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Eureka! Alesis Micron w/the bass

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by CelticWarrior72, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. CelticWarrior72


    Jul 29, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Admin of the Chicago Bass Players' Network
    This is my first post. Why? Simply because I didn't have anything of value to add to all the discussions that occur here.

    Like many bass players, I also play the synth to fill out some of the sound in my two bands. My synth of choice is the Alesis Micron, a nifty little unit that spits out a huge range of sounds. The one downside is that it is difficult to program outside it's presets and requires immense patience to learn how to use properly.

    This week I tried something new with my Micron. I figured how to process an external instrument (my bass) through its sound processing engine (not its sound generation engine). This means that you can push the bass signal through it's filter section, drive & fx sections, while applying all the envelopes and LFO's (low frequency oscillators) to any modulation parameter.

    Add the Micron's sound processing capabilities to its on-board sequencer and you're in a new world. It's like EXH meets Moogfooger meets Octavius meets Hot Chip and The Chemical Brothers.

    I'm going to be posting some YouTube video soon. If any of you have a Micron and want to know how to do this, feel free to ask.

    Oh yeah, I paid $200 on Craigslist for my Micron. Best $200 I ever spent.
  2. I have also made some experiences with a DSI Evolver. It has analogue 2 and 4 pole filters and a dedicated distortion section to process external signals. But I turned out to be unpatient and sold it. :atoz:
  3. Silent Fly

    Silent Fly Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 8, 2006
    London - UK
    Owner/designer [sfx]
    Very interesting.
  4. does the micron have like 50 different filters? the micron was in my consideration set when i was buying a synth--if i could find one for 200 it'd be game over. BTW, it does look tough to program--there are some PC editors out there for like 40 bucks which i think would be worth it to get exactly the sound you are looking for if you still aren't sure with the programming
  5. Gonzo476


    Mar 1, 2009
    Madrid, Spain
    So...how did you do it? I have a Micron and I've always dreamed of being able to plug my bass into this little synth.
  6. johnp352


    Aug 19, 2005
    Endorsing Artist: Rick Turner, GK
    I tried the Micron too, as I play synth bass as well, but found it way too buggy to use live. It is $200 used though (there is a reason for this), however there are other used synths with audio in that cost the same..Novation X station for one.
  7. What other synths work well for this application? Especially live use?
  8. PinkFloydDan


    Jul 4, 2005
    I have the Micron so I am really interested in seeing what you did. WHen you do make videos, could you show also how you hooked everything up?

    I am assuming this is PC generated?
  9. johnp352


    Aug 19, 2005
    Endorsing Artist: Rick Turner, GK
    X station, both flavor newer moogs, all David Smith, Korg Micros..if you are just after the filter processing though there's other things..starting with simple envelope filters.
  10. I have a Micron and still haven't plugged a bass into it... very curious to see the vid. Subscribed.

    The micron is a great design IMO - a compact performance synth that is VERY powerful despite looking like a toy

    sorry guys, it's not analog
  11. not quite 50, but LOTS of filter options, most of them modelled after classic synth filters. There are a few flange, phase and delay effects too, which while as endless as the filter options, are very cool

    i bought mine new for 300. If buying used, try to make sure the main knob is a sturdy one - that part was upgraded at some point.
  12. chris.gotfunk


    Mar 21, 2007
    Ashburn, Va
    I recently picked up the Akai Miniak for the same reasons above. I want to play synth in my band but I saw that you can run a bass through it. I have yet to try, but I would be curious to hear your clips. Please post the youtube clips once you have them. Since the Akai and Alesis are basically the same thing, it would probably sound similar.
  13. PinkFloydDan


    Jul 4, 2005
    My friend has a Micro Korg that I thought was awesome as well, better than the Micron.

