How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

A forum for discussing the pros & cons of buying a particular synth and for advice on buying synthesizers.
Hugo76
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1433
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:57 pm

How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by Hugo76 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:03 pm

I remember there were some complaints about bugs, but how did it really end up? I'm considering buying one, as I'd really like a workstation again.

User avatar
Diametro
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 6:21 pm

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by Diametro » Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:56 pm

Simply put, as a workstation, it doesn't work ... It has unique features and good sound, but the soundset is totally scattershot, the various sections don't play nice together, no internal re-sampling, limited controls and the UI is not a beautiful thing imo ... SOLD, no regrets except that Alesis didn't get it right ... ever ... I could MAYBE live with it if it were my only board ... thank god it isn't ... If you really want a WORKSTATION (my def: well-balanced soundset with an emphasis on "organic" sounds rather than synth, solid sequencer that integrates well with sampling/audio tracks, unique controllers, instantaneous loading times for patches, etc.) look anywhere else first ...

Image
Last edited by Diametro on Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
JP8,JP6,FanX7,VSynthXT;NI Maschine; KP3x2;RE-201;MOTU828mk2;HS80ms

MY NEW ALBUM ... 70s Electronica / Synth Songwriting
http://electrocabaret.bandcamp.com/

psionic11
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:18 pm
Gear: -Fusion 8HD/6HD, Micron, X guitar, VFX-SD
-Ex5r, WSA1r, DD65, Performance Pad
-BCF, FCB, ExpressionMate, VF1, BC3
-(past) Juno 106, DW8000, Fantom Xa

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by psionic11 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:08 pm

Wow, Diametro, that's a pretty harsh assessment. I thought things were going well with you and your Fusion. Guess not.

For the price, imo, you can't beat the Fusion. I have both the 6HD and the 8HD, and am on them hours each day for a couple years now. Several users gig with theirs regularly, and at least one user, etherealnate from the Fusion forums, composes extensively using just his 8HD.

I love the synthesis engines and the mix/song mode capabilities myself. My biggest beef is that the filters don't self-oscillate. Polyphony and mod matrix are great, and the 8Hd keybed is very expressive for me, esp when using velocity and aftertouch to modulate everything from VCA, VCF, sample startpoint, relative OSC levels, FX, etc.

YMMV
Last edited by psionic11 on Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

paugui
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 357
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:47 pm
Location: Marinha Grande, Portugal / Oslo, Norway

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by paugui » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:20 pm

As a synth I think it is really nice.
Considering the prices I saw here for units in the US (400$ for a Fusion 6HD), I would say grab it.

It's synth engines are quite powerful.

As I prefer synthetic sounds to emulations of real instruments, I haven't gave that much use to the ROMpler side of the Fusion, but from the sounds it includes, I don't know exactly how to explain this, but I think my Triton sounds better. However, my Triton doesn't have 80Gb HD to store samples...

Considering the real synth engines - VA, FM and PM - I think it has a really good sound.
It is extremely modular, you have 8 LFO's and EG's which can control any parameter, up to 32 connections, it has a nice filter (unfortunately only one and it doesn't present all the types included on the Ion/Micron).

In terms of VA it is similar to the Ion/Micron, you just lose some filter types and one filter.
On the other hand, you win LFO's and EG's (and a lot of each of them).
It sounds good to me.

The FM section is quite nice. You can route the operators as you want (all operators can be modulated by all other operators and modulate all the others) and you can do something really nice, modulate the frequency of an operator using an envelope, which can give you really nice results.

The PM is a rare type of synthesis and I think on the Fusion it works pretty well.
The sound is really nice and can be used to make some really nice leads.


About the IO, I don't think it is that bad at all.
It would be better if it had a touchscreen, but for the price, I think it is quite good.

One major bug that I found, is that if you use it as a controller, you can't have MIDI synced to external tempo, it will make it trigger notes randomly.
If you don't consider MIDI synced to external tempo, it will work ok.

I would just like to point that, unlike the previous poster, I haven't used the Fusion as a workstation, only used the synth engines to play, and at least with this propose, I think the Fusion works great.

