A comprehensive emulation of the AKAI AX73 analogue synthesizer by Martinic with modern enhancements that aim to rekindle interest in an underrated classic.
This AKAI synthesizer hit the market at exactly the wrong time with the wrong ideas. In 1986 everyone else was moving to digital oscillators and control systems that suited a more minimalist approach to the front panel. The AX73 has 6 voices of analogue oscillators and architecture that were hampered by the very un-analogue data slider and button interface. It seems crazy now that a 6-voice polyphonic analogue synth would be ignored but 80s fashion was its own thing. What it did have was a full MIDI implementation which meant you could run it easily from a sequencer or MIDI controller. It also had special inputs for the S-series AKAI samplers so they could use the filters and envelopes, which is pretty cool.
Anyway, this overlooked synth has been taken apart and analysed by Martinic’s Advanced Circuitry Emulation ACE technology to reproduce the components and circuits with very high precision. This is all about emulation rather than sampling.
The Martinic enhanced AX73 features dual synth layers for stacking patches, four VCO sources and up to 24 notes of polyphony. Each layer has a multimode filter with self-oscillation, 4 DADSR envelopes and 4 LFOs for modulation. They’ve brought in the arpeggiator from the AX60, added an analogue Chorus plus a bank of 8 effects.
The interface has been turned inside out so that all the parameters are now available on the front panel like they always should have been. Deeper still you’ll find more controls behind the scenes for crafting the exact sound and getting into the details. 600 presets have been provided by a team of sound designers.
The AX73 sounds really good and there are loads of nostalgic sounds in there that smell of the late 1980s. While the sound and editing are great the interface is rather static and dull. The front panel looks fabulous but it’s a bit small on my screen and I couldn’t resize the GUI. While the editor is very clear none of the controls are animated in response to modulation so it all feels a bit dated – maybe that’s intentional.
Martinic AX73 is available now for £38, half the usual price, and will run on macOS or Windows as a VST or AU plugin.
More information from Martinic