Alesis Micron

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Thinking 'bout getting one.

Anyone have any experience?

gbx (skowly), Monday, 13 March 2006 17:03 (sixteen years ago) link

I have the Ion, which is the same basic synthesis engine, in a larger box, but without the effect processor or sequencer (actually I'm not sure if the Micron has an effect processor)

It is a fantastic synthesiser, one of the best I've ever owned, and better than many "real" analogue instruments I've owned or used. If you can get by with the programming interface, the Micron is a great deal.

Pashmina (Pashmina), Monday, 13 March 2006 17:14 (sixteen years ago) link

I also like the Ion.

Jordan (Jordan), Monday, 13 March 2006 17:15 (sixteen years ago) link

Part of my attraction to the micron is the small package. It's so streamlined and practical looking. Plus, since I'd like to use it for MIDI stuff, too, it's nice and desk-sized.

gbx (skowly), Monday, 13 March 2006 17:23 (sixteen years ago) link

this is a nice box. id like to put it next to my QS-7 and mess around with the 4 x Oberheim filter.

kephm (kephm), Tuesday, 14 March 2006 23:46 (sixteen years ago) link

I had an Ion for a while, but I sold it. I really liked the filters(especially the ARP one), but there was something indefinable missing from the overall sound. The interface also pissed me off slightly -- all those knobs and you still have to page through a load of menus and alter values with the encoder half the time.

Having said all that, it certainly sounded streets ahead of the other similarly priced VAs that I've heard. I'd take a micron over a microkorg or one of those crappy novations anyday.

jng (jng), Wednesday, 15 March 2006 14:12 (sixteen years ago) link

got one.

gbx (skowly), Friday, 17 March 2006 16:58 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd like to have a go on this before buying, but am growing increasingly attached to my Microkorg (which definitely looks cooler FWIW) so may not bother.

plp, Friday, 17 March 2006 18:20 (sixteen years ago) link

came in the mail yesterday: pretty great!

gbx (skowly), Friday, 24 March 2006 17:17 (sixteen years ago) link

I have a crush on the Microkorg.

Jordan (Jordan), Friday, 24 March 2006 18:05 (sixteen years ago) link

The microkorg is cuet, but those little keys are way too small! I used to have mini-key casios back in the eighties - mt41 and cz101 - they were ok, but that korg really is tiny.

Pashmina (Pashmina), Friday, 24 March 2006 18:10 (sixteen years ago) link

i am so sick of seeing microkorgs.

bell labs (bell_labs), Friday, 24 March 2006 20:41 (sixteen years ago) link

I want a Microkorg, and I don't care who knows it.

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 24 March 2006 20:47 (sixteen years ago) link

Also PS my birthday is tomorrow.

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 24 March 2006 20:47 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh, I wasn't sure to get you, but that's easy.

Jordan (Jordan), Friday, 24 March 2006 20:51 (sixteen years ago) link


bell labs (bell_labs), Saturday, 25 March 2006 00:17 (sixteen years ago) link

i just got a really adorable realistic concertmate rip off of the cz101 in the mail today, fuck a microkorg.

bell labs (bell_labs), Saturday, 25 March 2006 00:19 (sixteen years ago) link

The CZ101 is a str8 up classic little keyboard! One of 2 things out of many (the other being my old korg mono/poly) that I really really wish I hadn't sold.

Pashmina (Pashmina), Saturday, 25 March 2006 15:39 (sixteen years ago) link

I had a CZ-3000 a while back, learned to program it and everything then it died. Awesome, if not ugly! I plan on getting another CZ in the future, most likely a 101. I also want a Mono/Poly (so many knobs...)

naus (Robert T), Saturday, 25 March 2006 21:28 (sixteen years ago) link

JAYMC: There's a used Microkorg for sale CHEAP at the Music-Go-Round right now.

n/a (Nick A.), Saturday, 25 March 2006 23:58 (sixteen years ago) link

You owe it to yourself for your birthday, jaymc.

