The Alesis QS6

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QS6 Specifications | Software Upgrade. | Serial Driver | QS6-Tips | QS6 Patch & Mix lists
Ben Weaver's QS6 Hardware Hacks Page | QS Schematics | QS Service Manual

The QS6 is an even more affordable version of the QuadraSynth. With 61 velocity and aftertouch sensitive keys, 8MB ROM, Serial port interface (PC and MAC), 64 voice polyphony, and the powerful QuadraSynth Plus synth engine, it sure stands out from the under $1,000 synthesizer market. (Another bang for the buck from Alesis) The QS6 comes with a FREE CD-ROM , full of useful goodies. I compared it with the Roland XP-10 and the Korg XD5. The Roland has some interesting sounds, but it falls short on polyphony (only 28 voices), keys (no aftertouch), and user interface (I wouldn't call it very user-friendly). I kept it mainly for the fun arpeggiator and the GS soundset. I don't have the Korg any more, I personally didn't like the sounds. It has the polyphony, and some useful synth-sounds, the acoustic instruments were not so great , I couldn't use it for GM. Also (like the Roland) it lacks expandability. Only the QS6 comes with an expansion card-slot, and the ability to add any samples you like. Using Alesis' new Sound Bridge 2.0 software and any Mac or PC, the QS6 can write AIFF and WAV samples MIDI files and Program data to PCMCIA Flash or SRAM cards.

Alesis QS6 (view image)

  • Type : Sample playback synthesizer keyboard
  • Keys: 61 velocity and aftertouch sensitive, synth action.
  • Polyphony : 64 voices
  • MIDI Channels : 16
  • ROM : 8MB, expandable to 16MB using PCMCIA ROM and RAM cards.
  • Sounds : 512 preset 128 user programs, 400 preset and 100 user mixes, expandable using PCMCIA cards.
  • Samples : 48kHz Linear samples
  • General MIDI : GM compatible.
  • Effects : On board effects, based on the Alesis Q2 FX processor
  • Drums : Drum kits, rhythm loops
  • Input / Output : Audio Out L/R, Phones, MIDI IN, OUT/THRU, Serial interface for Mac/PC, PCMCIA card slot
  • Controls : Pitch wheel, Mod. wheel, assignable control slider, 2 Pedal inputs
  • Sequencer No on-board sequencer, can play standard MIDI files from PCMCIA expansion card
  • Other features : Using PCMCIA Flash RAM cards, custom samples and programs can be added. Free CD-ROM with Sysex and Sample Transfer utility program, sequencer, editor and MIDI player software, extra programs and mixes.
  • List Price : $1,099

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QS-Tips :

  • You can download audio clips from the QS6's on-board factory demos at Keyboard Magazine

  • If you're a Cakewalk user, you can download the QS6 Instrument Definitions file from the QS Software Library

  • You can read QS6 reviews in Electronic Musician Magazine (June/'96)
    Keyboard Magazine (July/'96)
    and Sound On Sound Magazine (Jan/'96)

  • You can play the demo songs separately:
    • demo1 : press mix + 0
    • demo2 : press mix + 1
    • demo3 : press mix + 2
    • demo4 : press mix + 3
  • To test some internal stuff, turn on power while holding down 00 and 0

  • To reinitialize the QS6 turn on power while holding down 0 and 3.

  • You can use multiple drumbanks and assign them to different channels and use them even together with your G.M. drumset on channel 10 (this gives you cool options to pan some hihats or toms without trowing the whole percussion set to the left or right.....

  • The QS6 uses a very impressive sample set :
    • (Taken from Sound on Sound Review)
      • EMS VCS3
      • Fairlight IIx
      • Minimoog
      • Moog Rogue
      • Oberheim OB8
      • Oberheim OBX
      • Oberheim 4 Voice
      • Prophet 5
      • PPG Wave 2.3
      • TR909
      • TR808
      • TB303
      • Yamaha DX7
      • Roland Jupiter 6
      • Roland Jupiter 8
      • Rhodes Piano
      • Wurlitzer Piano
      • Alesis SR16 drums
      • Alesis D4 drums

    QS6 CD-ROM contents.

    • Soundbridge (PC/Mac) Sample transfer utility
    • Freeloader (PC/Mac) Shareware sysex utility
    • Windows Serial Driver (PC)
    • Keyfax Software GM Sequences (PC/Mac)
    • MOTU Unisyn for QS6 w/ profile (PC/Mac) Editor - Librarian
    • Rhythm Brains Plus Demo (PC)
    • MiBac Jazz, Music Lessons Demo (PC)
    • Northstar Samples (PC/Mac)
    • Galaxy QS6 Module (Mac)
    • Sound Forge Demo (PC)
    • Midi Quest Demo (PC/Mac)
    • Cubase Light (PC/Mac) Sequencer
    • Syntrillium Software Cool Edit demo (PC) Sound Editor
    • Tran Tracks GM Sequences (PC/Mac)
    • Turtle Beach Sample Vision Demo (PC)

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    Alesis Releases QS6 2.00 and Soundbridge Upgrade.

    • Alesis is happy to announce the release of QS6 software version 2.00. Version 2.00 adds the ability for QS6 users to utilize new features included in the updated version of Sound Bridge software (Version 2.00 for MAC and Version 1.2 for IBM). These features include the partitioning of cards in order to store samples, sysex, and standard midi files on the same card. Sound Bridge also allows the ability to playback standard midi files which have been transferred to RAM cards.

      For the QS6, Version 2.00 software is available as an EPROM upgrade kit. This kit is user-installable and comes with all the necessary instructions and tools. The only other tool you will need is a Phillips type screwdriver. The upgrade is available free of charge to registered users who have purchased their units after July 1, 1996. A proof of sale is required to receive this upgrade free of charge. Otherwise, this EPROM upgrade is an enhancement to the original QS6 operating system. All previous QS6 owners must purchase the upgrade through our Parts department at the cost of $39.99 (Plus any applicable sales tax and shipping charges).

      The revised Sound Bridge software is currently available for both MAC and IBM operating systems. Soundbridge 2.00 for the Mac and 1.2 for the IBM are available as attachments. Simply send your request for the file to :

      You may also download the program at the Sound Bridge WWW:,44,0,0,1,0

      Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

      Alesis Technical Support

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    Alesis Serial Port Driver for Windows 2.00 (FINAL) 10/96

    • supports the Alesis QS6, QS7, QS8
    • supports direct high speed connections to the QS7, QS8
    • Works with Windows 3.1 and Windows 95
    • includes complete documentation of all parameters, installation instructions for both 3.1 and 95.
    • Download it now !

    Do you need a serial cable ?

    You can order one directly from Alesis, call : 800-525-3747. (Price : $14.99)
    If you want to make your own cable, here is the pinout for Mac and PC