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Akai AX80 problems, please help
Old 22nd May 2013
  #1
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🎧 5 years
Akai AX80 problems, please help

I just bought an Akai AX80. It looks to be in great shape and powers up, etc. But it does have a couple of noticeable issues.

The membrane buttons do not work, which I see is a common problem and think I've got the answer (please refer to later posts for further questions).

More importantly there is an intermittent-like key issue, I can not find info on this issue. Essentially, depending on the mode, some keys don't respond...about one note per octave. If you switch modes, it is different keys that don't work. That tells me it isn't the key contact triggers, but something else (I think I have this issue figured out, waiting for parts now).

Finally, the internal battery has some signs of corrosion on it (more details and questions below).

EDIT: Other "newer" problems/questions are mentioned in posts below.
Old 22nd May 2013
  #2
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mike vee's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
i had one for a while - it was mint as can be looked brand new like a trip to the 80s. I sold it and UPS destroyed it.

It did have membrane issue but from what i remember there is something about a ribbon cable issue???
Old 22nd May 2013
  #3
mp3
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🎧 10 years
There's a bridge connector between the membrane boards that gets faulty after a number of button presses. It's an easy fix: http://web.archive.org/web/200702160...80_Repair1.htm

As for the semi-random non-sounding keys, you have one or more dead voice chips. If its one out of every 8 notes, then it's one chip gone bad. You will need to figure out which voice chip is dead and locate a replacement chip.

Good luck, it's a fantastic board when fully healthy.
Old 22nd May 2013
  #4
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🎧 5 years
Hey thanks for the info. I have a service and operator's manual so hopefully there I can find a test mode to test the voice chips. Any idea of the difficulty involved w replacing voice chips? Any idea on where to find one? Average price, etc? Again thanks a ton for the info!
Old 22nd May 2013
  #5
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🎧 10 years
The voice chips should be socketed so no soldering involved. I have the chips if you need one.
Old 22nd May 2013
  #6
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Yes friend, I actually located you in another thread and was going to email or pm you. Yes, if that is the problem, then I do need and want to buy a chip from you...provided you have the correct one. After I read some of your other posts, how do I find out what ROM/revision I have/need?
Old 23rd May 2013
  #7
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🎧 10 years
Check your CEM3372 chips. They should say either 3160B or 3160C on them. ROM version I for Rev B chips and ROM version K for Rev C chips...
Old 23rd May 2013
  #8
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🎧 5 years
One issue down (I hope), more issues to go...

Ok, so I think I have the voice chip/dead note issue cornered...ordering a voice chip.

SO NOW:

When I opened the case and checked under the hood, it appears that my internal battery has a little corrosion on the top edge of it, but the person I bought it from said that they tested it and the battery tested good (I don't know the guy, so don't know how much he knows). Does anyone know: Should I replace this battery? Should I do anything with it? Could it ruin my synth? I want to get this thing in tip top shape, so I definitely don't want to leave something that could irreparably damage it.

Finally, have any of you ever personally repaired the "membrane" button issue? I've look at the links and it looks like an easy fix. I see some people that modded it to alleviate the problem happening again. What's your take? Just resolder it? Perform a mod? I'm just looking for some direction here, if you have any advice.

Thanks!
Old 24th May 2013
  #9
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🎧 5 years
Turns out I haven't located a voice chip. Does anyone have a CEM3372 3160C (I believe ROM Version K)?

My chips say CEM3372 3160C-01

From what I understand I can't mix chip revisions....but can I replace all of the chips? Anyone have any info on this?
Old 24th May 2013 | Show parent
  #10
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Sometimes they show up on Ebay. I got a Revision A chip because I had the same issues as you described. It works, but the only problem is that there is a constant noise as if the osc is running all the time, not a huge problem but it might be annoying.

I still have to play it via MIDI or else some notes do not trigger...


Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ1s ➑️
Turns out I haven't located a voice chip. Does anyone have a CEM3372 3160C (I believe ROM Version K)?

