Big Synth, Little Synth

The new Alesis Micron synth (right) has arrived in UK shops (well, it's on Ebay). It's a tiny version of the Alesis Ion (left). I played with an Ion in a shop last week, and it was great. It's a high-powered digital synth, which does a very good job of impersonating vintage kit, but somehow sounds modern. Plus, it looks fantastic in a Jonathan Ive way. It's totally non-retro, a big white square metal thing, with a huge LCD screen, loads of rubber knobs, and wheels that glow. All for £425, if you know where to look. So the Micron is the same brain, in a smaller and cheaper (£339) box, but without the knobs. It's very sexy, but I can't help wondering if - in this age of cheap/free software synths - whether hardware synths are all about the knobs. The Ion is a real, full-sized object of gadget worship. The Micron is just a sound module with a little keyboard. I guess it will sell to anyone who bought an iPod Mini.

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