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Akai AX60

Akai Professional AX60

3.75 3.75 out of 5, based on 3 Reviews

Akai's "Juno 60" on a budget


17th October 2011

Akai Professional AX60 by criminallysmooth

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 2 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 2 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.25
Akai AX60

Sound quality:

It's tough to rate the AX60's sound quality on a 1-10 scale. On one hand, it's a VCO-based polysynth, and can produce ultra low and high tones with no aliasing, silky smooth pitch bends, screaming analog filter resonance, and so on. On the other hand, it has a basic tone which is somewhat harsh and metallic, and maybe not immediately "musical" in the sense of what's expected in pop music. It also has issues with noise floor when using the sampler input or the onboard Chorus effect (see: features). In its' sweet spot(s), the AX60 is capable of very organic VCO string sounds and deep, smooth sub basses, but it probably won't be mistaken for a Moog or a Juno in terms of raw musicality.

Ease of use:

The AX60 couldn't be any easier to use. Patches are edited with a series of sliders that are basically 1-per-parameter aside from the VCF/VCA Envelope Generator, the controls of which are shared via a toggle button. The voice architecture is straightforward and all editable parameters are laid out and clearly labeled.

Features:

-6 Voice Polyphony and Unison/Mono Mode, stacking the 6 VCOs. Tends to exaggerate the fundamentally harsh tones of the oscillators and produce a dramatic phasing effect as the oscillators drift.
- Filter FM uses the oscillator frequency to affect filter cutoff. This is a key feature of the AX60s otherwise basic synth engine, because it can surprise you with timbres that are more complex than you'd expect from a 1 OSC synth.
- Speaking of timbres, the AX60 is Bitimbral. The keyboard can be split at an arbitrary key point and play two different patches at once. Each side of the split responds to a unique MIDI channel, so with external control it is possible to use two patches simultaneously across the entire key range.
- Arpeggiator, in conjunction with bitimbral splits, is a great asset for performance and quite fun when set to "hold."
- Certain vintage Akai samplers can be routed through the AX60 filter and VCA, with the proper cable. Audio In mods are also possible, with DIY cables.
- Modulation and pitch bend/filter cutoff can be automated via MIDI
-Analog Stereo Chorus with fast/slow modes. Sounds nice, especially in stereo, but introduces some slight noise to the output.

Bang for buck:

AX60s are selling in the $300 to $600 range in 2011. This is, AFAIK, the most affordable VCO-based synthesizer in existence. However, on the lower end of that price range, you can expect to put some money into repair, as the front panel buttons (such as the 16 patch selection buttons) and LCD screens are prone to failure or damage. Ultimately, the AX60 must be considered a bargain buy at any reasonable price, given the prices of any other synth with comparable architecture, but with the caveat that with that lower price comes somewhat questionable build quality and a fundamental tonal quality to the oscillators and filter that isn't to everyone's taste.

Last edited by criminallysmooth; 19th October 2011 at 12:38 AM.. Reason: edit1 - Bitimbrality via MIDI

20th October 2011

Akai Professional AX60 by djugel

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Akai AX60

The Unison has the same phase issue as the Six-Trak. Really wish I knew someone who could mod it and give it a proper mono/solo mode(tho I believe that is impossible to do?)

Yes it is a little noisy. To the point where the chorus isn't really a big deal. I'd say ignore the noise issues. Not a dealbreaker like lets say.... a Sidstation or a ESQ-1 in poor condition... meaning it doesn't "whine".

I rated ease of use 6 because it is a sweet spot synth(reminds me of a Jupiter 6 in that regard) and the sliders don't feel the best.

But I love how "alive" this thing sounds. Like a swarm of bee's or a pile of moss. Also amazing for sound effects and percussive sounds. You will never get bored with this synth. Only thing is, you might just not like from the get go.. harsh yes.. but if you tame it is very polite yet bold.

Beautiful synth and totally different than the AX-80. Which is just as good if not better.

14th March 2012

Akai Professional AX60 by paulmlyren

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Akai AX60

I agree with 85% of this review. Everyone seems to have the Roland and Moog archetype in mind whenever they start talking sound quality, and I loves me some Ladder filter awesomeness as much as the next basement studio dork who bothers reading AX60 reviews, but throw that out the window, and you can really start to enjoy this powerful synth. I would not say it is harsh or metallic, but neither is it lush and round. The real joy of this is it's hands on approach and basic layout. You can find such interesting sounds when you really take the time to find the spot where the resonance starts to scream and warble. Put that on your basic low end string sound and you will be amazed at how complex the sound can get, and how many discernible levels you can pull out. It is a fun machine with a lot of presence and ITS OWN SOUND. I have nothing against Moogs and Rolands and Korgs and all the rest (Log knows I would kill for a MonoPoly or Jupiter 6, etc...), but, just as they have their own sound. The AX60 has its. And really - that's what you want from a good bit of vintage kit isn't it?

Under $400 -grab it!

 
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