Is It Time For Alesis To Bring Back The Andromeda?

Is it time for Alesis to bring back the Andromeda A6 analog synthesizer?

That’s the question raised by this demo video by synthesist Panu Savolainen. The demo is straight Alesis Andromeda, with Blackhole reverb and Waves delay.

The Andromeda, made from 2000-2010, was described at the time as “the ultimate polyphonic analog synth”.

Alesis made a full-on 16-voice analog beast….at the peak of digital synths. The A6 is insanely hands-on, with 72 knobs and 144 buttons. And it has powerful synthesis options, including dual filters, 7-stage envelopes and 3 LFO’s/voice.

The Alesis Andromeda A6 completely defied the trends of its day. It wasn’t a retro design. If anything, it was a pre-cursor to today’s renaissance of analog keyboards. Even it if were introduced today, it would be an unusually powerful design, with greater polyphony and a more powerful architecture than many of today’s analog synths.

Is it time for Alesis to make a new Andromeda? Check out the video and share your thoughts in the comments!

64 thoughts on “Is It Time For Alesis To Bring Back The Andromeda?

      1. The solution is to have a third digital Oscillator. Allows for more sophisticated LFO in theory, and if adds a some more tonal variants with maybe a small wavetable loading function.

      2. Korg did a great job with the Prologue, which sounds great and is pretty inexpensive. The third oscillator is anything but useless or complex to use – it’s super powerful and opens up huge options.

        Three oscillators mean you can do chords with a note, pick out overtones, or just make it sound juicy.

        Wendy Carlos said once that you should always use an odd number of oscillators, if you’re detuning them, because you need to have an oscillator on pitch to sound in tune, and then you can paired detuned sharp/flat oscillators to fatten things up, without pulling the tuning off-balance,.

        1. Another reason to have an odd number of oscillators is that two identical waveforms will cancel all 9f their odd harmonics as they beat against one another. This means that saws will sound like they’ve gone up an octave as they go 180 degrees out of phase, while squares and triangles will cancel entirely. This happens if they’re identical in shape and volume of course.

    1. Definitely, it’s a shame that Alesis had to stop manufacturing this beast of a Synth, I’m pretty sure if it were to come back with a few tweaks & firmware updates it would sell like hot cakes!

      1. It was a big loss for Alesis then, because it came in the main time of digital synths and did not sell good (also because it was quite expensive).
        The last units where sold out from German “Music Store” for 2200DM (eq. now 1100€ !) – and I was povo in that time and had to see that offer vanishing….. 🙁

        1. i totally remember when that happened…and there were some refurbished units going on the Alesis website for even cheaper..and I HAD NO MONEY!!!

  1. Only if it works this time! Kidding, but it’s not time to bring it back. Was a failure then, it will still be a failure.

        1. Agreed, the Ion has one of the best UI ever made. You can edit and tweak its 4 parts in real time, while aprpeggiators are playing, change patches while notes sustain with the previous patch…awesome. A new Ion with improved oscillator models would be great.

          1. Some ION cons:
            – Not reliable pots (not avaible anywhere)
            – Shitty preset-based arp
            – No reverb (upgraded on mciron/miniak)
            – Strange layout: 1) scroll down through menu back clockwise; 2) ADSR encoders closer to keyboard that envelope switcher. 3) And so on.
            – 2 seconds freeze when play noise oscillator.

            BUT:
            + It’s really beast sounding synth. Sound very analog.
            + Cool filter emulations
            + Endless encoders – no jumps
            + Almost “1 knob per feature”

            Overall, own ION, dreaming of ION 2.0.

      1. I’ve had my A6 for nearly two decades and it’s a synth that can take you from one end of the spectrum to the other – some really wild patches if you’re patient enough. The modulation + control routing is awesome, but there could have been a wider breath of effects. But back then, with no sign of any JUNO 106 practically on the planet, and analog almost being looked at as a bad word; with the direction the industry was heading, the A6 was like audio ice cream. And it’s still delicious today, despite its quirks. As much as I hope Alesis makes another A6, the REV2 and especially the PolyBrute (unexpected price increase, cough cough) sound awesome and could still be future goals if my dinky pocketbook allows it. @Nonspecific, I’m with you all the way!

  2. The Andromeda was great in many ways but also flawed in others. If they could iron out those flaws it would be competition for the moog One.

  3. I wonder how many people just think they want this because it isn’t available?

    There are plenty of amazing (possibly even better) analogue polys currently available- The Prophet Rev2 for for example (around £1500 for the 16 voice)

      1. exactly, prophet rev2 can only be described as boring! cold oscillators and the weakest filter i’ve ever tried, returned the synth after two weeks.

