" THEMSELVES WITHOUT REBOOT BUT IT IS A DRAWBACK. I ALSO HAVE MANY PRESET TITLES THAT ARE LABLED AS CONTROL FUNCTIONS RATHER THAN SOUND TITLES HOWEVER THE SOUNDS ARE PRESENT. NO HELP FROM ALESIS ON THAT PROBLEM AS IT IS PROBABLY A SOFTWARE BUG TOO. I ALWAYS TRY TO THINK "IF SOMEONE JUST GAVE THIS TO ME, WOULD I THINK IT'S GREAT". PEOPLE PAYING SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR EQUIPMENT SEEM TO ALWAYS SAY IT'S A GREAT WHATEVER. SO YEAH, IT'S A NICE, WELL LAID OUT, USER FRIENDLY, POWERFUL MODELING SYNTH. I'VE ALSO NOTICED THAT SOME OF THE SOUNDS ARE RATHER SOFT WHEN TRIGGERED FROM ANOTHER KEYBOARD VIA MIDI. ANY HELP ON THAT FROM ANYONE? ALSO HELP ON EXTERNAL INPUT SOURCES, DOES/ DON'TS, WHAT WORKS ETC. WISH IT HAD PROGRAMMABLE ARPS,AND SOME PROGRAMMABLE DRUM PATTERNS, STILL A VERY GOOD VALUE FOR THE DOLLARS SPENT. I'M SURE THAT I WILL BE VERY BUSY LEARNING THE TRUE POWER OF THIS SYNTH. 04/05/2004 JRB

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Friday-Mar-05-2004 at 02:46
Samson from Liverpool (England) writes:
First of all, what a beautiful synth this is! And What a bargain price it is too! Bought mine for 500 pounds just bought one a week ago.

I've done the usual preset bashing and was delighted with the sounds. It reminds me of the Access Virus B which i have. However it is a but lacking in the lead department - its not really phatty -were talking margerine not lard! Don't get me wrong there are plenty of lead sounds that would grace ANY trance track but you'll have to use unison mode to really up the cholesterol levels and with 8 note polyphony you have to be wary.

I havn't really synthesised with this synth but i realise that this synth has depth with SO MANY filters, modulation capabilities and wave shaping parameters! Graphic display does wonders for scrolling thru and adjustine parameters. Better than the Novation supernova 2 x 20 LCD screen. In short this is a true synth for programming.

The effects are bit lackluster but hey its better than those synths with patches that have to much make up on! The presets are naturally beautiful with a splash of internal distotion, flanger or even compression! All presets sound the same in multi mode with their 1 effect and a master effect. I wish this synth had internal reverb and delay though. No probs though just assign outputs 1 and 2 to heavy delay/reverb for leads and Pads and then 3 and 4 to light reverb/delay for bass sounds. SORTED! Oh yes it has 4 outputs thanKS aLESIS! Can you belive the Z1 has only 2 outputs?!!

Seriously though if your looking to add over 500 new shining sounds and dynamic glossy presets then don't hesistate. Its not dirty like the Waldorfs, its not as rounded as the Novations, not as immediate as EMU Xlead but when it comes to producing a vast range STELLAR sounds that call out to be riffed, arpeggiated and stabbed then it wins easily. The preset range is absluty complete. Not really lacking in any area, for once the presets sound diffewrent than other synths too!

God knows what it can do with a few months of programming - Jean michelle Jarre probably get one! Its that kind of synth.

As for piercing lead jsut change the sounds to unison 2 and detune or unsion 4 if your lazy - does the job - but it will only be able to do 2 or 3 jobs.

I love it!

Buy one and get and attach it to reverb/delay effects patches and you'll know exactly what i mean

STELLAR SOUNDS this synths definatly twinkles in my studio. Unlike a supernova this synths still shining! Don't get me wrong though as any scientist will you supernovas are explosive. The ALESIS ION is star thats just begun.

N.B I have not made reference to any synths i don't have.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Saturday-Feb-07-2004 at 20:45
Square Root a hobbyist user from USA writes:
Picked up the ION about a month ago and I just updated the software to V1.03. Lets start with the manual. I think it's very well written in that not only does it explain what each section of the synth does, it explains how each part affects the sound during its production. I believe this is a great manual for sound synthesis in general especially for the beginner. I also own a Novation K Station, Yamaha AN200 and FL Studio Pro with multiple plugins and the manuals are not nearly as good. Moving on to construction...Built like a tank. All metal with great knobs. I like the feel and I realy like that you don't get that "jump" you get on other VA synths when you twist them. I wish the display were tilted a little more so I wouldn't have to look directly over it. No big deal though. The display set up is easy to navigate through with no noticable glitches. On my Ion, there is a "double stamp" in the printing near the effects knob. Instead of it reading "edit" and "mod", it reads "eeddiitt" and "moodd". Again, no big deal. It reminds me of those double stamped coins that the US Mint occasionaly stamps out. I wonder if that will make this synth rare! I would like to put some custom cherry side panels on her though.... K...enough on that. On to the sound. I think it simply sounds great! I'm no authority on VA/ analog synthesis so I will not compare its' sounds to other synths, nor will I compare it to a true analog synth. I think that all synths sound unique in their own way. Thats why we buy lots of different types! I will say that this machine is very inspiring though. I love those "setups". I can't wait to get in depth with them. I've read a lot of gripes with the arp in other reviews. Me thinks it's o.k. I guess there are more flexible arps on other synths, but this ones fine. The mod matrix is something kind of new to me, but it's a great feature on this synth, and it's easy to use making this beast of a synth super flexible. I'm looking forward to more banks and updates to download from Alesis. This machines only going to get better with time. I guess thats it for now. I'm giving it a 4 for construction because of the display and the double printing. Everything else is a 5! Im picking up a Tascam US-122 MIDI/audio interface so I can record into FL Studio. I see myself getting very little sleep....Nice job Alesis. I would highly recommend updating the software once you pick one of these sound twisters up. The update takes care of a lot of bugs and quirks. There's a description of these on Alesis' website.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Jan-31-2004 at 22:14
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