One thing I complain is that it has a huge amount of polyphony, which I won't use, and I would definitely think it would have been nice if they had made more LFO's and EG's available (as well as patch points on the modulation matrix) and another filter (with all the types available on the Ion/Micron).
That way I think it would be an incredible synth.
Despite I mentioned that more EG's and LFO's could be nice, I think that only on the FM engine I feel that those are needed, on all other engines the ones available are usually more than enough.


Hope this helps

User avatar
CapnMarvel
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:36 pm

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by CapnMarvel » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:35 pm

I'm not a workstation expert (my only other experience was with a Triton that I actually thought was notably WORSE sounding than the Fusion), and I typically use it more as a ROMpler and synth than as an actual workstation, but for the price I think it's pretty great. I've got the 8HD and the keyboard feel is nice. The preset synth sounds are hit-or-miss, but I do like the realistic ROM-tones in general. I wouldn't call programming it a particularly fun experience, but for my needs and the $600 I paid for it a year and a half ago, it's a no-brainer.
Gear List: A bunch that go 'WHHONNGG!', several that go 'tweedle tweedle' and 'thumpity', and a few that don't make any noise at all but have lots of delightful little lights on them.

User avatar
polardark
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 357
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2004 7:03 pm
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by polardark » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:06 pm

I was looking to get one of these for the longest time but the rumoured reliability problems and the fact that Alesis distribution in Sweden is nearly non-existent made me decide not to go for it. In the end I never had the opportunity to lay hands on a Fusion and test drive it.

I was intrigued by the complexity of the Fusion and the promise of a wide sonic palette though but having had my share of battles with the Casio VZ-1 and various Roland synthesizers I tend to shy away from obtuse user interfaces these days.

Still, I want to get one but not without having first tried it out.

User avatar
CapnMarvel
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:36 pm

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by CapnMarvel » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:15 pm

polardark wrote:I was looking to get one of these for the longest time but the rumoured reliability problems and the fact that Alesis distribution in Sweden is nearly non-existent made me decide not to go for it. In the end I never had the opportunity to lay hands on a Fusion and test drive it.

I was intrigued by the complexity of the Fusion and the promise of a wide sonic palette though but having had my share of battles with the Casio VZ-1 and various Roland synthesizers I tend to shy away from obtuse user interfaces these days.

Still, I want to get one but not without having first tried it out.
Don't get the Fusion if you're looking for super-intuitive UI. It's not awful, but it's not great, either.
Gear List: A bunch that go 'WHHONNGG!', several that go 'tweedle tweedle' and 'thumpity', and a few that don't make any noise at all but have lots of delightful little lights on them.

Hugo76
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1433
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:57 pm

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by Hugo76 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:25 pm

Wow, thanks for the feedback, very informative :D
I was looking for some detailed specs, but even Alesis' own website was rather short on info.
So if anyone can help me with these:
1) Does the internal harddisk make a lot of noise (or perhaps more correctly: is there a fan connected to the hdd?)
If so, is it possible to remove it altogether? (the harddrive that is)
2) How many effect blocks are there, and how are they distributed in multi mode? What's the quality of the effects?
3) Is the sequencer workable at all, and did they come to include pattern mode?
4) Can sequences or live playing be resampled?
5) Any thoughts on the arpeggiator?

Thanks again.

User avatar
CapnMarvel
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:36 pm

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by CapnMarvel » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:30 pm

Hugo76 wrote:Wow, thanks for the feedback, very informative :D
I was looking for some detailed specs, but even Alesis' own website was rather short on info.
So if anyone can help me with these:
1) Does the internal harddisk make a lot of noise (or perhaps more correctly: is there a fan connected to the hdd?)
If so, is it possible to remove it altogether?

The hard disk is fairly noisy on its own (sounds like a PC harddrive spinning) but there's no fan. I know nothing about removing it. I doubt that's possible as I'm almost certain the OS is stored on it.

2) How many effect blocks are there, and how are they distributed in multi mode? What's the quality of the effects?
Don't know off the top of my head. The onboard effects are OK, but I generally only use the verbs. I don't use the onboard modulation effects (phasing, tremolo, etc.) on much other than cliche applications (el. pianos, etc.). I don't much like the Leslie effect. The delays are OK but I'd prefer outboard delays.

