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  AX73 synth At a Glance
Click for larger view arrowReleased: 1984?  Specifications
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Ilkka Kalliomaki writes:
The Akai AX73 is practically a MX73 master keyboard (minus some controller features) added with 6 voice polyphonic analog synth. I believe VX90 has exactly the same sound generating circuitry, which is based on Curtis CEM3394 chips (the same as in Sequential's Six-Trak and Max).

The voice is pretty basic, we have 1 VCO, VCF, 2 ADSR's 1 LFO and 1 VCA per voice. There are some interesting parts, though. The VCO's have triangle, sawtooth, variable pulse (with PWM) and a composite waveform of saw & triangle. The PWM actually works with any of the waveforms, not just pulse, which provides a little more sonic variability. The VCF is a 24dB/octave resonant lowpass and self- oscillates quite nicely. Keyboard tracking goes well beyond 100%. The VCO can modulate VCF which is great for ring-mod efects and suchlike. VCF cutoff can be modulated by bender and keyboard velocity, which is one of the best features in the synth. There's also a non-time-variable highpass filter in series with the lowpass filter, which is nice. The two envelopes can modulate VCF, VCA and/or VCO pitch. The lone global LFO is shared by all voices, but has plenty of waveforms, including triangle, up/down saw, pulse and random (sample&hold). There's also a built-in 2-position chorus effect, which is pretty noisy.

Keyboard assing modes include poly, dual and unison, with 1, 3, and 6 oscillators per note, respectively. Adjustable portamento is available in any of these, but it's always monophonic. The keyboard can also do a MIDI split with adjustable split point. In this mode one part of keyboard does not produce sounds internally and outputs in (basic channel)+1.

The keyboard is velocity sensitive, which is great. Analog synths with VCO's and MIDI and velocity are pretty rare. The feel of the keyboard is pretty 'synthy' though. Programming is by step, but thankfully there's at least a data entry slider, which can also be used for real time control. The 15-letter LCD is backlit and pretty nice, (it must have been remarkable in its time) and patches can be named with up to 12 letters. Oh, it has autotune, too.

All in all: AX73 is no classic, but it does your basic analog synth sounds pretty nicely. It can be thought as an inexpensive master keyboard with a free 6 voice basic analog synth thrown in. I hish it olny had 2 VCO's.

Joey Quillen :

This board is a little strange with its "autotune" function and 73 key layout. But it does have some good points : It has a "transpose on the fly" function that will let you change keys instantly (if the band's changing to c# major right on your solo), and it's built like a Sherman Tank so don't worry about setting your junk on it. BOTTOMLINE : This board possesses traits of a controller and a synth. It has little personalty traits that both please and disturb you. Its sounds are raw and square but tasteful. And it's a rarity! This board is mainly good for weird stuff or filling in the "holes" of your compositions

Duane Balvage : This little unit (if you could call it little) is a very nice sounding unit! It does PWM on ALL waveforms (!) and has a decent sounding (albeit noisy) chorus. The kets feel decent, and the extra octave of keys come in handy! Very underrated box, IMHO. It is ANALOG (VCO's, NOT DCO's), and has those FUNKY Akai filters in it. It can make some of the SSTRANGEST noises. Most people think it's digital, because of it's spartanly dressed front panel, but it's not! That's why they're generally cheap when you find them- with the analog craze giong on, NOBODY wants "digital" - so they pass it up. BIG mistake. Oh well, I would get another if I had the chance! I LIKE IT!

Comments About the Sounds:
Given the fact that the AX73 has only 1 VCO per voice, the sounds can be pretty fat, although warm string sounds are practically impossible. Great basses.

If you are familiar with Akai's AX-60, it uses the SAME synth engine - sounds are a bit thin, but overall good. It is basically an AX-60 with velocity sens. and 73 keys, with a few more mod routings thrown in for good measure. Most folks don't know what it is, so they pass on it to get an AX-60 for MORE MONEY! (oops)!

(Thanks to Ilkka Kalliomaki for this info.)
and Dave Willemssen for the pic

Links for the Akai AX73 synth
 More Synth Gear  Best US prices on many current models
The (absolutely unofficial) Akai AX73 Page
Akai Room at Your vintage Synth resource,technical and historical info about Akai synths
Mp3s of analog synths!! You'll find 4 mins of AX-73 audio here - mp3s of my patches ;)
The Patch King The Worlds Largest 3rd Party Synth & Sampler Developers. Thousands of new sounds for over 100 synths and samplers. Large Sound Library for All Akai Samplers on Floppy Disk, CD-ROMS or Zip Disks.
AX73 review at Planet-Zero Photos of interior and exterior, descriptions, links, MP3 samples
AX73 in action AX73 featured on various tracks
Vimeo video This is a video of my AKAI AX73 - also shows the insides and details

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