Synth Site: Alesis: ION: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.3 out of 5
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Synthologist a hobbyist user from USA writes:
I wrote this review elsewhere....posted it here if it can help anyone :>)

Just bought the unit about a month or so ago--Firmware v1.05. I had played the Ion at Sam Ash before and was always impressed with the patches. I've read a few other reviews where people complain that the presets are just OK, but I think that "out of the box," this VA synth is great! Of course I love tweaking, and all those knobs are a plus. This is the first synth I ever owned with this many knobs. If Alesis would have slapped some wooden end cheeks on the ION and given it a raised front panel, it could become "the poor man's Minimoog." Editing is a breeze, once you get used to the "soft buttons." There are extra parameters that the knobs can edit, which requires some manual reading and experimentation--well worth it.

The Ion allows you to play individual patches and "setups," which are combinations of patches. You can do splits and layers in setup mode, which allows for some interesting sounds, grooves, and noises. However, the manual is not clear on how to go back and forth between the two modes. I also own a Korg Triton, which has clearly marked buttons on the front panel to indicate combination and program modes. The Ion is not set up this way, and its manual is vague on how to go from setup mode back to playing basic patches.

Polyphony is only 8 voices--but for $600......let's not complain. The keyboard action is OK; the keys themselves are a bit smaller than the ones on the Triton and other workstations. I like the design of the Ion, although I wish the front panel wasn't completely flat. The Ion's effects are good, but it lacks a reverb. I will say though, that the unit sounds great with minimal effects.

This is a real synth-players synth. No piano presets here, thank goodness. It's designed to be played and tweaked--a lot.....that's why I bought it. There are some factory patches that are named after famous synth players, bands, or songs of the past (like "jump," or "car's sync," for example) that sound pretty good, but require some tweaking and effects to really nail the original sounds. The onboard effects are good, and the extensive choice of filter types, modulation routings, plus so many patches to start with is enough to keep almost anyone busy for weeks. The Ion comes with three mod wheels, which is a plus. All three wheels are large, easy to manipulate, and they light up. The synth really looks cool at night! Most patches are pre-programmed to be extensively manipulated via the wheels--a great learning tool.'s a great little synth. I would replace it if it were lost or stolen. I've been playing keys for over 20 years, and like I said before, this is the first synth I've owned with real total front panel control--none of the "digging through menus" nightmare! I wish it had a screen that would tilt, built-in reverb, more polyphony and wooden end cheeks. But once again....$600 is a great price for this much horsepower. There isn't anything on the market in this price range that even comes close. Lots of people out there are opting for the Micron, but that seems like a toy. Yes, it has the same synth engine as the Ion, but with so few knobs and that mini keyboard, you're missing out. Being able to tweak "on the fly" is something you need to experience for yourself.

It's a keeper.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Nov-16-2005 at 14:42
Michael Wheeler a hobbyist user from Washington State writes:
Is there a book called ION for dummies? Last Synth I used was 1972 and an ARP...The ION is great I just wish I knew how to use it....A good instruction manual would be great.or easy step by step guide on what all the Knobs do. I still have not figured out step by step how to set up the Microphone...ANY HELP

Rating: 1 out of 5 posted Sunday-Oct-09-2005 at 21:31
tangsonghe a part-time user from UK writes:
Had the Ion for over a year. Use it for synth backing in two space rock bands and as a lead synth for solo techno performances. It is amazing value for money, bombproof and has good synthesis options (plenty of filters, flexible mod matrix,...). I would have liked a dedicated LFO depth knob that can be toggled between LFO 1 and 2 (rather than using m1). Objectively I should say this is a damn good synth. Unfotunately - practically speaking, many sessions with hours of tweaking have yielded few patches that I want to use. I'm not sure why as the ingredients are there. Starting from scratch I just get 'synth programmer's' block with this instrument, whereas my other mainstay - a little SH32 effortlessly churns out spicy/soft/psychedelic weirdness.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Sep-29-2005 at 07:56
waki a professional user from tokyo (japan) writes:
i bought my ion 2 weeks ago(80000yen=600$) by second-hand, but i actually have thought about the possibility to buy this attractive synth, since alesis started to sell it and i touched it for the first time. i have a jp-8000 and i really love it, but ion has another world. i think the ion reminds me a german synth waldorf micro q in some way, as its rotaly knobs, 3 oscillators, 2 filers and the sound quality itself. the sound of the waldorf is more stickey and the ion is more powdery as i think. oscillators are very stable but it doesn't mean 'dead'. they sound like they are alive and when i play the ion, people always get stoned. i don't think it sounds like 'analogue' at all. i rather think the ion is a sensitive, intelligent girl wearing glasses who came from the west-coast. she is sometimes too maniac and so deep, but basically friendry to work with...

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Aug-10-2005 at 00:19
curtis electric a professional user from uk writes:
I absolutely adore this synth,great 3 oscilator analog sounding beauty that has such a massive range of filters to choose from,you get all the obs jupiters and 303 type filters.I have lots of real analogs,arp quadras,oberheim obxa and the alesis andromeda and i still keep this gem because it sounds just so good.Compared to the andromeda it does not cut it but the ion will keep anyone happy who wants great analog sounding synth bass and leads as well as slowly evolving atmospheres thanks to its mod matrix. This synth is very easy to program and use and I love it,its a keeper.Trust me no one loves analog synths more than me and when i heard about this little ion upstart i wanted it to sound cheap and none analog but i had to admit it is good,too dammed good.Alesis really did do an amazing job on this synth.Get one if ou like analog synths because you will be impressed with the ion.a million out of 5,i sometimes prefer its sound to my other analogs but it was the reason i bought an andromeda,i thought if this ion sounds this good what does the andromeda sound like.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Jun-19-2005 at 18:18
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