3) Is the sequencer workable at all, and did they come to include pattern mode?
I rarely use the sequencer, though there is a pattern mode. I guess that means it's 'workable' but not great.

4) Can sequences or live playing be resampled?
I dunno.

5) Any thoughts on the arpeggiator?
I'm not really an arpeggiator user (sorry), but it is flexible and has tons of available options.


Thanks again.
Gear List: A bunch that go 'WHHONNGG!', several that go 'tweedle tweedle' and 'thumpity', and a few that don't make any noise at all but have lots of delightful little lights on them.

blavatsky
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 451
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:54 pm
Gear: MV8800, Sub37, Integra 7, Mininova, Fusion, Biscuit, TimeFactor, SP-555, SP-404, SPD-SX
Band: Blavatsky
Contact:

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by blavatsky » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:34 pm

I like my fusion, but not as a workstation as others have stated. Nice keys, some good presets if you get past the rom banks and to some downloads. MIDI can be a nightmare, this thing is not great at controlling other pieces. I would delve into the great sounds even more but as stated the interface is not very inviting, but not terrible.
I'll try to take a swing at these:
1. Mine seems quiet, yes I think there is a fan.
2. I want to say you can have 2 or 3 effects at a time? effects are so-so; they help the patches but don't really blow my mind.
3. The sequencer is OK if just using the fusion..but I did not like the post-editing midi side. You can't really chain patterns I think (??) so you are stuck with doing long songs in takes
4. I think you can re-route an out to an in (audio wise) and re-sample yourself?
5. Despised personally, never used; very unintuitive.

psionic11
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:18 pm
Gear: -Fusion 8HD/6HD, Micron, X guitar, VFX-SD
-Ex5r, WSA1r, DD65, Performance Pad
-BCF, FCB, ExpressionMate, VF1, BC3
-(past) Juno 106, DW8000, Fantom Xa

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by psionic11 » Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:38 am

Hugo76 wrote:Wow, thanks for the feedback, very informative :D
I was looking for some detailed specs, but even Alesis' own website was rather short on info.
So if anyone can help me with these:
1) Does the internal harddisk make a lot of noise (or perhaps more correctly: is there a fan connected to the hdd?)
If so, is it possible to remove it altogether? (the harddrive that is)
2) How many effect blocks are there, and how are they distributed in multi mode? What's the quality of the effects?
3) Is the sequencer workable at all, and did they come to include pattern mode?
4) Can sequences or live playing be resampled?
5) Any thoughts on the arpeggiator?

Thanks again.
1) The harddisk is very quiet. With both my 6HD and 8HD and other synths on, the only thing I hear right now is my computer's fan. I'm not 100% on this, but I believe you can remove the HD and run using just a CF card instead, although the load times will be somewhat slower that way, but I think that's a bit extreme. The HD is one of the great strengths of the Fusion, as you have virtually unlimited space to store patches/multisamples/audio tracks/songs.

2) In single patch mode ("Program" mode), you can have up to 4 insert FX (phasers, chorus, flangers, amp sims, compressor, envelope filters, etc) chained together, and then there's 2 Bus FX (reverbs, delays, reverb + delay, chorus + reverb, etc). In Song or Mix mode, which contain multiple programs/patches, you again have access to 4 insert FX and the 2 Bus FX. And since you can record your audio directly to the hard disk recorder, if you have tracks where you're satisfied with the take, effects and all, you can just record that track as audio and so free up the FX that was used for that synth track... In general, the FX are useable but nothing spectacular. If you're looking for polished final mixes, you probably want to master in software anyway. You can export audio to PC using the USB connection.

3) The sequencer is indeed workable. Linear, but with copy and paste, can function as a pattern sequencer as well. For me, the UI is laid out very nicely, and along with making shortcuts to often-used pages, makes for quick access to any parameter if you already have decent synth experience. There is not an explicit "pattern mode," but in practice you can achieve the same thing by recording a small piece of music, then copying and pasting it wherever you want on the timeline. With the piano roll MIDI editor, you can even do step sequencing after a fashion similar to old school mod tracking if I'm correct. One of the biggest drawbacks to the sequencer is that there is no way to have SONG playlists... Make the tiniest change to a SONG, and when you want to go to another SONG, an annoying pop-up asks you if want to save changes or not. Not fluid at all.

