I returned to the world of synth's and keyboards after over two decades of seperation. I had sold all my gear in 1988 to go to school, afterwhich I never thought I would return to the world of electronic sound and music production. Well now I've returned and OH MY! After all that time, much has changed and progressed. What we can do today either could only be had by those with mucho money, or didn't exist at all! Case in point, the Alesis Fusion 6HD. This machine is one of the first affordable "workstations" that was within reach of those with modest means. Back in the 80's the closest you could get to something of this capablity would have been the Fairlight CMI or some of the very early crude consumer oriented sampling keyboards.
While other more well known workstations selling for a couple of thousand dollars, the Fusion 6HD can be had for 899.00. Although this price point was a strong selling feature for me, what really sold me on this board, was it's capability and features! The Fusion is not only a music production workstation, with most of the typical features that being a workstation would be expected to have, it also is an Analog synth (software based), FM synth AND sampler as well. My Fusion has an 80 gig hard drive, unlike the early releases which had only 40. It is quite capable and best utilized by someone who enjoys creating or shaping their own sounds rather than just using factory presets. The factory presets are lacking somewhat, but that does not matter as everything is completely editable. For this reason, I faced a fairly steep learning curve as I haven't touched a synth in so long, but once you get the hang of it this machine you can make it howl. I would say that it is best for electronic based music by the nature of it's sound.
With the Fusion, you have complete control of sound modeling unlike many rompler boards and workstations. Of course, most of the interaction is through a fairly small blue screen and a rotary dial, its possibilities are endless. It has a fairly nice array of nobs and buttons, many of which are assignable to most functions. The sound is terrific and it is a solid board, with a heavy aluminum casing, unlike some boards that are mostly plastic.
Now of course, this board is not without its inherent problems and this is where my disappointment lies. From the beginning, the operating system has been flakey. It has been fixed with various updates - mostly yet it still can be unpredictable despite the fixes. I would be a little reluctant to rely on it as a main performance board. It does work well when driven by a DAW. I use Logic 8 on a MacBook Pro and there are no problems in that realm, although this is counter to what the workstation is for. This is a personal preference, as I find programming far easier with the DAW on a large screen lap top. Why there never was a Library Editor created for the Fusion, I'll never know.
I do have problems with saving and manipulating how and where files for sounds I edit or create get stored. I believe I may have to reformat the Fusion's hard drive and reinstall it's operating system, along with the hundreds and hundreds of songs, mixes and anything else - not a quick or easy task.
It is for this somewhat instability of the operating system that I don't rate the board as high as I would like, because I truly do like the machine. Unfortunately there has been little activity from Alesis regarding updates or, well - anything in quite some time. Although Hollow Sun, a sound engineering company has continued to make free as well as purchasable sound sets for it.
I would recommend this board and purchase one again despite the problems I occasionally experience. I suggest you check out the board at the Alesis site for more detailed specs on the Fusion 6HD.