Ax73 Midi Controller?

Any music gear discussions that don't fit into one of the other forums.

Moderators: Kent, Joe., luketeaford, lisa

Gregmuzza
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:54 pm
Location: Leeds, England

Ax73 Midi Controller?

Post by Gregmuzza » Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:03 am

Hello all,

I'm wanting to make a midi controller for my ax73, which is a fairly basic analogue synth with midi capabilties. The problem with this synth is making new sounds isn't much fun because all the editing must be done through an lcd screen, up and down buttons to move to the next parameter and + - buttons to change numbers, boring!

So I'd like to make a midi controller with a button or knob for every single parameter to make programing super fun! Is this possible??

I'm normally a synth user and I spend all of my time making music, so this would be my first move into diy!

Thanks in advance!

Greg

sandyb

Post by sandyb » Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:17 am

somebody who actually owns one will chime in i'm sure (and hopefully prove me wrong) but a quick look at the manual i found online shows a very limited midi implementation in which case you might be out of luck. without cc or sysex implemented for the synth's parameters i can't think of a way to do what you want. :waah:

http://manuals.fdiskc.com/flat/Akai%20A ... Manual.pdf

User avatar
ringstone
antipodean experimentalist
Posts: 2789
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:31 am
Location: Trudging through the Capital Wasteland

Post by ringstone » Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:17 am

Sorry Greg, I think you might be out of luck. The AX73 doesn't respond to any MIDI sysex commands or have any other way to control the sound editing via MIDI. I have one too. :waah:

You would need to do some pretty serious hardware hacking under the hood of the synth itself to do this sort of thing. Probably a bit difficult for a DIY beginner, I'm afraid.

There are kits for this sort of thing for the Roland JX-3P, and Korg Poly-800 and Polysix, so I guess it could be possible to do it for the AX73 as well. These kits usually comprise of a replacement ROM chip to change the synth's firmware, as well as (usually) some additional hardware.

Cheers
Blair

User avatar
StepLogik
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1193
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:26 pm
Location: Boston area, MA

Post by StepLogik » Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:59 am

Hacking new firmware for a synth is a major undertaking and requires a lot of special skills and tools.

The ax73 was never as popular as the other CEM based synths so it seems unlikely that anyone would invest the time to write new firmware.

It doesn't use DCO (as I understand it) so the firmware effort would probably be easier than doing a DCO synth since you wouldn't have to reverse engineer the clocking scheme. But you still have to code all the other stuff (key scanning, panel scanning, midi, etc). If all the CPU is doing is setting CV levels for the CEM chip then you could probably just pull the old digital side and replace it with an Arduino and a multi-channel d/a.

Gregmuzza
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:54 pm
Location: Leeds, England

Post by Gregmuzza » Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:20 am

Agh, ok, fair enough. Thanks for all your responses guys. Much appreciated!

User avatar
StepLogik
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1193
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:26 pm
Location: Boston area, MA

Post by StepLogik » Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:36 am

I feel your pain :lol:

I feel the same way about the Casio HT-6000. A monster analog hybrid with a horrific programming interface and no midi control over programming parameters. No chance of hacking it, either. The design of that synth is extremely complicated.

Gregmuzza
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:54 pm
Location: Leeds, England

Post by Gregmuzza » Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:52 am

So is it possible to do this for other synths? Because I also have yamaha cs6r which I was given, this also has an awful interface, so if this one talks 'cc and systex' does that mean I could make an interface with a control for almost every parameter? Has anyone done anything like this for Their synths??

Or does the cs6r also fall into the same trap?

What did you do with the casio? Do you still manage to make use of it? I remember researching this synth a couple of years ago, I seam to remember it was pretty sweet!

User avatar
tIB
Stainer!
Posts: 9334
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:28 am
Location: UK

Post by tIB » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:21 pm

Might be worth looking at the novation remote zero as a controller, its pretty configurable. No good for the AX though as others have mentioned. The good news is that the interface isnt that bad once you get used to it.

User avatar
StepLogik
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1193
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:26 pm
Location: Boston area, MA

Post by StepLogik » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:54 pm

I was thinking that the cs6r had a fairly robust midi implementation. I'll have to double-check the manual when I get back to laptop.

I still use the ht6000, it is a really great hybrid, just a bastard to program
:lol:

If it weren't so rare, I'd try a few hacks, maybe trying to emulate the control interface with an Arduino but I'm afraid to fry it.

User avatar
MitchXI
Posts: 9
Posts: 94
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:32 pm

Post by MitchXI » Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:14 pm

Just to chime in,
If you want to make a control surface for something with good midi sysex implementation,
ucapps.de is a site with a lot of options.
Haven't tried it yet, but looks appetizing.

User avatar
numan7
the most autistic amongst us
Posts: 6494
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:09 pm

Post by numan7 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:35 am

i have an ax-60 and an ax-73. they are the same synth. but ax-60 has dedicated panel controls for just about everything (i prefer the ax-73s keyboard over the ax-60's).

in the past i have found that developing a patch/sound on the ax-60, and then programming it using on the ax-73, using the ax-60's control surface as a quick guide, is a considerably more fun workflow than straight programming of ax-73 (although in this approach, you need to wiggle each of the ax-60s sliders at the beginning so that they indicate the actual values of the parameters).

cheers
"the ordinary will ignore whatever they cannot explain as if nothing ever happened. and everything remains the same again..."

