Ditch them for an Alesis Ion?

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Yeah_Right
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Ditch them for an Alesis Ion?

Post by Yeah_Right » Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:30 am

I've given some thought to trimming the fat in my setup. To that end, I'm thinking letting my Matrix 6r, (broken) AXXE, SixTrak, Nord MicroModular and (broken) MPC go in order to fund a better all around synth. I was considering the Prophet 08, and sorta still am, but I played it for awhile and something didn't quite click. I don't know, maybe I didn't spend enough time with it. But, anyways, I've started to GAS for an Ion. I just need to know if I would miss the aforementioned synths' tone characteristics. The Matrix is pretty deep, but being as I'm more of a hands-on kinda guy, I can't be arsed to put in time programming a microwave oven, no matter how good it sounds (computer editors suck BTW). The SixTrak is pretty limited, but sounds nice and aggressive to me. And the Nord's pretty amazing, but as I'm now using OS X, it sees no use. So my questions are:

- would I miss the aforementioned synths soundwise?
- Ion vs P08. Besides price, is it even a contest?

Thanks for your time!
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Post by Box » Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:08 am

I haven't had the opportunity to play the other synths you've listed, but I do have the honour of owning an Alesis Ion. It's a great keyboard; absolutely love it. Not sure if my comment will help you any in that it's only one side of the story per se. But with my past few months with the Ion I've came to greatly appreciate it; it was also my first synth. The sounds you can get from it are great, few of the presets are preety cool, but the greatest sounds are ones that you come up with as this is true with just about any synth. I've had the chance to play with an Access Virus T1 for 1-2 hours and the Ion was far easier to program and as far as I'm concerned sounded just as good if not better. Plus, the Ion has a good feel to it when you play it. It can cover many genres of music, I personally use it for classic rock (Van Halen etc...) and a little synthpop here and there. But it's a great keyboard and I'm sure you'll love it.
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Post by soundxplorer » Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:55 am

I've had an Ion for several years, and I'm about to sell it (and a desktop Evolver) in order to buy a Prophet '08. This will be the first time I've spent anywhere near $2,000 on a single synth, but the P'08 just seems like exactly what I've been waiting for.

The Ion is great though - definitely the best sounding VA you can buy, and it's cheap too. I used to have a Matrix 6R as well, and side-by-side I was able to get the Ion to sound extremely close to the Matrix. The Ion excels at Moog sounds though, even though it has other filter types. It just seems to do Moog best. The Oberheim and Roland filter emulations are good too. I also did side-by-side comparisons to my old Juno-60, and the Ion did a fair job at that (though it can't quite capture the liveliness of the Juno filter at high resonance). I can't compare the Arp emulation since I've never owned anything by them.

Sequentail/Dave Smith synths have their own unique sound, which happens to be what I prefer over others (Moog in particular). Maybe it's nostalgia. I grew up listening to early Skinny Puppy and Depeche Mode, and they both used a lot of Pro-One on their early records. I just love that sound. That's why I'm going for the P'08.

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Re: Ditch them for an Alesis Ion?

Post by Yoozer » Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:47 am

Yeah_Right wrote: And the Nord's pretty amazing, but as I'm now using OS X, it sees no use.
Uh, you're aware that there's a beta editor that works fairly well on OS X, right?
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Re: Ditch them for an Alesis Ion?

Post by crystalmsc » Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:34 am

Yoozer wrote:
Yeah_Right wrote: And the Nord's pretty amazing, but as I'm now using OS X, it sees no use.
Uh, you're aware that there's a beta editor that works fairly well on OS X, right?
yes, it can be found here along with the informations needed.
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Re: Ditch them for an Alesis Ion?

Post by crystalmsc » Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:50 am

Yeah_Right wrote:I'm thinking letting my Matrix 6r, (broken) AXXE, SixTrak, Nord MicroModular and (broken) MPC go in order to fund a better all around synth.