My chips say CEM3372 3160C-01

From what I understand I can't mix chip revisions....but can I replace all of the chips? Anyone have any info on this?
Old 24th May 2013
  #11
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🎧 5 years
Does anyone know if CEM3372 revision D chips will work with my Akai AX80 without having to replace or rewrite the ROM, Version K ? I was told that Ds were a drop in replacement for Cs but I want to be sure before I go buy 8 chips that might not work.
Old 24th May 2013 | Show parent
  #12
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acreil's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ1s ➑️
When I opened the case and checked under the hood, it appears that my internal battery has a little corrosion on the top edge of it, but the person I bought it from said that they tested it and the battery tested good (I don't know the guy, so don't know how much he knows). Does anyone know: Should I replace this battery? Should I do anything with it? Could it ruin my synth? I want to get this thing in tip top shape, so I definitely don't want to leave something that could irreparably damage it.
Replace it if it's a NiCd battery. Lithium batteries don't cause corrosion problems.
Old 24th May 2013
  #13
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🎧 5 years
Revision D CEM3372 will work just fine. They should sound the same as the c.

You don't need a new ROM. When the AX80 first came out it had revision B CEM's. When they moved to revision C chips the resonance and cut-off sounded a little different so they rewrote the software to reflect the new slopes/curves/behaviour of the rev C's.

The internal lithium battery should be fine. Mine is still around 3 volts but it depends on the memory chips used. The battery is a little crusty looking in mine.

You should be able to fix the membrane buttons by resoldering the connections between the boards. I put new buttons in mine as they might need to be pressed harder as they get older, and this may be what makes the connections between the boards break.
Old 25th May 2013 | Show parent
  #14
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🎧 5 years
Dial Controller Knob

apprenticemart2: I really appreciate the information. Thank you!

Now, the next and probably least pressing issue. The big dial/knob that controls the parameters. It acts goofy. It seems to respond the best when slightly pressed down, if not, it will change the value but the changes won't stay when pressure released. It has erratic behavior at best. Seems to be loose, but still does "work," though not correctly. Has anyone had any similar issues? Can it be improved, or is the only hope a replacement? My search on the internet provided little results, because I'm not sure of the official name of what I'm looking for. At any rate, all of you have been a big help thus far, much respect and appreciation! This synth will live on and continue to produce great things.



Quote:
Originally Posted by apprenticemart2 ➑️
Revision D CEM3372 will work just fine. They should sound the same as the c.

You don't need a new ROM. When the AX80 first came out it had revision B CEM's. When they moved to revision C chips the resonance and cut-off sounded a little different so the rewrote the software to reflect the new slopes/curves/behaviour of the rev C's.

The internal lithium battery should be fine. Mine is still around 3 volts but it depends on the memory chips used. The battery is a little crusty looking in mine.

You should be able to fix the membrane buttons by resoldering the connections between the boards. I put new buttons in mine as they might need to be pressed harder as they get older, and this may be what makes the connections between the boards break.
Old 25th May 2013
  #15
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🎧 5 years
keep it alive!

Hi there DJ1s,

Im glad your doing all you can to keep the ax alive, its totally worth the effort. I have owned one since 2001 and it has never really worked and for that reason she's been stored away in a cupboard, but recently I have decided to resurrect the old girl.

It suffers from similar issues as yours, plus the most annoying problem is that it will stay powered on for a few minutes, then when you start editing a patch, the vacuum displays freeze up, the sound drops away and no button will respond. Total freak out... Turning the unit off and on again will restore the presets only for the cycle to repeat itself.

I had the battery replaced yesterday and it behaves slightly differently but still freezes. Does yours do the same and if so have you fixed this issue?

Maybe its the pcb joiner issue causing some kind of short, so have you resolved this too? I really have no idea and would like to try and work through the problem myself, rather than take it to a generic repair shop, who wont treat her right.
Old 29th May 2013
  #16
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🎧 5 years
Let me know if you're ever in need of buying the AX80 presets backed up on audio disc or mp3. You will most likely lose your program tones and presets if you don't make a backup before the battery dies or you replace it.

