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
March 19, 2010 @ 12:18 am
Well made...All those green diplays looked good (and were quite visually useful), but what was under the hood was very basic fare indeed! Used it for a few gigs in ´84-´85 then traded it in for a DW-6000..............DCO´s Matt.
March 7, 2010 @ 1:18 pm
Does this synth have VCO's or DCO's? I'v heard people say both
March 2, 2010 @ 9:12 pm
What I really like about this machine is how easy it is to use. The controls are much more intuitive than the typical numbered buttons, making it possible to get right to work without having to constantly refer to the manual. Means less time messing around and more time playing!
February 25, 2010 @ 6:43 am
I am really starting to warm up to this analog monster and vice versa. My DX7IIFD is cold and sterile, but this "purple wolfhound" is a sonic punch in the head. It's amazing for sharp, tight, enormous bass tones and sweeps. Anyone who'd write this one off is cheating themselves out of a true O.G. space-synth. It is soo unique and was born the same year as myself, how could I not love this machine. My only complaint is that the key action is clunky. I personally would've sacrificed the velocity and after-touch for a much smoother feel overall, but that's it...now don't go out and buy one, leave the the Starship Trippin' to the real troopers!!!
garrett macabee
February 8, 2010 @ 9:25 pm
i had the AX-80 for a short time before i sold it. no matter what i did programming wise it sounded lifeless and dull. the 'eerie strings' type of sounds were OK, other then that niche it just sounded generic to me. i had plenty of other analogs to compare it to and the ax got smoked in terms of sonic character and sound. i think it gets its high marks because it looks cool with the graphic displays but sonically it doesn't stack up to the raw sounding VCO synths.
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Rated 4.53 (701 Votes)

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  • 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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