Alesis Ion -the love that dare not speak its name ;) ?

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Track2
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Alesis Ion -the love that dare not speak its name ;) ?

Post by Track2 » Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:26 pm

Hi all,

I've been out of the synth world for 3-4 years.

The Ion appears to be available again and I recall that it got some pretty positive reviews for its sound when it was released back in 2003.

I've always rather hankered after one after hearing Craig Anderton demo it at a show around that time but didnt have the cash and then they disapeared off the shelves, so I'm thinking I'll get myself one now that its back (and cheaper than when first launched).

Based on how it sounded and the early reviews, I was really surprised to see that it gets a fairly negative response here.

I'm not worried about the presets being less than wonderfull (I'll be programing from init mostly) or the crappy keyboard- (I'll be triggering it) or the lack of effects.

But is the sound engine really that bad??

I just want an affordable, authentic sounding (as far as possible) VA for analogesq noodling and I find my SNII a little digital sounding ( I love it, but not as a VA as such).

I'm gonna get the Ion anyway given its price, just to sate a bit of 4 year old gear lust- so I'm not seeking "should I/shouldnt I advice". I'm just really interested in people opinions given how much I liked the sound of this synth originally and the great reviews it got versus what appears to be a strong body of opinion here that is negative about the machines sound.

What gives? Has the bar been raised since 2003? If so by what? Or is it just that many of you have the real thing and no VA can adaquatly compare?

Many thanks

T2
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Post by Bob-omb » Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:24 pm

Personally I think that the Alesis Ion has got far too klicky envelopes, stiff keyboard, worthless arpeggiator and a horrible look. The effects on it are not very useful either.
I've always liked the Micron better even though it's a bastard to edit sometimes. Better keyboard, better effects and a step sequencer really makes it more fun than it's bigger brother. The horrible looks and klicky envelopes are still there though.

If I was going to buy a new VA. I would check out Creamware's Minimax, Pro-12 and Prodyssey. They sound more analog to me than Alesis stuff. They don't have the klicky envelopes and looks better.

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Post by Yoozer » Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:16 pm

Bob-omb wrote:Personally I think that the Alesis Ion has got far too klicky envelopes
From 0 to 120 db in less than a millisecond. Solution: set it a little higher and use the onboard compressor.
, stiff keyboard, worthless arpeggiator and a horrible look. The effects on it are not very useful either.

- I find that its keys are so short a worse offense
- most certainly yes
- no, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
- there's no effects at all on a Nord Lead and external ones are almost always better anyway.
If I was going to buy a new VA. I would check out Creamware's Minimax, Pro-12 and Prodyssey. They sound more analog to me than Alesis stuff. They don't have the klicky envelopes and looks better.
Yeah, but they're one-trick ponies (okay, I'll make an exception for the Proddy) while the Ion's more versatile. I've had the Pro-12 - very nice machine with quite a large and present sound IMHO, and nice hardware too - but I had to get rid of it.
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Post by Panurge8 » Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:55 pm

I think that the sound quality on the ion is unmatched in the VA world, but in terms of character, it is somewhat lacking compared to other VAs. VAs can be looked down upon because they are generally less versatile than real analog synths. The ion, on the other hand, is more versatile than many real analogs (which is not necessarily a good thing). The ion is unlike any other VA, for better or for worse.

Personally, I think that the ion is worth having just for the sound, which is marvelous. The comb filters, 8-pole lowpass filters, and octave spaced bandpass filters are all very unique and nice sounding.
Do the funky Alphonzo.

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Post by machvingtsun » Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:42 pm

The Ion does Virtual analogue synthesis better than anything else. No other VA has the depth of the Ion. Its sounds have a depth of character not present or achievable in the competition.

I think a synths immediate character is defined by its limitations, the ion has few limitations so a less obvious character. To me its like the love child of a Prophet and a Jupiter.

Effects and synthesis are differtent things and should rightly be seperated if a synths structure is intended to be any less complex than a V-synth.

I step sequence and arpeggiate from a Monomachine so I dont really care about keyboard feel or the onboard arp.

I do like the way it looks kinda intimidating and weapon like.
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Post by Ryan » Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:10 am

ION is a very versatile synth. If you search the forum you will see many threads discussing (and arguing) its ins and outs.
A few high profile artists using the synthesizer must say something for it.
There are those who hate it and those who love it.
I am the latter. Contrary to what many say I find the filters to be as excellent as they are varied. Are there any other synthesizers with 19 filter variations? I think not.

Edit to fix moronic grammar mistake.
Last edited by Ryan on Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by killedaway » Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:39 am

this is probably the 90th time i've typed this, but i love the Ion. i'm not a player, so the keybed feels just fine to me. i love the massive amount of storage for patches, the large variety of vastly different filters (1 or 2 per patch, aww yeah), and the overall look/sound/feel.

people always say it's "thin"-sounding. it's not. however, i do agree with folks who say it often sounds glassy, but i like that ability. i use it mostly for pads and leads, but i've got a few favorite bass patches on it as well.
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Post by OriginalJambo » Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:42 am

I liked the build quality, knobs, interface, flexiblity and look.

I didn't bond with the sound so much, hated the key action and the effects were lousy.