        1. with possibilities that will last a century to cover maybe it’s not the synth that’s boring. it’s not like juno-6 sounding but so is the a6
          I never pretend to be able to criticize the sound of “one part” of any synth, it’s what you can do with the whole that counts. and people get from all the prophet 8/rev 2 wonderful sound

          1. i have a simple rule: amazing core sound. i own a decent amount of pedals and effect units, and yes, you can sculpt anything with the proper tools but if the synth sound mediocre i dont want to lose time ‘fixing’ its flaws, simple as that. i am sure a lot of people are making very good music with it, rival consoles was the reason i tried one, but he process the prophet with at least 4 different effect units, with that amount of processing anything can sound good.

            1. good sound is very subjective, saying it sound mediocre or boring doesn’t seems reasonable to me but for each his own.
              to my ears the rev2 sound incredible and all the unique and complex features are very inspiring

  4. I simply adore my Andromeda. It’s showing its age and I live in constant fear that the analog board will die. There are synths that have the voice count, or the robust modulation, or multiple filters, but none with all of its features and capabilities. It has a unique character and sound that at the time it came out, most didn’t recognize. I think a lot of people were focused on what it didn’t sound like rather than what it actually sounded like.

  5. Yes, yes it is time for Alesis to bring back the Andromeda. It’s a feature packed, great sounding synth. They could make an updated version that fixes all of the bugs.

  6. > Is It Time For Alesis To Bring
    > Back The Andromeda?

    No, it is time for them to bring back the Fusion (w/o the firmware flaws).

  7. Oddly, a friend and I were just discussing this last night. If the ASICs inside the A6 could be manufactured again, and married up to a modern CPU (much of the modulation was controlled by a 68000-class CPU) and display, with flash for patch storage instead of RAM, it would be a monster synth again. But, to sean’s point above, there are other monster polysynths that are currently available, too.

    1. I had one, made my ears bleed, and the biggest crime of all: it’s not fully editable from the synth front panel – good luck finding a software editor now!!

    2. Made by Ensoniq before they were absorbed by E-mu, not Alesis. However, it would be nice to see E-mu/Ensoniq return. There was talk of them coming back a few years ago. If you want a cool digital synth that can kinda go there, check out the Hydrasynth. It also has an editing system that is an evolution of the Ensoniq workflow, and is very well made.

  8. Me too John. Owned one and let it go for several reasons: Thin sound, many problems with knobs, software and lacks of punch in general.
    As Roland JD-800 (have one already) very pleasing looking but nothing more.

  9. It’s honestly not that great – huge possibilities but very small sweet spots and lots of menu diving make it a frustrating synth to use, plus reliability is questionable and spares are non-existent (it uses lots of custom ASIC chips). There are much better options today. Also the Alesis of today is far removed from the Alesis that created this monster, so they would be very unlikely to bring it back or make something better.

  10. Had a really good play when i worked for a commercial studio,
    it sounded interesting but far from what would be expected,
    it was not really the sound of retro analog but very futuristic,
    lots of effects,not warm but complex analog,i have owned the
    xpander and that is the only thing i can compare it too,
    it did crash!.I liked it but not so much your bread and butter analog
    more like evolving and also slightly glitchy in some ways.great
    synth and i would like one if it was reasonably priced but its not
    worth the prices they go for now,also i would think reliability would
    be a issue.

  11. What matters the most to me is the sound, (I don’t really care how it’s produced as long as it doesn’t alias), then the user interface, so lots of hands-on knobs & physical controls is great. But it really doesn’t have to be analogue.

    To put things in context, Nord typically do a great job on the UI, but the sound may be too clean / digital for some, whilst the Roland Jupiter X series sound amazing but have a frustrating & complex UI involving too much menu diving. The Novation Summit is good at both.

  12. I had one of these. When they work, they are great. They use custom chips that like to die, and when they do, you have to cannibalize another Andromeda to get them. It was a good synth on paper, but many of them experienced reliability issues. As a company they have good ideas, but their QC is inconsistent. The OS was buggy. Encoders would jump to their physical value when the synth was played. For the first month I owned mine, it was great, but after 30 days, it became more and more unreliable. The dealer and I troubleshot this for weeks – factory reset, reloaded the OS, had the techs take a look at it. By the end, it had become a paperweight. The store took it back and in exchange I got a V-Synth XT, which I still have today.

