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New OS for the AKAI AX 80 now sysex controllable !
Old 25th November 2016
  #1
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TonStrom's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
New OS for the AKAI AX 80 now sysex controllable !

check this out

Akai AX80 Synthesizer



these guys deserve a big thank you and a donation imo
Old 25th November 2016
  #2
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pounce's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Working great so far. A Midiquest editor for the AX80 is now possible and should arrive in the next update to Midiquest. Doesn't feel like a mod, it feels like the way the synth should always have behaved. Very cool.

Last edited by pounce; 26th November 2016 at 01:18 AM..
Old 26th November 2016
  #3
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🎧 5 years
This is very cool. Some obviously very skilled programming to optimize the code to this degree.

The AX80 is an oft-overlooked hybrid beast from the 80's. Great sound, and an interesting mix sound-wise between a DW-8000 and a Juno.
Old 26th November 2016
  #4
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???

sorry, but a) the AX 80 is no hybrid, it even got discrete oscillators plus a CEM 3372 VFC/VCA

b) it soundwise is as far from a DW 8000 and similar as it can get.

it just sounds quite massive and analog. In fact it may be one of the last broad and fat sounding analogs to have been built.

either you never heard one in person or you are making a joke here
if you would have said, it's in the same family as Juno 6/60, matrix12/Xpander, Memorymoog, then you would have been right
Old 26th November 2016
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Now there needs to be an update like this for the AX 60!
Old 26th November 2016 | Show parent
  #6
PES
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbdlugoss ➑️
Now there needs to be an update like this for the AX 60!
I wish someone would update that one to the extent of changing the EG curves, making them exponential (they seem linear now). A simple thing like that would make it a lot more musical.

It's all I'd want from an update.
Old 26th November 2016 | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonStrom ➑️
sorry, but a) the AX 80 is no hybrid, it even got discrete oscillators plus a CEM 3372 VFC/VCA
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the AX80 uses digital pulses from the CPU to generate wave shapes via analogue circuitry. While that may or may not rise to your level of 'hybrid' (it is a frequently debated topic) I generally consider any synth that requires some degree of computation in order to generate sound a hybrid.
Old 26th November 2016
  #8
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all i ever heard of is, that the osc are digital controlled discrete oscillators
(Gordon Reid even says VCOs: Gordon Reid's Vintage Synths - the Akai AX80)

and i never heard of "pulses from the CPU creating the waves" -


do you mean: the pulses control the osc freq ?


or do you have a source for what you wrote?
Old 26th November 2016 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonStrom ➑️
all i ever heard of is, that the osc are digital controlled discrete oscillators
(Gordon Reid even says VCOs: Gordon Reid's Vintage Synths - the Akai AX80)

and i never heard of "pulses from the CPU creating the waves" -


do you mean: the pulses control the osc freq ?


or do you have a source for what you wrote?
I'm too lazy to explain but wikipedia gives a fair treatment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digita...led_oscillator

The source is the Akai AX80 service manual where you can read about the voice architecture. It should be available online.
Old 26th November 2016
  #10
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The AX80 employs programmable clock dividers addressed by the CPU. Each divider (two per voice) outputs pulse and clock signals to the analog board and the CPU provides a "key CV" via a D/A converter. The pulses are then integrated into sawtooth waves. The time constant of the integrators is scaled by Key CV to prevent the amplitude of the integrated sawtooth from dropping the higher you play on the keyboard. The sawtooth is then routed either straight to the filter or split to a comparator which generates the PWM or Square wave. The clock signal is used to reset the integrators for the oscillator sync feature.

So in essence, yes a hybrid synth.

I do own one and have been inside to repair it a number of times. I found the circuit operation is exactly as described in the service manual. No hidden VCO's in there....
The service manual refers to the oscillators as DCO's btw.

