First impression of fusion

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First impression of fusion

Postby logon21 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 2:03 pm

I will do a Harmony Central style review

Ease of Use
: 8
It is OK to use, the menus could have been easier to navigate but the really tricky issue is finding and indexing the sounds into categories that are easy to navigate. If I want a piano, it is pretty much a maze of terror, especially if you have all of the Hollow Sun banks and your own banks of sounds.

1.24 seems OK, but still crashes. And it still does and the memory still maxes out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :cry:

Features : 8
Nothing out can really touch this baby but there are some real issues.

No USB to DAW connectivity, unless you go back in time a get a midi interface. What is all that about? In the 21 Century? Are you kidding me?

Sound Category Buttons? Is this a Casio? This thing has so much space, it could have had 16 sliders to control the mixers as well as the organs and mixes, but more knobs for better real time control over the sounds. I know it is easy after the event but it seems so obvious. Imagine sliders that worked in tandem with your DAW and that gave the users greater artistic control over the internal operation of the sounds, sequencer and sampler.

So much is great, including the 8 track audio but why no direct input into audio? Why can’t my vocalist just plug their Sennheisers into the Fusion and sing? Why can’t my guitarist jack right in without additional interfacing? The audio and digital tracks don’t work as seamlessly as they should.

The sample loader should in this day and age be able to read Wav and Akai in their native format, without having to convert them and them process the samples. It would also have been nice to have some sort of wave sequencer in the way that Korg implement it

Polyphony is incredible. Effects are good but not as good or varied as what I hear on Yamaha gear.

The sequencer should have real pattern sequencing, even a ripped off, watered down version of reason or logic would have done the trick. The way that the sequencer works suggests it was thought of after other parts of the instrument was designed.

This thing should have had 256 mb of RAM so that the samples could have bee been of better quality.

Why no ASP? It is great having DSP but having a true Acoustic Processor would have made the end results so much better

Expressiveness/Sounds : 7.5 (for over all score each has been scored)
There has been much debate about this element of the instrument and I will try to give the most honest view that I can.

Acoustic Pianos (4) – Not very good to be honest, I know it is a subject thing but this isn’t the silky smooth Kurzweil, or the bright and sparkly Yamaha, nor the full bodied Roland, it is weird, not defining or cutting edge and never good enough for to play in my live set for the Jazz Band. I can’t imagine Chick Corea playing his Jazz rifts on this because although the feel of the keys is quite good, the sound is awful and I have downloaded all the tweaks and it is still dreadful. The velocity switching is poorly implemented for the piano. Alesis licensed the sound and it is really poor, when it is well know that Acoustic Piano sounds now are the maker or breaker of an instrument. Sounds more like a sound on one of the old Casio’s that I had when I was a boy but one with velocity issues. Alesis and Holy Grail, shame on you. Even today as at 30th April 2009. The pianos still sound bad.

Electric Pianos (7) – Not the best either, the Rhodes is not smooth enough for the realistic soulful ballads or gritty enough for the banging grooves. The DX types EP’s sounds are just not warm and rounded enough, even after all of my programming and this thing has an FM synth engine. They have not even tried to imitate the beautiful D50 EP’s that are a must on any modern instrument. Sometimes I think what were the programmers thinking when they conjured up the EP’s. Managed to programme and layer some nice Rhodes but some real hard work.

Organs (8) – Not exactly a Hammond B3 that folks play in church week in week out. I would love to be able to play those Hammond solos, funeral and convention themes on this, but this is no Hammond. I can’t expect practise my preacher runs on this, it sounds so bad.
For the rock and pop music it is passable but that is not my need. However no 60’s style white organs and that is a real shock on an instrument in this day and age. Come on Alesis, where is your game?

Strings (7) – I heard the statement ‘Tape Strings’ in relation to the strings on this. The ensembles are really weak, the individual string instruments aren’t up to much either but the pad and vintage strings are hot, real hot.

Here is the break down.

Film Scoring – Don’t bother, you could make a blockbuster flop if you used a fusion.

Live Layering of Sounds for live playing – Buy a Kurzweil or Yamaha

Electronic Euro Dance Production – Just the job, not heard much that can compete with it. One day I thought I was playing a Juno, so good are the synth strings.