    Honestly if you want a great analog poly for today, check out the Rev 2 if you need 16 voices. Get Creative Spiral’s excellent sound pack to add the full classic VCO vibe. If you want a more comprehensive synth engine and can live with 6 voices, check out the excellent PolyBrute because it’s better in nearly every way. The Prophet 6 and OB-6 both sound richer out of the box too. The A6 could do classic when pushed, but I think many of its patches would be seen as quite stiff sounding by today’s standards.

    The A6 could be great, but I think Alesis should license the design to a company with a stronger history of QC like Yamaha that could fix the design and OS flaws and then put out a modern version. I know stories of folks that had some of the last ones off the assembly line, which were gone over by the creators and apparently those ones are going strong, but those stories are in the minority. I’ve seen several in addition to the one I briefly owned, and I have never seen one that didn’t exhibit at least some of the issues I’ve described above. It’s too bad.

  13. The Alesis of that that time had better management n engineers. I doubt they’d be able to pull it off today, unless
    They clone it …..but really….yes bring it back for $$1500.

  14. Bring on the analog polys! The A6 may not have been perfect, but there’s absolutely room for a modern successor in today’s market.

  15. If they retain multitimbrality and seperate outs I’d get one, but if they added two more oscilators to each voice based on the Alesis Fusion I’d get two.

  16. i just want more different synths, like the make noise 0-coast and strega, or the microvolt 3900 & voltage lab from pittsburgh modular – microfreak is pretty neat too. if i had the moneys of course, i would love an andromeda for those polyphonic pads though.

  17. It’s a beautifully designed and aesthetically pleasing synth but sounds about the same as other VA synths of the day (Korg Z1 and equivalents from Yamaha/Roland etc) Just easier to program.

    1. The Alesis Andromeda wasn’t a VA though.The two oscillators per voice, two filters per voice, and amplifiers were 100% analogue. And IMHO the multitimbrality with seperate outs and versatile envelopes in addition to the analogue signal path make it relatively unique overall.

  18. Its mostly an intersection between Gear Lust and Nostalgia. The big classic synths often didn’t last for several reasons. $4k-$20k price tags and insane repair issues were two big ones. Peter K. can testify to that.

    The A6 has a major sound I like, but if it was modernized enough to be practical (and more hardy), all of those knobs would still make it a Schmidt-priced item. People can strain a bit for a Jupiter-X, but the today-price of a real Jupiter-8 can equal that of a small car, soooo…..

    1. I know, right? The Jupiter-X is a powerful, great sounding machine (cue the crybabies: But it isn’t real analog, waaah waaah waaah).
      And the archaic Jupiter 8 is soooooooo overrated. The ridiculous price is due to hype (cue the dissent from said crybabies).

  19. A6 Andromeda v2! This could definitely give the Arturia Polybrute a run for its money – not much missing in features between the two. I can think of really only a couple of things that would need to change (based on the specs I read) and they are all minor… a bit more CV in/out and Eurorack compatible (at least the same and Eurorack compatible), and maybe some upgrade of the original effects – delay, reverb, chorus, flanger, and distortion; maybe add a phaser. Though maybe the existing effects are really good enough. There are a few quibbles about not being able to reset to knob positions, so maybe add that. Since R&D would be almost non-existent, perhaps they could come out around the same price they originally did. I think they would fly off the shelves… (Did they do a desktop version..? That seems like a way get more sold in a second round.)

  20. I have mine since 2007… Never a bug, never a failure. If you follow ebay and reverb A6s you´ll hardly find one with a dead voice. Believe me, I do.
    I humbly have experience with most classic synths, including modulars. The sounds and sequences I can get from the A6 are exceptional. As good as the best of the best. Presets are not bad, but compared to your own custom sounds they are too generic. But mastering it takes time, it´s an extremely complex instrument. It´s like having 16 independent modular synths, each with its own step sequencer. There´s digital modulation matrix, but also a lot of analogue routings… all kinds of FM configurations (linear, exp, pw), filter FM, audio feedback, etc… all analogue. It sounds very very close to moogs and SEMs… not surprisingly because the oscillators and filters are based on those… I compared them side by side, but you have to know the A6 very well to make it sound that way… oscillator levels on the mixer, env curves, etc etc etc have to be taken under consideration for that.

    1. Absolutely this.

      The Andromeda is a very particular beast. oscillators need to be at 30% going into the filter or else they can get kind of bunched up soundings.

      It’s easily one of the best synths for pads ever built and isn’t a slouch at everything else.

      The pads are monstrous though.

  21. What do you guys think about the Novation Summit ? I know it’s digital but it has some analog stuff that according to them it sounds as analog as necessary etc.

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