In fact the Oscillators are almost exactly like the DCO's in the Juno 106 but use regular opamps for integrators instead of a proprietary IC. I used to own a 106 too.
Old 26th November 2016
  #11
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StepLogik's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Golt! has a fantastic YouTube vid on DCO design and addresses the AX80 specifically:

Old 26th November 2016 | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollowman9 ➑️
The AX80 employs programmable clock dividers addressed by the CPU.
Thank you for the more precise language

"Pulses from the CPU" isn't technically correct since the digital master clock generates the pulses which are then divided by counters addressed by the CPU. To someone who understands the design, my shortcut makes sense but when trying to assist someone who wants to learn it is misleading. The CPU is controlling the frequency of the pulses to the waveform circuitry, just not as directly as implied.

Fun stuff
Old 26th November 2016 | Show parent
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StepLogik ➑️
Thank you for the more precise language

"Pulses from the CPU" isn't technically correct since the digital master clock generates the pulses which are then divided by counters addressed by the CPU. To someone who understands the design, my shortcut makes sense but when trying to assist someone who wants to learn it is misleading. The CPU is controlling the frequency of the pulses to the waveform circuitry, just not as directly as implied.

Fun stuff
No problem, I've had to illustrate this here before.
What's real fun is the Crumar DS-2 which is the grand-daddy of Hybrid synth designs. It does all of the same stuff regarding addressable dividers and such but without a CPU!
There's actually a diode matrix turning the keyboard contact signals into a digital address which is then applied to ROM memory chips containing a lookup table full of addresses for the divider circuits. Press a key -> address the ROM -> address a divider -> output key frequency.
Here's where it gets truly strange - the master clock for everything is actually a VCO but running at frequencies much higher than audio range. So one can argue that it is actually analog and not hybrid to some extent. It's somewhat blurry I guess

But I am really excited about this news. It's great somebody took the time and effort to do this firmware mod - freaking awesome!
Old 26th November 2016
  #14
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yeah, but is that not what i've said?

the pulses control the frequency (hence the "SLOPE" parameter on modern dco synth to mimic NOT digitally controlled osc drift)


but the pulses do NOT generate the waveforms of the oscillators like stated above
Quote:
Originally Posted by StepLogik ➑️
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the AX80 uses digital pulses from the CPU to generate wave shapes via analogue circuitry.
.
Old 26th November 2016 | Show parent
  #15
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Hollowman9's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonStrom ➑️
???

sorry, but a) the AX 80 is no hybrid, it even got discrete oscillators plus a CEM 3372 VFC/VCA

b) it soundwise is as far from a DW 8000 and similar as it can get.

it just sounds quite massive and analog. In fact it may be one of the last broad and fat sounding analogs to have been built.

either you never heard one in person or you are making a joke here
if you would have said, it's in the same family as Juno 6/60, matrix12/Xpander, Memorymoog, then you would have been right
The part about it sounding massive actually is true. Within a certain range the AX80 can be absolutely girthy in sound. By this I mean that in one or two octaves it may sound extremely fat but then thins out in other octaves. A byproduct of DCO operation. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is comparable to an Xpander or Polaris or any other VCO synth but it can hold its own within limits.
Old 26th November 2016 | Show parent
  #16
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2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by PES ➑️
I wish someone would update that one to the extent of changing the EG curves, making them exponential (they seem linear now). A simple thing like that would make it a lot more musical.

It's all I'd want from an update.
Unison would have been nice too
Old 26th November 2016
  #17
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🎧 10 years
This is somewhat good news for AX-60, AX-73 and VX-90 owners as well, since they use the same/similar NEC uPD7811G CPU as the AX-80.

While the AX-80 is a very different synth from the rest of the AX family it's a good bet the code that controls the important IO functions (MIDI) are the same or similar enough that MIDI CC and SYSEX in and out can be implemented on these machines as well. Good to know there's some people familiar with uPD781x assembly kicking around too.

Edit: It's Rob Grieb (tauntek) who is responsible for this. Thank you for doing this for AX-80 owners basically for free!
Old 26th November 2016 | Show parent
  #18
PES
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonStrom ➑️
Unison would have been nice too
It does have unison. Selectable between 6, 4 or 2 notes I think. Monophonic that is.
Old 26th November 2016
  #19
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Really?
How do you do that on yours?

i know the AX 60 has UNISON modes, but so far i did not discover any on my AX 80.
Old 26th November 2016 | Show parent
  #20
PES
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonStrom ➑️
Really?
How do you do that on yours?

i know the AX 60 has UNISON modes, but so far i did not discover any on my AX 80.
Oh, right, I meant on the AX60 there is.
Old 27th November 2016
  #21
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🎧 10 years
any chance of getting this for the ax73? from what I recall, the cc control has so much lag it's unusable for tracking.
Old 12th February 2017
  #22
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Ocelot ➑️
This is somewhat good news for AX-60, AX-73 and VX-90 owners as well, since they use the same/similar NEC uPD7811G CPU as the AX-80.

