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The company famous as Alesis Studio Electronics was founded by Keith Barr in 1984 in Hollywood. Barr who was designing integrated circuits could put on the market more affordable electronic musical instruments which brought huge success to the brand in the very beginning. In 1985 the first digital reverb XT Reverb came out costing twice cheaper than its alternatives.

The big fame came to the company with the invention of ADAT standard (Alesis Digital Audio Tape) in 1991. Back then it was a serious competitor to DAT digital recording format (Digital audio tape) developed by Philips and Sony companies regarding actual format limitations. ADAT is a magnetic tape format used for the recording of 8 digital audio tracks onto a Super VHS tape. Each ADAT could record up to eight 16-bit audio tracks onto a VHS tape as soon as 16 ADAT could be joined up for recording 128 audio tracks simultaneously. Considering that ADAT offered the same resolution as Audio CD but featured a much cheaper price than any other home digital recorder, it’s no surprise that ADAT was a real success entering Technical Excellence & Creativity (TEC)nology Hall of Fame.

The first brand’s synthesizer was Quadrasynth released in 1993, and in 1996 Alesis started to expand the series later launching such models as: Quadrasynth 6 (61-note keyboard), Quadrasynth 7 (76 keys), Quadrasynth 8 (88 keys) and their enhanced versions which included the basic functions of the first model. Quadrasynth synthesizer offered a 76-note keyboard and 64-voice polyphony. The synthesizer also has a rack version – S4 Sound Module. Quadrasynth became the first synthesizer offering ADAT optical interface. The synth comprised 16 MB ROM (Read-only memory) samples. Quadrasynth has a 16-part multitimbrality, multi effects processor (4 effects onboard) based on the brand standalone effects processor Quadraverb 2, drum kits from D4 drum module, 4 assignable knobs, one PCMCIA slot, 48kHz clock input and 4 audio outputs. Thanks to its specification the synthesizer is capable of producing rich sounds of electronic and acoustic instruments. Quadrasynth uses digital additive-subtractive synthesis based on sample playback generating quite applicable stereo grand pianos, organs, strings, drum/percussion, wind voices, new and classic synth textures. In 1995 the company released an improved version of Quadrasynth – Quadrasynth Plus with an increased ROM (24 MB with the expansion ability up to 32 MB), increased number of patches (640) and mixes (500) as well as introduction of General MIDI library, new 8 MB stereo grand piano sample and PCMCIA expansion slot. In 1998 the series was refreshed with new elaborated versions Quadrasynth 6.1, Quadrasynth 7.1, Quadrasynth 8.1 featuring LCD. The series welcomed Quadrasynth 6.2, Quadrasynth 7.2, Quadrasynth 8.2 with stripped-down specs of the previous models but these ones were more affordable. Since the many synthesizers of the 90s were aimed at dominating in dance music (trance) the all-purpose Quadrasynth didn’t have to fit in – it stood out offering voices convincing enough for any genre.

A 61-key model of Alesis Andromeda A6 synthesizer was released in 2000. The synthesizer appeared to be a hybrid of old and new technologies and was fully analog. The instrument included 2 VCOs + 2 subs per voice, 16-note polyphony, hard and soft sync ability. Andromeda A6 has a sufficient number of knobs (72) and buttons (144) as well as a ribbon controller for sound adjustment in real time. The accurate parameters of the instrument can be seen on a big LCD. Andromeda A6 can be easily integrated with any gear of your studio featuring full MIDI implementation, sync, individual voice outputs, stereo outputs and audio inputs. Andromeda offers two analog filters per voice (2-pole multimode and 4-pole low pass); you can also put external audio sources through them – there are three 1/4” jacks. Andromeda numbers 3 LFOs – 6 waveforms each – which could be synced with MIDI clock. Besides, there are 3 envelope generators which features 7 stages. The modulation matrix set you free in configuring sounds. Andromeda A6 offers portamento, legato, high quality reverbs, chorus, echo, distortion. Built-in arpeggiator and sequencer in analog style are available and can be MIDI synced. The synthesizer comprises 256 presets and 128 user patches. In order to upload additional programs and mixes you need to use PCMCIA card. Andromeda A6 was in the arsenal of such bands and musicians as Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, DJ Tiesto, Klaus Schulze, Yes and Pet Shop Boys.

Ion analog modeling synthesizer by Alesis was presented as a synthesizer producing sounds based on patented DSP Analog Modeling technology (500 MIPS processor – mln tasks per sec). The instrument had a 49-note keyboard, 3 oscillators per voice (considering an 8-voice polyphony) which together with filters allowed synthesizer to simulate a saturated sound with realistic sound effects reminding of the other popular synthesizers: Roland Jupiter, Moog Minimoog, 4-part multitimbrality. It also features a continuously variable waveshape (for example, sine morphing into square), oscillator sync and FM synthesis. Ion comprises 16 filter types (aliasing is subtle even in high pitch sounds), 2 LFOs, sample & hold and arpeggiator – all with the MIDI clock sync ability. The modulation matrix is quite intuitive and let you route parameters practically to any component of the instrument, there’s a 40-band vocoder which doesn’t eat up the polyphony. The external stereo audio can be processed with filters, effects and vocoder. Ion is capable of generating grainy and thick leads and bass sounds as well as warm analog pads and funk effects. The synthesizer offers two assignable mod wheels. Ion comprises 512 rewritable patches and 64 multitimbral settings, 4 analog outputs, 2 stereo analog inputs (balanced, use 24-bit conversion), 4 independent effects channels, stereo master multi-FX processor and a built-in all-purpose power supply. You’ll also find here expression and sustain pedal jacks as well as headphones jacks. Back in the day (it was released in 2003) Ion seemed to be quite a nice virtual analog synth with competitive price and specification. Micron – a more compact Ion version – came out two years after the release of the previous version. The model included 37 keys, an 8-voice polyphony, reverb effect (unlike Ion did) but had a reduced number of knobs and buttons. The interface of the synthesizer allows quick and simple adjustment of the crucial sound parameters. The model also supports MIDI to integrate with any computer system.

Fusion series workstations was released in 2005. It included two models featuring hammer action: 6HD (61-note keyboard), 8HD (88-note keyboard). The models comprise 4 powerful synth engines (an impressive set of Sample Playback, FM, Virtual Analog (VA) and Physical Modeling based on three DSP by Texas Instruments) and an 8-track 24-bit hard drive recorder. The synthesizer allows uploading user samples via USB which could be then stored and edited on Fusion hard drive (40/80 GB). The instrument features 64 MB RAM expandable up to 192 MB. FM section functions owing to a six-operator engine and creates Yamaha DX-like sounds. The virtual analog section offers many waveforms, sync, pulse-width modulation, 20 various filter types and a 4-band equalizer per patch. Structural elements of the physical modeling section are not as realistic as you’d want but they let you play with the sound distorting and altering it the way you like achieving amazing pads. Using combinations of different synthesis types you can blend and combine all the engine types putting the results through effects and creating evolving soundscapes.

Alesis has been offering affordable and inspiring professional electronic musical instruments for many years. The company has built a wide range of innovative synthesizers, drum modules, mixers, portable speakers and amplifiers. Today the company is considered to be one of the fastest developing brands distributing its production all over the world.