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  AX80 Synthesizer At a Glance
Click for larger view arrowReleased: 80's?  Specifications
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Richard Wintle ( writes:
"Canadian Musician" magazine also ran a review of this synth... if you email me, I can dig it out and let you know which issue it was. They were very enthusiastic about it at the time. I bought mine used (store demo) for $1200, still under warranty, in 1982? I think. Akai made a major marketing blunder on this synth...they made it look kind of like a DX7, with big black rubber endpieces, membrane switches, subtle green/gray/purple writing, etc. However, everyone was buying DX7s at that time, and this unit was quickly discontinued. The keyboard is a little springy but at the time was one of the few affordable velocity- sensitive ones (the Korg DW8000 was on the horizon, but not there yet). The AX-80's nicest features are 1) data entry knob, which can double as a real-time parameter controller (kind of a new idea at the time), 2) sloping back panel so you can see all the connectors from in front of the machine, and 3) green fluorescent bar-graph display of all parameters at once, above the front- panel switches. This was a beautiful feature and an invaluable programming aid. Audio out is mono. The sounds are generally very "bright". The internal architecture of the machine is similar to the Roland JX-3P; two oscillators (square or sawtooth), sync or cross-mod, detune, etc. with a square sub-oscillator tied to OSC 1. OSC 1 also has variable pulse-width for the square wave. OSC 2 can follow pitch determined by one of the envelope generators. You still get 8-voice polyphony if you use both OSCs. Keyboard filter cutoff (fully variable) and variable velocity response for amplitude and VCF are also implemented. Separate amplitude and filter envelopes are provided. No onboard effects. The mod section of this synth is quite good: four waveforms on each of three LFOs (filter, amplitude, pitch), plus pre- delay. Other features include chord memory and transposition. Sysex is not supported (tape dump is possible). The presets include a decent harpsichord, ok strings, nice brasses, ok organs, and some lovely pads and sfx. In general, I have been very happy with this machine, and it was a dream to program. If anyone else has one of these, I would love to hear from you. Richard ( Trivia note: You can see one of these in the video for Kim Mitchell's "All We Are". Check out how the keyboard player uses the data entry knob in real-time. The manufacturer's name is blacked out.

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(Thanks to Richard Wintle for this info.)

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