You prob already know this, but just sayin'.
Old 29th May 2013
  #17
Gear Nut
 
Swook's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Crazy, I almost bought an AX80 that upon test drive looked as if it may have had similar issues so I got cold feet. Are you in SW MO by any chance?
Old 29th May 2013
  #18
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by siege66 ➑️
It suffers from similar issues as yours, plus the most annoying problem is that it will stay powered on for a few minutes, then when you start editing a patch, the vacuum displays freeze up, the sound drops away and no button will respond. Total freak out... Turning the unit off and on again will restore the presets only for the cycle to repeat itself.

I had the battery replaced yesterday and it behaves slightly differently but still freezes. Does yours do the same and if so have you fixed this issue?

Maybe its the pcb joiner issue causing some kind of short, so have you resolved this too? I really have no idea and would like to try and work through the problem myself, rather than take it to a generic repair shop, who wont treat her right.
Hi friend,

Fortunately for me, I have had no such issues with it freezing. I have voice chip replacements coming. After that, I'm going to try to resolder the membrane button connections (if that doesn't work, I'm considering doing the ribbon cable thing, but not sure...). The finicky dial/knob isn't a huge issue, but it will be on my list once I resolve all of the others. I am hesitant to replace the battery at this point. That's probably the last or next to last thing I will do; it tests good right now, so...
I'm very sorry, but can't really advise you on your issues. 99% of the technical stuff I know about the AX80 comes from this site...so you are in the right place. My gut instinct, though, is that you do have a short/connection issue somewhere (like you said...I know it is somewhat obvious), but where is that is, is beyond me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by synthfusion ➑️
Let me know if you're ever in need of buying the AX80 presets backed up on audio disc or mp3. You will most likely lose your program tones and presets if you don't make a backup before the battery dies or you replace it.

You prob already know this, but just sayin'.
Thanks for the heads up. I was aware...was planning on doing my own backup. How much for the back up?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Swook ➑️
Crazy, I almost bought an AX80 that upon test drive looked as if it may have had similar issues so I got cold feet. Are you in SW MO by any chance?
Ha! Yes I am...thanks for passing it up! I'm sure it had to be the same one...I doubt there are many AX80s around these parts. What was he asking for it? I take it you checked it out?
Honestly (besides issues mentioned) it's pretty solid. The button thing sucks, but I think it can be improved (can actually get most of the them to work, with some effort, before fixing it). I am replacing all of the voice chips with NOS chips. The battery is an easy fix. I'm sure I can figure out something with the knob. All repairs considered, I am still at least a couple of hundred dollar underneath what I've seen them go for on Ebay...and this one is clean! Cosmetically it is awesome, especially for being about 30 years old. The keybed is amazing and it sounds awesome even as it sits right now! All of the screens work and the other buttons are fine. The pitch and mod wheel are great. And my favorite thing...it is so quiet! You can turn it all the way up and never hear any noise until you hit a key! Plus, since I am replacing all of my chips, I will be selling the 7 good chips I have. This will offset the cost of the new chips and perhaps even offset the cost of the whole synth. It would really be amazing if I ended up getting this synth for free!
Old 29th May 2013
  #19
Gear Nut
 
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🎧 5 years
I checked it out the day after he first posted it, he was asking $500 then. When I noticed that the dead keys moved around, I suspected it was a voice chip. I asked about the battery, when he said he knew nothing about it I explained replacement and leakage and though I probably wasn't interested he should be prepared to take a lot less. The next day he had it up for $350 obo. I loved how it sounded--very bright and aggressive. The presets contained timbres I've never heard before from a subtractive analog, in fact there were some sounds coming out that didn't strike me as subtractive at all--I was surprised by how fresh it sounded to me--nothing at all like a Juno or Poly800 from that era.