    I am really interested in seeing how the Micron works plugged into the bass. Do you plug the bass into what input? Is it through midi or can you use it as an effect pedal of sorts?
  14. My microkorg (and an outboard midi controller) replaced my korg MS2000, which has the same engine as the microkorg

    there is no comparison. you might prefer the presets and the configuration of the microkorg, and I suppose it is really good for trance music. but the Micron uses the Alesis Ion engine, and this is VASTLY superior for programming patches... though the micron will require a software editor for that
  15. CelticWarrior72


    Jul 29, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    Admin of the Chicago Bass Players' Network
    I am going to post a YouTube video explaining how to set this all up, but it will take me a couple of days, so I'll try get you started below:

    Note: The Micron is not an 'analog synth', it is an 'analog modeling synth' i.e. a digital version of the original thing from the '70's. It's sound engine (once you fully understand it) is incredibly powerful for it's size. It might look like a toy...but it ain't a toy. I use it live in both my covers band and originals band, and it rocks!

    Firstly, this wasn't an easy setup to figure out (it took me a week of playing around with routing, cables, software, and some good luck). You'll need the following:

    1) A Micron (used on Craigslist for $200-$250)
    2) The manual for the Micron (ESSENTIAL reading unfortunately)
    3) A PC
    4) A MIDI interface (I use the Firewire410 though I haven't tried a MIDI to USB converter cable which I believe might work)
    5) A PC based editor for the Micron (I use the one from Hypersynth - it's nicely designed and pretty intuitive)
    6) A limiter pedal (I use the Boss LMB-3. This is simply to protect your amplifier in case the synth kicks out a volume peak during one of it's wilder moments)

    The first step to success is to READ the Micron's manual. You will need to fully understand how the Micron generates and processes its sounds before you have any hope of making this work. In particular pay attention to the 'Signal Flow Diagram' on page 57. This the key to understanding how your bass signal will flow through the various filters, mixers, and effects controllers inside the Micron.

    The input for your bass is the 'Ext-In left' jack on the back of the Micron.

    I have to leave it there for the moment because I'm at work posting this, but I'll be back with more on this tutorial soon.

  16. Subscribing- I had a Yamaha CS-5 in the 80s; running bass through it was bonehead-simple & sounded AWESOME. If I ever find another at a decent price that's not in friggin Japan, I'll be on it like a mod on a political/religious post. :D I'd also love a Miniak or something similar- which of these guys are *easy* to program/edit*?
  17. a micron is VERY similar to the miniak - just a different hardware format, really. programming patches on either is a PITA without a software editor... there are free ones available that will work sufficiently well, though I've never found one for Mac that was superlative

    very true, but it sounds VERY good, and even has a control for simulated analog drift! There's no single analog synth unit with anything near the capabilities of the micron for either programming or performance, though, and an analog setup with similar capabilities would AT LEAST five times as much, and would be huge, heavy and awkward.

    the micron is a VERY good choice for messing around on synth before taking the plunge into high-end pure analog synth gear - and you might not ever need to go that far!
  18. johnp352


    Aug 19, 2005
    Endorsing Artist: Rick Turner, GK
    we start to get into the sound of the filter(s) at this point, which is why one should consider just what you are using it for, and whether you want to route it as an external trigger, etc. Also the function..solo bass..in a big mix, etc. And whether you intend to use it as a keyboard as well. If all you need is an analog filter, then try a good pedal, Mogg for a $$, beautiful sounding one that goes very well with a guitar.
  19. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    I have the Alesis Ion, which is the Micron/MiniAK's predecessor. It lacks the sequencer and extra FX but it has a ton of rotary encoders for handy-dandy editing. The encoders are 14 bit (very high res) so there's no stepping/zipper noise as in most digital synths.

    IMO the Korg R3 has better on-the-fly editing than Micron/MiniAK but the synth engine is less powerful.
  20. I agree completely. But you also have to consider the price point - and the fact is, free software editors make programming easy on the micron, and it is easy to assign controls for performance. The ultimate synth? hardly. Tons of bang for the buck and more than most bass players really need? Heck yeah, that's the Micron

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