While the AX-80 is a very different synth from the rest of the AX family it's a good bet the code that controls the important IO functions (MIDI) are the same or similar enough that MIDI CC and SYSEX in and out can be implemented on these machines as well. Good to know there's some people familiar with uPD781x assembly kicking around too.

Edit: It's Rob Grieb (tauntek) who is responsible for this. Thank you for doing this for AX-80 owners basically for free!
Yes, you're correct in that they have many similarities, but the AX80 was chiefly possible because of how the presets just happened to be stored in ROM. The AX60 has very little extra space to put custom code into an EPROM so some kind of trickery would almost definitely need to be involved. In other words, it's not a matter of not being able to reverse engineer the design or write the code, it's mostly a matter of luck and/or cleverness in coming up with a workaround.

I can't speak to the AX73 or VX90 as no one has been willing to read out the firmware and post it.
Old 25th April 2017
  #23
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Has anybody gotten this new firmware yet?
I'm dying to know how it works. DO I have to be the Guinea Pig?
Old 26th April 2017
  #24
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🎧 15 years
I've had this in mine from the getgo. Works great. In no way feels like a mod, feels very much like what the synth always should have been. Go for it.
Old 26th April 2017
  #25
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2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
got it, working fine, but didn't have too much time for it yet.
But real time controlling with a BCR 2000 works very well.

Big upgrade for a unique sounding synth.
Old 26th April 2017
  #26
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3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
The guy above saying the '80 sounds big/massive? wtf?

I had an AX-80, best thing about it was the looks. The filter could get aggresive and was a bit different to most of my other stuff at the time, but I'd never call it 'big' sounding (btw those who don't believe you can check my crappy soundcloud demo https://soundcloud.com/pro5 - scroll right to the bottom it's where it belongs )

How I wished it had the musicality and 'fullness' of the JX-3P or Juno 106 I had at same time, or the organic beauty and living filter of my Polysix.

I've also had DW-8000, had most of the older cheaper analogs in fact at one time or other, wasn't blown away by the DW-8000 due to the plasticky hybrid tone from those digital oscs, but it was a bit nicer than the AX-80 imo, both synths actually have TWO things in common:

1. They both have quite aggressive filters that do sound 'analog', though not always super-musical (not a Roland or Polysix for sure!)
2. They both have terrible, clattery keybeds which aren't too fun to interact with.

Looks wise AX-80 wins, soundwise DW just about wins for overall tone, I'd have neither again and be fine.


On Topic. That said, good news for those that do like it about this OS upgrade!
Old 26th April 2017
  #27
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TonStrom's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
you might want to compare your sounds to the ones in these 3 vids:






it may not be the most flexible synth, but to call it un-musical (which you did not do ) or thin sounding
would not really do it justice. one the other hand: it helps keeping the second hand prices low for those who want one.

Last edited by TonStrom; 26th April 2017 at 02:17 AM..
Old 26th April 2017
  #28
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🎧 15 years
Weird how for me it's like a cousin to the DW8000 except that I prefer the Akai in this case.
Old 26th April 2017
  #29
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2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
yeah i could agree on "cousin" -

just 2 days ago we played with a dw8000 for quite some time
at a friends place and - just imo - while the waves of the korg sound so different,
the low end character of its filter can make you think of the ax 80 and vice versa.


that said, i wouldn't say "no" to a mix of prophet12 or novation peak and akai ax80
Old 26th April 2017
  #30
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🎧 15 years
This is unsurprisingly the only Akai synth I have. It's just a bit different from my other gear so I like that.

I like the DW8000, but once I got a Polysix and MonoPoly I found the vintage Korg sounds that I wanted there and basically wasn't using the DW anymore.
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