above photo courtesy Akai
The Akai AX60 is a 6-voice polyphonic programmable analog synthesizer with a 5-octave, 61-note (C-C) keyboard. Each voice consists of only one VCO (switchable between sawtooth, triangle, pulse, or noise waves), however, the filter section features a VCF (Low Pass) with an additional high-pass filter. Fortunately Akai included an Autotune button to tune all of its VCO's and VCF's. There is a single Envelope Generator, an ADSR with additional controls for amount ("depth level") and delay (delay before the attack begins). The "depth level" controls the maximum level of the envelope as well as the sustain level. The AX60 was one of the last analog synths to have knobs and sliders. There are a total of 25 sliders and two knobs. All controls, including split points and effects, are stored in one of its 64 memory locations. There is a handy Edit Recall button to reset the parameters for a patch. Also included is an effects section featuring digital delay and chorus.
The AX60 came with very limited MIDI implementation and no velocity sensitivity. However, it does feature a MIDI THRU plug. It is bi-timbral using the keyboard split points as well as through MIDI. It also features a unison mode making it a 6-VCO mono-synth. The AX60 has a good arpeggiator with an external sync socket.
The keyboard can be split in two at any key with each controller or effect applied to either of both halves of the split. There are 8 memory locations to store programmable split points. The voices can be split in one of the following configurations (left-right) 6-0, 4-2, 2-4, or 0-6 (unfortunately not 3-3). The reason for including splits that have no oscillators on one side is for when the AX60 is used in conjunction with an Akai sampler as explained below.
One of the nice features about this synthesizer is that it has a 13-pin input that alows you to hook it up to an Akai sampler (S612/700, X7000) and input the samples to be processed with the AX60's internal synth engine (VCF's, VCA's, effects, etc...). Combined with the keyboard splitting capabilities, this alows you to play the sampler via one of the split sides. The sampler/AX60 combination is unique in that it is one of the few ways that samples can be treated with real analog filters.
In some parts of the world, the Akai AX60 is somewhat rare. It was only marketed to a few areas, the USA being one of them.