The Matrix is pretty deep, but being as I'm more of a hands-on kinda guy, I can't be arsed to put in time programming a microwave oven, no matter how good it sounds (computer editors suck BTW). The SixTrak is pretty limited, but sounds nice and aggressive to me.
while the ION is great, but may be you might want to hold some gears while letting go the other to fund the ION. If you really like the Matrix 6r, may be you might want to try to get a Peavey PC1600x which have several ready made templates for the Matrix6r or the Kenton Spin Doctor with a free software editor to control your other synths such the sixtrak and micromod. also keep the micromodular which have that distinct early nord character and get the OSX software. may be keep the SixTrak too. because as analogish sounding the ION is, those real deal still have something to it.
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Post by toonelind » Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:57 am

i traded my micron for 6r just a while ago and was quite happy :)

micromodular is perfectly respectable synth, i guess may be even the best in modular series.

don't go for ion, you'll be dissapointed + it's still a lot of menue diving. if you definitely need something new and hands on, at least wait until nord wave is out. it should be shipping in november.

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Post by miket156 » Wed Sep 19, 2007 5:56 pm

I've owned an ION for about 3 years, and I have a Prophet 5 I bought new in 1981. The Prophet 5 may not be a fair comparison to the Prophet '08, because the '08 has analog step sequencers, AND Arps which the Prophet 5 does not have. The P5 has Poly MOD, which the '08 doesn't have, so there are differences. For sound, I think the P'08 will be better for more "organic" tone, as analog always is more so than any VA, but the most important thing to me is the P5's filter, it trumps ANY of the filters or combination of filters the ION has. But you're dealing with two completely different price ranged instruments. An ION sells for 599.00, the P'08 2k, almost four times the price. One advantage the ION has is that you can have up to four separate patches in one "setup" and switch them on/off as a song requires with the touch of one button. The P'08 has a program and one variation of that program with the touch of one button, so it does have some live capability too. The Prophet MAY have "one knob per function" more than the ION, but I'm not sure because I haven't seen the P'08 yet, in person. I will say that my P5 has a fatter sound than the ION, but the ION does have a lot of real time controls and sounds great for my live show where its versatility comes into play. Excellent user interface, and a great value.

You might want to spend a little more time with the P'08 OR have someone that is familiar with it give it a go when you are in the music store. The P'08 is more of a life long investment, but you have to be sure you want it before you dish out the $$$. Also, you can't beat Dave Smith's customer service after the sale, AND his gear lasts for decades!


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Post by Filterthing » Thu Sep 20, 2007 4:39 am

toonelind wrote:i traded my micron for 6r just a while ago and was quite happy :)

micromodular is perfectly respectable synth, i guess may be even the best in modular series.

don't go for ion, you'll be dissapointed + it's still a lot of menue diving. if you definitely need something new and hands on, at least wait until nord wave is out. it should be shipping in november.
Menu diving on the ion? Everything you need comes up when you touch a knob. Then there are arrows that point L or R to get into other parameters. I think any less menus and you would be looking at a upright piano. You sure you are not talking about the micron?

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Post by ficusrock » Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:34 am

Filterthing wrote:
toonelind wrote:i traded my micron for 6r just a while ago and was quite happy :)

micromodular is perfectly respectable synth, i guess may be even the best in modular series.

don't go for ion, you'll be dissapointed + it's still a lot of menue diving. if you definitely need something new and hands on, at least wait until nord wave is out. it should be shipping in november.
Menu diving on the ion? Everything you need comes up when you touch a knob. Then there are arrows that point L or R to get into other parameters. I think any less menus and you would be looking at a upright piano. You sure you are not talking about the micron?
I actually agree that there is still a bit of menu diving to deal with on the Ion.

I recently consolidated my setup by programming all of my patches into the Ion, and am looking forward to only having one synth at my next show Friday. I don't know anything about the other synthesizers in question, but I look forward to trying out a Nord Wave or even an Nord Lead 3 to replace my Ion - it just doesn't give me the instant satisfaction of other "hands on" synths.

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Post by Entropy Farmer » Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:26 am

Filterthing wrote:
toonelind wrote:i traded my micron for 6r just a while ago and was quite happy :)

micromodular is perfectly respectable synth, i guess may be even the best in modular series.

don't go for ion, you'll be dissapointed + it's still a lot of menue diving. if you definitely need something new and hands on, at least wait until nord wave is out. it should be shipping in november.
Menu diving on the ion? Everything you need comes up when you touch a knob. Then there are arrows that point L or R to get into other parameters. I think any less menus and you would be looking at a upright piano. You sure you are not talking about the micron?
What? There are tons of parameters that don't have knobs - it's a deep synth. I found myself menu diving almost continuously, and didn't particularly like the menu interface. I don't have this problem with my Microwave XT.

