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
January 9, 2010 @ 12:54 pm
The AX-80 certainly sounds more like a Matrix 6 than a Juno 106! Had people ask me if I was using a Matrix when using the AX-80, so it clearly does sound like a Matrix. The AX-80 uses the same 6 CEM3372 setup as the Xpander, so it's even more similar to that. The Juno 106 uses a custom Roland 80017 chip, not CEM. The AX-80 has more grit than the Matrix because they use the newer CEM3396. Also, the 6 and 1000 sound slightly different, 1000 uses small body version and a quartz clock.
December 30, 2009 @ 8:55 am
Today I bought my AX-80. I like this synth very much.
All old synths have their own personality. We must not compare them eachother. Junos are Junos, Moogs are moogs bla bla bla. If someone wants the Junos sound, he must buy Juno. We must lucky that we have these old synths. Imagine the new synths, all have the same character. Fantoms, Motifs, Tritons have the same S..t rompler sound character. They sounding great & brilliant but they havent theis own personality as old synths
December 17, 2009 @ 6:27 pm
Sorry but I have both the matrix-1000 and AX80 and the sound is not particularly that similar, the AX80's VCOs really give it a lot of extra power over the matrix. More limited in flexibility but much more powerful sounding imo. Gotta whip up your own patches as the presets mostly stink, but once you do its got some excellent sounds in there!
November 19, 2009 @ 4:30 pm
The AX80 is an analog beast! It does not sound anything like a Juno 106!!! I own both, and that is truly a misconception. The AX80 sounds very similar to the Oberheim Matrix 6. I can recreate many of the presets in my Matrix 6 on the AX80. The Akai lacks all the matrix modulation routing possibilities of an Oberheim, but the filter is very similar. The Matrix is a bit warmer and smoother, but the AX80 has a real tough, thick sound! Great for powerful bass synths and analog effects. Very underrated analog synth!
November 15, 2009 @ 7:12 am
I came really close to selling my AX-80...until I sat down and started making patches. Now I can hardly get myself to turn it off! Of all the synths I own, this one has a dirtyness that (while not for everybody) really stands out. On top of that, it's user friendly like few others. I predict that when people get tired of vst's, overpiced analogs and teeny pop VA's, vintage synths like the AX-80 will be in style.
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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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