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Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 4:00 am
by thegophoto
So I just picked up an Alesis ion. I love the sound and the possibilities of this synth. The filter options are worth the price of the synth alone. Needless to say, I have a few problems and was wondering if anyone else has had these problems.
1. Volume pot scratchy.
Have read online a few people having this problem. Hopefully it's just a metter of replacing the pot.
2. Pitch bend wheel, once touched, starts activating up and down on its own. I don't use the bender that often, so as a work around, I have disabled the bender.
3. Here's the one I'm interested in. When I move an encoder to change a parameter, it seems that there is not an immediate change in the sound. As far as the display goes, I can see it not responding right away. I am not sure if that is just how the display is, or if the parameter is not responding how it is supposed to. I do notice having to spin the encoder 3 or 4 times to get to the ends of the parameter. Guess I just want to know if anyone has had these issues with the board or not.

Thanks for any light shed on this amazing board.

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 4:51 am
by silikon
This sounds less like hardware issues, and more like firmware. I'd start with a factory reset of the machine to see if there's not something in the machine's configuration that's corrupted. This just resets any configuration parameters to default, which might clear up your problems (other than the scratchy volume pot).

Go to the global menu (button), last page. There should be an option to reset/initialize the board.

You can also try re-installing the firmware via MIDI Sysex if that doesn't solve the issue.

Turn off, hold active A and active D while turning on. This will tell you the OS version and allow you to flash the system's firmware. The last version is on the alesis website here:

There you'll find the OS file as well as all the factory banks, and the Reference Manual which will shed more light on these things as well as the depth of programming that can be performed on it.

The scratchy volume pot will likely require a cleaning or replacement.

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 4:58 am
by Tacowitch
Honestly, just opening it up and cleaning it out may help a lot. I was having very much the same problems with my microkorg until I opened it up and went to town with some cleaning cloths, rubbing alcohol, and keyboard duster.

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 12:12 pm
by Bitexion
A factory reset is a good idea anyway, you have no idea what settings the previous owner had tampered with and left on. It resets everything (including user stored patches) to out-of-the-box. Always the first thing I figure out how to do when I get a used synth.

I had some issues with my pitch bend wheel too, especially after long periods of disuse. I think the spring assembly can get a bit out of alignment or something, as it would sometimes activate randomly or not center itself properly (light is always on). Tapping hard on it or pulling/pushing it a bit roughly would usually center it again. Wonky/jittery encoders (knobs) is usually a software problem. Try the latest firmware upgrade.

Just beware that the Ion has NO temporary storage for the OS update, so when it starts, it has to finish or it corrupts the synth. If you fail repeatedly, try increasing/decreasing the delay time in MidiOX. The synth is very finicky with the MIDI data send speed. If data goes in too fast it goes bad before the end. I found that 200ms worked ok.
It doesn't "break" but you can only boot into a screen that waits for an OS update.

I had a couple of hair raising moments with updating the OS of customers' Ions in a synth store. In one case it failed 3 times around 90% before I got it right, basically bricking the synth until I got it right. We were literally sweating bullets while trying again and again, each time it was a 5-10 minute wait.

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 1:37 pm
by sigment
i exerienced 2 outta 3 on my miniak when I purchased used a few years ago.

1. scratchy pot - pot cleaner or even isopropyl alcohol down the shaft and then many 'lock to lock' rotations cleared it up. Well, it cleared it up as long as you don't hit the stop point on either end (all the way up or down). I imaging the dust or debris was just pushed to those points. I also ordered 6 replacements from mouser for the just in case. You can also get a replacement from syntaur (they are good guys)

2. ???

3. encoder wouldn't 'catch' - factory reset fixed that business. Not sure how or where or if that is an official setting, i couldnt find it in the manual, but a reset did the trick. That being said, if i spin the encoder quickly from a stop it still seems a little laggy to me, but not the flat out unresponsive that it was when I got it.

hope it helps

:oops: ..... well i just reread ion NOT micron, so ymmv but I'll leave it up

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Sat May 02, 2015 3:41 pm
by alfadawg01
Reloading the OS into the Ion is always a tricky proposition. I discovered that the Alesis DataDisk plays very well with the Ion.....I've done numerous OS reloads with an old DataDisk my church was discarding and the Ion takes it first time every time.

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Sat May 02, 2015 8:10 pm
by vladimotor
Sorry for a slightly unrelated question, but... does Miniak has any advantages to Ion or is it just a scaled down interface version? I Have and love my Miniak and often think of getting Ion. Are they all buggy?

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Sun May 03, 2015 4:46 pm
by Bitexion
The Miniak is a scaled down Micron with an added microphone. And the Micron is a scaled down Ion. But they added a few more effects like a delay and reverb and a step sequencer on the Micron.

The Ion is still the big daddy of the lot.

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Mon May 04, 2015 3:48 am
by thegophoto
Thanks for all the help.
I will try a factory reset.
The OS is the latest, checked that already.
I opened and cleaned everything too,
I just want to make sure that a properly working ions encoders do move up and down seamlessly. I have the Miniak and they seem to work without a problem.

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Mon May 04, 2015 9:38 am
by Bitexion
Yeah but an OS upgrade might weed out some bugs that have appeared during the years. Kind of like blowing out the insides of a 70s synth with a can of compressed air.
Remember that the Ion is practically a vintage computer already, it came out in 2003.

But yeah, a properly working Ion should have faultless encoders. Although mine was a bit strange, some encoders were "faster" than others. Endless encoders will always be a strange beast compared to normal knobs, which is why so few synths actually use them these days. It's a great idea that the settings will always continue from where they are, but maybe not entirely practical to manufacture them.

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Mon May 04, 2015 5:02 pm
by vladimotor
The Miniak is a scaled down Micron with an added microphone
How is Miniak a scaled down Micron?

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Tue May 05, 2015 12:04 am
by thegophoto
Ok, so even though the software is up to date, you think just doing a reinstall may help the board and its functions? Again, I appreciate all the help. So I don't screw up my synth even more, there are settings I should redo on the synth before the new install? Will I just find them in the global settings? It's really too bad they didn't use some better quality parts on this synth.

Re: Alesis Ion problems

Posted: Tue May 05, 2015 4:44 am
by Cerebral Infect
Honestly, with time I have found that most of my problems could be solved by :


Fixed my Juno 106, Matrix 1000, MKS-50, rack mount amp scratchy volume pot with that.
Fixed my Yamaha A3000V2 and TC Electronic G-Major skipping encoder with that. (Even DSI sends you a tube to fix their faulty encoder on some of their old synth batch).
Fixed my old doorbell

Like the other said, update the OS, do a factory reset. Caig Deoxit the volume knob, the pitch bend wheel and the faulty knob and everything should be okay. Also, sometime when synth do not get used often, we need to give them a knob workout. My Mono Evolver keyboard does that.