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Akai VX-600 

 




When buying one, watch out for: lcd/foil that gets dim with age.
 

 


English | Polski

So I had to have the LCD foil replaced as it aged and became dimmed (some German dude ships it for all Akai models). I had to have the encoder replaced too as it died completely. Finally, I had to have it thoroughly cleaned because the previous owner (hi Alex) did some funny things with this synth like hiding cigarettes inside the collapsible casing, out of his wife's view (what a useful synth that is, eh-uh?). Now the toil is all over, and - boy oh boy - for a total of 370 euro it was well worth it.

Evil crunchy filter, nice oscillator section, ballsy unison, clever overall one-big-matrix-synth idea. I can't explain this, but this synth very strongly brings me back from adoring VAs to cherishing real analogs again. The warmth, the bite, and the grit of the yesteryear. Really nice piece of hardware. Now look at the "software":

- oscillators with all the waves playing simultaneously, no need to choose between them and make sacrifices;
- three multiple stage envelopes;
- filter FM and osc FM (this one erratic a bit - gives unmusical results - huge letdown);
- mod matrix where you can do tricks like assigning a [constant] to [lfo speed] multiple times, making it faster and faster each time;
- keyboard splits, layers, zones, chords and shit.

CONS!!!
- Horrible buttons, kinda Poly-61-like frustration;
- The weirdest memory ever. There's no [STORE] button. The synth remembers EVERYTHING, every change I make, whether it be tweaking the filter cutoff of the current patch or moving the cursor in some submenu. After powering the synth up again, everything pops up exactly how I left it. I'd rather have the traditional way, please;
- Many times you may find the sound dull. Kept in a grip by a concrete fist, lacking highs, having too much middles, whatever. We may even use the word "lifeless" if  we compare it against some of the big analog "classics".

I've got only 2 vintage Akais but right now I can say Akai is my favorite vintage synth manufacturer (apart from the mainstream Roland, for obvious reasons), and the VX-600 is the most synthy small vintage synth of all the unhyped synths. I haven't had goosebumps in months of playing up to now. And that's always the most important thing. Every one of you should sit down in front of a VX-600, wait as long as 40 minutes to let it warm up and keep in tune, and smell the aroma of heated analog guts coming through the cracks in the panel, knowing that this tiny beautiful piece of craft is getting closer and closer to its final hour, but as long as it's alive, you can translate a bit of yourself into sound through it. Irreplaceable experience.

Emotions aside, empirical senses whisper that its price tag (what is it right now, 700 euro?) make it lose the contest for "a better synth" with its larger sister called AX80, which has more keys, more buttons, but most important - more musical (elastic / supple) oscillators. However, when all you want is an obscure mad-scientist toy to make that specific, vinatge, sending-shivers-down-the-spine uncertainty spawned in a murky mod matrix - then such a contest is pointless, and you know what to get.
 

 

 

Watch the video demo part 1:

 

Watch the video demo part 2:

 

Or listen to the audio demo:
[ mp3 demo - factory patches  ]

 


 

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