The Day The World Turned Dayglo Redd (Ken L), Sunday, 26 March 2006 00:04 (sixteen years ago) link

Okay, I played the Micron next to the Microkorg today, and the Micron is pretty sweet. Why does it seem like the sounds are much better than the Ion?

Jordan (Jordan), Sunday, 26 March 2006 19:59 (sixteen years ago) link

i don't know! but i'm totally in love with it. I just need to get an interface so I can plug into my computer and start making music.

also, John: it has a vocoder!

gbx (skowly), Sunday, 26 March 2006 22:30 (sixteen years ago) link

The Micron has got reverb and delay, while the Ion hasn't. Maybe thats why it sounded better to you? The Ion will obviously sound a bit dry without some external effects.

jng (jng), Sunday, 26 March 2006 23:21 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm fine with dry. Maybe it's just that I haven't played the Ion in awhile. I'm getting it back soon though, and buying an interface + computer from a friend!

Jordan (Jordan), Sunday, 26 March 2006 23:50 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm thinking about trading my Ion in for a Micron, is that stupid?

It would save space, and the Micron is so fucking intuitive.

The Micron has got reverb and delay

Are the native effects easily turned off?

Jordan (Jordan), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 22:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Um, you find three knobs and having to page through menus intuitive?

naus (Robert T), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 23:14 (sixteen years ago) link

Moreso than the Ion's screens and screens of parameters, which I find really hard to navigate through.

But I might be wrong, I only messed around with the Micron in the store for a few mintes.

Jordan (Jordan), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 23:22 (sixteen years ago) link

That might only be because you're already familiar with Alesis' UI. But it does hold that certain limitations/ways of working (different pieces of gear) can make you take a different approach to making music. I'd say try the Micron a few more times, and if you do feel more inspired when you're at it vs. the Ion, then go for it. (Spend the difference on a CZ101.)

naus (Robert T), Wednesday, 29 March 2006 23:39 (sixteen years ago) link

the micron actually is pretty intuitive, considering it's super minimal interface.

gbx (skowly), Thursday, 30 March 2006 04:13 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd definitely give the Micron a go over the Ion. The Ion's UI is terrible - certainly not worth the extra space it takes up.

Personally though, I'd forget about the Alesis crap and pick up a CZ101 and a late Roland analog. JX3Ps and Alpha Junos are incredible value these days, and will kick the shit out of the Ion/Micron in terms of sound (if not flexibility).

jng (jng), Thursday, 30 March 2006 08:46 (sixteen years ago) link

On what planet does any late Roland or any 1-osc Roland or any DCO Roland kick the shit out of an Ion? Oh yeah, planet MeNTaLiST. I own an Ion. I have owned several Rolands including an Alpha Juno 1, a Juno 6, a JX3P, and a JX8p. At the time they were great, especially the JX8P. Note that I do not own any of these instruments anymore, nor would I buy one of them, unless they worked, were in reasonable nick, and cost fifty quid, and then I'd be buying them to sell on. There is one Roland polysynth that does actually kick the sonic shit out of an Ion, one instrument that I could take out with a bass/drums/2xguitar rock band and expect to hear myself over the din, and that's the Jupiter 8. The Ion has the sonic power to cut through in this context. I can carry it under my arm. If it goes wrong, it would most likely cost less to buy a new Ion than it would cost to get a Jupiter 8 serviced/repaired. Fuck that, I don't need that hassle.

The list of "classic" analog polysynths that does actually kick the shit out of the Ion sonically is quite small. I've played a bunch of them in the past, and owned a few as well. Most of them I have no desire to own anymore. My "if money/space were no object" polysynth list is basically 3 items:
Oberheim 4-voice
Korg Trident 2
Yamaha CS80.

In harmony-central parlance, if my Ion were lost or stolen, I'd buy another. Like a shot.