4) The Fusion has 2 audio ins for sampling or audio input(s) into the VA engine. The AUX outs can be used instead of the MAIN outs, and you can then re-route either the sequence or your live playing back into one of the 8 AUDIO inputs to record onto the hard disk. So, yes, you can resample.

5) The ARP section is flexible, basically being laid out like another sequencer. It has the ability to record your playing as well, so that you can create your own arpeggios/rhythm tracks/chord progressions/patterns. For example, you can overcome the 4 ARP limit for patch or song mode by simply copying the ARP MIDI data onto its own track in the SONG sequencer. You basically just use the ARP as a pattern generator. But yes, it's not very intuitive at first, but once you figure it out, it is rather flexible.

Overall, the Fusion has gads of potential flexibility, once you wrap your head around its layout. And that's the catch. It's not super complicated like some Yamaha UI's, but it will be your call as to how much of a quick and patient learner you are versus wanting immediate results like press'n'record Casio-style composing.

psionic11
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:18 pm
Gear: -Fusion 8HD/6HD, Micron, X guitar, VFX-SD
-Ex5r, WSA1r, DD65, Performance Pad
-BCF, FCB, ExpressionMate, VF1, BC3
-(past) Juno 106, DW8000, Fantom Xa

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by psionic11 » Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:22 am

Regarding the number of LFO's and EG's available, keep in mind that you can have up to 8 LFO's and up to 8 EG's also. The mod matrix is very flexible. For example you could assign ENV 3 as an overall pitch envelope, but also use it to set it as a separate Envelope Filter for just the 4th OSC of a multisampled patch, and that Env Amount is tweakable individually as well.

Likewise, you could set up a 3rd LFO to modulate the rate of the 2nd LFO, with their amounts also freely tweakable. You could even set, say, the aftertouch response to speed up the rate of LFO 3 while simultaneously increase the amount of LFO 2, which may be set to affect vibrato depth.

And if that's not enough, don't forget that since you can stack individual patches/programs in MIX or SONG mode, that you can conceivably have more LFO and ENV action happening, all controllable by knobs/foot pedals/velocity-aftertouch...

That's the problem with an open architecture... the sweet spots aren't already dialed in for you, so you have to search for and discover them by trial and error. Experimentation. Which is a good thing in synthesizer land.

User avatar
Diametro
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 217
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 6:21 pm

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by Diametro » Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:03 am

psionic11 wrote:Wow, Diametro, that's a pretty harsh assessment. I thought things were going well with you and your Fusion. Guess not.
I had a very up-and-down relationship with my Fusion before I cut it loose ... As a seemingly well-made but homely-in-a-rig unknobby digital synth with a good keybed, it has its moments as a budget synth option ... but as a WORKSTATION, I found tons more satisfaction in my fully expanded Fantom X7, which I still use every day ...

Image
JP8,JP6,FanX7,VSynthXT;NI Maschine; KP3x2;RE-201;MOTU828mk2;HS80ms

MY NEW ALBUM ... 70s Electronica / Synth Songwriting
http://electrocabaret.bandcamp.com/

Hugo76
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1433
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:57 pm

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by Hugo76 » Tue Nov 24, 2009 11:23 am

Great info guys, thanks a lot. I must say I'd really like to pick one up. Too bad Alesis didn't iron out the initial flaws earlier. Can't believe they didn't get this right, the potential is obviously huge. The Fusion should've easily been one of the big players. Too bad.

User avatar
hogberto
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2004 6:04 pm
Location: scotland

Re: How did the Alesis Fusion end up?

Post by hogberto » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:15 pm

this bloke over on KSS has posted a raft of Fusion demo videos.

well worth a look. :shock:

Thierry's fusion channel
Analogue Systems RS8500 | Andromeda A6 | Moog Voyager Old School | Korg Radias KB | MEK | DSI Tetr4 | Tom Oberheim SEM | Waldorf Blofeld module | Virus C | A Sol Leipzig-S | XV-5080 | V-Synth XT | Mopho KB

Post Reply