image courtesy of Akai
The Akai AX80 is an 8-voice, 16-VCO, programmable analog synth with 96 memory locations (32 presets, and 64 user-writable) and a 5-octave, 61-note (C-C) velocity-sensitive keyboard. It is missing the sliders of the AX60, however it gains a much more flexible architecture and a very readable bar-graph style display (see photo at right). Editing is similar to the Yamaha DX7, in that the once you enter edit mode, the buttons that switched presets now select an edit function. One thing to note though, once you enter in editing mode you have no indication which program you are editing.
Each voice has two VCO's (switchable between sawtooth, pulse, or both) and a sub-oscillator. VCO1 can be switched between three octaves ('16, '8, and '4), and has a separate volume control. VCO2 can be switched between four octaves ('16, '8, and '4), and then detuned anywhere between. Both VCOs can be cross-modulated for great FM sounds. VCO2 can be modulated by either the VCF or VCA envelope generator with a separate control for amount of modulation.
The VCF section has controls for the cut-off frequency, resonance, EG depth, key-follow, key-velocity and a separate high-pass filter. There are 3 LFOs (one each for VCO1, VCO2 and VCF), switchable between square, down-ramp, up-ramp, and triangle waveforms with controls for depth, speed and delay. The modulation wheel can be selected to control the amount of modulation for the oscillators or the VCF with a separate knob for modulation range. There are two ADSR envelope generators, one for the VCA and one for the VCF with controls for key follow. The VCA has controls for key velocity and level.
The AX80 has an angled rear panel to provide easy access to its tape interface, MIDI (in, out, thru), mono output and headphone plug, as well as sustain and program up pedal inputs. Unfortunately, gone are the sample input plugs of the AX60.