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
gazty
October 14, 2010 @ 4:54 am
This synth is almost a cult figure now. It's rare, it has a great sound and some great features and looks unique. It's 8 note poly which makes a change from all the 6 noters out there in 'cheaper analog land', it's VCF to Modwheel ability is great and it's very punchy (great for hard/cutting basses) and also quite chilled out but with smoothness (clear smoothness good for leads). Vastly under rated, sure it has a couple of quirks that shouldn't be there but for the price this is a monster and looks so fkin cool (and sounds it once you put it's MONO output through some external effects, it wakens the beast much like a Polysix does when put through effects also). Many people see the mono output and lack of chorus (ala Roland sweetness) and think it's lacking but once you use it 'properly' in a pro capacity you realise it's underlying tone is easily up to par and just needs some outboard then blows away it's price related competition!
az78
September 2, 2010 @ 6:45 pm
A cool thing about many of the edit parameters are that you don't even *need* to use the data wheel, for example sub osc on/off, range select, wave type, LFO type.. basically any setting that has only a handful of settings is very easy to just hit the dedicated button for that parameter with a finger and cycle the options - no different to hitting a button on Jupiter 6 or a PG programmer for other Rolands etc. In this way, once you are used to it, it's almost as hands on as a true 'knobby' synth.

And it really does bite, it reminds me of a mix between JX3P and Polysix but with an entirely different character AND more options than both of those. I call it 'the alien' due to it's unique sound. Character? If you don't think this has character then you've not programmed it or used VCF on mod wheel enough.
az78
September 2, 2010 @ 6:12 am
Stunning! Looks and sound, dig deep for great atmosphere. Can sound quite VCO like and with a lot of features too.
SteveJ
April 19, 2010 @ 7:06 am
I find it odd to compare it to a Juno 106 when the 106 is a single OSC/voice synth. And some of the criticisms seem more based on the built-in preset bank rather than the actual capabilities. It's main deficiency (besides the membrane buttons instead of sliders/pots) is no glide/portamento.
Chicago House Music
April 8, 2010 @ 9:39 pm
Have to replace this synth if it ever went away, Chord memory function very excellent, I totally agree this is a real bitty synth.
 
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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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