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Akai AX-60
Overall Rating
Submitted: January 12th, 2003
by David Khan-.u3xB
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Sound Quality
This is an analogue synth so leave it alone if you want "realism". Still , what IS realism anyway? Some vastly over-sampled & over-produced string section played on an equally plastic Korg Triton or the like - or an Akai AX60 making some other-worldy electronic shriek that sounds like nothing else but an AX60? There are some nice electric organ, synth-string sounds & synth-bass sounds that this keyboard can conjure - but what most impresses me are those noises that sound like nothing else on the planet. I've mucked around with ambient/industrial & electro-acoustic musics over the years - for intriguing electronic textures I've never found the AX60 to be wanting. Every time I switch the damn thing on it's a new experience! In a live setting the sliders don't allow perfect real-time control (they must be taken briefly to the limits of their travel for the AX60 to recognise that a new slider is being accessed after a previous one) - but if you just want to make some improv electro-mayhem this isn't a problem! Although somewhat noisy by modern standards, the AX60 is capable of generating sounds from the deepest bass to shining, crystalline, metallic chimes. In practice I tend to play mainly with the cut of freq, resonance & VCO mod controls in a live setting. It's not at all difficult to surf on this machine.
Reliability/Durability
Totally reliable. All-metal construction & very sturdy. Mine's had a few knocks over the years (I've finally bought it a case!) & still goes fine. I reckon it will out-last my much newer Ensoniq ASR10 - although the Ensoniq IS a much more complex beast.
Price/Value
General Comments
This was the first genuine musical instrument I ever owned. I was totally ignorant about what it was & what it could do when I bought it (compared to a genuine synth fanatic I'm STILL buck-ignorant). I didn't even know what polyphony was for god's sake, let alone the fine distinctions between digital & analogue keyboards, between keyboards with preset sounds & those able to generate completely new sounds from scratch. I was really lucky to find it. I have to admit that I bought this beast because it had lots of controls, pretty LEDs & was black & solid looking - lousy reasons for purchasing what remains one of my most cherished musical possessions (I'm also very fond of my Ensoniq ASR10, but it & the AX60 aren't really comparable). I have only glancing experience with what seem to be the AX60's peers - the Juno 6, 60 & 106 - others have waxed more eloquently on this topic. I would say, however, that many synths do appear to have their own distinct character & that side-by-side comparisons may not always be helpful. Have a play, if possible, before buying & if magic happens then go with that feeling. I don't think I will ever exhaust the AX60's potential - especially in conjunction with external samplers & effects. It's a very easy instrument to get to grips with initially - but also rewards patient tinkering. It would be nice to have more memory patches (the AX60 has 64 to the Juno 106's 128) & it would be nice to restore the factory settings (just to assuage my curiosity) without having to remove internal batteries or the like. These are minor quibbles however. The AX60 is a fabulous machine, unjustly overshadowed by its Roland competitors - of course this also means that, if you are lucky enough to find one, a better price. Don't make me any offers though - I'm not selling, ever!
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