Vintage analog synthesizer from the mid-eighties produced by the famous Sampler company Akai, first or a series Like Ax60 or VX90.
The AX80 model is really appreciated for sound, but also for its fluorescent and glowing eyes-candy display: absolutely unique in coolness! The graphical bars are changed in real-time using the data jog-wheel, which is nice also for real-time tweaks.
KEYBOARD (18 kg weight) 61 C-C keys with basic velocity system, synth made out of wood-metal.
The main panel features 56 buttons + 4 knobs + a large rotary encoder for values enter; all parameters values are quantized into 99 stepped values and displayed with glowing bars a bit like a vintage stereo deck.
Back panel terminal connectors: mono jack audio out, a stereo Headphones out, Midi and tape interface, a pedal Sustain input and finally a tootswitch pedal for Program change Up.
Power supply is internal, 2 prongs Philips connector. Internal switch between 110V and 220V--> ALWAYS check out the Voltage!
VOICE the synth is an eight analog voices based on subtractive synthesis.
The main voice board generates 2 DCO oscillators per voice with 3 different waveforms: Saw, Pulse - variable Width from 50% to 100% (only for DCO1) and a Mix of Saw+ Pulse.
OSCILLATOR DCO have individual volumes mix and pitch Coarse (+/-36 cents) + double crossmodulation modes process for some cool FM effects. The structure between DCO1 DCO2 is slightly different:
- DCO1 has 3 octaves range 16' 8' 4'
- DCO2 has 4 octaves ranges 16' 8' 4' 2'
Oddly there is no White noise generator, instead the structure features a Square Sub-Oscillator with PWM (realtive value linked to DCO1 width) for a Low boost on the bass frequencies.
ENVELOPE two EG in total both with a 4 stages ADSR:
- EG1 DCO defines Amplitude for both DCO1-DCO2
VCF Filter works ONLY for the LowPass mode (not on Highpass mode).
The Keyfollower function is pretty brillant for its age and counts 99 different stepped values.
FILTER excellent resonant analog Multimode VCF based on Curtis CEM 3372 with Highpass and LowPass at -24 dB/Oct slope: dirty and Gritty! A Key follow function tracks the cutoff notes with variable range from 0 to 150%. Unlike the others AX-VX series machines, the Ax80 does not feature the VOICE IN connector that processes signal from hardware samplers like S900.
CEM 3372 multimode filter
LFO three modulators in total: same frequency range from 0.1 to 20 Hz + an individual Delay Start (action time from 0 to 5 Sec. ) and 4 different waveforms(Saw Up, Saw Down, Triangle and a Pulse). The LFO section is able to modulate up to 3 possible destinations: DCO1 DCO2 VCF and the wheel modulation triggers the low frequency oscillator using the buttons MWHEEL OSC or MWHEEL VCF (but not both in the same time).
MIDI implementation is quite primitive with just Note ON-OFF, Pitch bender, Modulation, Sustain Hold, Key Velocity and Program change.
No Exclusive data Midi Sysex management: big miss.
MEMORY holds 32 preset ROM banks and 64 memory RAM for user edit. There is no way to save data but TAPE Load / Save interface (or hook to a computer WAV files instead).
The internal RAM has a BR2330 lithium battery, soldering is needed for replacement.
internal battery lithium BR2330 model
MAINTENANCE front panel has contact membranes quite reliable in time, except for the right most part that lacks a good spacer system: many presses break the underneath contacts soldering but it is actually easy to fix with simple soldering.
VIDEO CLIP SELECTION
fan ax80 advertisement
Akai AX-80 Sounds
New Akai AX 80 demo
- cool display
- tape storage
- no Portamento / unison
OPINION "Good alternative to accessible analog polyphonic like Juno 60.
Really different and more harsh than Rolan: analog pads -sweeps sounds are just great.