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Post by Dano » Fri Sep 21, 2007 12:49 am

ficusrock wrote:
Filterthing wrote:
toonelind wrote:i traded my micron for 6r just a while ago and was quite happy :)

micromodular is perfectly respectable synth, i guess may be even the best in modular series.

don't go for ion, you'll be dissapointed + it's still a lot of menue diving. if you definitely need something new and hands on, at least wait until nord wave is out. it should be shipping in november.
Menu diving on the ion? Everything you need comes up when you touch a knob. Then there are arrows that point L or R to get into other parameters. I think any less menus and you would be looking at a upright piano. You sure you are not talking about the micron?
I actually agree that there is still a bit of menu diving to deal with on the Ion.

I recently consolidated my setup by programming all of my patches into the Ion, and am looking forward to only having one synth at my next show Friday. I don't know anything about the other synthesizers in question, but I look forward to trying out a Nord Wave or even an Nord Lead 3 to replace my Ion - it just doesn't give me the instant satisfaction of other "hands on" synths.
I'd say that if instant gratification is one of your top wants then you might want to pass on the Ion and certainly pass on the Micron. I own them both; I got my Ion in September of 2003 just a few months after they hit the market. I love them but I do think it is a valid criticism of even the knob-laden Ion that it isn't the most immediate synth for dialing-in a sound. You might not expect that by looking at the Ion and all its knobs however I think the saying "flexibility breeds complexity" applies here. Some of the Ion's features almost had to be implemented in a menu rather than by a single function knob E.g. Mod matrix, tracking generator.

FWIW, one other point of criticism of the Ion that I think is valid is its arpeggiator. If Alesis had even provided just a "bare-bones" selection of traditional arp patterns (up, down, up-down, last note played, and random) then there probably would have been far less groaning about the arp and IMO it's unforgivable that Alesis didn't add those patterns to the Ion's arp patterns in the very first OS update.

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Post by OriginalJambo » Fri Sep 21, 2007 1:42 am

Dano wrote:I'd say that if instant gratification is one of your top wants then you might want to pass on the Ion and certainly pass on the Micron. I own them both; I got my Ion in September of 2003 just a few months after they hit the market. I love them but I do think it is a valid criticism of even the knob-laden Ion that it isn't the most immediate synth for dialing-in a sound. You might not expect that by looking at the Ion and all its knobs however I think the saying "flexibility breeds complexity" applies here. Some of the Ion's features almost had to be implemented in a menu rather than by a single function knob E.g. Mod matrix, tracking generator.
After owning an Ion too I agree with this totally. It is still pretty hands on but you have to menu dive to get PWM or LFO to filter for example. Practically anything that involves modulation except the amp and filter envelopes require menu diving - even if only a little.
FWIW, one other point of criticism of the Ion that I think is valid is its arpeggiator. If Alesis had even provided just a "bare-bones" selection of traditional arp patterns (up, down, up-down, last note played, and random) then there probably would have been far less groaning about the arp and IMO it's unforgivable that Alesis didn't add those patterns to the Ion's arp patterns in the very first OS update.
Absolutely spot on my good man! We all know it's a VA that's great for "vintage" style sounds so giving us some vintage (simple and limited!) arp patterns would have been fantastic.

I wasn't asking for a bloody programmable arp or sequencer - just an arp that doesn't have all these obscure rhythms that are really j**k and hard to fit into tracks I personally thought.

The mircoKORG/MS-2000's arpeggiator is much more useful IMO.
Last edited by OriginalJambo on Fri Sep 21, 2007 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Box » Fri Sep 21, 2007 1:45 am

There is a little menu diving but not a lot. In about the week you'll have the hang of it. It's a great synth for the price. Guaranteed, the DSI Prophet will most likely sound better (I'd hope so since it 4X as much...).
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Post by Filterthing » Fri Sep 21, 2007 1:47 am

ok, ok, I am properly shot down. I just think the ION is pretty easy to use. Yes, there are sub menus, but it is still dead easy to use.

The arp really sucks, I found you can get the ants marching pattern to sound kind of traditional, but otherwise pretty lame.

What are the odds of an os update?

I also don't get why the only way to use the LFO is by patching it in the matrix. Am I missing something?

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