All in all I don't regret selling mine - it's a good synth and I loved the bass and lead sounds, but I found it lacking for pads and strings. It has this sort of muddy quality to it and even with the filter fully open it doesn't cut through like other VAs.

In the mean time I've played a Novation X-Station and microKORG, both of which I prefer the sound of even if they are less analogue sounding.

Try one in person if you can - your ears will give you what our words can't.

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Post by Bitexion » Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:30 am

I don't care about the effects, I have outboard reverbs, delay, distortion etc anyways. Which I think most studios and amateur musicians have.

But some of the overdrives are actually really nice to add some grit to a sound. I almost always use tube overdrive. And the analog drift parameter is great, I always add 10-15% drift in my own patches.
It has a couple of really good phaser effects too.
I love the Ion because it was my first ever subtractive synth, and I learned everything on it. The sound is not as heavy as pure analogs, but still plenty fat, and with some EQ boosting the bass area and treble, it shines in a totally new way. Can't compare it to the Andromeda for instance, totally different ballparks soundwise.

I felt like I heard a different synth when I EQ'd it through my new mixing desk. It hasn't been used too often lately since I got several real analogs/vintage synths lately..but it's modular nature is awesome. The mod matrix is so easily accessible, and totally easy to use and see all the mod routings on a single page, unlike the Andromeda, where you have to click the ins/outs all over the synth to see the mod routings.

The sound engine is still the most "analogue" sounding VA engine.
The keys feel really weird but you get used to it, it's very easy to play very fast leads on that keyboard.

Plus, it won me some huge Alesis monitors in a sound design competition a couple years ago. The monitors themselves cost more than I paid for the actual synth :P

I'd advise you to get it immediately, it will satisfy all your analog sound needs I think. Hardly any VA's have 3 oscillators, 3 LFO's (that go up to 1KHz), 2 separate filters (with 16 models to choose from on each), 3 EG's.
It was my dream synth when I bought it back in 2002. Still is bloody good.

The micron is okay I guess, but so damn small, and you lose the immediacy of having a knob for everything. Sure you get a reverb effect with that, but don't you already have an external FX unit with way better verbs than a cheap built-in alesis effect anyways?

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Post by Panurge8 » Wed Aug 29, 2007 2:35 am

Bitexion wrote:...don't you already have an external FX unit with way better verbs than a cheap built-in alesis effect anyways?
Not only that, but there are effects hidden in the filter section; a comb filter produces a flange effect. The "Phase Warp" filter is obviously a phase effect. Also, the arp lowpass has a natural overdrive sound.
OriginalJambo wrote:In the mean time I've played a Novation X-Station and microKORG, both of which I prefer the sound of even if they are less analogue sounding.
Although I like the ion's sound better than both of the other synths you mentioned, I can see your point. People should remember that "analog(ue)" and "better" aren't synonymous.
Do the funky Alphonzo.

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Post by MPS » Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:27 am

The Ion is awesome. It kicks a*s on VA synths that cost 3-4 times as much. Go try one some place and decide for yourself.
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Post by Big Gnome » Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:15 am

I love my Ion, and I think it sounds lovely. Some people really despise the thing, which confounds me, but they're welcome to their opinions.

I have no problem with the keyboard, apart from the lack of aftertouch, but the two mod wheels and release velocity make up for that as far as I'm concerned.
The effects get a lot of flak around here. I think they sound nice enough, but they're all much too shallow to be of much use, and it annoys me that the delay only goes 80ms. I don't see it as that big a deal though--no one complains of the lack of effects on Minimoogs, Prophets, Jupiters, or, to be a bit more fair, Nords. And so forth. I for one prefer to deal with that in mixing.
I have no comment on the arpeggiator; I don't have any quarrel with it, but I almost never use it.

The filters and modulation routings are nothing short of magnificent; it's an extremely flexible instrument. I've had mine for about a year and a half and once in while I still find things that completely take me by surprise. I still haven't gotten into looping-envelopes-as-LFO's yet...
Last edited by Big Gnome on Sat Sep 01, 2007 3:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Carey M » Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:29 am

Bitexion wrote:The sound engine is still the most "analogue" sounding VA engine.
Even compared to the Minimax?

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Re: Alesis Ion -the love that dare not speak its name ;) ?

Post by crystalmsc » Wed Aug 29, 2007 10:13 am

Track2 wrote:But is the sound engine really that bad??
no, not at all. the sound engine sounds great and analogish. way more analog compared to most VA. may not be as accurate as some dedicated vintage VA, but still one of the most analog sounding VA.
Track2 wrote:I just want an affordable, authentic sounding (as far as possible)
ION shines in the filters, specially for the many filter type emulation and other flexible features. If you get it for that, for the price I think you won't be dissapointed. but if you want a more specific analog emulation synth, look at the Creamware ASB line or better more get an affordable real analog synth. from your great equipment list, a great mono VCO (or even DCO) synth with real VCF would add more character rather than another vintage sounding VA.
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Post by Track2 » Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:17 pm

Thanks for your posts on what I appreciate was a much discussed topic in the past.

I'm getting it tomorrow and can't wait!
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