Alesis has always managed to make good hardware synths at low prices, and the quality of their analog-modeling synths (see our review of the Micron) has been stunning. The Fusion is a particularly impressive deal, with multiple synthesis engines (sampled, physical modeling, virtual analog, and FM) and even a genuine-article Alesis HD 8-track hard disk recorder, all starting at under a grand.

Alesis has just dropped the list price of the Fusion to US$999 for the 30-lb. 6HD model, and people are snapping them up quick. Steve Fortner’s extensive test on Keyboard. Executive summary: it ain’t no cheap OASYS killer, but “the value is downright dramatic” even without considering the hard disk multitrack recorder. Great piano sounds, great analog modeling, and cheap, though the sampled sounds are lackluster (that’s not been an Alesis strong suit), and the “physical modeling” section is just winds and reeds, though interesting ones.

Also worth reading: Keyboard did a deep behind-the-scenes tour of how the Fusion was designed. So for all of you wondering about the unusual, curved design, now you can see the design sketches and hear the original story. (Here’s a tip, though: don’t judge until you’ve seen the Fusion in person. You might still hate it, but the effect of its looks are very different in the flesh than on the Web.)

Personally, I’ll spend my cash on a spectacular controller keyboard and stick to soft synths (I’m already replacing an Alesis QS-8), but this is worth a look.