Pashmina (Pashmina), Thursday, 30 March 2006 10:54 (sixteen years ago) link

Well, obviously I live on planet MeNTaLiST then!

I've had the Ion in my studio next to a several DCO Rolands (Juno 60, JX3P, MKS50) and in basic sound character it struggled to keep up with all of them. I can program a simple sync sweep with the filter fully open on a JX3P, and it immediately sounds great. If I program the same sound on an Ion, it sounds dull and weak unless I spend an hour tweaking it. It's simply easier to make real analogs sound good.

The Ion clearly wins out in terms of features and the range of sounds possible, but that isn't what I was talking about (as I stated in the original post!).

jng (jng), Thursday, 30 March 2006 11:40 (sixteen years ago) link

(apologies for rattiness, jng, I just read the "discussion" on the new moog on AH, (FFS/WTF) & was projecting somewhat)

Pashmina (Pashmina), Thursday, 30 March 2006 11:52 (sixteen years ago) link

But, nb that I wasn't propping the Ion based on its features, it's the sound that sold me on the thing, and it's the sound that keeps me playing it.

Pashmina (Pashmina), Thursday, 30 March 2006 11:53 (sixteen years ago) link

Don't worry about it Pash, the discussion on AH irritated me too!

I guess maybe we're judging the Ion's sound in different ways. I'm a total oscillator snob. The filters in the Ion sound good, but the oscillators sound lacking to me. There is a kind of dullness to them which I don't like. I reckon Alesis overdid the anti-aliasing. I'd post some sounds to illustrate what I mean, but I don't have an Ion anymore.

jng (jng), Thursday, 30 March 2006 12:18 (sixteen years ago) link

One thing I never use, as it happens, is sync sweep sounds, so I'd never tried that in the Ion. What I like to do with sync is disable keyboard tracking on the synced oscillator, and use it as a formant. The Ion's sync works fine for that, at least. The 2 criticisms of the Ion's oscillators I have are that the pitch wraps at the highest freq on the top octave (which is pretty minor) and, more annoyingly, the pulse width doesn't go narrow enough. The only other critiques I have of the instrument in general are that it doesn't have aftertouch, b/c I've developed a good technique for using that to control vibrato depth & I use the mod wheel to introduce timbral changes, and it would be much, much better if it had an echo/delay built into it. I'd give up the 2nd set of outs (which I never use anyway) for a built-in echo. Oh yeah, the LCD angle thing that everybody complains about, that's annoying too.

the king of all analog oscillators

Pashmina (Pashmina), Thursday, 30 March 2006 12:34 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, Wiard stuff looks awesome. I wish I could afford a modular!

jng (jng), Thursday, 30 March 2006 12:43 (sixteen years ago) link

It is an amazing system. It is actually really easy - too easy - to get into a modular system, you just forget about buying the whole lot at once, and build it up a piece at a time. It's addictive.

Pashmina (Pashmina), Thursday, 30 March 2006 13:29 (sixteen years ago) link

I think I need Synthesis 101.

Jordan (Jordan), Thursday, 30 March 2006 14:06 (sixteen years ago) link

Me too. I have no fucking clue how to take advantage of what I've got.

gbx (skowly), Thursday, 30 March 2006 14:23 (sixteen years ago) link

what about the roland juno D, ive seen articles on it and it seems ok but ive never personally owned a roland, yet along any acutal synth. im looking at starting w/ the micron or the microKorg and every one says the micron over the korg, but i kinda like the grittier sounds out of the korg. basically if it came down to getting the Juno D, an Ion, Micron or MicroKorg, which would be best for me?

