Since the synth I'm getting will be the first new one I've purchased in over ten years, expect me to blab on about it for a while. 😉
Bonus feature about the Alesis that I just found out about:
The damn thing can literally function as an actual recording studio. I kid you not.
Built-in is a 40GB hard drive and an eight-track digital audio recording system. How unbelievably frickin' cool is that.
I'll tell you why that is such a big deal for me.
The way I record now is that I place everything manually into the computer via Adobe Audition 1.5. It's great software and does the job, however, I have to follow the metronome manually for everything, including synth drum tracks. While it's true I can easily play synth drums without issue, I have wished, hoped and prayed for some way to sync a drum track to the internal clock of Audition 1.5 via MIDI so I wouldn't have to be so worried about timing. Drums are obviously the backbone of any song, so you have to pay extra-special attention to them. I can't tell you how many times I've had to re-do drum tracks just to get the timing right. It's not that my timing is bad (far from it), it's just that having the sync ability would be extremely convenient.
Here's an explanation of what I was trying to do with synth drums: I make a song with a tempo set to 130bpm (beats per minute) in Audition 1.5. It has the standard verse-chorus-verse structure. I lay down a few guitars and some bass. The tempo remains constant throughout the song. What I wanted to do is program a drums-only sequence on the Ensoniq that spanned the entire song from beginning to end, also @ 130bpm. Then I would set up a MIDI trigger in Audition 1.5 so when the part of the song comes where the drums start, it sends the signal over the wire via MIDI to the Ensoniq to start playing the sequence so it can record to Audition.
I was never able to get that to happen - and believe me I tried. Several times. I couldn't do it either from a limitation of the software, the Ensoniq or both. I was stuck in manual-land.
Here's where the Alesis is different:
The 'board itself is the digital audio recorder in addition to being a musical instrument. What I can do with this is use tracks as either programmed or digital audio. This means I can record my guitars as digital audio, and have the drums as programmed (and quantized). Everything is centralized and it all plays back from the same unit.
In layman's terms: I don't have to sync a damn thing and can totally skip that step entirely. Since the drums are on the same recording medium as the "live" instruments, I can just quantize them (the drums) and be done with it. This allows me to concentrate more on the live stuff.
I never would have thought in a million years that I would ever have a synth that can set tracks as programmed or digital audio just by pressing a few buttons, and be the recording medium all at the same time.
This is 100% brilliant. And convenient. And easy. Not only am I getting a new synth with some cool new sounds, I'm also getting a new recording studio all built-in.
I'm only hoping it works as well as Audition 1.5 does. If so, I'll be a very happy guy.