I had considered picking it up and sending it to Switched On in Austin for repair (they just did wonders for my ARP at a great price) but I passed.
Old 29th May 2013
  #20
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🎧 5 years
Yeah, I agree. Luckily I got it for a LOT less....probably thanks to you! I appreciate that. I would hate to ship this thing anywhere, so Im going to try and avoid that. I'm glad to know there are some synth junkies in the area. What kind of ARP do you have? 2600? Thanks for posting, perhaps we will cross paths sometime. Hopefully I will have the AX completed soon!
Old 11th June 2013
  #21
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🎧 5 years
What's with all the choppin' dude?

That's right....the AX is back.....well somewhat.

I bought and finally received a complete set NOS chips, Revision D. All voices work like a charm now!

I will hopefully post an audio clip soon.

I still have the membrane button issue, controller knob/dial issue, and possibly battery replacement to deal with, but I'm making definite headway. I only have one chip that is bad in the other set so I have 7 backups (or some for sale).

I have been looking into the membrane button issue and I am a little apprehensive and unsure what to try. The repair guide online doesn't really detail the repair a whole lot (in the case of doing a ribbon cable or wires), so I'm not sure which one I want to try. I have heard of people blowing fuses, screwing up the screens, or rendering the synth unusable when attempting this repair. Do I need to disconnect the power internally? What all boards do I remove and solder? Anyone that has repaired this issue, please chime in! I've also heard of people mentioning button replacement and I'm wondering if I should do that. My buttons "feel" fine, but not sure if they really are or not...I can get most of them to work with some persuasion, so again, not sure what to do. Does anyone have pictures or info on a completed and successful repair?

Also, haven't heard of anyone with the control knob issue, mine is loose and the values don't stay put unless you put light pressure in on the dial. Does anyone know if I can find replacement parts on this or if it can be improved/fixed without replacement?


Finally, after reading some replies to my posts, I have been leaning toward leaving my battery alone...but I still wonder about that...hmm.

Anyone? Thanks!
Old 11th June 2013
  #22
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🎧 5 years
Well, like I said, I replaced the button switches in my AX80. Maybe they are dirty if they are not working and you have resoldered the connections between the switch boards.
You could take it apart and try to get some Servisol Super 10 in the switches.

If you have the ability to replace the battery then do so, but it will probably be OK for a few years yet. It's not a priority.

If you need the factory patches they are at the http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group...al_akai/files/
yahoo group. It was I who painstakingly typed them out by hand and uploaded them. I can't remember if I modified a resistor to make the tape output louder so playing it back in is more reliable. I probably did. A decent pre amp should work and then you can boost it in an audio editor of you have any trouble saving your own patches.

Have you checked the control knob potentiometer? There are tabs of metal that get folded over to hold it all together. Maybe the pot has got a bit slack and these tabs need pressing down, also check the nut that secures the pot to the casing in case it is loose. Did you put some isopropyl alcohol inside it and turn it back and forth to clean it up?
(try to remove it from the casing if you doe this to negate any possibility that the alcohol could take paint off or change it's colour a little)
Old 12th June 2013 | Show parent
  #23
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by apprenticemart2 ➑️
Well, like I said, I replaced the button switches in my AX80. Maybe they are dirty if they are not working and you have resoldered the connections between the switch boards.
You could take it apart and try to get some Servisol Super 10 in the switches.

If you have the ability to replace the battery then do so, but it will probably be OK for a few years yet. It's not a priority.

If you need the factory patches they are at the http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group...al_akai/files/
yahoo group. It was I who painstakingly typed them out by hand and uploaded them. I can't remember if I modified a resistor to make the tape output louder so playing it back in is more reliable. I probably did. A decent pre amp should work and then you can boost it in an audio editor of you have any trouble saving your own patches.