File13, Sunday, 9 April 2006 16:33 (sixteen years ago) link

Avoid the Juno-D, its a sample playback machine dressed up to look like something interesting.

jng (jng), Monday, 10 April 2006 07:49 (sixteen years ago) link

Word. The Alesis offers more polyphony than the Korg, and has more storage for patches. But if you're just playing leads, it shouldn't be a big deal which one you choose. They both sound good and are good first synthesizers. The best thing to do is play around with both, and go with your gut as to which one you feel better using (keys, interface) and which one you think sounds better. If you like the MicroKorg but think it's too small, you might want to try an MS-2000, which has the same engine, but has bigger keys and individual knobs.

naus (Robert T), Tuesday, 11 April 2006 00:55 (sixteen years ago) link

Well the MS-2000 looks really cool but i was hoping for something 400 bucks or less, perhaps i can find a used one somewhere?

File13, Wednesday, 12 April 2006 02:54 (sixteen years ago) link

What kind of sounds are you looking to get?

jng (jng), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 06:46 (sixteen years ago) link

Well im starting a new music project, its going to be a noise/ambient band incorporating visuals into it and like tape destruction and circuit bending so i wanted something kinda that could make good gritty dark sounding but harmonic sounds. like sound good and pretty but still not be like poppy if that makes any sence. if you are familiar with Godspeed You Black Emporer its along the lines of that, id like some orchestral type things as well if i could find like a super synth taht would do all this, still wanting to stay absolutely under like 500, 400 would be best though.

file13, Wednesday, 12 April 2006 16:59 (sixteen years ago) link

Update: I'm loving the Ion. After taking a few days to mess around with the various parameters I don't mind the UI so much, and I've gotten some cool sounds (though I should really start writing down settings or figure out how to save them). There are a couple things I'd like to do, though, and I don't know if they're possible:

1) Automate changes in envelope filter settings? It's hard to play and twiddle knobs at the same time.

2) Set a synth sound to decay (like hitting a piano or guitar string) rather than sustaining infinitely? It seems like this should be doable, but I haven't been able to accomplish it).

Jordan (Jordan), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 18:11 (sixteen years ago) link


I'd go for the Microkorg/MS2000 over the Micron from your description of what you want to do. The DWGS waveforms in the Korgs allow you to get dirtier than the basic analog-style oscillators in the Micron.

If you want really dark and gritty, look out for a second hand Ensoniq ESQ1 (or the SQ80, which is basically the same). It's an great sounding analog/digital hybrid synth from the late 80s, and I think it'd suit what you're doing really well. You can probably pick one up for less than the Micro or Microkorg (£100-£150 in the UK, less in the US).

jng (jng), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 18:48 (sixteen years ago) link

well i dont want to be soley limited to the gritty style as i make other types of music as well, but i couldnt find a MS2000 or i guess the newer model MS2000B for 400, i like the microkorg and micron because of the price but from almost all the things i read they say the micron over the microkorg. ive messed around with both of them and the microkorg seems like its a bit easier to tweak (seeing as the micron has like 5 knobs and 4 buttons) I also wanted something up-to date and have alot of expandibility for later use, i know the micron is fairly new as to where the microkorg is like 4-5+ years old. Any other suggestions/comments?

File13, Wednesday, 12 April 2006 19:10 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, I didn't know your price ceiling when I suggested the MS2000. Sorry.
The only trouble you're going to find with an analog-modelling synth are the orchestral sounds. That is the only thing that romplers are good for.

naus (Robert T), Wednesday, 12 April 2006 23:29 (sixteen years ago) link

If you're looking for something reasonably cheap, that will do reasonable pseudo analog synth sounds, check out one of the old E-mu P2000 ROMpler range. Best ones to look for would be the Vintage Pro (do not confuse with the earlier "vintage keys" model) or the, er, the orchestral one (googles) virtuoso 2000 - vintage pro comes w/32mb of decent synth/mellotron/organ/e-piano sounds, virtuoso comes with 64 mb of orchestral sounds. Each module has 4 spaces for 32mb rom sticks, and you could buy these seperately, so if you picked up the virtuoso, you could pick up the 32mb board from the vintage pro and drop that in the module, or vice versa. The whole range is discontinued, and can be picked up really, really cheaply. They sound good, and are very very, editable. there's not much you can't do w/one of these boxes. Add a little midi dumb keyboard and I bet you cd get the whole lot well under yr budget.