Gregmuzza
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:54 pm
Location: Leeds, England

Post by Gregmuzza » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:40 am

Doh, I should have got a ax-60, as I never use the keyboard on the sx-73 anyway.

User avatar
dougt
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1133
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:47 am
Location: Sillycon Valley, CA

Post by dougt » Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:24 am

Yeah I would sell it and get an AX-60... Much more user friendly...

User avatar
Paradigm X
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2056
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:43 am

Post by Paradigm X » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:48 am

Im interested in adding pots to control the basics, cutoff, resonance, possibly others.

The datasheet seems to suggest it could be done, but im not sure how to go about it....
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
dougt
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1133
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:47 am
Location: Sillycon Valley, CA

Post by dougt » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:09 pm

Don't forget since it's a polysynth you would have to mod every voice chip...

User avatar
zedius
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 495
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:02 pm

Post by zedius » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:57 pm

This thing can load sysex patches, right? If not, how does it save/load patches?

I imagine that this would provide the best avenue to create an editor. Even if you can't edit parameters by sysex in real time, if you wrote software to modify parameters in a sysex file, then write the file to the ax73, I think this would be much easier when compared to adding knobs.

I could be wrong though!

User avatar
StepLogik
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1193
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:26 pm
Location: Boston area, MA

Post by StepLogik » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:28 pm

No sysex support on the AX-73.

User avatar
zedius
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 495
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:02 pm

Post by zedius » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:39 pm

Wow, none at all. Nightmare! :D

[Edit]Sorry, I saw that there was no sysex control of parameters but I figured if it has midi it would have been set up at least for bulk dump/receive. I have never heard of another synth that isn't, but I guess there are probably more out there!

User avatar
StepLogik
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1193
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:26 pm
Location: Boston area, MA

Post by StepLogik » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:02 pm

Unfortunately, it was very common among the earlier synths to have a poor MIDI implementation. Some of them would only receive note data, etc. The AX-73's MIDI implementation is fairly bare-bones, but at least you can select the MIDI channel and it responds to a minimal set of controller data (mod wheel, vol, sustain).

Of all the things a polysynth needs in its firmware, MIDI patch bulk dump is one of the easier routines to write so my guess is that they ran out of ROM space or simply prioritized that feature very low and never got around to actually coding it. My understanding was that it was a poor seller so I guess Akai never bothered with further firmware updates.

User avatar
ringstone
antipodean experimentalist
Posts: 2789
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:31 am
Location: Trudging through the Capital Wasteland

Post by ringstone » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:06 pm

zedius wrote:This thing can load sysex patches, right? If not, how does it save/load patches?
Audio tape dump only I'm afraid... at least these days this is fairly painless. You can get good results with a portable recorder or dumping the audio into your PC.

Cheers
Blair

User avatar
StepLogik
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1193
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:26 pm
Location: Boston area, MA

Post by StepLogik » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:06 pm

I never understood why manufacturers included audio tape patch dumps on a midi device. There were a few synths that did this. I guess it was just because midi was so new and there wasn't much hardware back then to dump to and certainly not everyone had a computer.

It definitely wasn't a cost decision because implementing midi patch dumps is a lot cheaper than including the extra jacks for the tape dump and the supporting circuitry.

User avatar
Paradigm X
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2056
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:43 am

Post by Paradigm X » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:15 pm

dougt wrote:Don't forget since it's a polysynth you would have to mod every voice chip...
Yeah, bit of a concern really. Such a shame, seems so close, but so far away...

User avatar
dougt
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1133
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:47 am
Location: Sillycon Valley, CA

Post by dougt » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:19 pm

Paradigm X wrote:
dougt wrote:Don't forget since it's a polysynth you would have to mod every voice chip...
Yeah, bit of a concern really. Such a shame, seems so close, but so far away...
Just get an AX60, it has the knobs/sliders you want... If you were in the US I could sell you one of mine...

User avatar
Paradigm X
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2056
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:43 am

Post by Paradigm X » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:55 pm

Yeah, this is the big problem, they were released over here so really rare and expensive.

By all accounts, I paid less for the synth than the chips inside.

I just had a thought and the easiest thing to do would be to put a second filter over the main outputs... theres no multitimbrality* or effects or anything so that would be a neat workaround... couple of LPGs or something maybe ...

Def easier and safer than hacking around with the akai and theres bags of space and 'panel' to do so.

:hmm: :razz:

Cheers, if i was in the US i would love to get one. I do love the sound of it.

:tu:

* hmm, now i think there is a keyboard split, that is 2 way multitimbral is a limited way, never used it like that tho...

'strings' plus bass classic combo.

rlg42mw
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:54 pm
Location: East Coast USA

Re: Ax73 Midi Controller?

Post by rlg42mw » Wed Feb 26, 2020 9:38 am

Any AX73 owners out there with the capability to read the OS EPROM to a binary file and mail it to me? If so, I could see how similar the code is to the AX60. If it uses the same data structures, adding some CC's might be possible. Of course there would need to be room in the EPROM. Not promising anything, but if someone can send me an EPROM dump, I will take a look. I guess the VX90 would also be of interest, as the code is probably very similar. Thanks, Bob Grieb/Tauntek

Post Reply

Return to “General Gear”