Brass (8) – Sadly not gritty or phat enough, the individual instruments are not realistic enough in fact they are very poorly put toegther, even with the Physical Mod engine. If you play Pop, RnB, Jazz, Blues, Gospel etc, this will not provide the phat rifty brass sounds that you require. If you are Teddy Riley trying to do a ‘Jam’ look at your Roland gear for this type of phat and cutting, gritty brass. For garage, Alternative (whatever that is), Old School Rock and Evolving this sings sweeter than the honey.

Woodwind (6) – A complete waste of time, other than for General Midi type playback. This is never going to be used in production of video or Japanese Martial Arts films

Basses (7) – This is tricky. Acoustic Basses (5) are a waste of time, buy a module or sample a bass player, this ain’t no Bootsy Collins sound a like. Analogue and Modelled Basses (8) are quite good. In fact you get that sense of instant beat making when you hear the Analogue and Modelled Basses, however they could be a little bit phater and some of the moog style basses could be a little warmer.

Drums (9) – Acoustic, Synth or otherwise are all banging hot, hot hot. This is one area where the Fusion embarrasses the big 3. Phil Collins, can feel it in the air tonight.

Leads (9) – Tops stuff, warm and evolving and with a vast variety of sounds. Good for Sci-Fi B movies.

Pads (9) – Just like the leads, top draw baby and no complaints, good for 60’s conspiracy TV programmes.

Synths Sounds (8) – Very good, warm, evolving and quite interesting. Jarre-esque sounds are right up there and this could definitely be used for a French laser light show production.


For Live Playing – Don’t bother, unless you want a synth sound, otherwise you will get laughed off the stage.

If you play on a cruise ship or you are the wedding singer – Look away

If you want to create beat – Come to daddy

For home and studio work – This baby is yours believe me and still is

For Big Production Film work – Don’t do it.

Last edited by logon21 on Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby jr2058 » Sat Jun 21, 2008 10:07 am

If you need better sounds than what the fusion has to sound good you must not be that good of a musician. The organs are the only sounds that are lacking with fusion. Every other sound type can be put up with the top line keyboards and sound just as good..
" If you cant play it live . Dont Play it at all.. "
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Postby xmgcx » Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:38 am

Hi logon21,

I agree with some of your points but the acoustic sounds can be improved. The sample playback engine in the fusion is quite capable but some of the stock presets do not really show if its full capabilities.

Have you loaded all the free Hollow Sun banks ?

Also try some of the KPR banks, you have to dig into your pocket for some of these (although some are free) but they are very good.

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Postby psionic » Sun Jun 22, 2008 4:00 am

Ease of use: 8
Features: 8
Expressiveness/Sounds: 6

Actually, I think most experienced Fusion users would rate Expressiveness/Sounds in the area of 8-9 overall.

Then again, you are basing your rating on presets... Sonic expandability and program-ability are built into the Fusion in spades. :wink:

With a VA engine from the same engineers that made the Ion/Micron and the Andromeda, a highly flexible FM engine, a full-on Sampler, 32 mod routes with over 200 sources and 64+ destinations, awesome polyphony and MIX ability, and, thanks to the HD, the ability to endlessly expand your waveforms used in the Rompler portion, you've seriously under-rated the Fusion in the Sounds department. The FX are mediocre at the least, decent at best for traditional bus effects, and very useful for innovative soundsculpting approaches.

Expressiveness/Sounds is the Fusion's major strength, not its weakest point, as your review suggests.
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Postby logon21 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:03 pm

Now that I have used the fusion extensively, I will take back some of what I said. Pianos through decent monitoring isn't bad, Rhodes are still awful but HG has some sterling qualities.

Strings are still not Yamaha but OK.

Anyone got any decent Hammond Sounds?
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Postby ChristianRock » Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:19 pm

For Hammond sounds, check out KPR's organ collection. It's sample-based and you can tweak the presets as there are plenty of good samples to work with.
I believe it's one of his best-sounding packages and it really adds a lot to the Fusion. I really don't heave to go anywhere else for organs and a couple of friends that have jammed on my Fusion in a band context with the organ sounds were very impressed.