Pashmina (Pashmina), Thursday, 13 April 2006 08:40 (sixteen years ago) link

1) Automate changes in envelope filter settings? It's hard to play and twiddle knobs at the same time.

press the mod matrix button to the left of the LCD, you can route various midi control ##s, footpedal, mod wheel 1 or 2 etc to any of the envelope parameters

2) Set a synth sound to decay (like hitting a piano or guitar string) rather than sustaining infinitely? It seems like this should be doable, but I haven't been able to accomplish it).

go to the envelope generator section, press the "amp" button, and turn the "sustain level" knob till it's at zero. The decay time knob then adjusts the time it takes for the sound to die away.

Pashmina (Pashmina), Thursday, 13 April 2006 08:46 (sixteen years ago) link

Thanks Pash! I guessed you'd be to the go-to guy for this stuff.

Jordan (Jordan), Thursday, 13 April 2006 12:03 (sixteen years ago) link

as far as the ROMpler's go this one one called "Nostalgia" just came out and sampling some of the sounds it sounded like it could fit my needs, plus it had a nice range of instruments it sampled on it its 200 bucks though, if i got the micron and that itd be 600 which would be under the range of the MS2000B but that MS2000B looks/sounds soooo cool.

file13, Thursday, 13 April 2006 17:55 (sixteen years ago) link

The VA synth that was great and I am a dork for selling off was a Yamaha AN1x. I wish I still had that synth.

Earl Nash (earlnash), Sunday, 16 April 2006 04:17 (sixteen years ago) link

will the Micron make similar synth sounds to the ones heard on Tin Drum by Japan and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence by Riuichi Sakamoto? is their any other budget polyphonic modelling-synths worth a look?

rio natsume, Thursday, 20 April 2006 20:25 (sixteen years ago) link

three years pass...

revive ion/micron vs ms2000/microkorg debate

which sounds more analogue

( ´_ゝ˙) (Dr. Phil), Thursday, 20 August 2009 18:17 (thirteen years ago) link

also are there others that have surpassed these? nord? novation?

( ´_ゝ˙) (Dr. Phil), Thursday, 20 August 2009 18:28 (thirteen years ago) link

imo the microkorg has higher quality, crunchier sounds but the ion is more versatile (so many of the microkorg's presets are very lol '90s). also it seems easier to mess with the parameters on the ion, but i haven't gotten too deep with that on either one.

all that said, i don't regret trading in the ion for the microkorg, which feels more fun to mess around with.

Ømår Littel (Jordan), Thursday, 20 August 2009 18:29 (thirteen years ago) link

yeah i've heard that they sound good but yeesh:

( ´_ゝ˙) (Dr. Phil), Thursday, 20 August 2009 18:42 (thirteen years ago) link

honestly i stick to about four sounds (from the "hip-hop/vintage/retro" banks) and fuck around with those, a lot of the other stuff sounds corny to me.

i was thinking of asking IMM to recommend another keyboard to me that would complement the microkorg and not be too expensive...

Ømår Littel (Jordan), Thursday, 20 August 2009 18:48 (thirteen years ago) link

you should look into loading the presets from the ms2000 onto it which are supposedly less cheesy

( ´_ゝ˙) (Dr. Phil), Thursday, 20 August 2009 18:54 (thirteen years ago) link

Anyone wanna buy a Korg MicroPreset?

MaresNest, Saturday, 22 August 2009 12:52 (thirteen years ago) link

nine years pass...

I just got one of these! Only 12+ years late to the party, haha. Still sounds v.good, imo

Dan I., Tuesday, 5 March 2019 20:19 (three years ago) link

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