Akai AX80

Akai AX-80 Image

The AX80 has the privilege of being the first pro-keyboard produced by Akai, released in 1984. It's an eight-voice programmable analog synthesizer with a full 61-note keyboard and a series of techno-looking LCD bar-graph displays running across the top of the keyboard. Two analog oscillators per voice plus a sub oscillator provide the basis of its punchy analog sounds that can be described as similar to a Chroma Polaris or Roland Juno 106. Very good bass, brass, synth sounds, and effects are possible. However its strings are average at best.

The blue and orange florescent LCD displays use a simple and intuitive bar-graph format to show all its parameters and values, making for one of the best on-board displays ever! You have to wonder, however, with such a cool display, why couldn't they have included dedicated sliders and knobs for each parameter (see the AX60). A decent amount of patch storage and nice enough sounds make the AX80 a useable synth to have around, but it probably won't replace your Roland Juno. Other notable features of the AX80 include an angled rear panel for easy cable connections, chord memory, MIDI control, and pitch/mod wheels. It's been used by Mark Bell (LFO) on Bjork's Homogenic.

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78 Visitor comments
September 8, 2009 @ 10:28 pm
I've heard junos, i've heard viruses, i've heard korgs, yamahas, oberhiems, prophets, nords.... they all sound warm and fuzzy...
I've Owned my AX80 for a year and use it almost exclusively
for bass. it has a powerful, dynamic output that can growl
very deep if you know how to program the envelopes and filters.
it just sounds different than all other synths. And sounding
different is what makes your music stand out... keep
your virus and sound like everyone else, I'm glad this one
has to be explored beyond the presets to be appriciated.
July 21, 2009 @ 4:49 pm
There was a resource out there for repairing the membrane switches and the guy took it down a few months back. Just discovered I scraped his site a long time ago and have the tutorial HTML files and images so I posted a zip for anybody interested here: http://sites.google.com/site/ronspublicresources/music-gear-resources/AX80Repair s.zip

Also Re: Mem3 - this guy has no idea what he's talking about the AX-80 is bad ass. I've had a ton of synths and it is very powerful you just need to spend some time with it since there are no knobs tweaking patches is kind of a [beep] .
July 17, 2009 @ 2:22 pm
Based on gushing reviews here, I am in a minority by saying this synth is sub-par. Don't want to hurt any feelings - if it works for you - great. For me it was perhaps the synth I miss the least of those that I ever owned. I had one that was in practically "like new" condition that I was happy to sell for $600 and sigh in relief. It sounded thin and even with processing it through FireworX massive FX it still sounded like cheap toy. Of course, I may have been spoiled by Jupiter, Virus, and several other synths I owned at the time. This was one of the pieces that I really never warmed up to and I spent several days with it - trying to figure out why I bought it in a first place... and realized it was a dud.

YMMV but if you are looking for something that stands out above the crowd it tries to emulate (e.g. Juno, DX7, etc.) - good luck, this one is not even in a category. Calling it a "pro" synth is like calling cassio rinky-dinks they sell in radioshack a "virtual analog".
June 25, 2009 @ 11:44 pm
I LOVE THIS SYNTH!!!! I have a moog little phatty ,a polymoog 280a, a Korg Radias, a Korg i4S, a Roland SH-201, and this synth. To me, this synth has such a nice sound. I hate the presets but once you start building your own sounds it gets amazing! It is also a well built machine with DCO's and a Curtis VCF.
June 16, 2009 @ 6:47 pm
i got one for $550. its super cool. i like how you can HOLD a sound while you tweak it. the sounds are cool but its looks are even better.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.54 (708 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 voices
  • Oscillators - 2 per voice + Sub Osc. (sawtooth or variable pulse width)
  • Filter - 8 VCFs (1 per voice)
  • VCA - 8 ADSRs (1 per voice)
  • LFO - 3 LFOs controlling OSC 1, OSC 2, VCF
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (velocity sensitive)
  • Memory - 96 patches (64 user, 32 preset)
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1984

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