Synth Site: Alesis: ION: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
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spinalzap a part-time user from Canada writes:
I purchased my Ion about six months ago for $CAD 550. I researched it thoroughly and felt that it was the way for me to go, as my background is primarily on older analog units (ARP,Roland and Yamaha) and that is the sound I wanted for my projects.

Twice in the last six months I put this unit up for sale, as I was frustrated at the manual's instructions. (The Roland XV manuals may be the only user manuals that are worse than the Alesis publication.) Through the help of a Yahoo Ion users' group, and a little tinkering on the unit, I withdrew my ad both times. Interestingly, one of the prospective buyers was the same chap I bought the Ion from. He missed it, and I understood.

Anyway, complaints about the Ion's factory patch selection are worthless. When the project teamdeveloped the instrument, it would be fair to assume that the focus was on engineering; the on-board patch selection was an afterthought to simply demonstrate the 'board's many functions and give the new owners a "jumping-off" point. After all, the Ion is designed to be used as a performance instrument. That's what all the knobs and switches are for! As an example, the "Lucky Man" patch is nice, but needs a little tweaking on the portamento and filter to sound right. So, if you don't like the presets, just assign the default patch to all program locations and start from there!

What I am saying is, do not get hung up on the presets of any instrument. They are for demonstration purposes and seldom reflect the full properties of the 'board.

As I said, I learned on older synthesizers. I am satisfied that on a blind A/B test I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the Ion and an old Mini Moog, at least on a few patches, although I find that some of the crisper ARP sounds are harder to obtain. Maybe a Korg MS 2000 for that?

It should also be noted that the Ion is a nice fit in a full band mix; its sounds are not overpowering yet it can cut through for a solo or hide in the background.

Although it is unimportant, a few reviewers noted that the tangerine side plastic panels looked a little cheezy. While I think that the Ion has a very sexy look, I have seen examples of these panels popped off and replaced by some very nice looking polished wood end pieces. Apparently they come off easily and the added weight (Ion is not light) and scratching is welcome.

If you want Moog, ARP, Prophet, early Roland and Yamaha sounds, you will not be disappointed with the Ion. Oh yeah, if you want FM synthesis and a vocorder, it's there too! Oh, yeah...external signal processing!

My head aches; there is too much going on in the Ion.

If you find one for six bills or less, I advise that you should jump. I suspect that these limited run instruments will appreciate. If necessary, look at the Micron and Akai Miniak. These are the Ion, stripped, yet enhanced in a few ways.


Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Feb-04-2011 at 22:48
Alan a part-time user from USA writes:
People need to lighten up on this keyboard. I own Nords (NL2x, Wave), Access (TI2keyboard), etc. The Ion will hold it's own, for a fraction of the price. It is far and away the most analog of any of the VA's. For someone looking to duplicate the old analogs, this is the cheapest, best way to do it. Yes, the keybed is a little light/flimsy...but you get used to it. This synth is a gem...the fact that it is so cheap makes it all the better. They have been out of production for awhile, but can be had for next to nothing. If you can find one in nice shape, BUY IT.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jul-14-2010 at 01:37
Freddy a part-time user from Pittsburgh, PA, USA writes:
They say things are better the second time around. Within about 36 hours, the second Ion I have ever owned will arrive on my doorstep from seller on the opposite coast. I owned another Ion about 5 years ago. I fell in love, but had to give it up later for financial reasons. I owned about 2o or so other synths since that time (I buy and sell them all the time to try them out). But this will be the first time I have actually gone back to one! There aren't too many I have considered like that. In fact I just sold a JP-8000 to buy this, a decision I made within a week of receiving it. I liked the sound but not the build or the interface. It was a great synth which finally made me realize what I was missing. The as about as close to "real" as you can get for analog recreation. It's not a dead ringer and still has some digital overtones...but it's incredibly versatile. It can go from 0 to Blitz in 5 seconds and cover a huge swatch of territory. It sounds GREAT. You want a real Jupiter or Minimoog, go out and buy one. Bugt this does a pretty good job and is more versatile than either. To add some analog fatness, my suggestion is this: Run it through some real analog equipment, a tube-amp, a tube-powered warm up the sound a tad. Maybe even an outboard filterbank...and it will become a powerful contender next to real analogs (it already is). Alesis got it so-o-o close. The polyphony of 8 doesn't bother me...I'm a player not a sequencing geak. I will use it atop a Hammond organ clone like XK1, electric piano, ROMpler...some nice down-to-earth Kurzweil, Kawai, etc. When I had Ion the first time we had a blast! I made so many cool unique sounds that became the backbone of many songs...and added the "real and authentic" sounds around it. The Ion is just so damn expressive with that extra mod wheel and so many oversized bright-tinted tweakable knobs. It becomes as expressive as an electric guitar. You can tweak and play at the same time sacrificing nothing. There aren't any bullshit limitations (like JP-8000's presets that can never be overwritten, that always come on AGAIN on powerup! AAAAAGGGGHHHH). Ion is your baby. She's loves what you do to her and leaves most of her worldly chips on the shoulder at the bedroom, er...STUDIO door. She wants to be played and tweaked and fondled and...excuse me (ahem). Ion doesn't hold out on you. She wants to see what you can bring out of her. Bear in mind that, say, a NORD is an equally unique synth...well almost. But maybe less versatile and less squishy and malleable and cooperative, like soft clay in your fingers. Nords are definately harder edged and more digital sounding. In fact, Nord and Ion would compliment each other. Ion and Waldorf could clash IMO. I had a microQ and Waldorf simply demands to be roomed with equally digital sounding synths or heavily processed guitars. Ion is a good chioce for having a "revisited" vintage sound in a band. Very much like original old school performances...but with a precise modern edge. Think how Smash Mouth re-did "Might As Well Be Walking On The Sun" in their post-modern way...and that's how Ion appraoches music. Kind of retro-modern. I love it. And now that I'm getting another Ion I will probably keep it forever. I may add Nord or even Waldorf too at some point (I already have a Virus)...but Ion is much closer to MY sound and I must have this beautiful "surrogate analog" machine. There are more impressive synths for instant gratification...but there is no substitute for an Ion. If you can get one for less than $500...DO IT. There is no better deal on the face of the planet.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jul-14-2010 at 00:34
Lungspierre a part-time user from USA writes:
This is a killer synthesizer. It is one of the classic first-wave analogs. It really is one of the best synth deals possible. I disagree with a lot of the negative assessments in these reviews. I also agree with basically every positive review. There are some legitimate gripes about limitations here and there, but you're never going to be able to sort fact from fiction on the basis of these reviews. The bottome line is that if you're into synthesis and programming and rocking the living hell out of some waveforms, this will be a synth you will love and marry and have kids with.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Wednesday-May-20-2009 at 22:21
Auris a hobbyist user from Canada writes:
The ION is a great sounding synth! I use it primarily for pads and fx. The modulation capabilities are very satisfying. Many people have called this synth the poor mans Mini Moog. I'd call it a poor mans Oberheim matrix or expander in terms of features. Layers, stacks and splits are easy to setup. I have had some issues with my ION, the volume knob was replaced and I will need to replace the cutoff pots soon. The ION has some typical Alesis engineering issues. Dealing with Alesis support is not pleasant. In fact I think Alesis has provided me with some of the worst service I have experienced with any manufacturer. In a nutshell the ION sounds great barring a few minor bugs such as the noise algorithm and no options for reseting osc phase. Build quality is not as good as I was hoping for but no major issues thus far.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Saturday-Feb-09-2008 at 09:38
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