Have you checked the control knob potentiometer? There are tabs of metal that get folded over to hold it all together. Maybe the pot has got a bit slack and these tabs need pressing down, also check the nut that secures the pot to the casing in case it is loose. Did you put some isopropyl alcohol inside it and turn it back and forth to clean it up?
(try to remove it from the casing if you doe this to negate any possibility that the alcohol could take paint off or change it's colour a little)
As for the membrane button issue: I haven't resoldered the connections. The reason I haven't tried yet is because I have heard horror stories of people that tried to resolder the connections and lost their functioning screens, blown fuses, or rendered their synth unusable. How much of a possibility is this? Should I disconnect the power inside of the casing? Is it really an easy fix or is it easy to royally screw up? How involved is it to get to the buttons to replace or clean?

Thank you for your efforts in getting those patches up!

As for the control knob potentiometer, I will check it and clean it, I just wasn't sure if anyone else had similar issues.

Thanks again apprenticemart2!
Old 12th June 2013
  #24
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
yeap.. my two left screens are garbled up... as long as I can see the ENV's on the right I'm all good..
Old 25th July 2013
  #25
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🎧 5 years
I haven't posted on this in awhile, but thought I would check in. I have cleaned and checked the big control knob/potentiometer. The back of the pot was solid and didn't look broken. It was also fairly clean. It still has the ability to be pushed in. I'm not sure why, but i'd have to disassemble it to check it out. Does anyone know where I could get a replacement? Or even what the specs on this pot are??

I still haven't fixed the membrane button issue. I'm terrified that I will lose my cool looking screens. I can get most of the buttons to activate with some patience, but it really puts a damper on editing the patches. I'd take it to someone to fix, but I don't know any people in my area that are tried and true with synth repair.

I've been having a lot of fun with the synth regardless. With all of the voices sounding, it's been a blast. I do have extra rev C chips now, too.

Thanks and let me know
Old 8th November 2013
  #26
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🎧 5 years
Hey there.. Just now, like 10 min ago got my ax and it has the random note problem. How can one test the v chips? to figure out which one is out or needed? Thanks from HTX
Old 7th March 2015
  #27
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🎧 5 years
Hi there, i just bought a akai ax80 and i have one dead chip which is a "cem3372 3160C-01". Does anyone here have one to sell to me ?? It would be great thank you and have a nice day !
Romain.
Old 7th March 2015 | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by spyinzedark ➑️
Hi there, i just bought a akai ax80 and i have one dead chip which is a "cem3372 3160C-01". Does anyone here have one to sell to me ?? It would be great thank you and have a nice day !
Romain.
CEM3372 CHIP www.vintagesynthshop.com
Old 7th March 2015 | Show parent
  #29
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by spyinzedark ➑️
Hi there, i just bought a akai ax80 and i have one dead chip which is a "cem3372 3160C-01". Does anyone here have one to sell to me ?? It would be great thank you and have a nice day !
Romain.
That is a rev C chip (3160C) so you need to replace it with another rev C. I have them in stock.
Old 1st April 2018
  #30
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🎧 5 years
Sorry about any issues you've been having, but I would be remiss If I didn't state flat out that the Akai AX80 just isn't worth putting a lot of time and money into.

Yes, it looks cool as hell and is nice to have for its aesthetics, but as a synth, it sounds pretty bad and nothings going to change that.

Turns out Akai was very liberal with the "DCO" term and it has since been uncovered that this is in fact a digital synth, which is what most people noticed right away at the time of its release,

Not that they called it "Digital" that wasn't considered a bad thing yet, but nearly everyone said there was something "Off" about the way it sounded.

It actually uses Analog Controlled Digital oscillators, yep, pretty bizarre, but the sound isn't that interesting.

Actually, The Akai AX80 is really the world's first VA synth, unfortunately, it's far from the best.

There are plenty of synths worth sinking time and money into, the AX80 isn't one of them

Its pretty face will continue to rope people in, and damn does it look good, but at the end of the day, its incapable of putting out...the sooner you move on the better
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