Going through your original review, it was clear to me that you hadn't spent time with the Fusion. The sampled sounds indeed are not its strong points, but what you can do with them kind of makes up for it. Also, the Holy Grail is very capable and ranks with the Big 3's workstation pianos. The hardware only pianos that are clearly better are probably the S90 S700 sample and the Roland SRX-11. The others might be better for some uses, but not as good for others. The Holy Grail is a workhorse, it doesn't really shine in one single application, but sounds good for pop, rock, jazz, and even dance (with enough reverb). KPR's piano package is also an excellent deal and will give you more options if you are a piano player.

I also don't agree that the Fusion's not good for live playing. It is however needed to add memory and it will shine.

And about the orchestral sounds. The current sounds aren't much to write home about. KPR's Orchestral package will give you a good start, or you could adapt the E-MU Virtuoso/Proteus Orchestral packages for the Fusion. They were 40% off this past weekend which meant you could get an entire orchestral package for the Fusion for only 54 US Dollars. Yet you'd have to convert the soundsets to Fusion format and adapt them for use in the Fusion. I almost did it, but ended up not getting my Orchestral package just yet... and when I do, I'm pretty sure I will get the KPR package instead to save me some time.

I agree that there is no top-quality Rhodes for the Fusion. The existing Rhodes are decent, but they don't sound as good in the higher octaves because the samples are mostly in the mid range.
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Postby GuyDenruyter » Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:12 am

ChristianRock wrote:I also don't agree that the Fusion's not good for live playing. It is however needed to add memory and it will shine.

I agree with your not-agreeing, a.o. I play in a trip-hop/electro band, where the Fusion makes up 90% of sounds of the whole band, and so far without major problems :)
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Postby LZ » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:59 am

For Live Playing – Don’t bother, unless you want a synth sound, otherwise you will get laughed off the stage.

I've been using the Fusion live for 2-1/2 years and have never been laughed off the stage. Well.... not because of the fusion :D
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Postby logon21 » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:24 pm

I take back what I said, the more I play this the more I am blown away and now I have a Kurz PC2R for Acoustic Pianos.................. Wow
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Postby ChristianRock » Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:11 pm

Once you've had it for a few weeks, you might wanna re-do your review ;)
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Postby GarryB » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:50 am

I've got to butt in here.

I was involved with MIDI way back in the old days. At that time, I played classical guitar and french horn, but had only rudimentary keyboard skills. I believe the first external controller I owned was a Yamaha PSS-680.

I was able to compose some music using the keyboard coupled with Cakewalk (1.0?), but the results were always less than "expressive." I blamed the PSS-680.

A couple of years ago, I returned to college to try for an A.A. degree in Music or Liberal Arts. I was sort of coerced into taking applied piano. After 6 semesters I went from total beginner to late intermediate level.

Last autumn, I decided to attempt composition once more. The hardware I had at the time, consisted of a Casio CPS-720. The first composition I completed, a little prelude, surprised me: while the piano patch on the Casio isn't the greatest (circa 1990), every nuance of my playing was present in the finished product.

I spent some time reflecting on this and arrived at a conclusion: in the past, before piano lessons, I was approaching the keyboard as an input tool, whereas after piano lessons, I viewed it as an instrument and *played* it.

Afer I got my 8HD a couple of months back, I was astounded from the first key pressed. Due to the piano lessons, I can really make the instrument sing.

So, to paraphrase George C. Scott ( and I don't remember which film) sometimes the issue isn't with the horse - it's with the jockey.

In my case, I had an old school piano teacher. To her, timing and expression were everything. I could never get away with just playing the right notes, phrases, or even the whole song. She'd (figuratively) rap my knuckles if I missed a crescendo, and if I missed a morendo, things got really ugly.

Man! I'm really long winded.
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Re: First impression of fusion

Postby logon21 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:37 am

Now that I have had this crashy bit of gear.............................. I have to tell the whole world I love it just love it.

It crashes like the wind but this thing plays and now that I have some decent B3's (Hammond Emulation) I am so happy.

There is still no decent Acoustic Piano so bought a Kurzweil rack but everything else is hot, hot hot
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Re: First impression of fusion

Postby jur451c » Tue May 12, 2009 3:14 am

dood, contact alesis about the crashing, I had an 8hd the crashed and froze all the while (maybe 5 times in a single gig) I rang Alesis and was told that it sounded like an eeprom problem. I had it sent back and they sent me another, this was about 2 months (or 8 gigs) ago, and so far not a single crash, freeze or slow down.
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