Synth Site: Akai: AX80 Synthesizer: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.2 out of 5
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lorin a part-time user from USA writes:
Oh ya! I finally got one of these, and for a steal ($200)!

For the price, it is one hell of a synth. It is built like a tank, its has metal sides which can take a serious beating, and it's quite heavy for the size. Beautiful looking, in a "Logans Run" kind of way (the color scheme is Black w/ process red, purple and turquoise... looking at it reminds me of my childhood (watching Battlestar Galactica and waht not). This synth definatley has a "retro" feel to it. The display is as cool as everyone says. The knobs are tight, and FEEL good. The data slider is great, has a good feel, plus you have a +/- incremental membrane to go up in single digit adjustments. Everything works on mine.

This was the easiest synth to figure out that I have ever owned. I never recieved a manual, but YOU DON"T NEED ONE - at all! It is so logically laid out. Simple, simple, simple!

It definately has it's own sound. Nothing like a Juno 106 (thats what some compare it to). It does have a hella fast, punchy attack...and no "click"! Some settings will give a little "pop", but nothing like my Jupiter 6, which almost always clicks with bass patches. The sound has a brightness to it that will definately punch into a mix, but it never gets too shrill or painfully bright. I would say the sound is definately WARM, albeit a little thin (compared to my Jupiter 6), but way, way fatter than my Quasimidi Sirius. The AX80 has a "rubbery" sound which I absolutely love, it is a pleasure to feels organic??. I can squish out warbly basses form it, and the mod wheel and pitch bend react great, in particular the pitch bend gives a great tactile feel to the voices, it reacts perfectly, never bending farther than expected. In other words - really useable.

I would say this is used best as a bass & lead synth. The acoustic emulations are silly, don't use it for that (please). It has a dark/gothic/dreamy sound, suitable for techno/drum & bass/dark electro/breaks/trip hop. No too useable for vocal house or hip hop. Not a bread and butter synth (at all!)

Good hard basses, good bonks, great delayed warbles, good hard sequenced synth lines, some good kick drums, weird squishy acid sounds (not 303 like, but definately an acid sound). Can't get a good snare, or cymbal, horrible brass (who uses brass anyways?), funny sounding wind instruments. The preset SUCK big time. There is one woodwind that is OK I guess. I can't believe this thing sold with those presets (then again, I don't believe these sold well when released)

It does have a HPF, but can't really be used for filter sweeps - all it does it take away the bass, and doesn't cut too deeply. The mod wheel can be assigned to OSC modulation or the LPF, or both! You can also set the amount of modulation.

The filter self oscillates, and I have discovered the ultimate sound with it! Turning OSC1 & OSC@ off, the Susain & Dacay up, the Release to about 10, and turning up the Resonance to full, and the Cut Off down, and setting the Envelope Generator to 1 mark above middle yeilds a 808 type BOOOOOM that is worth the entire $200 I paid for it. Nothing I have goes THAT low, with that much punch and body!

Hell ya!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Nov-29-2000 at 14:55
G Mac a professional user from NYC USA writes:
Ilove this synth. It gives you those sounds that you can't get with the rest of the trendy Roland stuff. Makes sounds that cut through the rest of the mix and demands respect. Peace to Akai for all their knowledge... Anotha classic. Just wait til the followers find out bout this this synth and the price will skyrocket! I gots mine...

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Aug-05-2000 at 01:28
percussion boy a hobbyist user from USA writes:
Quirky but warm synth. Last I heard (mid 90s, when I got mine) Akai in US still had manuals for it and also some parts -- don't know if this is still true. Don't be put off by ugly presets -- oscillators sound good, better with sync. Weak for emulations and not a huge sound (it's no Memorymoog), but as I said above, WARM and sort of ARP-ish. I've gotten nice elec piano, bluesy guitar leads,solo reeds, and orchestra hits from mine.

Tuning between 2 oscillators is sometimes weird on mine even tho they're DCOs. For example, preset A1 sounds sour. Anyone else get this?

Note there are only 2 envelopes, shared by osc2, VCF, and VCA. I think setting button #30 to 2 assigns one env to VCA AND VCF, other env to OSC2 pitch. See KEYBOARD review in january '85 for more on this. Also note button #10 (CROSS MOD) can create hard sync or FM between oscillators.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Sunday-Jan-02-2000 at 04:42
Fred Heiberger a hobbyist user from USA writes:
I bought an AX-80 in 1985, right around the time they dropped the price from $1895 to $1395 to $995 within 6 months. It was a powerful synth with a refreshingly analog signal path at a time when most machines were headed towards digital sterility. I was generally happy with the pads and brass capabilities (though the factory presets were useless), and loved it for leads (I've never been able to get such good lead sounds on any analog synth I've owned before or since.)

Many people have noted the similarities in front panel between the AX-80 and the DX-7. From what I've heard, this was very much by design. The DX had been out for a few years and was a huge hit; Akai recognized this and decided to release an analog synth that would be a perfect complement to the DX, right down to having banks of 32 patches. An interesting marketing idea that obviously failed miserably.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Nov-17-1999 at 15:47
Mr Mont a hobbyist user from Ohio (the one in the US) writes:
Bought mine about 10 years ago for $400 from a musician who was concentrating on using his DX7. I always loved the cool blue flourescent display. Mine seems to work fine except I could never get the tape dump to do much. And I wish it wasn't so long & heavy! But still cool to play with.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Saturday-Feb-13-1999 at 02:36
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