Akai AX-60

Akai AX-60
Akai AX-60

This is a pretty much shockingly underrated and powerful synth. I can’t believe you can get one of these for $600 in a world where a Juno 106 costs twice as much.

It’s bitimbric (splittable into two sounds on the two halves of the keyboard) which I really love, there are separate VCA and VCF envelopes, lots of waveforms for VCOs and LFOs, a bit of FM capability, and the filter resonance is insane. Maybe a bit too insane for many people when calibrated to factory standard. Another interesting thing I noticed about it: many of the factory presets are unusually daring. I guess because 50% of the filter’s range is in self-oscillation… things get weird pretty fast.

A lot of websites and people who review synths, like Vintage Synth Explorer, put a lot of emphasis on how “harsh” this synth sounds but I wouldn’t generally agree with that. Sure, you can make some loud noisy noises but the envelope sweep of the filter isn’t actually super aggressive, and you can still make it sound big, smooth and sweet.

Work Done: this one went through our standard service and maintenance routine for an 80’s synth consisting of a power supply re-cap, replacing the patch memory battery (backing up and re-loading patches), replacing a few tactile switches on the panel (standard 6 x 6 x 6.5mm) and calibration.

4 thoughts on “Akai AX-60”

  1. Sharing my love for this synth. The filter section with that crazy resonance/VCO-Filter Mod combo always puts an sly grin on my face.

    Question: Can you imagine a way to upgrade the microprocessor? My only complaint about the synth is that the slider values jump making it difficult to use the front panel for subtle timbre changes during a live performance. It feels like a memory buffer issue, but I’ve no idea really. Would love to hear your thoughts about that, and if there’s anything that could be done about the jumping sliders.

    1. I second this request for an AX60 OS update. The slider lag is the only big compromise with the AX60, and it’s a fortunately big detriment to an otherwise super funky analog board.

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